Sarabjit, Kirpal may get life as Pak commutes death penalties #goodnews


 

, TNN | Aug 13, 2012, 05.25AM IST

AMRITSAR: The Pakistan government has provided a fresh lease of life to Indian death row prisoners Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh when it began the process of commuting all death sentences into life imprisonment.

According to Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney, it’s for the first time that Pakistan has taken such a step. The move comes four years after former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani had announced to commute all death sentences into life imprisonment.

Burney told TOI on Sunday over the phone from Khartoum in Sudan, where he is on a humanitarian mission, that Pakistan government has sought advice from relevant ministries and provincial authorities by Monday, August 13.

He said that Ansar Burney Trust International had also filed several petitions with President Asif Ali Zardari requesting that all death sentences be commuted to life imprisonments considering that a large number of those condemned to death were either innocent or had spent decades awaiting death.

Gilani had announced during an address to the national assembly on June 21 2008, soon after assuming office, that his government would take a proposal to the presidency to convert all death penalties into life-terms. Burney informed that over 7,500 prisoners in Pakistani jails were on death row.

“Many are innocent and victims of false testimonies or circumstances like Sarabjit and Kirpal. Hundreds are now physically and mentally disabled due to decades of imprisonment in the harshest conditions,” Burney said.

ABOVE– kirpal caught in 1991 and today

 

Open letter to Arnab Goswami by Madhu Kishwar


 

Dear Arnab ji,

When you started your innings with Times Now by demanding that power wielders provide honest answers to the general public for their various acts of commission and omission, many of us applauded your public spiritedness.  “The Nation-is-angry-and-wants-an-answer” approach gave much-needed vent to citizens’ frustration at our political masters’ lack of accountability. Every today, once in a while, your head-on approach works well, as it did when you ably stonewalled the attempts of Congress leaders in giving a communal colour to the recent killings and mayhem in Assam. Being from Assam yourself, you were on surer ground.  But trouble arises when you become an instant expert on a new subject every night and want your rage to be supported and echoed by all your panelists with the same intensity and fury as yours.

Over the years, you have let the success of your program make you forget the necessary dividing line between journalist and crusader and converted your prime time ‘News Hour,’ into a Kangaroo Court. Your jingoistic nationalism mimics the aggressive onslaughts of preachers of Born-Again Christian sects on North American TV channels.  Within the one-hour duration of your Kangaroo court, you bully your guest panelists to participate in a summary trial loaded with self-righteous harangues, aimed not just at the targeted wrong doer but also at those who dare resist your requirement that the verdict against the targets of your ire be pronounced right then and there. Unfortunately, some of the younger anchors are also catching on this disease. Therefore, it needs to be controlled before it assumes epidemic proportions.

You made it fashionable to see every issue through a prism which allows only two colors to permeate– black and white. That prism enables the anchor to see himself as lily white knight in shining armor out to save India from its various real and imaginary enemies and ills and ensures that all those whose alleged misdeeds you expose or whose views you target come out pure black, pure evil. You become enraged if someone tries to introduce a degree of complexity to the discussion. The panelists are expected to simply come and lend further strength to the anchor’s delusion that the one hour of News Hour will rid India of all its ills.

Dear Arnab, it is time you get over the illusion that if you wrap yourself in the national flag, everyone will automatically accept the purity of your intentions and the workability of your prescriptions on every single issue. Plenty of people are becoming exasperated with such posturing and want news channels to provide them real news instead of organizing daily cock-fights in T.V. studios.

Your crusading zeal and the style of interrogation has the effect of dumbing down the issues you pick up for debate.  For example, you are very fond of picking up sensational cases of police tyranny and callousness.  But your panelists are not allowed to go beyond expressing pious rage at these routine misdemeanors of our lawless police.  Whenever you asked me to join any such discussion, I have pleaded with you to go beyond raging over random cases and start a serious discussion on police reforms to channel the energy and anger of concerned citizens to think creatively of the systemic changes required in order to make our police a people friendly institution designed to protect citizens’ rights rather than tyrannize, fleece and harass them.  But that requires a great deal of homework and serious thought.  You have no patience for it because it would not allow your daily dose of righteous rage.

It is clear you are still stuck in the Oxbridge style of debating you are likely to have learnt as a student, whereby one is allowed to speak either “for” or “against” the motion. A good “debater” is one who makes mince meat out of his opponent’s arguments, caricaturing the views of others while proving the absolute superiority of his own. Debating” of the kind, taught in our elite schools and colleges involves being one-up on your opponents, even if in the process you end up with pompous posturing.  Those  who remain stuck in this mode of interaction become incapable of engaging in a dialogue, leave alone promote genuine “samvad.

Samvad, as opposed to debating, requires that one gives equal (sam) opportunity to one’s opponent to present her viewpoint, (vad). In fact, in the Indian tradition of holding Shastratha there is well-respected code that you acquire the adhikar (moral right) to criticize or debate someone’s views or ideas only if you first demonstrate that you have understood their position in great depth and appreciate the complexities and nuances of the opponent’s argument.

Take the example of how you went ballistic when all four of us on your panel invited to the News Hour on July 11, 2012 surprised you by our refusal to join you in condemning and demanding strict punitive action against the Medical Superintendent who allegedly allowed a “sweeper” to play surgeon that fateful morning in the   Banarsi Das Government Hospital of Bulandshahar. In your high voltage zeal, you converted 41 year old Mohammad Ayub who has worked for 19 long years as a ward boy in the Operation Theatre of that hospital into a “sweeper” who had dared trespass into the hallowed territory reserved for MBBS ( and above) doctors. Do you know that in neighboring Bangladesh, which has a far superior primary health care system, illiterate and barely literate women and men have been trained as very effective paramedics? Suturing a wound is no rocket science. Nineteen years is a long time for an OT assistant to learn something as simple as putting 5 stitches to close a wound.

