The Hindu, Editorial. Oct 9,2012
Census 2011 threw up a malodorous statistic: people in 49.8 per cent of households have no toilet facilities and defecate in the open. In contrast, 63.2 per cent of households have a telephone connection, of which 52.3 per cent have cell phones; as for televisions, almost half of the country’s households possess one. Nobody would even whisper in protest if someone, struck by this perverse anomaly, were to say that Indians needs toilets more than they do television sets and telephones. So why is there such blather over some perfectly reasonable remarks by Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh which were intended to stress that India requires more toilets than it does more temples? His suggestion that India has more temples than toilets was not part of an anti-religious tirade but a piece of hyperbole to stress the importance of sanitation in a speech to panchayat-level workers at the launch of a campaign to end open defecation. To suggest, as some have, that it was an insidious attempt to hyphenate toilets and temples in an ugly alliterative juxtaposition is rank nonsense.
In a country where politics hungrily attempts to feed off prickly religious sensitivities, Mr. Ramesh’s comments have been twisted out of context and blown out of all proportion. BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy has alleged that such comments would destroy the “fine fabric of religion and faith” and the fierce chorus of protests have led the Congress to forsake principle for expedience and distance itself from Mr. Ramesh’s remarks. Predictably, in this republic of hurt sentiments, at least one complaint has already been lodged with the police asking that a case be booked against him for outraging religious feelings — which, given the circumstances, reads like poor toilet humour. The only voice in favour of Mr. Ramesh emerged from Sulabh International, an NGO committed to the building of toilets. Organisations like these understand how vital toilets are to the well-being of India. A World Bank study conducted a couple of years ago estimated the economic impact of the lack of toilets and sanitation facilities, which it pegged at a staggering Rs. 24,000 crore annually — or 6.4 per cent of India’s GDP. This loss is created by deaths, especially of children, the cost of treating hygiene-related illnesses, losses from reduced productivity and educed tourism revenues. Open defecation is an ugly reminder of the country’s poverty and the failure of the government to provide adequate water and sanitation facilities. But it is more than a matter of shame and embarrassment — it has social and economic implications that this country can hardly afford.
Supporters of Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt gathered in New York’s Union Square on October 4. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)
A couple dozen activists gathered this past week in New York City’s Union Square to protest the imprisonment of freelance journalist Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt Soni Sori, who were arrested one year ago in India.
According to local human rights activists and journalists, authorities wanted to prevent Kodopi from publicizing the role of police in violence in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, where security forces and Maoists are at war. In April 2011, the 26-year-old journalist documented the destruction of houses during an anti-Maoist police operation in three Dantewada district villages and “recorded on video precise narrations of police atrocities,” Tehelka reported. Kodopi was charged with anti-state activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act and sections 121, 124A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy, sedition, and waging war against the state.
The New York protest was organized by the Association for India’s Development and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, and endorsed by groups like Amnesty International USA. Demonstrators gathered near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Prachi Patankar, a member of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, told CPJ, “While based here we can internationalize the issue. Journalists–not just in India–but elsewhere face similar challenges from their governments.” The event has sparked a sense of curiosity, she said.
Activists noted that Kodopi and his aunt have been tortured in prison. According to Telheka, Kodopi was beaten and held in a police toilet for 40 days. According to Human Rights Watch, Sori has been sexually assaulted and beaten. The government has failed to take action against those responsible for their torture, and the two remain in custody awaiting trial.
“It’s a very dangerous climate,” prominent Indian activist Himanshu Kumar told CPJ at the protest. “Journalists can’t report the truth. And if they dare to report on the reality, the government accuses them of being a Maoist and gives them a hard time, and even imprisons them.” Only the journalists who report the government version can survive, Kumar said.
