Tarapur Atomic Power Project Real TRUTH Revealed by Villagers


Tarapur Atomic Power Project Real TRUTH Revealed by  Palghar Villager Villagers

India’s Arabian Sea coast is home to the 1400 MW Tarapur Power Station near Mumbai, India’s largest operational nuclear plant that in 2011 was also identified by a government expert panel as the least prepared of the country’s atomic power complexes to handle a scenario like the one at Fukushima in Japan in 2011.

 The country is also in the process of setting up a 10,000 MW nuclear power complex at Jaitapur that has faced local opposition.

But though the subduction zone – where tectonic plates meet – to India’s west, near Makran along the Pakistan-Iran border is closer to India than the one to the east that was the epicentre of the 2004 tremors, the Arabian Sea has long been considered less vulnerable to large earthquakes and tsunamis.

India’s Arabian Sea coast is home to the 1400 MW Tarapur Power Station near Mumbai, India’s largest operational nuclear plant that in 2011 was also identified by a government expert panel as the least prepared of the country’s atomic power complexes to handle a scenario like the one at Fukushima in Japan in 2011.

The country is also in the process of setting up a 10,000 MW nuclear power complex at Jaitapur that has faced local opposition.

But though the subduction zone – where tectonic plates meet – to India’s west, near Makran along the Pakistan-Iran border is closer to India than the one to the east that was the epicentre of the 2004 tremors, the Arabian Sea has long been considered less vulnerable to large earthquakes and tsunamis.

 

Zio-Podolsk Scandal – Save Our Souls Part – 3 #nuclear


Rosatom-owned company accused of selling shoddy equipment to reactors at home and abroad, pocketing profits

CharlesDigges, 28-02-2012

Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad.

The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB.

It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.

“The scope of this scandal could reach every reactor in Russian and every reactor built by Russia over the past several years and demands immediate investigation,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “Were is the political leadership in the Russian government to deal with such a crime?”

Hauge expressed outrage that an alleged crime of such a massive scale was not leading to immediate action to check each reactor that may have been affected by the profit pocketing scheme, and he was frustrated that the FSB and prosecutors were not naming specific reactors that may be involved.

“As long as the Russian government is not investigating this case correctly, we will have to ask international society to do it,” he said.  “Bellona will be taking further action in this case.” Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair of Russia’s Ecodefense agreed.

“Stopping and conducting full-scale checks of reactors where equipment from ZiO-Podolsk has been installed is absolutely necessary,” said Slivyak. “Otherwise [there is] the risk of a serious accident at a nuclear power plant with cleanup bills stretching into the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars [that] will have to be footed by taxpayers.”

The criminal case was opened against ZiO-Poldolsk in December, but information about the investigation was released in the Russia media via the official Rosbalt agency only last week –  a common circumstance in FSB-associated investigations.

The charges leveled against ZiO-Podolsk, which is Russia’s only manufacturer of steam generators for nuclear plants built by Rosatom domestically and by its international reactor construction subsidiary Atomstroiproyekt are a staggering blow to Rosatom’s credibility.

ZiO-Podolsk is a subsidiary organization of Atomenergomash, founded in 2006. Atomenergomash was acquired by Atomenergoprom, which is 100-percent state-owned, in 2007. Atomenergoprom is a part of Rosatom.

But the paperwork is rather a technicality for a machine works that has been involved with the nuclear industry since its inception. Founded in 1919, ZiO-Podolsk produced the boiler for the first electricity-producing nuclear reactor at Obninsk in 1952, and has produced the boilers for every Russian reactor built ever since.

A shudder in the environmental community

According to prosecutors, ZiO-Podolsk began shipping shoddy equipment in 2007 or perhaps even earlier. This has implications for the safety of nuclear power plants built by, or that bought equipment from, Rosatom in Bulgaria, China, India and Iran – as well as Russia – striking a chord of outrage and distress among environmental groups.

ZiO-Podolsk is also making critical parts for the reactor pressure vessel and other main equipment for the BN-800 fast reactor at Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant, in Russia’s Sverdlovsk Region in the Urals, a source told Bellona on the condition of anonymity.

The machine works giant is also making steam generators for Russia’s Novovoronezh, Kalinin, and Leningrad Nuclear Power Plants, and Belene in Bulgaria, according to the London-based World Nuclear Association.