Even alleged murderers get a chance to defend themselves during the course of trial. But you thundered at us for suggesting that you pay heed to the explanations being offered by the representative of the hospital before reaching final conclusions. He tried in vain to tell you that on that early morning, 17 injured persons had been brought to the hospital following a bus accident. Of the 23 doctors, 7 were present in the hospital. The rest were either on leave or had left after doing their shift. The ward boy assisted in stitching up a wound because it was an emergency situation and all 17 injured persons had to be attended to at once. The Medical officer had sounded the emergency alarm which meant all the staff members in the hospital were to assemble and be assigned duties. But, instead of waiting for other doctors to reach the hospital, those on duty decided to make the best use of available resources. You were outraged that all 23 doctors were not there to attend to this emergency as if you have never heard of shift duty. It is likely that more than the permissible number were on leave that day. But that had to be established only after a proper enquiry. But you can’t afford to wait a day or two for facts to be established since you need a new issue and a new sacrificial victim every night.

Your fury and insistence on “instant justice” and punishment during the News Hour itself was based on a 20 second grainy footage taken by some local photographer covering the bus accident. Neither you nor your correspondent cared to find out whether the ward boy had done a good job or messed up the wound. Incidentally, neither the injured boy whose wound was stitched nor his parents complained of any wrong doing. If you had made up your mind to convict all of the hospital staff based on a 20 second borrowed footage, why did you bother to invite the concerned medical officer on your program?

We pleaded with you to contextualize the “offense”­­­—even  if a ward boy putting 5 stitches on a wound could be called an offense—by seeing it as a symptom of the pathetic state of our public hospitals with their perennial shortage of doctors and nurses. If today, the country is short of 6 lakh doctors and 1 million nurses, it points to decades of government mismanagement and neglect of the health sector. But for you that meant we too had become guilty of the “Chalta Hai” attitude which you are determined to beat out of Indians.

Do you know what has been the net result of your crusade of July 11, Arnab ji? If not, please read a report filed by Shone Shatheesh Babu in Tehelka of July 28, 2012.  Ayub, a low paid class IV employee and the only breadwinner of a 10 member family– including a wife, three daughters, ailing parents and an autistic brother– was suspended from his job to placate your fury. In addition to facing penury, he is devastated by the ignominy of being called a “sweeper” who dared play surgeon by a whole host of TV channels who took their cue from you. By contrast, the Chief Medical Supervisor has only been transferred to another hospital. In addition, the administration has “issued warning to every employee to only stick to his/her area of expertise.” This means in future no hospital staff will dare go beyond their officially assigned duty even in emergencies for fear of being punished. From henceforth a ward boy hired to pull stretchers will think a thousand times before daring to offer a glass of water to a thirsty patient. Likewise an attendant meant for changing bed linen will avoid letting the doctor or nurse know if he sees that a medicinal drip of a patient has stopped working, lest he be held guilty of overstepping his limits.

Serious Political Consequences of Prejudiced Attacks

Your narcissism and oversimplification of political issues has serious political consequences since it is not limited to raving and ranting against corruption and mismanagement in this or that hospital or thana.

Take for example the way you handle issues relating to Kashmir. To begin with, you think of Kashmir only when there is a major upsurge of anger on the streets, leading to violence or shut down. Without doing proper homework, without taking the trouble to go see for yourself or get the best of your reporters to feed you reliable reports, you invariably take at face value the information and slant provided to you by either your favorite politicians in the state or the Home Ministry in Delhi.

Having already made up your mind that any protest against the government or manifestation of discontent against mal-governance in the state is “Pakistan-inspired mischief” you invite Kashmiris to your program only to tell them what you think of them. Either you deliberately pick those who live up to the image of being stereotypical secessionists or if they don’t oblige, you try to push them into that camp.  Your energy goes into showing them up to be anti-national elements whose grievances or point of view does not deserve to be heard, leave alone heeded. Even when Kashmiris come out to protest the killings of innocent men or young kids by their own state police, you only pour contempt at them at having invited such killings.

Equally important, you and your tribe rarely, if ever, celebrate anything good the Kashmiris do. For example, you have never covered the great hospitality shown to Amarnath Yatris by Kashmiri Muslims, including when bad weather conditions lead to life threatening situations en route to the shrine. Recently you went ballistic over Syed Ali Shah Geelani opposing the creation of separate enclaves for Kashmiri Pandits but you deliberately paid no heed to the main point he was raising that Pandits should be assisted in returning to their original homes. He is opposed to creating ghettos for them and has repeatedly emphasized the need to for them to come reclaim their homes in old neighborhoods. Ask any of the Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley. They will tell you that any time, they feel threatened, they depend more on Geelani than on the state police for their safety. And he does live up to his promise. This is not to deny that at one time Geelani contributed to conditions that led to the mass exodus of Pandits from the Valley. But would you rather Geelani stay forever the same? Why not acknowledge and welcome his new avatar? If you are seriously concerned about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits why not have a calm and thoughtful discussion with them and key Kashmiri Muslims leaders, including Geelani, on steps that need to be taken for a dignified and safe return of Pandits to the Valley?