This is certainly not the first time that authorities in India have targeted the press for shedding light on human rights abuses. In January 2011, police arrested journalist Sudhir Dhawale, who documented human rights violations for the Marathi-language monthly Vidrohi. Like Kodopi, he was charged with sedition and waging war against the state and was also charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Dhawale’s supporters say he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh state, a center of the violence between Maoists and the state. Dhawale remains imprisoned, according to media reports.
- Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori: Chhattisgarh’s Prisoners of Conscience (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Call for Action ! Send #SoniSori a Postcard #actnow #mustshare (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Carleton to Present Celebrated Indian Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan and Rare Screening of his Documentary Film, ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’
October 5, 2012
Noted and celebrated Indian documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan will host a discussion and screening of his groundbreaking film, “Jai Bhim Comrade: The atrocity of caste, a tradition of reason, a song that will be sung,” at the Carleton College Weitz Center for Creativity Cinema on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. This rare appearance is one of only two screenings of the film in Minnesota. Patwardhan’s films document injustice in an attempt to spark dialogue and social change; “Jai Bhim Comrade” provides a harrowing look at the persistent suffering of the “untouchable” caste in Indian society despite attempts to end discrimination. This event, which is free and open to the public, begins with a discussion and reception with Patwardhan at 6 p.m., followed by the screening of the film at 7 p.m.
“Jai Bhim Comrade,” which took Patwardhan 14 years to complete, offers an examination of how Dalits, also known as untouchables (the lowest caste in the traditional Hindu system), are still mistreated by many Indians and Indian politicians, despite the presence of laws meant to protect them. Patwardhan uses the massacre of Dalits by Mumbai police at a demonstration in 1997, which was followed by the public suicide of the subject of an earlier Patwardhan film, “Bombay My City,” as a means of exploring the history of discrimination toward Dalits. Patwardhan also documents the ongoing struggle between those who look down on the Dalits and those who have promoted reason and social justice through the centuries. Despite numerous antidiscrimination laws, which are widely perceived as greatly improving the condition of Dalits (India elected its first Dalit president, K.R. Narayanan, in 1997), Patwardhan shows audiences that the Dalits’ troubles are far from over. “Jai Bhim Comrade” has been widely screened throughout Maharashtra, the state where it is set, in an effort to reach the people whose lives it chronicles. The film was honored with a Best Film Awards at Films South Asia (a festival in Kathmandu, Nepal) and at the Mumbai International Film Festival, and has been honored by National Awards India and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Called “the foremost Indian documentary maker of his generation,” Patwardhan’s films expose the darker side of life in modern-day India. He claims to have become interested in political activism through participating in protest activity against the Vietnam War while a student at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. “Jai Bhim Comrade” is the first Patwardhan film to be approved by Indian film censors without any cuts; much of his previous work had been cleared for release only after legal battles. His first film, “Waves of Revolution” (1971), focused on the government’s repression of student activists in Bihar, and since then he has made films emphasizing political issues. Many of his films have been honored at film festivals worldwide. “War and Peace” (2002), Patwardhan’s last film before “Jai Bhim Comrade,” focuses on the development of nuclear arms by India and Pakistan; it won a National Film Award in India and was honored by the Karachi International Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, the Mumbai International Film Festival and the Earth Vision Film Festival.
This special appearance and screening at Carleton honors the work of Eleanor Zelliot, Laird Bell Professor of History Emerita, whose acclaimed work on India spanned a broad range of topics and centuries. Her commitment to documenting the poetics, piety and politics of Dalits, relegated to the margins and whose histories and voices have often been forgotten, were the focus of her academic writing and teaching.
This event is sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, the Department of Religion, the Department of History, the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the Zelliot Endowment for South Asian Art and Culture. For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact Sandy Saari at (507) 222-4232. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located at 320 North Third Street in Northfield; enter at the corner of Third and College Streets.
Date: 10 October 2012 – Kalu dam: State looks to MoEF again
The state government has applied to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) once again, seeking the go -ahead for the construction of a dam on the River Kalu in Thane District. The Ministry had earlier rejected the proposal sent by the state, which had already begun construction of the dam without the necessary sanctions.