The case assembled against ZiO-Podolsk involves embezzlement of state funding intended for purchases of raw material that are compatible with contemporary safety standards for nuclear reactors, Rosbalt reported.

The FSB investigation

According to the FSB investigation – which was described in unusual detail by the news wire – procurement director Shutov allegedly purchased low-grade steel for equipment in collusion with ZiO-Podolsk’s supplier AТОМ-Industriya. That company’s general director, Dmitry Golubev, is currently at large after embezzlement charges were filed against him by the same Moscow court that ordered Shutov’s arrest, Rosbalt quoted FSB sources as saying.

The scheme between Shutov and Golubev allegedly involved Shutov turning a blind eye to inferior quality steel in return for a large portion of the profits reaped by ATOM-Industriya, the FSB told Rosbalt, citing transactions that were accounted for in bookkeeping documents the security service said it confiscated from the financial director of ATOM-Industriya.

“This company purchased cheap steel in Ukraine and then passed it off as [a] more expensive [grade]; the revenues were shared by the scam’s organizers,” an FSB source was quoted by Rosbalt as saying.

FSB agents said that ATOM-Industriya produced some 100 million roubles’ (€2.5 million) worth of pipe sheets, reactor pit bottoms, and reservoirs for ZiO-Podolsk – equipment that was delivered to Russian and foreign reactors – including an order of so-called tube plates for high-pressure heaters at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP. High-pressure heaters, while having no relation to the safe operation of reactors, are used to improve efficiency of power output.

Bulgarian plant expressing concern

When Rosbalt ran its detailed story last week, the management of Kozloduy NPP was quick to respond by releasing an early statement saying its two heaters had been “functioning flawlessly”  since their installation dates in 2010 and 2011.

A statement released 10 hours later that day carried by a different news agency, however, reported that Kozloduy NPP CEO Alexander Nikolov had sent off a letter to ZiO-Podolsk and Atomstroiexport demanding that they certify the quality of the metal in the heaters.

The FSB alleged to Rosbalt that the use of shoddy steel in the case of the heaters manufactured for Kozloduy NPP alone netted a black profit of 39 million roubles (€1 million) for ATOM-Industriya.

Detailed report likely true

Ecodefense’s Slivyak said he believed the Rosbalt report and its copious quotations from the typically secretive FSB to be on the level.

Aside from the suspicions raised by Kozloduy NPP, Slivyak also said that the Russian built Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in China had previously complained to Rosatom with over 3,000 grievances regarding the low quality of materials delivered to construct the plant, lending credence to the FSB’s version of events.

Slivyak further noted the FSB, which functions as an attack dog for the government of Vladimir Putin, has nothing politically to gain by giving Rosatom – a pet corporation in Putin’s  “power vertical” – a black eye.

The week following Robalt’s article, Rosatom, which had previously refused comment, and Atomenergomash, released a bristling denial as interesting for what it does say as for what it leaves unsaid.

“Rosatom and Atomenergomash deny information related to substandard equipment at nuclear power station that was delivered by ZiO-Podolsk,” read the joint statement. The companies say that “all possible announcements about unsuitable production quality at ZiO-Podolsk are knowingly incorrect and mistaken.”

The statement continued, saying: “A stringent multi-layered system of quality control is in place at ZiO-Podolsk, encompassing all level of production: from expert evaluations of received materials and ores to final inspection of products. Evaluations of the compliance of equipment’s quality delivered to foreign nuclear power stations is carried out by the authorized organization OAO Zarubezhatomenergostroi.”

But the joint statement failed to contradict information supplied to Rosbalt by prosecutors concerning the arrests of upper-management officials at ZiO-Podolsk and ATOM-Industriya.