There are a lot of positive signals coming from the Valley. But our national media has no time for actions and incidents that convey a positive message. For example, during the recent Amarnath Yatra, a Youth leader Bashir Ahmed Mir from Kangan in Ganderbal district risked his own life to save a mother-son duo from Bihar.  A young boy named Rohit Kumar from Bihar had accidentally slipped into the Thajwas River at Sonmarg. In panic, his mother also jumped into the fast flowing stream to save her child. But neither knew how to swim. Mir, who happened to be nearby, at once jumped into the waters and saved the life of both mother and son. (See link: http://www.kashmirdispatch.com/more-news/16078676-political-leader-saves-mother-child-duo-of-amarnath-pilgrims-from-drowning.htm). Several friends from Kashmir wrote to me to say that “if a Kashmiri had picked up an argument or a petty fight with a yatri over some issue, Arnab Goswami would have raised hell for hours on end but such positive actions showing respect and care for Indian yatris and tourists do not receive even passing mention in his News Hour.”

The rough and rude treatment you give to senior and respected Kashmir leaders causes no less hurt than unjustified killings by the state police or paramilitary forces. Every time I have tried to present facts about Kashmir that you ignore you not only shout me down but also make it out as is I have joined in support of secessionists and Pak-supported terrorists.

You have no idea how much harm you cause in the process. Each such program leaves Kashmiris seething in rage. They are made to feel that they don’t have the basic democratic rights that people of other states have, and that they should neither protest police atrocities nor mal-governance and corruption of  the state , leave alone patently harmful policies adopted by the central government. Any manifestation of discontent on their part is invariably treated as an anti-national activity. In the process, you and your tribe weaken their faith in Indian democracy. As a result, what may have started off as a protest against the high handedness of the state government ends up turning into an anti-India protest. I have been repeatedly told in the Valley that Kashmiris would never be so estranged from Indian democracy if at least the Indian media learns had paid attention to their legitimate grievances.

—————–

The author is a spokesperson, Kashmir Committee

Threats to Greenpeace Team in Madhya Pradesh


Baiga tribe family in Balaghat district Madhya...

Baiga tribe family in Balaghat district Madhya Pradesh, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To,

Shri M Selvendran
Collector,
Singrauli District
Sub :  Complaint on continuous threat faced by Greenpeace team working in Mahan region in Singrauli , Madhya Pradesh.
 
Dear Sir,
As you know, Greenpeace has been working in the Mahan region (Waidhan Tehsil) on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior. We have been working in the villages of Budher, Suhira, Amelia, Pidharwa and other villages in the region. The company, Mahan Coal Limited, has in the past tried to instigate the villagers against us, and also tried to threaten us to stop us from working in the region.
We wanted to bring to your attention the most recent incident. Yesterday, a white Tata Sumo  with no number plate, followed our team in Amelia, Suhira and Budher villages in Waidhan Tehsil of Singrauli district, a photograph of the vehicle is attached. The vehicle was later parked outside the Mahan Coal Limited office, in Amelia village, Singrauli District. We believe this is done with an intention to intimidate our team.
We have been facing threat calls and people have been following our team since January this year, which we have brought to your attention. We had also filed a police complaint with the Waidhan Thana on 15th Janury 2012 citing details for the earlier incident when we have been followed and harassed by people in a yellow Nano car (again bearing no registration or number plate). We had filed a second police complaint on 18-3-2012 when we were followed by an Indica car (MP-53-TA-7085) and threatened by people.
The villagers in Amelia, Budher and Suhira are planning to get a resolution in their village Gram Sabhas   on the 15th of August 2012 to claim community forest rights in the Mahan forests. This is a right the people have, and they are being intimidated and told not to fight for their rights. The villagers have informed us time and again that officials of the Mahan Coal Limited have been threatening them and intimidating them.
Greenpeace has been working on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act and raising awareness on environmental issues in the region since June, 2011. It had undertaken a fact finding mission in the region along with eminent members like Justice Suresh Hosbet (Retd Justice, Mumbai High Court), Kalpana Kannabiran (lawyer activist), Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (eminent journalist), R Sreedhar (mines, minerals and People). The report resulting from this mission was published and released both regionally and nationally. We later held a public meeting to generate awareness on the Forests Rights Act (especially community forest rights) on the 6th of May 2012 in Budher village which was attended by M B Rajesh (Member of Parliament ) as well as representatives from the administration and forest department.
I request you to kindly take action against these people who are intimidating and threatening us and obstructing our travel and work.
 Regards,
Priya Pillai
Campaigner Greenpeace
 
Copy to:
1. Suprintentent of Police, Singrauli District.
3. Jan Sangharsh Morcha (JSM), Madhya Pradesh.
4. Members of Forest Rights Group.
5. Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD).
6. Mines, Minerals and People (mmP).
7. National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM).
10. Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders.
11. Delhi Forum.
12. National Forum for  Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)

Facebook #Censorship- Salvador Dali and Phillipe Halsman, photos removed


“The photograph of Salvador Dali and Phillipe Halsman, “In voluptate mors” (which was iself inspired by Salvador Dali’s gouache Female Bodies as a Skull painting), was removed by FB as somebody had reported the image on grounds of Nudity. My first instance of Moral policing. Facebook says “Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and imposes limitations on the display of nudity. At the same time, we aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”I wonder who the kind soul was who reported? I also wonder why Salvador Dali didn’t resort to Breastfeeding so that his work could be shared? I wonder if FB is paying attention to all this?”  Avi Das..https://www.facebook.com/avi.das1

 

Just the other day, I mentioned how Phillipe Halsman was a source of inspiration for fashion photography, but this is not, the only field where his work has been used.
Perhaps one of his most famous pictures, 1951′s “In voluptate mors” (which was iself inspired by Salvador ’s gouache Female Bodies as a Skull painting), has been featured, not in one, but in two!

