SACW - 11 May 2013 / Sri Lanka: Militarization / Pakistan Elections & Violence / Bangladesh: wake-up call? / India- Pakistan: Tit for Tat Prisoner killings / 11 May 1998 When India has shot itself in the head; Adivasis and Citizenship / Racism and Sexual Violence in Indonesia / Far right in Europe
- South Asia Citizens Wire - 11 May 2013 - No. 2782
1. Sri Lanka: Militarization as a way of life - an ‘Orwellian’ note from Kilinochchi
2. India's Nuclear Tests of 1998 - 15 years on:
2.1 Scientists and an atomic subcontinent (Pervez Hoodbhoy)
2.2 11 May 1998 When India has shot itself in the head (Praful Bidwai)
2.3 15 Years of Pokharan Nuclear Tests: No Lessons Learnt (via DiaNuke.org)
3. Pakistan: Security scuttled, Editorial - Daily Times - May 10, 2013
4. Imran Khan isn't the only warrior in Pakistan's elections (Kamila Shamsie)
5. Pakistan election: the 4m votes no one wants (Jon Boone)
6. Bangladesh: Govt should now take Jamaat to tribunal Editorial, New Age
7. Bangladesh: 11; not 3,000 (The Daily Star)
8. Bangladesh Interview: ‘How much more do we need to take in for a wake-up call?’ Dr. Kamal Hossain
9. Bangladesh: Islamists Run Riot In Dhaka - Selected Press Reports 5-6 May 2013 [updated from 7 May 2013]
10. Book review: Superflous people - Rahul Pandita’s ’Our Moon has blood clots’ (Dilip Simeon)
11. India: ’Adivasis need speedy and impartial justice’ - An open letter
12. Indo - Pakistan relations: Politics even in the tragedy of death (Rajindar Sachar)
13. India - Pakistan: Over Dead Bodies, Editorial, The Telegraph (India) May 10 , 2013
14. Bela Bhatia: Footnotes on citizenship from rural India
15. Andre Vltchek: Racism and Sexual Violence in Indonesia
16. India: Recent Posts On Communalism Watch
17. Europe: Far-Right Parties Surge in Britain and France (Carol Matlack)
1. SRI LANKA: MILITARIZATION AS A WAY OF LIFE: AN ‘ORWELLIAN’ NOTE FROM KILINOCHCHI
Even though the protracted internal armed conflict has ended, community members have been unable to return to their day-to-day lives. Under the administration of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s militarization has continued unabated. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has established numerous checkpoints and camps near peoples’ homes. Military personnel frequently patrol these areas – day and night. Sadly, the military’s intrusion into practically all aspects of civilian affairs remains a way of life in the conflict-affected North and East.
2. India's Nuclear Tests of 1998 - 15 years on:
2.1 SCIENTISTS AND AN ATOMIC SUBCONTINENT
by Pervez Hoodbhoy
The perspective offered in our book is frankly different from what Indian and Pakistani leaders (and too many academics writing on the subject) have held. The authors are scientists who believe in a moral universe, where human life is to be valued and its destruction en masse to be abhorred. Nevertheless, while taking a position against nuclear weapons, it is not our intent to needlessly moralize. Facts are stated exactly as they happen to be. This is a responsibility that we owe both to our profession as scientists, and to our own selves, as well, for the facts of the nuclear situation in Pakistan and India are, without exaggeration, frightening, in and beyond the subcontinent.