The government on Tuesday informed the Bombay high court that it had applied for the sanction once more on the grounds that the dam water is meant for drinking purposes, and thus the permission to build it should be granted. The plea also states that the dam, if constructed, would improve the situation of drinking water availability in areas such as Mira-Bhayandar and Navi Mumbai.
However, the MoEF, based on a report submitted by its Forest Advisory Committee, has stated that the government should not be allowed to build the dam. This was communicated to the state government as per a letter dated July 27.
The report states that the project area fell under the ecologically sensitive zone of the Western Ghats, and also involved rehabilitation of the villages, a rehabilitation plan, an environment impact assessment report, a technical report on wildlife status and management, a gram sabha resolution for the forest dwellers who have been granted rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act.
The government failed to furnish all the above documents, and in the MoEF recommended that the case be closed.
The decision was given during the hearing of a petition filed by Shramik Mukhti Sanghatana, an NGO, that has alleged that the dam over the river was being built without required permission from the forest department.
On June 5, DNA had first reported how the dam, if built, would submerge an area of 2,100 hectares, including around 1,000 hectares of dense forest, and displace four villages.
Subsequently, in an affidavit filed by the state government, it had admitted that work on Kalu dam in Murbad began in October 2010 without required permission from the Centre and the MoEF.
According to the state, as per a resolution passed on July 9, 2009, it was granted an approval for building the dam. However, the Sanghatana argued that it was only after they moved the court that the state had sought the necessary permissions.
The Kalu dam, after being built, will be able to store a total capacity of 407.99MCM of water.
A total of 2258.87 hectares of land is going to be submerged under water. A total of 787 families likely to be affected by the project, and each family is being provided with Rs7 lakh as compensation.
A total area of 999.32 hectares is being reserved in Beed district to relocate the forest land which will be used for the project.
- Greens Tribunal slams MoEF, State Govt over KNP (assamtribune.com)
Sunil Baghel, Mumbai Mirror , Oct 10,2012
On October 3, the Bombay High Court granted bail to two people accused of being Maoists, saying it is “impossible to hold” that every person attracted to or influenced by the Maoist ideology “is to be treated as a member of a terrorist organisation”.
Sushma Ramtekke and Jyoti Chorge were granted bail for Rs 30,000 each, and sureties of similar amounts, on the condition that they visit their local police stations every Sunday.
The duo were arrested in April last year by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad for being a part of the Golden Corridor Committee – a group allegedly set up by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) to spread its message in urban areas.
“A number of persons are influenced by and attracted to the Maoist philosophy because of the oppression of weaker sections of society. The applicants too, like a number of such persons, might have been influenced and impressed by the Maoist philosophy,” the court observed.
Justice Abhay Thipsay, while granting them bail, observed that committees appointed by the government to study the problem of naxalites have found that it is the social, political, economic and cultural discrimination faced by the poor that drives them to the Maoists.
“It is impossible to hold that all such persons are to be treated as members of a terrorist organisation, or that they are liable to be punished for having some faith in such a philosophy, or for having sympathy for those who propagate such philosophy,” Justice Thipsay said in his judgement.
Another point that went in favour of the two accused was that the prosecution could not show that they were active members of the banned organisation.
The court observed that while the prosecution had taken lot of effort to show how the organisation posed a threat to the entire country, it could not show how the two accused were in any way actively involved.
The court said that the investigating agency had levelled a number of charges and general allegations against the accused, but there was no allegation that that either of them had committed a terrorist act.
Lack of evidence
Moreover, it said they did not have any evidence to show that the duo had conspired to commit a terrorist act, organise a terrorist training camp, or recruit anyone for terrorist acts.
The prosecution relied mainly on books and materials allegedly recovered from the duo to show that they were members of the banned organisation. But on this issue, the court observed that the material recovered was not banned under Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law.