Serial killer movie “The silence of the lambs”, used the picture as a small detail of the poster, by employing it as a motif in the moth’s head (you can click on the image, to see it with some more detail).
The skull image idea, was reportedly given to the agency that designed the poster, by director Jonathan Demme, specifically for use in the film’s poster artwork.

The second use, in the poster for British horror flick “The Descent”, was not so subtle, with the obvious difference being that the women in the poster are all dressed in hiking attire, to match the movies’s subject.
If you haven’t seen it yet and like horror movies, I highly recommend it!

And doesn’t this, just seem extremely well suited for the subject???

How to start a riot out of Facebook: Yousuf Saeed


Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

AUGUST 13, 2012

Guest post by YOUSUF SAEED, http://kafila.org

I am utterly shocked and pained to read about the violent rally that many Muslims took out at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on 11 August 2012 in protest against the recent communal carnage in Assam and Burma. More than the accidental death of two men and 50 injured in yesterday’s protest, what alarmed me was the public anger targeted on the media for “not reporting about the violence against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar”. Several vans of TV channels and their equipment were smashed or burnt besides a number of police vehicles destroyed. Of course, the authorities are still probing as to who really began the violence in an otherwise peaceful rally (and we are open to the results of such a probe). But my worst fear came true with this assertion of one of the protesters in a newspaper report: “Why is the media not covering Burma and Assam? We learnt about the incidents from videos posted on the Internet.” This seems to be a very disturbing statement on various accounts. Of course, the media can sometimes be biased, and the Muslims do feel victimised by it all the time. But are the random videos and images posted on the Internet any less biased or misleading?

Some of you may have recently noticed a number of gory and blood-soaked images being forwarded and shared on various social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that claim to show the dead bodies of “20,000 Muslims butchered in Burma in the hands of Buddhists” along with the assertion that the world’s media is silent about the plight of Muslims in Burma and so on. Most of those images are really disturbing, capable of making anyone’s blood boil. Some show mounds of rotting dead bodies and a few Buddhist monks standing near them. Some even looked digitally tempered with to enhance their anti-Muslim violence. But there was no sign of where these images were sourced from. A couple of them even had Jama’t-e Islami, Pakistan, stamped on them. But if, as the people posting them claim, the world’s media is silent about the Muslim carnage in Burma, how did these images and the disturbing news come from Burma in the first place? Where did they find them before posting? I asked this question to many friends sharing these images and they didn’t have a clue. They simply believed in what they saw. In fact, from the Internet these pictures were picked up by many Urdu newspapers from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi and printed with inflammatory titles and headlines. Many new caricatures and info-graphics started appearing on Facebook ridiculing the “peaceful” image of Buddhists or the “silence” of Burmese leader Aung Suu Kyi on the carnage of Rohingya Muslims and so on.

Read more here

Truth behind the Violence- Mumbai Police’s mature handling of Saturday’s protest #mustshare


Citizens for Justice and Peace met the Commissioner of Police Mumbai to express our concern over the fallout of Saturday’s violence. His mature  handling of a potentially explosive situation on Saturday did ensure that matters were brought under control. Most of all his immediate presence at the venue within minutes of the situation spiralling out of control, his direct appeal to the protesters and organisers, his reference to the bloodbath of 1992-1993 worked to calm the crowd and draw apologies from many sections of the Muslim community.

We have also shared details of the misuse of certain photographs from the internet claiming that these are about atrocities on Rohingyas in Burma when in fact they belong to different tragedies and protests. CJP would like to express deep sorrow at the loss of lives on Saturday and also deep regret at the injuries –some serious caused to several police men and women last Saturday.  Enclosed is a copy of the memorandum that contains the manipulated photographs.

CJP would like to state that while photographs about the situation in Burma have been doing the rounds since mid-June 2012, it was a Pakistani blogger who has pointed out the misuse/manipulation of some of the images.CJP would also like to urge that restraint and maturity continues to govern not just the law and order machinery but also the political class. Among the wide use of SMS for Saturday’s agitation, politicians have also been sending out provocative text messages. (we have some of these). Unlike what has been put out, we would also like to state that while the media may not have highlighted the situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar as much as say they have the Hindu refugees of Pakistan, this needs to be highlighted by enlightened debate. As far as the Assam issue is concerned there have been as always mixed reportage in the media. The Open Magazine calls it on e3 sided provocation against the Muslim settlers. It would also be worth remembering that clearcut efforts to communalise the situation in Assam have been spearheaded by our largest opposition party that speaks of the violence against the Bodos but not against the Muslim settlers who’s citizenship issue has been long settled.

We enclose the memorandum with a request that this is given wide coverage.

Teesta Setalvad
Secretary, CJP

 

August 13, 2012

To

Commissioner of Police

Mumbai

Shri Arup Patnaik

Dear Sir,

As citizens of Mumbai committed to the rule of law and human rights for all, we would like to place on record our appreciation for the manner in which the Mumbai Police under your stewardship handled the potentially explosive situation at Azad Maidan on Saturday. Though better preparedness and bandobast before the protest would have undoubtedly helped, once violence broke out, the mature and handling by the police without being further provoked by the behavior of the protesters ensured that the situation was brought under control, and that a potentially volatile situation did not spread to other areas. Sir it is critical to ensure that there is no further fallout of Saturday’s violence.