2.2 11 MAY 1998 WHEN INDIA HAS SHOT ITSELF IN THE HEAD (Praful Bidwai)
The BJP’s jingoism has diminished us. It has degraded security, left us defenceless against Big Power coercion and exposed our people to the heat of sanctions
2.3 15 YEARS OF POKHARAN NUCLEAR TESTS: NO LESSONS LEARNT
15 years later, there are no lessons learnt. We still proudly capitlise on nuclear warheads. India has close to 100 nuclear warheads, according to Arms Control Association. But the politicians assure us that we have the no-first use policy. We will only use them if the other nation blows us to smithereens first. This is very comforting; Pakistan between 90-110 warheads and China has total 240 warheads. If a terrorist group lays its hands on nuke weapons first, then glory
3. PAKISTAN: SECURITY SCUTTLED, EDITORIAL - DAILY TIMES - MAY 10, 2013
COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani has reiterated his resolve to stamp out any disturbance aimed at sabotaging the May11 elections. He has been on a whirlwind tour of the country, in which he was briefed in the federal and provincial capitals comprehensively about the security arrangements for Election Day. In the meantime the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker governments in the Centre and the provinces have been talking themselves hoarse about election-related security arrangements. Yet the mayhem continues. If all these concerned institutions, mandated with the task of making sure the elections take place peacefully, have only been focusing on polling day, one can only pity their blinkered view of things. The election campaigns have been marred with incessant attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan that has been proudly taking responsibility for the attacks. The three important parties, the PPP, the MQM and the ANP were literally forced out of the election process. Their workers and candidates have been killed, while their rallies bombed. They had to resort to corner meetings and even some of those proved fatal. Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, has been kidnapped when he was leaving his house to conduct a corner meeting in broad daylight in Multan yesterday. His secretary was killed and three guards injured in the process. The caretaker government and the ECP have failed to provide them security despite repeated pleas. So far, Punjab had remained the only province relatively safe from terrorism during campaign days. With Ali Haider Gilani’s kidnapping, this lull has been broken too. Even parties thought to be safe because of a soft corner for the extremists such as the JUI-F, JI and PTI, have had their rallies and candidates attacked. So far, over 100 people have died and several have been injured in these massacres. Yet the authorities continue to ooze confidence about peaceful elections. This attitude of the three institutions, the army, caretaker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan, is highly irresponsible to say the least, essentially when three political parties deliberately, as it seems now, have been kept out of the electioneering process. Absolutely no precaution has been taken or effort made to allow these parties to conduct their campaigns. Does all this indicate something fishy is going on? Has it been deliberate? If not, why has selective campaigning been allowed to continue amidst the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s killing spree? And if the army was simply complacent, the issue becomes even more serious. How would the army justify its presence and monitoring on Election Day when it practically did nothing to manage the build up to and therefore the results on D-Day? A parliamentary election is about going to the people and connecting with them through rallies and public meetings. If that has been made impossible for some parties with secular leanings, that makes those who had no such constraints stand out even more.
Unless Ali Haider Gilani is rescued, elections in his family’s constituencies would be reduced to a farce. Any post-polling discord about accepting the election results would bring to nought all the effort at ensuring the impartiality and fairness of the elections. A smooth transfer of power to the next civilian government is important for the democratic process to be consolidated. Let us hope Yousaf Raza Gilani’s and the Gilani family’s worries are over soon and Ali Haider Gilani returns home safe and sound. *
4. IMRAN KHAN ISN'T THE ONLY WARRIOR IN PAKISTAN'S ELECTIONS
by Kamila Shamsie
The Guardian, 9 May 2013
Khan's fall has brought him much sympathy, but what of politicians targeted by the Pakistani Taliban?
Prayers And Sympathies For Imran Khan Across Pakistan
A woman kisses a poster of Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan outside the hospital in Lahore where he was taken after his accident. Photograph: Irfan Chudhary/Barcroft India
It didn't take long after Imran Khan's fall – 4.5 metres from a makeshift platform on a forklift at a campaign rally – for his supporters to begin comparing him to a warrior unseated from his horse in battle. If there was a note of triumph in their voice as they said it, it's not entirely surprising.
On Tuesday afternoon, Khan was the only halfway serious challenger to Nawaz Sharif's bid to become prime minister for the third time when the nation goes to the polls on 11 May – but then came the fall, and a moment of unity for a nation that had been at one another's throats in the runup to elections.
No one, regardless of party preferences, could want to lose a man who in his cricketing days was arguably more beloved than any other individual in Pakistan's history. A short while after his fall Khan appeared on news channels from his hospital bed to say: "I have done whatever I could do for my country and I did it because Allah blessed me – but on the 11 May decide your destiny. It is time for you to take the responsibility to make a new Pakistan."
If a few minutes earlier you could hear the sound of all of Pakistan holding its breath for news of his health, then you could also hear undecided voters deciding. Suddenly, the halfway serious challenger began to look as if he might just be a frontrunner.