Noting that it would run against the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, the court said, “That the possession of certain literature having a particular social or political philosophy would amount to an offence – though such literature is not expressly or specifically banned under any provision of law – is a shocking proposition in a democratic country like ours.”
- Allahabad HC grants bail to Seema Azad, Vishvijay convicted for #sedition #goodnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Every artist has the right to be rebellious: Girish Karnad (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- Seema Azad, Vishwavijay step out of Allahabad Jail (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Update: 9 October, 2012
As told to nityarand jayaraman by a source in Tirunelveli
Koodankulam protestors, and some others who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on September 10 and subsequent dates, had been picked up by the Police, arrested and remanded to judicial custody in Tirunelveli, Vellore, and Tiruchi jails. Yesterday, they were produced before the Magistrate in Valliyoor. This is the second instance that an extension on their remand has been granted.
The arrested people that were brought to the magistrate’s court from Vellore and Tiruchi were not given food, water or allowed to answer nature’s calls throughout the trip. In the earlier instance, when they were produced before the magistrate, they had been brought in hand-cuffed. The Magistrate had taken a very serious view of this, and reminded the police of the supreme court orders on the matter. Unlike the last visit, the arrested people were allowed to meet their relatives yesterday thanks to the presence of about 6 local lawyers who complained to the Magistrate. The magistrate in turn chastised the police and invited the relatives to meet the arrested people inside the court, and hand over food and clothing.
Two disturbing events arose.
1. Thirumani a.k.a Joseph, aged 29 (as per FIR), s/o Lincoln Nadar, Village Koodankulam is a mentally challenged person. On September 10, 2012, a new Sub-Inspector (name awaited) from the Koodankulam Police Station arrested Thirumani. His arrest was not noticed by anybody. He was produced before the Nanguneri Magistrate, who is the same person that helped the police with the remand of Mugilan. In this case too, the Magistrate (name awaited) remanded the arrested person to judicial custody. When solidarity activists in Tirunelveli found out about it, they applied for bail for the young man and requested that the youngster be sent in for immediate treatment. The matter had come up for hearing on 7 October (Saturday), when the Magistrate directed that Mr. Thirumani should be moved to the Tirunelveli Government Hospital, and sought a medical opinion. Yesterday, the medical opinion confirming Mr. Thirumani’s mental state was presented to the Magistrate. The magistrate questioned the Public Prosecutor in open court as to how the Nanguneri Magistrate had been convinced to remand a visibly mentally challenged person. The magistrate told the lawyers to move a bail application immediately. To move a bail application, the sureties produced (such as property papers etc) need to be certified by the Village Administrative Officer. All 5 VAOs and Tahsildars in Perumanal, Idinthakarai and Koodankulam have been instructed to not issue any certification and have refused to do so since the time that sureties were being readied for the release of Sathish Kumar and Mugilan a few months ago. In this case too, Koodankulam VAO Mr. Suresh flatly refused to issue any certification and directed the applicants to approach the District Collectolr. The Lawyers pointed this out to the Magistrate. Considering the mental state of the arrested person, the Magistrate has issued bail on the basis of patta tax payment receipts of 2010. The bail has now been granted, but only because the Magistrate was willing to accept our case only because Thirumani is mentally challenged. For the other persons, bail applications are likely to be a problem because the VAO is unlikely to certify surety papers.