We would also like to condemn of the use of provocative slogans and resort to violence by some of those on the stage and in the crowd assembled to protest, as reported in the media. We strongly condemn the attack on policemen and misbehavior with women police officers as has been also alleged alleged in media reports that must have caused deep anger among the law and order enforcement machinery. The attack on the media is most deplorable, as also the destruction of public property. Any issues that any individual or group has with the media, selective portrayals or biases—if any– need to be furthered through discussion and dialogue not violence and instigation.

While the right to protest is a democratic right, the duty and responsibility of peaceful protest must lie with not just the authorities but responsibility must also be taken by organizers. (Justice Srikrishna in his report on the 1q992-1993 violence, had, relying on the earlier recommendations of the Justice DP Madon Commission report that were never implemented, recommended that  deposits need to be obtained from organizers of protests to ensure that damages for any losses could be recovered from this deposit). We suggest that the Mumbai police immediately apply this recommendation.

There have been reports that some provocative photographs of the situation in Burma were shown or talked of and the appeals to the media made. In this connection we would like to offer the following information. Since mid-June 2012, photographs allegedly depicting the horrific plight of the Rohingyas,­ who happen to be Muslims of Burmahave been widely circulated on the internet. (Annexure A)

Yesterday, after Saturday’s violence, as we were checking the authenticity of these out, we found, that some, though not all of them were actually not of authentic and were altered/morphed on the computer. This information has also been put out by a blogger who appears to be from Pakistan.

We attach some of these below for your consideration.

We would also like to humbly state that reviving the vibrant and collective effort of the Mohalla Committee—with ordinary citizens not politicians—is critical given that misconceptions and misgivings must have been caused across communities after Saturday’s incident. This is also necessary to ensure that there is no spill over resentment and anger with other, ordinary Muslims following the conduct of a handful of compatriots of the community on Saturday. The month of Ramzan, followed by Eid after which the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi will be both a strain and challenge to the Mumbai police. We hope that under your leadership, maturity and calm governs public behavior, not retaliation by the police or provocation by any other sections of society.

Yours Sincerely,

Teesta Setalvad                                           Javed Anand

Secretary                                                      Trustee

Other trustees:

IM Kadri (President), Nandan Maluste (Vice President),

Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer), Alyque Padamsee, Cyrus Guzder, Anil Dharker, Javed Akhtar, Ghulam Pesh Imam, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash

Annexure A

Social media is lying to you about Burma’s Muslim ‘cleansing’

Faraz Ahmed July 19, 2012

Social networking sites are abuzz with news about Muslims being killed in Burma.You can see the sporadic posting of pictures by different people with captions like ‘Muslims killing in Burma’, ‘Muslims slaughtered by Buddhists in Burma’ and so on.

Thus, I took on the mission to sort the truth out for myself once and for all and researched some pictures that I felt were dubious. Below are a few pictures and their original copies. You can evidently see the gross difference between them and how they are thrown out of context.

This was a picture shared on Facebook.


I have found the original version which reads differently to the the one posted on the social networking site.

This picture was taken in 2010 after an earthquake in China and captures the efforts put in by the Tibetans to help rescue the victims. Now, Islamic political parties and some other elements are sharing this image as Muslim killing and their slaughter in Burma.

Another widely circulated  picture captioned “More then 1,000 people killed in Burma” is also fake.

The original, as you can see below, is taken in Thailand in the year 2004. This picture shows protesters that were tear-gassed outside the Tal Bai police station in Bangkok. This is roughly 1,409.9 km away from Burma! What is grossly negligent about these photos is the factual ignorance of the hate these misleading photos can culminate.

Below, please find another image which was posted online, this time with an imprint of Jamaat-e-Islami on the top left . It reads ‘Terrorists of Budhism of Burma kills 500 Muslims’.

As you can guess, this is also a fabricated picture.

In reality, this image belongs to a Human Rights violation incident by the Thai authorities against the Rohingya ethnic minority of Burma. These refugees were detained for a few weeks and then sent off drifting into the sea.

Here is another instance of such fallacy spreading across the social media sites regarding the massacre of Muslims in Burma.

This picture is extremely misleading considering that the original image was about the riots in Thailand that took place in 2003! Now, take a look at the image below and observe how it is blown out of context.

Now, view the original.

The original picture is not even remotely close to what the picture above states. In fact, a Tibetan protester had set himself on fire in protest prior to the arrival of Chinese president Hu Jintao and that too in Delhi.

I do not deny the killings of Muslims in Burma – not even for a minute.

 

I think it is horrific and I am sympathetic towards the immense loss being suffered by my Muslim brothers and sisters abroad.What I am against is being lied to.

Imagine the amount of lies we are being fed through these pictures. How can one trust any image online if such drastic manipulation and editing is being done to cater to someone’s political or personal agenda?’

Social media and networking sites, if used properly, can be an impressive tool in spreading awareness amongst its users, but it can be an equally dangerous median as well if misused.

These images are false and are only igniting hatred and prejudice in our youth.

We need to become more vigilant and aware of the credibility and authenticity of  pictures we browse through. It only takes one wrong image to push us over the edge towards extremism.

Who do you think is more misleading?

Free and fair: Saudi Arabia to build a women-only city


Saudi Arabia is planning to build a new city exclusively for women as it bids to combine strict Sharia law and career minded females, pursuing work.

It is thought the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has been asked to bring the country up to date with the rest of the modern world with the controversial city, which is now being designed with construction to begin next year.

It is hoped it will allow women’s desire to work without defying the country’s Islamic laws.

Mono-city: A women only city is set to be built in Saudi Arabia to allow women to pursue a careerMono-city: A women only city is set to be built in Saudi Arabia to allow women to pursue a career

The municipality in the Eastern city of Hafuf is expected to attract 500 million riyals (£84m) in investments and it will create around 5,000 jobs in the textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing industries.