Two spokesmen for the FSB contacted by Bellona confirmed the version of events their colleagues described to Rosbalt, but refused to discuss “an ongoing investigation” further. They also refused to comment on what other nuclear power plants besides Kozloduy may have been affected by defective materials from ZiO-Podolsk.

http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2012/podolsk_corruption

http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-1-nuclear/

http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-2-nuclear/

http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/india-zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-4-nuclear/

 

‘My arrest was psychological warfare’- Urdu Journalist


On 6 March last year, the Urdu journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi was arrested for his alleged role in the car bomb attack in New Delhi that injured the wife and driver of an Israeli diplomat on 13 February 2012. Out on bail after international outrage and seven months in custody, he is now set to launch his Urdu daily Qaumi Salamati (National Security). He tells Aradhna Wal what it feels like to be persecuted
Aradhna Wal

Aradhna Wal

2013-04-20 , , Issue 16 Volume 10

Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi | 51 | Journalist
Photo: Dijeshwar Singh

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

What led you to start Qaumi Salamati in Urdu?
Considering my experience with the judicial process, the police mentality, people I’ve met in and out of custody, I’ve realised there is very little awareness among speakers of Urdu and other languages. What we see is not the reality. The real issues are never discussed because people in the corridors of power, in India and elsewhere, don’t want the public to talk about those issues. Terrorism has become an industry for certain countries, and certain people. From what I know, most incidents are staged. Can you conceive of a series of bomb blasts [in Pune] that kill no one? After that, many people are arrested. Do you think the blasts were real? This is a flourishing industry. You set off a firecracker in a marketplace and sell thousands of CCTV cameras, security gadgets and equipment.

Do you think the government will keep a close eye on the content of your paper, considering your pending case?
Let them. The government and the citizens are bound by the law and the Constitution. Let the law take its course.

Will you use your newspaper to fight the politics of counter terrorism?
Through Qaumi Salamati, we will try to set things right. I see my arrest as psychological warfare. You catch one person and create a sense of insecurity among thousands. But many people came out on the streets to support a so called terrorist. Not just in India, but internationally too. Around 5,000 people turned out in London, demonstrating in front of the Indian Embassy. This is the beginning of the reversal of manufactured terrorism. I met people in jail who have been facing illegal detention for months, years. They’ve been praying for a chance to be produced in court, but there are more chances of an encounter happening before that. I was told that before 15 August, 26 January, Holi or Diwali, the police produce these people before TV cameras saying they’ve caught terrorists and foiled their plot.

Why do you think they came after you?
I have almost 30 years of experience writing for different media houses in Iran. I have friends working in Tehran. If someone approaches them for a contact in Delhi, they can give my number. If that person calls me, that can be used as evidence against me. The day of the blast, I was part of a protest in the Congress office. My close relations with Iranian media were used to justify Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, which he made within hours, calling it an Iranian attack.

How do law and policy need to change to ensure that ‘sedition’ and ‘terrorism’ are not misused to target a particular community?
My lawyer Mahmood Pracha has shown that the police have been misinterpreting the law and implementing it wrongly for years. When I was taken to the Tis Hazari court on the first day, the sub-inspector gave me a folded document to sign. I could only read the last line, which said that I was part of a conspiracy. If they had a case against me, why did they want my signature at that point? The sub-inspector later asked me to sign another copy. This time I read the whole document, which turned out to be a confession. He said in police custody they always asked people to sign like this.

What is your view of the current state of journalism in India?
The media, both in India and other countries, is full of non issues to keep people from thinking. In India, we sit in front of TV new channels for hours without having heard any news. At least a Doordarshan or an AIR bulletin gives out information. There is a set of journalists I call ‘poultry eggs’. They do stories the way editors tell them to. Reading newspapers in custody, though, I still have hope for the print media. It is more responsible.

aradhna@tehelka.com

 

Nuclear weapons must be eradicated for all our sakes- Desmond Tutu


No nation should own nuclear arms – not Iran, not North Korea, and not their critics who take the moral high ground

(FILES) This file picture taken by North

As an Oslo conference on nuclear weapons starts, we should not accept that a ‘select few nations can ensure the security of all by having the capacity to destroy all.’ Photograph: Kns/AFP/Getty Images

We cannot intimidate others into behaving well when we ourselves are misbehaving. Yet that is precisely what nations armed with nuclear weapons hope to do by censuring North Korea for its nuclear tests and sounding alarm bells over Iran’s pursuit of enriched uranium. According to their logic, a select few nations can ensure the security of all by having the capacity to destroy all.

 

Until we overcome this double standard – until we accept that nuclear weapons are abhorrent and a grave danger no matter who possesses them, that threatening a city with radioactive incineration is intolerable no matter the nationality or religion of its inhabitants – we are unlikely to make meaningful progress in halting the spread of these monstrous devices, let alone banishing them from national arsenals.