2. Mr. Udayaselvan, s/o Sudalaimani, aged 25, Koodankulam village, is in no way connected to the ongoing protests. The following narrative is a paraphrased version of his oral testimony to the Valliyoor Magistrate on 9 October, 2012. On September 10, he was returning from having picked up clothes from a tailor shop in Koodankulam town where he had given clothes for stitching for a wedding of his close relative. On his way back, he was stopped by policemen. He told them he had to go home to drop off the clothes. The same policemen who had allowed him were joined by several more by the time he happened back. Despite his protests that he had nothing to do with the protest on the beach, he was picked up by three policemen — Police Constable Pal Pandi, Police Constable Lakshmanan and Sub Inspector Anand Raj. All three policemen were reportedly part of the escort that accompanied DSP Bidari and the ADGP. Udayaselvan was dragged into the thorny bushes, and was beaten up badly. One would slap him on his face, while the other would punch him on his head, and the third would hit him on his legs. This went on until he thankfully lost consciousness. Another person, also arrested on the same day from the same location, confirms that he saw Udayaselvan being dragged by his feet and hands and loaded on to the police vehicle. According to Udayaselvan, the Sub Inspector Anand Raj was particularly vicious. As Udayaselvan was narrating this, his mother who was present in the court fainted.
Mr. Udayaselvan said that he did not narrate these beatings on the first occasion for fear of upsetting his mother and sister. But since then (about 15 days back), he has lost all appetite and the effects of the beatings are seriously affecting his health. According to his mother, he has never appeared so weak. His request for medical attention has been granted, and the Magistrate reportedly ordered him to be relocated to the hospital immediately.
According to the person who narrated all this to me, the presence of a number of lawyers appearing on behalf of the arrested people made a big difference to counter the intimidation of the police and bring in a semblance of fairness to the proceedings.
However, even since the time when bail sureties were being readied for the release of Sathish Kumar and Mugilan two months ago, the Village Administrative
- Confirmed Updates: Koodankulam 11 Sep. #mustshare (kractivist.wordpress.com)
October 9, 2012
SERAC WINS A LANDMARK COURT JUDGMENT -
Holds That Dismissal Based On HIV-Positive Status Is Unlawful
The Lagos State High Court handed down a landmark judgment in the first ever Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) discrimination lawsuit, Georgina Ahamefule V. Imperial Medical
Centre & Dr. Alex Molokwu (Suit No. ID/1627/2000), on Thursday September 27, 2012. The
Honorable Justice Y.O. Idowu held that the termination of Georgina Ahamefule’s employment by
the Imperial Medical Centre on the ground of her HIV-positive status is illegal, unlawful and
actuated by malice and extreme bad faith.
On July 14, 2000, the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) filed the lawsuit
challenging the termination of Georgina Ahamefule’s employment as an auxiliary nurse by the
Imperial Medical Centre and its Chief Medical Director, Dr. Alex Molokwu, based on her HIV-
Georgina joined the Imperial Medical Centre as an auxiliary nurse in 1989. In 1995, while she was
pregnant, Georgina developed boils on her skin and sought medical attention from her employer Dr.
Alex Molokwu who carried medical examinations and diagnostic tests without disclosing the nature
and outcome of the tests to her. Dr. Molokwu referred Georgina for further testing to one Dr.
Okanny at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital with a note in a sealed envelope. Dr. Okanny
carried out various tests without disclosing the nature of those tests to Georgina. She was
subsequently informed that she had tested positive to the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV).
Georgina was never provided any form of counseling before or after the tests were carried out as
required by medical ethics and the law.
Dr. Molokwu promptly terminated Georgina’s employment as an auxiliary nurse at the hospital on
the ground of her HIV-positive status. In the termination letter dated October 23, 1995, Dr.
Molokwu explained that the hospital’s management could not compromise the facility or its patients
by exposing them to risks associated with Georgina’s HIV-positive status. However, Dr. Molokwu
had no hesitation to giving Georgina a letter recommending her for employment in other medical
The emotional and psychological trauma that she suffered as a result of the news of her HIV-positive
status and the loss of her employment contributed to a spontaneous miscarriage of her pregnancy.