There will be women-run firms and production lines for women.

Although Saudi Sharia law does not prohibit women to work figures show that only 15 per cent of women are represented in the workforce.

SHARIA LAW: HOW IT WORKS IN SOME ISLAMIC STATES

Sharia Law is the moral code and religious law of Islam dealing with crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting.

In general Sharia doesn’t guarantee equal rights for women and men.

For many it does but for rights including marital and inheritance laws, it doesn’t.

Married women have the right to seek employment although it is often thought in patriarchal societies that the woman’s role as a wife and mother should have first priority.

Islam allows both single and married women to own property and the right to inherit from other family members but a woman’s inheritance is different from a man’s, for instance, a daughter’s inheritance is usually half that of her brother’s.

Islamic jurists have traditionally held that Muslim women may enter into marriage with only Muslim men, while the Quran allows a Muslim man to marry a chaste woman from the People of the Book, a term that includes Jews and Christians.

In 2003, a Malaysian court ruled that, under sharia law, a man may divorce his wife via text messaging as long as the message was clear and unequivocal.

The plan coincides with the governments ambitions to get women to play a more active part in the development of the country. Among the stated objectives are to create jobs, particularly for younger women.

‘I’m sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suits their interests, their nature and their ability’, Modon’s deputy director-general, Saleh Al-Rasheed, told Saudi daily newspaper al-Eqtisadiah.

Saudi’s existing industrial cities already have factories owned by women, as well as companies that employ a small portion of the female population and Saleh Al Rasheed added: ‘We are now working on a second industrial city for women.

‘We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the kingdom’.

As part of a mass overhaul of its workforce and its bid to get women into work the state is also attempting to replace foreign salespeople with Saudi women.

This summer, women started replacing staff in cosmetics and perfume shops, only half a year after they replaced male sales staff in lingerie stores.

But despite some progress, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are still defined by Islam and lack basic freedoms found in many Western cultures.

Last September, King Abdullah announced that women will be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections but Saudi Arabia is still the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving and it took huge efforts from the International Olympic Committee to persuade them to enter women in the Games for the first time ever.

Wojdan Shaherkani’s Olympics lasted just over a minute, but the fact she made it to her judo bout with Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica meant it was a revolutionary moment for the women of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani, who was embroiled in a political and religious row in her home country before being allowed to compete
The 100m sprinter Tahmina Kohstani of Afghanistan runs in a hijab and long clothing to conform with Islamic modesty laws

Making history: Saudi Arabia’s Wojdan Shaherkani and Afghanistan’s Tahmina Kohistani were the first women to represent their countries in the Olympics

The country’s ultra-conservative clergy tried to destroy her ambitions to be Saudi’s first female Olympian, before an argument about the type of headscarf she should wear jeopardised her place at the eleventh hour.

The Games in London were also a first for Afghanistan, also bound by strict law, when Tahmina Kohistani ran in the 100m, despite months of harassment from men who believed she should not be allowed to compete.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2187072/Saudi-Arabia-Women-city-planned-allow-more-females-pursue-career.html#ixzz23Pf2p0Xq

Street Sexual Harassment and power of Hard Evidence #VAW


August 7, 2012 by 

One day, during a typical 15-minute walk from her office to her apartment in the center of Brussels, 25-year-old graduate film student Sofie Peeters was harassed 11 times.

To channel her frustration with her inability to commute in peace, she produced a short documentary for her final school project called Femme de la Rue  (Woman of the Street). The undeniable display of street harassment in the film made it and her story go viral, drawing global attention to the problem.

Using a hidden camera, Peeters captured men saying, “sexy butt” and “naughty slut,” leering and making “pssst” sounds as she walked by. A few men marched alongside her, repeatedly asking for her phone number or a date and then calling her a slut or a whore when she politely refused. In the film, Peeters also interviewed women about their similar experiences.

While the documentary was filmed in Brussels, the behavior captured occurs in cities worldwide, as demonstrated by the stories women share on the Hollaback chapter blogs and websites such as Stop Street Harassment,HarassMap and Blank Noise. The 1998 documentary War Zone captures similar behavior in four major U.S. cities.

Supporting the stories and film footage, the few studies on the subject reveal that more than 80 percent of women experience street harassment in Canada, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Yemen and the U.S., and a recent poll found that four in 10 young women were street-harassed in London just last year.

Street harassment negatively impacts women’s lives. A recent survey for Gallup conducted in 143 countries shows that significantly more women than men feel unsafe walking alone at night, and street harassment is undoubtedly a large reason why. In the film, women that Peeters interviewed shared how, because of street harassment, they avoid eye contact with men, change how they dress, alter their routes, stay off public transportation at night and listen to iPods. One woman said street harassment led her to move neighborhoods.

While the documentation of street harassment and its impact is growing, we know less about why it happens. What little we know mostly comes from women such as War Zone producer Maggie Hadleigh-West who interview their harassers. Showing off for friends, “Just saying hi,” and, “I don’t know” (because it’s so culturally ingrained), are examples of responses she received.

Peeters asked the men in her neighborhood, “Why do you do that?” One admitted that 99 percent of the time his tactics “never succeed” in helping him meet women, but, “There’s time to be filled. It’s great to fill it like that.”

Sexual frustrations and being inundated by media and advertising images of women in sexually suggestive poses were other reasons men gave for their sexually aggressive behavior.