 

Why, for instance, would a proliferating state pay heed to the exhortations of the US and Russia, which retain thousands of their nuclear warheads on high alert? How can Britain, France and China expect a hearing on non-proliferation while they squander billions modernising their nuclear forces? What standing has Israel to urge Iran not to acquire the bomb when it harbours its own atomic arsenal?

 

Nuclear weapons do not discriminate; nor should our leaders. The nuclear powers must apply the same standard to themselves as to others: zero nuclear weapons. Whereas the international community has imposed blanket bans on other weapons with horrendous effects – from biological and chemical agents to landmines and cluster munitions – it has not yet done so for the very worst weapons of all. Nuclear weapons are still seen as legitimate in the hands of some. This must change.

 

Around 130 governments, various UN agencies, the Red Cross and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons are gathering in Oslo this week to examine the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and the inability of relief agencies to provide an effective response in the event of a nuclear attack. For too long, debates about nuclear arms have been divorced from such realities, focusing instead on geopolitics and narrow concepts of national security.

 

With enough public pressure, I believe that governments can move beyond the hypocrisy that has stymied multilateral disarmament discussions for decades, and be inspired and persuaded to embark on negotiations for a treaty to outlaw and eradicate these ultimate weapons of terror. Achieving such a ban would require somewhat of a revolution in our thinking, but it is not out of the question. Entrenched systems can be turned on their head almost overnight if there’s the will.

 

Let us not forget that it was only a few years ago when those who spoke about green energy and climate change were considered peculiar. Now it is widely accepted that an environmental disaster is upon us. There was once a time when people bought and sold other human beings as if they were mere chattels, things. But people eventually came to their senses. So it will be the case for nuclear arms, sooner or later.

 

Indeed, 184 nations have already made a legal undertaking never to obtain nuclear weapons, and three in four support a universal ban. In the early 1990s, with the collapse of apartheid nigh, South Africa voluntarily dismantled its nuclear stockpile, becoming the first nation to do so. This was an essential part of its transition from a pariah state to an accepted member of the family of nations. Around the same time, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine also relinquished their Soviet-era atomic arsenals.

 

But today nine nations still consider it their prerogative to possess these ghastly bombs, each capable of obliterating many thousands of innocent civilians, including children, in a flash. They appear to think that nuclear weapons afford them prestige in the international arena. But nothing could be further from the truth. Any nuclear-armed state, big or small, whatever its stripes, ought to be condemned in the strongest terms for possessing these indiscriminate, immoral weapons.

 

‘First’ Afghan female rapper seeks reason with rhymes #Womenrights #Vaw


By AFP
Published: January 3, 2013

Soosan Feroz practicing with Afghan pop musician Farid Rastagar at a recording studio in Kabul. PHOTO: AFP

Soosan Feroz  practicing with Afghan pop musician Farid Rastagar at a recording studio in Kabul. PHOTO: AFPSinger raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KABUL: Sporting a long leather coat and western jeans under a headscarf, Soosan Feroz looks like many modern women in Kabul.

But she is a surprising new phenomenon in this conservative country – the nation’s first female rapper.

Her lyrics though are not unfamiliar for many of her fellow countrywomen – she raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war in a country gripped by poverty.

“My raps are about the sufferings of women in my country, the pains of the war that we have endured and the atrocities of the war,” Feroz told AFP in an interview in the office of a local company that is helping her record her first album, between local performances including at the US embassy in Kabul.

Like most fellow Afghans, the 23-year-old says her life is filled with bitterness – memories of war, bombing and a life at refugee camps in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.

She was taken to Pakistan as a child by her parents and later to Iran, escaping a bloody civil war at home in 1990s.

Two years after the 2001 US-led invasion of her war-scarred nation that toppled the Taliban, the then-teenager returned home with her family.

She worked as a carpet weaver with her other siblings for a living until she discovered her new talent.

Told that rap and hip hop had become a way for many artists around the world to express daily hardships in their lives, Feroz says: “If rap singing is a way to tell your miseries, Afghans have a lot to say.

“That’s why I chose to be a rapper.”

She recalls her woes at Iranian refugee camps in her first recorded piece of music, “Our neighbours”, which has been posted on Youtube and viewed nearly 100,000 times:

“What happened to us in the neighbouring country?