Georgina was further victimized, rejected, humiliated and put at great risk when Dr. Molokwu
declined to carry out his own prescribed evacuation of the miscarried pregnancy on the ground of
Georgina’s HIV-positive status. Medical doctors at another hospital eventually carried out the
Unfortunately, the unfairness suffered by Georgina did not stop at the hands of Dr. Molokwu and his
hospital. In 2001, on an application for an accelerated hearing of the matter, the then presiding judge
in the case, Hon. Justice Caroline O. Olufawo of the Lagos State High Court, barred Georgina from
entering the courtroom because of her HIV-positive status. In a shocking display of judicial
ignorance, Justice Olufawo further ruled that satisfactory expert evidence must be presented in court
to convince her that the judge and others would not become infected with the HIV virus as a result of
Georgina’s mere physical presence in the courtroom. SERAC appealed that decision and the Court
of Appeal remitted the matter back to the High Court for trial. Georgina testified in her case without
further restrictions or impediments.
In 2010, SERAC demanded and secured the arrest and prosecution of Dr. Molokwu, and
Shamsudeen Aileru, a law clerk in the law offices of Professor Abraham Adesanya, Senior Advocate
of Nigeria (SAN), counsel to Dr. Molokwu. Pursuant to a Legal Advice issued by the Lagos State
Director of Public Prosecutions, dated September 28, 2010, the defendants were arraigned before the
Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, Lagos in The People of Lagos State V Shamsudeen Aileru & Dr. Alex
Molokwu (ID/50C/2011) for Perjury contrary to Section 118, and Conspiracy to commit a felony
contrary to Section 516, of the criminal code law Cap 17 Volume 2, Laws of Lagos State 2003. On
conviction, the offenses of conspiracy and perjury are punishable with 7 and 14 years imprisonment
This prosecution was triggered by SERAC’s executive director’s petition to the Commissioner of
Police, Lagos State requesting immediate investigation and prosecution of the defendants for
conspiracy to commit perjury and perjury. Professor Adesanya’s law clerk, Mr. Aileru, deposed
falsely to an affidavit on oath that Georgina had died in her hometown. Georgina is alive and well.
The affidavit was filed in support of a motion seeking to dismiss Georgina’s lawsuit against Dr.
Molokwu and his hospital. Relying on information supplied by Molokwu the law clerk deposed to an
affidavit stating falsely that Georgina had died, and urged the court to dismiss the lawsuit being a
personal action. The false declaration was one of many efforts by Dr. Molokwu and his lawyers to
frustrate Georgina’s quest for justice in the matter of the wrongful termination of her employment
and other violations.
The defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge and the prosecution opened its case on July 5, 2011
with Mr. Felix Morka, SERAC’s lead counsel in the civil matter, as its first witness. Georgina and
the police investigators also testified on the prosecution’s behalf. The prosecution closed its case on
the December 1, 2011. After dismissing a no case submission made on the Defendants’ behalf by
Professor Adesanya, the court directed the defendants’ to open their case. The case is currently
adjourned to October 31, 2012 for defense.
In an epochal decision, the Hon. Justice Y.O. Idowu of the Lagos High Court held as follows:
· That the purported termination of the Plaintiff’s employment is illegal, unlawful and actuated
by malice and extreme bad faith.
· That the Defendants’ action in subjecting the Plaintiff to HIV testing without her informed
consent constitutes an unlawful battery on her.
· That the Defendants’ action in not affording the Plaintiff pre-test and post-test counseling
services constitute an unlawful negligence of a professional duty to the plaintiff.
· That the Defendants’ action in denying the Plaintiff medical care on grounds of her HIV-
positive status constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to health guaranteed under article
16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement)
Act CAP 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and article 12 of the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ratified by Nigeria in 1993).
· An order for 5 Million Naira (Five Million Naira) general damages for the wrongful
termination of the Plaintiff’s employment.
· An order for 2 Million Naira (Two Million Naira) being compensation for unlawful conduct
of HIV testing without the Plaintiff’s informed consent and for the Defendants’ negligence.