A few told Peeters that the only way women can avoid harassment is to have a man with them or to wear a wedding ring and say they are married. When Peeters asked if there was nothing else she could do, one man said, “You just need to remain silent. [His friends laugh.] If you respond, then they will consider you someone asking for it. Put earphones on, like all the other girls. And let them talk.”

The men in Peeters’ film are primarily Arab (several of the women she interviewed are, too) and she faces criticisms of racism. She responded by saying only a small portion of foreign men are harassers, and her film is a testament to the social situation of some immigrants: There are a lot of foreign men with little more to do than sit in cafes and in parks and bother women.

Given how universal street harassment is, I wonder if the actuality is that Peeters’ film only looks at one area of Brussels, and as cities are often at least loosely segregated by nationality or race or socioeconomic status, a similar film produced in other neighborhoods of the city would pinpoint different kinds of harassers. Street harassment, after all, is a symptom of and contributor to patriarchy, and most modern cultures, not just Islamic ones, are patriarchal.

Whatever its limitations, the documentary is having an impact.

Joëlle Milquet, Belgian interior minister, saw the film in late July and reaffirmed her plans to introduce a bill before Parliament next month that will legally define sexism, including street harassment, and attach penalties for committing it. A fine of €250 is one possibility. It is unclear how legislators plan to enforce the law, and some activists fear it may have a disproportionate impact on immigrants.

Even if a well-written law against sexism passes, it is the discussions about street harassment that will do the most to stop it since they raise people’s awareness and can change mindsets.

In this sense, the film is having a great impact, too. Its coverage in international news and social media is sparking conversations globally. In France, for example, one man on Twitter thought Peeters’ experience was unusual until scores of women in France responded with their stories using the hashtag #harcelementderue.

For Peeters, just by talking to men in her neighborhood for the film made them think about their behavior and Peeters differently. She said the men respect her now. If her film can inspire initiatives and conversations that will increase men’s respect for women, that may be its most important contribution.

Still from Sofie Peeters’ documentary Femme De La Rue.

Immediate Release-Planning Commission of India to hand over Health Care to Corporate Sector


 

English: Montek S. Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman,...

English: Montek S. Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, India, speaks at the closing plenary of the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2008 in New Delhi, 16-18 November 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 PRESS STATEMENT

 

 

Planning Commission of India to hand over Health Care to Corporate Sector

 

The draft health chapter of the 12the Five Year Plan document is being discussed for final adoption by the Planning Commission by the end of August, 2012. The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (Peoples Health Movement – India) expresses concern regarding the present recommendations and plans outlined in the draft chapter. The chapter fails to build on the recommendations of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) set up by the Planning Commission, misquotes the Group’s recommendations in many places and ends by proposing a plan for restructuring the country’s health system that would effectively hand over health care to the corporate sector. It is particularly problematic that the plan document invokes the concept of Universal Health Care, while actually proposing a strategy that is far removed from the basic tenets of Universal Health Care.

 

The Plan document recommends increase in public expenditure on health from the present 1% to 1.58% of GDP. This is in sharp contrast to the HLEG recommendation of increasing this expenditure to at least 2.5% of the GDP and also at variance with the earlier pronouncements by the Prime Minister. Secondly it proposes that the Central government’s (which collects most of the taxes ) share in the additional health expenditure would be less than half of what states would contribute and that Centre’s contribution would be conditional on states’ contribution!   The Planning Commission seems to have decided thatIndia will continue to be among the bottom 10 nations in terms of percent GDP spending on health.

 

What is of even greater concern is the strategy proposed for restructuring of the country’s health system in the document. The Plan document proposes a transition from: “….the present system which is a mixture of public sector service provision plus insurance, to a system of health care delivered by a managed network”. There is, thus, a road map envisaged where the Government will abandon its central role of providing health care and become primarily just a ‘manager’ of the new system envisaged.

 

The document’s vision of ‘universal provision of public health care’ includes two components.  “..preventive interventions which the government would be both funding and universally providing” (see annexure) and  “clinical services at different levels, defined in an Essential Health Package, which the government would finance but not necessarily directly provide”. What, in essence, this formulation proposes is that the Government would, over time, confine itself to providing a small package of services and would be primarily just a purchaser of virtually all clinical services from the  corporatised private sector. The Government would thus finance (with public money), strengthen and bolster an already resurgent corporate sector providing medical services. On the face of it, this appears an almost diabolical ploy to hand over the profit-making clinical services sector to corporate hospital chains. It would also decisively halt and eventually reverse the moderate achievements of the National Rural Health Mission, in expanding public health infrastructure and services in parts of the country.

 

The public health system will now be asked to compete with the private sector to attract patients. A system is envisaged where: “each citizen family would be entitled to an Essential Health package in the network of their choice. Besides public facility networks organized .. private and NGO providers would also be empanelled to give a choice to the families”. Even this truncated role of the public system is qualified by the proviso that” “..public facilities will have to be strengthened, networked, and their managers provided sufficient autonomy to purchase goods and services to fill gaps as per need”. In other words, public only in name, but would be vitiated by the logic of the market and by the incorporation of private players into its fold.

 

The HLEG had, in its report, commented that: “since there is virtually no focus on primary level curative, preventive, and promotiveservices and on long-term wellness outcomes, these traditional insurance schemes often lead to inferior health outcomes and high health care cost inflation”. Yet the Planning Commission’s document repeatedly talks about expansion of the health insurance scheme called RSBY and its vision of Universal Health Care is nothing but a more expanded version of the RSBY scheme.