“We became ‘the dirty Afghan’

“At their bakeries we were pushed at the back of the queue.”

The lyrics are borne from personal experience, Feroz said. “As a child when I was going to bring bread from our neighbourhood bakery, the Iranians would tell me, ‘go back, you dirty Afghan’.

“I would be the last one in the line to get my bread,” she said.

Millions of Afghans still live in Iran and Pakistan, which together hosted about seven million refugees after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Feroz was too young to remember the bloody battles of the 1980s between the Russian soldiers and freedom fighters known as mujahedin but her first song is full of war tales, with one line proclaiming: “We went to Europe for a better life (but) in refugee camps we rotted.”

Thousands of Afghans put their lives on the line every year to reach Europe through dangerous and illegal routes on land and sea. Those who make it often spend years in isolated refugee camps.

Afghan pop star Farid Rastagar has offered to help the young artist release an album, the first song of which will be released in January.

One of the songs is called “Naqisul Aql” which can be translated as “deficient-in-mind” – a common belief about women among Afghan men.

“In this rap, she sings about the miseries of the women in Afghanistan, about abuses and wrong beliefs that still exists about women,” Rastagar told AFP.

Afghan women have made some progress since the fall of the Taliban but many still suffer horrific abuse including so-called ‘honour killings” for percieved sexual disobedience.

Feroz, the daughter of a former civil servant and an illiterate housewife who remarkably let their daughter sing, has already made scores of enemies not only among conservatives but within her own family.

After releasing her first song on the internet, Feroz’s uncles and their families have shunned her, accusing her of bringing shame on them.

Others, mostly anonymous callers, have threatened to kill her.

“What’s my fault?” she asks. “I always receive phone calls from unknown men who say I’m a bad girl and they will kill me,” she says, her dark eyes welling with tears.

Sitting next to her is her father, Abdul Ghafaar Feroz, who says he prides himself on being her “personal secretary”.

“I’m not deterred,” Feroz said, her father nodding his head in agreement. “Somebody had to start this, I did and I don’t regret it and I will continue. I want to be the voice of women in my country.”

 

#Censorship kills cinema, says filmmaker Makhmalbaf


M. P. Praveen, The Hindu

Kochi, Dec16.2012

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the acclaimed Iranian director who has left an indelible stamp in global cinema, has a very simple philosophy towards filmmaking – change the world.

Never known to mince words or being diplomatic either in films or in real life, Makhmalbaf, clad in his trademark black shirt and black trousers and accompanied by his wife Marziyeh Meshkini, a filmmaker of repute in her own right, spoke about his films, the Iranian society, democracy and the need for a change in civilization. He was in the city on Saturday as part of the Kochi International Film Festival set to get underway here on Sunday.

“When I see so much poverty around me how can I make films about poetry,” Mr. Makhmalbaf quipped with innate honesty when asked about the extreme realism in his movie sometimes at the cost of the aesthetics of the medium of cinema. That is why he felt compelled to make his much celebrated film ‘Kandahar’ that told the horrors of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Calling himself a “little entertainer”, he said that the emphasis is on giving a valid message for the audience to ponder over when they come out of the movie house.

Thrown behind the bars at the age of 17 for opposing the repressive regime of the Shah, he said that the courage to stand up to dictatorship and injustice evolved during the five years he spent in prison during which he read about 2,000 books of all hues.

Mr. Makhmalbaf, however, was quick to add that he is not a one dimensional filmmaker. “I draw my concept from reality. Besides, the situations and the people I encounter, the places I see and my own mood dictate my decision on the next film,” he said. His next project is based on European refugees. He had strong words against Hollywood castigating it as responsible for the death of regional films in many countries. Mr. Makhmalbaf said that the censorship prevailing in Iran should not be mistaken as contributing to the wider global acceptance of Iranian movies. Rather, he attributed it to simplicity, social concepts based on which they are being made, realistic treatment, its root in poetry, the constant search to find something new. One could find the same reasons in the Indian movie ‘Pather Panchali,’ he felt. “Censorship kills cinema. Sometimes a little pressure gives filmmakers more energy to fight it. But strangulate them and they will die. That’s why many Iranian filmmakers are not able to make films there now,” he said. Mr. Makhmalbaf was not much euphoric about the popular uprisings in West Asian countries like Egypt. Egypt’s case is similar to Iran in the years after Islamic Revolution. “At that time, we thought that all our problems will be solved if the king goes. But he was replaced by a religious dictator. In our quest for democracy, we lost everything including liberalism and secularism,” he said.