Sharif's situation wasn't helped by a white tiger – the tiger is the election symbol of his party, the PML(N), and a caged white tiger was prominent at many of his rallies. The day after Khan's fall, the news broke that Sharif's white tiger had been taken ill at a rally and died. Around 18 hours later, the vet treating the tiger insisted it was alive and well. We are now at that point of election madness where people are demanding the tiger be produced and its stripes compared with pictures of the tiger at the rally.
All the rightful concern about Khan (and even the tiger) has highlighted the places where concern has been absent, or muted. That this election has become a two-horse race is in part due to the intervention of the Pakistani Taliban, who have been attacking the three parties they see as their enemies – the ruling Pakistan People's party (PPP), the Awami National party (ANP), which governs Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is the most powerful party in the commercial capital, Karachi.
The attacks have been so unrelenting that these parties have been almost incapable of campaigning – and are most often in the news because of the violence they face, most recently on Thursday, when the son of the former prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani of the PPP, was kidnapped at gunpoint and his guard killed. Asfandyar Wali Khan, the leader of the worst-hit party, the ANP, described its election campaign as "picking up the dead, carrying their funerals and taking the wounded to hospitals". The grim slogan Kafan ya watan (Our coffins or our country) is plastered across the ANP's election posters. Yet it doesn't seem to merit the same degree of sympathy, or credit for its courage, as the warrior felled from his forklift.
What will happen on 11 May? "It depends on voter turnout" is increasingly the expert opinion, with Khan seen as standing to gain if many of the millions of newly registered young voters go to the ballot box, and Sharif triumphing among older voters.
Though there's still time for some final forklift or feline intervention. Regardless of which party gets the most seats, it's almost certain to fall far short of the majority needed to form a government – which might just bring the now-languishing PPP back into play. If you thought UK coalition manoeuvring in 2010 was labyrinthine, you ain't seen nothing yet.
5. PAKISTAN ELECTION: THE 4M VOTES NO ONE WANTS
by Jon Boone in Rabwah
The Guardian, 6 May 2013
Ahmadi religious minority vilified by extremists as heretic and shunned by mainstream politicians such as Imran Khan
As Pakistan's election campaign enters its dying days, no town has escaped the attention of the country's politicians as they crisscross the country, plastering every spare billboard, lamp-post and shop-front with posters bearing their heavily airbrushed faces.
Except Rabwah, a sleepy riverside settlement in the critical battleground province of Punjab. It is home to 40,000 potential voters who could safely be relied upon to vote whichever way the town's elders recommend – a particularly large and reliable example of what Pakistani politicians call "vote banks". And yet, in a constituency where the result could go either way, not a single party banner flutters anywhere in the town.
No one has tried to hold a rally on the wide, tree-lined avenues or make the promises heard everywhere else in Punjab of more development, less corruption and an end to electricity shortages.
All of the candidates have given the town a wide berth because the vast majority of its 60,000 inhabitants are Ahmadis, a religious minority vilified by extremists, who regard them as heretics, and shunned even by mainstream politicians such as Imran Khan.
Last week, Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), vigorously denied he had ever asked members of Pakistan's roughly 4 million-strong Ahmadiyya community to vote for him.
In an impassioned video statement, Khan promised to protect anti-Ahmadi laws and articles of Pakistan's constitution that human rights groups have long criticised as deeply discriminatory.
The laws ban Ahmadis from "posing as a Muslim", meaning almost any public act of devotion is a criminal offence, potentially punishable by death under the country's notorious blasphemy laws.
In a statement, Khan said the "PTI totally subscribes to the articles of the constitution concerning Qadianis", using a term most Ahmadis find deeply offensive.
For some liberal-minded young Pakistanis who have been energised by Khan's promise to sweep away an established political order widely regarded as corrupt and ineffective, his support for discriminatory law has soured the campaign. The former cricketer has been criticised in the past for appeasing extremists, earning the nickname "Taliban Khan" for his policies, including a promise to abandon the army's campaign against militants in the troubled territory bordering Afghanistan.
Ahmadis have long occupied a position of particular hatred among Pakistan's religious extremists because of their claim that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the man who founded the movement in British India in 1889, was a messiah and prophet. For the dominant Islamic sects, that contradicts a central tenet that Muhammad, the seventh-century Arab merchant who established Islam, was the final prophet.