 

The document announces another bonanza to the corporate medical sector in the form of grants to set up hospitals and private medical colleges. It says: “Health has now been included with other infrastructure sectors which are eligible for Viability Gap Funding up to a ceiling of 20% of total project costs under a PPP scheme. As a result, private sector would be able to propose and commission projects in the health sector, such as hospitals and medical colleges outside metropolitan areas, which are not remunerative per-se, and claim up to 20% of the project cost as grant from the Government”. It may be noted that the only eligibility requirement is the location, and not any contribution to public health goals.

 

This document proposes that  public health facilities will have “flexibility” to raise their own finances. The Plan document says: “Tertiary care facilities would have an incentive to generate revenues if they are provided an autonomous governance structure, which allows them flexibility in the utilization of self-generated resources within broad policy parameters laid down by the Government”. There are several ways in which such flexibilities can be misused, including in the form of levying of user charges and arrangements with private entities that seek to extract benefits that conflict with the public health goals of public institutions.

 

The HLEG  had recommended : “enforcement of price controls and price regulation on essential and commonly prescribed drugs”. However, this document does not even  mention drug price regulation, in spite of a pending Supreme Court directive that the Government should expeditiously put in place a system to control the prices of drugs. Neither is the recommendation of the Expert  Group, that the production of drugs and vaccines in the public sector be incentivised, reflected anywhere in this  Planning Commission’s chapter.

 

The ideological bias of the Planning Commission’s report is clear when it says: “A pure public sector delivery system involves funding a large public sector health system, with little incentive for the service providers to deliver a quality product”Such an assertion flies in the face of global evidence that the best performing health systems are those that are publicly financed and where health care is provided either almost entirely by the public sector or by a combination of the public sector and non-corporate  providers. Neighbouring Sri Lanka has been long held as an example of such a system, where over 90% of in-patient care and over 50% of out-patient care is provided by the public sector. Mortality and morbidity rates in Sri Lanka are far better than in India, in spite of the country having a lower per-capita GNP. Thailand, in recent years, has made rapid strides in providing universal access to health services by increasing public finances and by significantly expanding public provisioning of health services. In contrast, the United States, provides ‘choice’ between public and private providers but is by far the worst performing health system among all developed countries, in spite of spending over 8% of GDP on health care.

 

The Planning Commission’s recommendations, perhaps make some sense if seen purely in the context of neoliberal economic policies. Injection of public funds into a floundering economy through the financing of the private, corporate controlled, hospital sector may seem attractive in such a context. But the strategy is disastrous in public health terms, and is designed to finish of the vestiges of a public health system that still survives in the country.

 

 

 

We Never Said “We Wanted it All”: How the Media Distorts the Goals of Feminism


 By Ruth Rosen, alternet

What Anne-Marie Slaughter and so many other privileged women have failed to understand is that the original women’s movement sought an economic and social revolution that would create equality at home and at the workplace.
August , 2012  |

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

 For over thirty years, the American media have repeatedly pronounced the death of the women’s movement and blamed feminism for women’s failure to “have it all.“ But none of this is true. The movement has spread around the globe and early radical feminists wanted to change the world, not just seek individual self-fulfillment.

The latest media-generated debate exploded when Anne-Marie Slaughter revealed in the July 2012 edition of theAtlantic Magazine why she had left her fast-track, high-pressured job for Hillary Clinton at the State Department. Families, she admitted, could not withstand the strain. Even a superwoman like herself — blessed with a helpful husband, enough wealth to buy domestic help and child care, could not do it all. Although she described the insane work policies that made her neglect her family, she implicitly blamed feminism for promising a false dream. It was too hard, the hours too long, the persistent sense of guilt too pervasive.

What was missing in her article was the history of “having it all.” Too many editors care more about how an article about the death of feminism will, without fail, create a sensation and increase readership than about an inaccurate media trope.

And her article went viral, as they say, setting off a round of attacks and rebuttals about the possibility of women enjoying – not just enduring – family and work. She returned to her former life as a high-powered professor at Princeton University, which in my experience, hardly counts as opting out of trying to have it all.

To Slaughter, I want to say, you may know a great deal about foreign policy, but you certainly don’t know much about our history. By 1965, young American women activists in Students for a Democratic Society asked themselves what would happen to America’s children if women worked outside the home. Activists in the women’s movement knew women could never have it all, unless they were able to change the society in which they lived.

At the August 1970 march for Women’s Strike for Equality, the three preconditions for emancipation included child care, legal abortion and equal pay. “There are no individual solutions,” feminists chanted in the late sixties. If feminism were to succeed as a radical vision, the movement had to advance the interests of /all/ women.

The belief that you could become a superwoman became a journalistic trope in the 1970s and has never vanished. By 1980, most women’s (self-help) magazines turned a feminist into a Superwoman, hair flying as she rushed around, attaché case in one arm, a baby in the other. The Superwomen could have it all, but only if she did it all. And that was exactly what feminists had not wanted.

American social movements tend to move from a collectivistic vision to one that emphasizes the success of the individual. That is precisely what happened between 1970 and 1980. Alongside the original women’s movement grew another kind of feminism, one that was shaped by the media, consumerism and the therapeutic self-help movements that sprang up in that decade. Among the many books that began promising such fulfillment for women, was the best seller “Having It All” by Elizabeth Gurley Brown (1982) who tried to teach every woman how to achieve everything she wanted in life.

Self -help magazines and lifestyle sections of newspapers also began to teach women /how/ to have it all. Both turned a collectivistic vision of feminism into what I have elsewhere called Consumer Feminism and Therapeutic Feminism. Millions of women first heard of the movement when they read about the different clothes they needed to

Read more here