He feels that democracy without morality is futile. Democracy is about vote of the majority but without morality the minority will be alienated.

 

UN Resolution Calls for Israel to Disclose Nuclear Arsenal


Regional outlier asked to join NPT and back vision of a ‘Nuclear-Free Middle East

- Common Dreams staff

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday to approve a resolution calling on Israel to open up its nuclear weapons program to international inspectors and to end its refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treary, or NPT.

 A vote by the United Nations general assembly has called on Israel to open its nuclear programme to weapons inspectors. (Photograph: Chip East/Reuters) The resolution passed with a 174-6 vote, and included 6 abstentions. Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau were the “no” votes.

Also included in the UN measure was a call to reschedule a recently cancelled conference that would push for a ‘nuclear-free Middle East,’ something that all countries across the region, including Iran, have supported. A meeting on the issue was planned for this month in Helsinki, FInland, but was  cancelled, or at least postponed, by the U.S. at the end of November.

Though the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal is widely known to exist, neither the nation’s government or its key ally, the U.S., will publicly acknowledge the program.

This refusal has long helped Israel avoid acknowledging the hypocrisy of its repeated threats against Iran for its nascent nuclear technology program.

As the Associated Press reports:

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states — India, Pakistan and North Korea.

And John Glaser, writing at Antiwar.comadds:

If Israel agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran and Israel’s Arab neighbors have repeatedly proposed – the supposed threats Israel faces in the region would virtually disappear.

But Israel refuses to give up its nuclear monopoly, insistent on maintaining its excuse to build up its military and distract from the Palestinian issue.

As former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar has written, “the Iran issue” provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.”

________

 

“I Was Made A Scapegoat Because Of My Background “Syed Kazmi


Outlook Magazine | Dec 03, 2012

 

Sanjay Rawat
interview
‘I Was Made A Scapegoat Because Of My Background’
The journalist accused of being part of an Iranian plot to attack Israeli diplomats in India speaks up

The arrest of 
Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi on March 6 this year had left many stunned. A well-established journalist, accredited with the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB), and someone who regularly interacted with top politicians, he suddenly came to be described as a player in an Iranian plot to attack Israeli diplomats in India. Convinced he was being framed because of his harsh and vocal views on American and Israeli policy, many had rallied around Kazmi to campaign for his release. He was finally granted bail by the Supreme Court on October 19 and stepped out of Tihar after spending seven months in jail. His first interview since his release, questions related directly to the case were answered by his lawyer (see accompanying story), but Kazmi himself told Debarshi Dasgupta that he was threatened in order to make him confess. He also spoke of his social isolation since his release and claims he was targeted for his critical views on India’s foreign policy. Excerpts:

How were you treated in jail?

Torture is not just physical. For me, it was more mental trauma, almost unbearable levels. There was always the uncertainty every morning of when I would be freed, if at all. I used to see the government’s version and could not believe it was actually me they were discussing. There were threats—from top officers—of having my children kidnapped, of having explosives recovered from my home or car. They told me I’d languish in jail if I didn’t tell them all, that my beard would grow so long in custody that even my children would not recognise me. On the whole, I have lost the social status that I once enjoyed. I was made a scapegoat just for my professional background.

Do you think you were picked up for your harsh political views on India’s close links with US/Israel and their role in global affairs?

You can judge it yourself from my television appearances. In this changing scenario, people do not like the truth. Probably, this was one of the reasons….

“There were threats—from top officers—of having my children kidnapped, of having explosives recovered from my home or car.”

Would you still argue that India needs to correct its present course of foreign policy?We need to have a foreign policy based on national interests, and not for short-term interests but long-term ones. A gas pipeline from Iran, Pakistan to India is not feasible but a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan to India is feasible. Does it make sense?

What would your comments be on the current crisis in West Asia and India’s role in the region?