This decision represents a major victory for Georgina and for all those living with the HIV virus in
the country, and a major triumph of justice over illegality and unfairness. It is the first-ever judicial
pronouncement on the unlawfulness of HIV-based discrimination. The decision is also significant in
holding that conducting HIV testing without the individual’s informed consent is tantamount to
unlawful battery. Further, it is equally definitive on the point that conducting HIV test on an
individual without pre-test and post-test counseling constitutes unlawful negligence. The case also
establishes the principle that denial of medical care on grounds of HIV-positive status constitutes a
flagrant violation of the right to health. The monetary damages of 7 Million Naira awarded against
Dr. Molokwu and the Imperial Medical Centre sends a strong signal that this kind of unjustifiable
and unlawful discrimination against people living with HIV will no longer be tolerated. We salute
the courage and wisdom of Her Lordship, Hon. Justice Y.O. Idowu.
By Jibran Ahmad | Reuters – 51 mins ago
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet on Wednesday from a 14-year-old girl shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls, doctors said.
Malala Yousufzai was in critical condition after gunmen shot her in the head and neck on Tuesday as she left school. Two other girls were also wounded.
Yousufzai began standing up to the Pakistani Taliban when she was just 11, when the government had effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley where she lives to the militants.
Her courage made her a national hero and many Pakistanis were shocked by her shooting.
General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan’s powerful army, visited her in hospital and condemned her attackers.
“The cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students, have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology,” Kayani said in a statement.
The military said it had a simple message, which it wrote in capital letters in the statement to add emphasis: “WE REFUSE TO BOW BEFORE TERROR.”
Doctors said they were forced to begin operating in the middle of the night after Yousufzai developed swelling in the left portion of her brain.
They removed a bullet from her body near her spinal cord during a three-hour operation that they finished at about 5 a.m. (0000 GMT).
“She is still unconscious and kept in the intensive care unit,” said Mumtaz Khan, head of a team of doctors taking care of Yousufzai in a military hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
One of the girls wounded with Yousufzai is in critical condition and the other is recovering and out of danger.
The military flew Yousufzai from her home in Swat, northwest of Islamabad, to Peshawar on Tuesday.
The shooting was denounced across Pakistan. The front pages of national newspapers carried pictures of a bandaged and bloody Yousufzai being brought to hospital.
“Hate targets hope” the Express Tribune said in a headline.
Schools closed across Swat in protest over the shooting and a small demonstration was held in her hometown of Mingora. Another was planned in the eastern city of Lahore for later on Wednesday.
“All Pakistanis should come together and raise their voices against such acts. If they do not do this, then they should mentally prepare themselves for their own children’s fate to be like Malala’s,” said Saeeda Diep, an organizer of the Lahore protest.
Many commentators said Yousufzai’s courage contrasted with that of many of the country’s leaders, who fear that challenging militants will make them targets.
“PEACE WILL BE SHAKEN”
Pakistan’s president, prime minister, and heads of various opposition parties joined human rights group Amnesty International and the United Nations in condemning the attack.
“Pakistan’s future belongs to Malala and brave young girls like her. History won’t remember the cowards who tried to kill her at school,” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter.
The attack was also condemned by many leaders of ethnic Pashtun tribes in northwest Pakistan.
“This attack is against Pashtun and Islamic practices,” said Khurshid Kaka Ji, leader of a jirga, or tribal council, in Swat, a one-time tourist destination of peaks and meadows where the military has battled the Taliban intermittently since 2007.
“The security forces and police deployed should capture the attackers and punish them. If they do not catch these people, then the peace that Swat has gained through bloodshed will be shaken.”
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack saying Yousufzai was “pro-West”, had been promoting Western culture and had been speaking out against them.
They justified shooting her by citing instances from the Koran when a child or woman was killed.
“Any female that, by any means, plays a role in the war against mujahideen should be killed,” said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan, using the term for Islamic holy warriors to refer to the Taliban.
“We are dead against co-education and a secular education system.”