The theological dispute has led to intense persecution of Pakistan's Ahmadis. More than 400 have been formally charged under blasphemy laws since 2000. Their crimes range from distributing religious literature, referring to their places of worship as mosques, and practising the Muslim call to prayer.
The laws have also helped foster a climate of violence with authorities often unwilling to stop fundamentalists publicly calling for the murder of Ahmadis. In 2010, a bomb flattened an Ahmadi mosque in Lahore, killing almost 100 people.
"I have read the Qur'an very closely and I know that those who do not recognise Muhammad as last prophet is not a Muslim," Khan said in his video statement last week. In Rabwah, the headquarters of the community in Pakistan, Ahmadis reacted with shock, but little surprise.
"What he said was so unbecoming of a modern progressive man," said Shameem Khalid, a retired naval officer. "He should have said that Ahmadis are equal citizens and they should be able to exercise their rights as equal citizens."
Khan, who appears to be surging ahead as the county moves towards polling on Saturday, is unlikely to lose many votes by distancing himself from the Ahmadis.
The community is boycotting an election where any votes its members cast for their local candidate are also added to a secondary ballot for members of the national assembly that represent non-Muslim religious minorities. They say participating would amount to an admission that they are not Muslims.
A related problem prevents them from taking part in local council elections in Rabwah, a town the community founded in 1948 after land was bought specifically to provide homes for Ahmadis who moved from India after the creation of Pakistan.
If they did participate in their town's local election, they would only be eligible for the handful of seats reserved for minorities, despite making up more than 90% of the population.
Khan's supporters say he had no choice but to neutralise damaging attacks from a rival party leader, an Islamic fundamentalist called Fazlur Rehman, who has produced a video showing a PTI activist who, during a meeting in March, asked Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the community's London-based spiritual leader, whether he would support the party in the elections.
Rehman's wing of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party is in stiff competition with the PTI in the tribal belt. It said the video proved Khan was an Ahmadi stooge.In recent days, Rehman has even claimed senior clerics have issued a fatwa declaring a vote for Khan as un-Islamic.
Khan has disowned the party worker in the widely distributed video, which, bizarrely, the party claims is a "fake and based on total lies".
Ahmad, the spiritual leader, claims Khan did once ask for the community's assistance in the 1990s, soon after the PTI was established. But he said their past experience of backing politicians had made the community deeply reluctant to support untested candidates.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founder of the Pakistan Peoples party, benefited from enthusiastic Ahmadi support. But during his prime ministership in 1974 he passed the first ordinance denying Ahmadis their Muslim identity.
"We will definitely vote for the PTI next time when the party does justice with us after coming into power," Ahmad said.
But few in Rabwah believe Khan will help their community, even if he does pull off the still unlikely feat of coming to power this weekend.
"In the western press he has reputation for being a secular, former playboy politician," said Usman Ahmad, a Rabwah resident who moved from the UK nine years ago. "This shows him in a truer light."
6. BANGLADESH: GOVT SHOULD NOW TAKE JAMAAT TO TRIBUNAL
Editorial, New Age - 11 May 2013
THE punishment awarded to Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, the assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami who is accused of crimes against humanity perpetrated during the war of liberation in 1971, by the special tribunal on Thursday, is definitely a step forward towards absolving our political history of a stigma that the country needed to get rid of much earlier. According to media reports, Kamaruzzaman, who was a regional chief of al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistani occupation army in 1971, has been awarded death sentence on two specific grounds: the killing of 120 civilians and rape of women at Nalitabari in Sherpur on July 25, 1971, and the torture of a civilian, Golam Mostafa, to death at Sheri bridge in Sherpur on August 23, 1971. He has been awarded other punishments, including life terms, for other crimes committed against unarmed civilians during the war, which the erstwhile Pakistani military junta had unjustly imposed on the people of Bangladesh.
Kamaruzzaman and his lawyers have termed the judgement of the tribunal ‘wrong’ and are free under the relevant law to go to the higher court for redress. We expect and hope that the higher court would make all-out legal efforts to right the wrong, if there is any, in a transparent manner and ensure that the alleged criminals are duly punished, for we do not want any scope to be left for any quarter, national and international, to call it a ‘victor’s trial’. This is important for our national dignity.