President Asif Ali Zardari said he had directed that Yousufzai be sent abroad for medical care.
A special aircraft had been sent to Peshawar in case doctors say she should be moved to the United Arab Emirates, said Zaibullah Khan, general manager of the city’s airport.
Imran Khan, a former cricketer turned politician who recently led a march into northwestern Pakistan protesting against U.S. drone strikes, said he was willing to pay for Yousufzai’s medical treatment in Pakistan or abroad.
“Brave girl. Praying for her recovery,” he said on Twitter.
(Additional reporting by Kathari
Justice for Soni Sori Campaign
NCW Shamed into Reopening the Soni Sori Case After Gherao!
Today afternoon, activists from women’s groups and several peoples’ organisations stormed the National Commission for Women (NCW), protesting against the continued inaction for an year in the Soni Sori case. It has been one year since the arrest of 36-year old Soni Sori, an adivasi school warden from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, and her custodial torture at the behest of the then SP of Dantewada, Ankit Garg. Soni Sori’s right to life and dignity have been violated by various jail and police authorities several times over – from foisting false cases against her, sexually torturing and humiliating her in the police station, denying her medical attention, and most recently, humiliating her by publicly stripping her in prison in the name of conducting physical search. It is also one year since women’s groups first met the NCW to seek their intervention.
Since the first meeting last year, these organizations have approached the NCW on several occasions to take steps against Soni Sori’s custodial torture and continuing ill treatment. Every single instance of illegality by police and jail authorities was brought to the attention of the NCW. Soni Sori herself wrote to the NCW seeking their help. But all this has fallen on deaf ears.
On 27September 2012, when the NCW was once again approached regarding this case by representatives of some women’s organisations, Hemlata Kheria, the Member-in-Charge of Chhattisgarh was not even aware of Soni Sori’s case. It took two hours for her file to be dug out, and it was then discovered that a reply of the Chhattisgarh police had been lying in the NCW office since 17 February. The NCW has neither taken cognizance of this reply, nor forwarded it to the complainants.
Today, to the shock and consternation of the protesting organizations, they were informed by another member secretary Charu Walikhanna that the Soni Sori case had been closed on 4 Oct 2012, that too once more without informing the complainants! Clearly, the NCW had satisfied itself by reading a “report” by the accused in the case, the Chhattisgarh Police. The closure report says, “at our end, nothing seems more to be done”. Various members of the NCW came up with frivolous excuses of not having the “power” to take up a case which is pending before a court. The activists were then forced to read out the provisions of the NCW Act, which give the commission the power to intervene or/and assist in any pending case.
After prolonged discussion, the NCW finally relented and has reopened the case. Also, the NCW has given in writing that within a week it will “consider intervention in the Supreme Court case” and carry out a fact-finding.
NCW has frequently denied reports of sexual violence by security forces in several parts of the country, instead of seeking to investigate and end impunity granted in such crimes. It’s apathy has been criminal – it refused to get involved in the Shopian case where Nilofer and Aasiya Jan were sexually assaulted and killed; it remained a mute spectator when the Chhattisgarh police whisked away Sodi Shambho, the crucial witness to Gompad massacre, from right under its nose in New Delhi to some place where she still remains untraced three years later; it is still to take any action on a 15-month old petition asking the NCW to investigate the human rights violation of Irom Sharmila, who is being illegally detained by the Government.
The protesting groups today also pointed out that Members and Chairpersons of the NCW are chosen not by virtue of their involvement in and championship of women’s rights and struggles, but by their participation in and patronage by the ruling political parties.
- “It would have been better if you had given me DEATH PENALTY”- #SoniSori writes from Raipur Prison (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #SoniSori on hunger strike after being strip-searched in front of other prisoners (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Call for Action ! Send #SoniSori a Postcard #actnow #mustshare (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- “ANYTHING BUT THE TRUTH”-Response to story #SoniSori in Indian Express- WSS (kractivist.wordpress.com)