Meanwhile, we must note that the tribunal has made a very important observation in the Kamaruzzaman case — the question of ‘civilian superior responsibility’ for the genocide conducted against the unarmed people of Bangladesh. In the judgement, the tribunal also held Kamaruzzaman responsible for crimes committed against humanity as a regional leader of al-Badr that actively helped, as an organisation, the Pakistani army in conducting genocide across Bangladesh. In an earlier judgement, the tribunal also referred to the ‘command responsibility’ of Jamaat-e-Islami, the parent organisation of al-Badr, which was the most active partner of the killer Pakistani army that conducted multi-dimensional crimes against humanity. In the light of the observations of the tribunal, the government is legally obligated to sue Jamaat-e-Islami as an organisation and its affiliated bodies of the time for committing crimes against humanity in 1971, and try them in the tribunal for the sake of justice to those who had sacrificed their lives for our national independence.
We hope that the ruling Awami League, which has hobnobbed with Jamaat-e-Islami time and again for crude partisan interest, and which is still suspected to be maintaining clandestine relations with the guilty organisation, would be able to rise above parochial partisan gains and respond to the call of history — the sooner, the better.
7. BANGLADESH: 11; NOT 3,000
The Daily Star - May 09, 2013
Dhaka police bin claims of higher death figure in Hefajat mayhem, security drive
Trashing the claim of 800 to 3,000 casualties, Dhaka Metropolitan Police yesterday said 11 people, including a policeman, died during Hefajat’s rampage and the law enforcers’ operation to flush them out of Motijheel between Sunday and early Monday.
The DMP’s statement comes on the heels of a propaganda campaign on different platforms, especially social networking websites like Facebook, that law enforcers killed up to 3,000 Hefajat men during the operation.
“Where did they get that so many people were killed there?” DMP Commissioner Benazir Ahmed asked, referring to the propaganda campaigners.
A vested quarter had been spreading the rumour, he said at a press briefing at the DMP Media Centre in the capital.
If so many people had died during the day-long clashes and the operation, their parents, siblings or relatives would have come looking for them, he said.
“But none has come unlike the case of Rana Plaza collapse in Savar.”
Visiting 13 hospitals in the capital, The Daily Star gathered that bodies of 13 people, including a policeman’s, were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital between Sunday and early Monday.
The DMP chief also dismissed the rumour that the law enforcers who took part in the drive fell ill.
Justifying the operation, Benazir said the DMP had intelligence that Hefajat men would attack the secretariat, Bangladesh Bank, other banks and shopping centres if they could stay put at Motijheel till morning.
“They had plans to loot the banks.”
He said a decision was made to use only non-lethal weapons to avoid casualty. And eventually, the law enforcers were able to limit the casualty to a small number.
Before carrying out the operation, the law enforcers urged the demonstrators over loudspeakers to leave Shapla Chattar around 1:00am on Monday.
As they paid no heed to the call, the law enforcers launched the operation from the directions of Notre Dame College and Dainik Bangla intersection, keeping the roads on the east and south side open to allow them to leave the area.
“During the 10-minute drive, we used non-lethal weapons and logistics — water cannons, and sound, gas and smoke grenades, and rubber bullets.”
The operation was carried out in the dead of the night so that commuters or pedestrians come to no harm, he said.
“Extra caution was taken considering that many orphan madrasa students were taken to the rally.”
Police found four bodies wrapped in cloths near the stage of Hefajat rally, three at different points of the rally venue, three more of pedestrians and one of a policeman on Sunday and early Monday, he said.
On rumours that they hid bodies, he said, “Two TV channels aired the drive live. Many reporters were there. City residents from rooftop watched it and took photos with their cell phones.”
“How was it possible to hide bodies?” he questioned.
Asked why they allowed Hefajat to hold rally in the heart of the capital, he said they gave the permission out of respect to Islamic clerics, despite having intelligence that Hefajat men could create mayhem and stay there beyond the time granted.
“They are madrasa teachers and students. People respect them. They promised us many times that they would leave the capital by 5:00pm after offering prayers.”
BNP REJECTS DMP STATEMENT
Criticising DMP commissioner’s statement, BNP spokesperson Shamsuzzaman Dudu said people did not subscribe to the DMP’s version.
He also demanded a government statement on the issue immediately.
“Is it a statement of the police or someone else has imposed it on them?” he asked.
BGB BINS CLAIMS
Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed, chief of Border Guard Bangladesh, refuted the claims that hundreds or even thousands of bodies were taken to the Pilkhana BGB headquarters.
“Had even a single body been brought inside, the whole Pilkhana would have been sealed off.”
He said such claims were made to tarnish the image of the disciplined force.
THE DAILY STAR FINDINGS
Visiting 13 hospitals where bodies and injured Hefajat men were taken, The Daily Star learnt that 12 bodies were sent to the DMCH and one to Sir Salimullah Medical College morgue.
Bodies kept at the DMCH included that of a policeman, a shop employee and a bus helper. The rest were of Hefajat activists’.
In the meantime, Baraka General Hospital Ltd in capital’s Rajarbagh claimed it received six bodies but declined to give any details.
Islami Bank Central Hospital at Kakrail claimed three bodies were brought to the hospital but it couldn’t substantiate the claim.
8. BANGLADESH INTERVIEW: ‘HOW MUCH MORE DO WE NEED TO TAKE IN FOR A WAKE-UP CALL?’
Dr. Kamal Hossain
The Daily Star - May 08, 2013
Eminent jurist Dr. Kamal Hossain talks with A.B.M. Shamsud Doza of The Daily Star about the recent violence centering Hefajat-e-Islam’s programme.
The Daily Star (TDS): What is your reaction to the widespread eruption of violence that centered on the Hefajat-e-Islam’s programme last Sunday?
Dr. Kamal Hossain (KH): I am very disturbed by what happened last Sunday. Our expectations from a working democracy and an elected government have not been realised, and we find instead that the elected government has itself contributed to the situation. They have not taken the people into confidence and the parliament has not engaged itself in these issues.
It seems that no one was clear about what was going on that day. Whether Hefajat-e-Islam would get the permission or not, whether they would sit in or not. When things got out of hand, the government claimed that they had only allowed a ‘peaceful’ blockade in six places. I do not know of any democratic system that allows a blockade in the capital for an entire day.
What cost does it impact? Apart from an economic cost, what is the political cost? How does the world view this: A government that has been unable to protect its city?
Certain mysteries need to also be addressed. How can you have a minister in the government, where his party supports Hefajat-e-Islam? Government had sent Dr. Hasan Mahmud to sort out issues with Hefajat leaders claiming to have achieved a positive contribution in restoring normalcy. We would like to know from him the subject of his discussions and the intention or objective of the visit which he thought to be a positive contribution. We had not heard of the 13-point demands before. Was this or was it not mentioned to the minister? The home minister instead congratulated them for having come here, acknowledging the permission granted for this blockade. I have never heard of a government-organised blockade before. I wonder under which political and legal context this had been done.
TDS: How do you look at the government’s role in handling this situation? For the time, the government has dispersed the Hefajat-e-Islam gathering, but do you think it is the end of the game?
KH: Prevention is better than cure. Even after the experience of the first visit of the Hefajat-e-Islam, did the government learn any lesson or start working on taking the people into confidence?
If there is any demand to be made to the government, then one should send their representative, have a formal sitting, voice their demands, which, if it requires further consideration, can then be sent to the parliament for further discussions and debates. That is an ideal democratic process. The government should keep citizens informed and aware of the procedures and negotiations.
Given the eruption that took place, the government could have prevented it. They could have not allowed this meeting to take place at all. Regarding the 13-point demands, the government could have addressed it through asking the public. I find that everything which is being done has zero respect for the general public. It is democratic neither in principal not in practice.
The general secretary of Awami League had used some extraordinary language — urging the use of force against the Hefajat people to disperse them — going further to explain that it would be ensured they did not even come out of their homes. It is unimaginable that any citizen, no matter which group he belongs to, should be threatened. How can you call yourself democratic if you force people to remain within their homes and confines? A government working within the constitution cannot function this way. They must respect the constitution and the rights of the opposition.
TDS: Do you think there are forces behind the scene who are trying to manipulate Hefajat’s programme?
KH: What methods does the government use to identify the activities taking place behind the scenes? They never let the public know, but project an understanding that shows everything to be ok. And when things go wrong, they start accusing other forces of being involved against them. But when and how have you discovered that fact? If you cannot figure out the crisis, then you should explain yourself and accept your own failures. Why is it that at the 11th hour you suddenly learn of certain incidents?
The government’s permission to enforce this blockade is what troubles me most. This is where Khaleda Zia too can follow the government: if the government allows a mass sitting then she of course will support it. If Ershad can support it, so can she. In my eyes, they cannot support something like this as such because we are all bound by the constitution and yet they themselves have spoken in different tones encouraging a disrespect of the constitution.
TDS: How can we get out of this violent politics?
KH: Unfortunately, there is no harmony between the political parties, even within the same party and alliance. How unhealthy have things turned that not only do we fail to respect each other sitting in opposition, but fail to do so with those in the alliance. This cannot be called a civilised political behaviour. This kind of lacking in political integrity has become a matter of concern.
I shall not dwell into how they have dealt with the opposition and the dialogue that really needs to be arranged, but this issue had been raised almost a year ago and they have been late in drawing their attention towards it. But we had mentioned this even when the first amendment was made without a dialogue. We had not voted for the 15th Amendment. Can they look back to any of their manifestos and explain where they were allowed to do this?
Do they not know that in a democratic practice they would have a fundamental constitutional issue if you do not have a mandate from the people that you are not supposed to do this? It is a complete mistake to believe that since we have the majority of votes we can do anything. Can they use the majority while setting up a monarchy? Of course not.
Based on the recent tragedy in Savar, and what happened last night, how much more do we really need to take in for a wake-up call? In democracy, we need to to make ourselves heard. If we are source of power and power is with us, with power comes responsibly and we cannot shed away our responsibility. All citizens from all districts, departments and professions and political parties must speak out, and not speak in the language of force but in the language of persuasion through reasons and facts and by appealing to the values we all support in the constitution.
9. BANGLADESH: ISLAMISTS RUN RIOT IN DHAKA - SELECTED PRESS REPORTS 5-6 MAY 2013 [UPDATED FROM 7 MAY 2013]
10. BOOK REVIEW: SUPERFLOUS PEOPLE - RAHUL PANDITA’S ’OUR MOON HAS BLOOD CLOTS’
by Dilip Simeon
Pandita’s story is a deeply personal recounting of one family’s forced exile, and as such, it provides material for seekers of truth to engage with. It carries the sense of authentic experience, as much as do the stories of humiliated and bereaved Kashmiri Muslims; and in future no attempt at a truthful history of Kashmir can omit or gloss over the Pandit experience.
11. INDIA: ’ADIVASIS NEED SPEEDY AND IMPARTIAL JUSTICE’ - AN OPEN LETTER
One of the most disastrous consequences of the strife in the tribal areas of central India is that thousands of adivasi men and women remain imprisoned as under-trials, often many years after being arrested, accused of ’Naxalite/ Maoist’ offences.
12. INDO - PAKISTAN RELATIONS: POLITICS EVEN IN THE TRAGEDY OF DEATH
by Rajindar Sachar
Many great men sickened by the way the contemporary society behaves have been exasperated to give vent to their harshest feelings, Author Samuel Johnson remarked "Patriotism is the last refuge of a Scoundrel".
13. INDIA: EDITORIAL - OVER DEAD BODIES
The Telegraph (India) May 10 , 2013
The death of the Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah Ranjay, should be treated as much as a national tragedy as the death of Sarabjit Singh, for it signals the death of a national character that Indians had claimed for themselves while berating their neighbours for the treatment of Singh. Indians are no higher mortals than Pakistanis. The brutal attack on Ranjay in a Jammu prison as an answer to Singh’s death proves that baser instincts guide collective behaviour in this country as much as they do in Pakistan. And the people who run the government in the two countries are no evolved beings either. To be seen on the right side of public sentiment, the governments have embraced those men as martyrs whom they scarcely remembered in more normal times. Neither Ranjay nor Singh seem to have ever burdened the memory or exercised the imagination of their respective governments, who, while considering trade and artistic exchanges as the best way to boost people-to-people contact, never spared much thought for the ‘people’ languishing in their prisons. The impact of the release of prisoners as a public relations exercise was not missed though, and bouts of prisoner releases occurred as a corollary to bilateral exchange of pleasantries. But when bilateral ties — captive to jingoism in the respective countries — worsened, so did the prospect of the prisoners. If India and Pakistan now start to return their prisoners in body bags, one cannot second guess the nadir their relations have reached.
Yet, even in the thick of the Cold War, a way had been found to return with dignity prisoners caught in the mêlée of bad diplomacy and competitive nationalism. One cannot but wonder why the Wagah border could not have become another Glienicke bridge, the link between Berlin and Potsdam that hosted no less than four historic instances of prisoner exchange between the former Soviet Union and its enemies in the West. Much like India and Pakistan, the Cold War partners had been pro-active in creating trouble for each other, but they did not let mindless jingoism come in the way of the practicalities of decision-making. Would it have been too difficult to make Pakistan claim back its Ajmal Kasab while India claimed back its Sarabjit Singh? Both nations are yet to get over their pre-historic mindset regarding a problem that requires more maturity than has been shown by them.
14. BELA BHATIA: FOOTNOTES ON CITIZENSHIP FROM RURAL INDIA
Contrary to the dominant narrative of a vibrant democracy with a strong record of integration, many in India are in effect non-citizens. Citizenship cannot reach its potential unless there is a commitment to achieve equality and justice in practice. (Video, 33 mins)
15. ANDRE VLTCHEK: RACISM AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN INDONESIA
After all, Indonesia is the country where sexual terror against women has been something entirely usual, biasa, since the days of the Western-backed coup of 1965.
16. INDIA: RECENT POSTS ON COMMUNALISM WATCH
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17. EUROPE: FAR-RIGHT PARTIES SURGE IN BRITAIN AND FRANCE
by Carol Matlack
Business Week - May 07, 2013
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande, both struggling with sick economies, now share another problem: a surge in voter support for far-right, anti-immigrant politicians.
The U.K. Independence Party, which wants Britain to leave the European Union and sharply limit immigration, chalked up big gains in English local elections this month, mostly at the expense of Cameron’s Conservative Party. “This sends a shock wave through the Establishment,” UKIP leader Nigel Farage said after the May 2 vote, in which the party won about 150 local government seats.
UKIP’s anti-European stance is gaining ground among Conservatives—including former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, who said today that Britain should leave the EU. Britain’s relationship to the EU “fundamentally changed” after the creation of the euro currency zone, “of which, quite rightly, we are not part,” Lawson wrote in an article published in the Times newspaper.
Across the English Channel, Marine Le Pen, head of France’s far-right National Front (FN), now has a 32 percent popularity rating, compared to only 24 percent for President Hollande, according to a recent TNS-Sofres poll. Le Pen’s rating is the highest ever recorded by a leader of the party founded 41 years ago by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Polls show that she draws support from the far left as well as the right.
UKIP “has many points in common with us,” Marine Le Pen told France 3 television on May 4 as she campaigned for an FN candidate seeking a vacant parliamentary seat. The parties do have some striking similarities, including charismatic leaders and platforms that call on their countries to curb immigration and exit the EU.
The biggest reason for their surging appeal, though, is public exasperation with economic malaise. French unemployment is at 10.6 percent and its economy is expected to shrink 0.1 percent this year. In Britain, the economy grew 0.3 percent in the first quarter, narrowly avoiding a triple-dip recession, and joblessness has risen to 7.9 percent as Cameron’s government imposes the deepest budget cuts since World War II. “People feel left behind, and they’re not clear where their country is going,” says John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde in Britain.
It’s a situation tailor-made for the messages of UKIP and the FN. And UKIP, after its May 2 electoral showing, can now claim a significant presence within local government. That, in turn, creates momentum as the party as it prepares for June 2014 elections for the European Parliament, where it already holds 11 of Britain’s 73 seats. Party leader Farage says he plans to run for the British Parliament in 2015.
By contrast, FN politicians hold relatively few elected posts in France. Le Pen is one of two FN members in the national parliament, and the party holds three of France’s 74 seats in the European Parliament. Tthe number of FN members in local government has declined after a surge in the 1990s.
Indeed, populist movements in Europe tend to fizzle out pretty quickly, says Patrick Dunleavy, a professor of political science at the London School of Economics. “Populists take very complex problems, they blame them on an alleged elite, they promise a very easy and pat solution. It’s a tricky thing to sustain.”
Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.
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