The MEA issued a balanced statement on the ongoing crisis between Israel and Palestine but we need to make tactical diplomatic moves, independent of western perceptions and objectives, if we have to emerge as an effective force in the region. We should, for instance, take into confidence the elected government of Hamas in Gaza and have diplomatic contacts with them and not just the Al Fatah faction. Powers on the ground need to be engaged more. For instance, Hezbollah, described as a terrorist entity by westerners, is a crucial player in Lebanon. You cannot form a government there without their support. We made mistakes in Iraq too. Post-Saddam, we could have furthered our business interests more had we nurtured close contacts with the guiding leaders in Najaf. And in Egypt, with the Muslim Brotherhood in power, the Americans and Israelis have done much more than India to establish close links with the new government. We are left behind since we are overcautious. I would argue we are an emerged power in this region, not an emerging one. America, on the other hand, is a weakening force in this region and we must further our independent role.

“We need to make tactical diplomatic moves, free of western perceptions and objectives, if we’re to be effective in West Asia.”

You are viewed as a very harsh critic of Israel…What do you mean by a critic? If you read just 60 years of Israel’s history, you’ll become a harsh critic of the country…just read it and analyse it. People do not want to question the way the state of Israel was created and ignore the way it’s being expanded illegally into Palestine every day. How much time do you need to undserstand the history and geography?

Has it been difficult to voice political opinions that match yours?

Prominent journalists who worked earlier for several years are off the screen for many years now for this reason. You name important journalists who worked around a decade earlier and are alive. All of them are sitting in their apartments when they should be editors. A prominent journalist who used to author leads for India Today is now leading a small-time Urdu paper. This is the changing situation of this country. This is part of a conspiracy.

Will you go back to doing what you did before your arrest?

I will resume writing my weekly column in Urdu on international affairs soon. My readers probably are waiting for my experiences in jail too. Besides, there is already the offer to go back to working for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s Tehran Radio, to which I was contributing political reports every day for its Hindi service. I would also appear frequently on their Urdu channel, Seher TV.

“Just read 60 years of Israeli history and you’ll turn a harsh critic. People don’t want to question how the Israeli state was created.”

Do you feel socially isolated post-bail?While in jail, I wondered if people would come to see me or suspect me after my release. I decided not to initiate any meetings or make phone calls once out. Let me see who contacts me, I decided. This is still the position. A huge number of people came to receive me at Tihar Jail but there is one set who feel meeting me is something wrong. As far as my professional career is concerned, I do not know if I can go back to work with Doordarshan, maybe when I’m discharged.

Have you lost your PIB accreditation?

I just checked the website yesterday. It says my card is not ready. I had the card last year. This year’s was delayed for procedural reasons. Perhaps it was ready when I was arrested, maybe I could not collect it. But yesterday when I checked, it said the request is still under process. I feel they have suspended it and held it for the next season.

You got a lot of support from the public because you are a journalist. But there are many others behind bars, waiting for a free and fair trial. Are you going to undertake any work to help them?

I have full sympathy with those who are innocent and behind bars. I plan to work with anyone who fights for them in whatever way. I will work for justice.

 

US sanctions Iran over Internet, media censorship


(AFP) –  nOV 9, 2012

WASHINGTON — Washington unveiled sanctions Thursday against top Iranians and national bodies, including the communications minister and the culture ministry, hitting back for media and Internet censorship.

The move against Communications Minister Reza Taghipour came after he was blamed for ordering the jamming of international satellite TV broadcasts and restricting Internet access, a State Department official said.

The United States was determined to stop the “Iranian government from creating an ‘electronic curtain’ to cut Iranian citizens off from the rest of the world,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Four individuals and five bodies were placed under sanctions by both the State Department and the US Treasury for “censorship or other activities that prohibit, limit or penalize freedom of expression or assembly by citizens of Iran.”

They were also accused of limiting “access to print or broadcast media, including by jamming international satellite broadcasts into Iran,” Nuland said in a statement, denouncing the “regime’s insidious actions.”

Internet users in Iran were temporarily unable to access their Gmail accounts from late September to early October.

Mohammad Reza Miri, a member of the telecommunications ministry committee tasked with filtering the Internet in Iran, was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying that the Gmail block was an “involuntary” consequence of trying to reinforce censorship of Google’s YouTube video-sharing site.

“Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough technical knowhow to differentiate between these two services. We wanted to block YouTube and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary,” he said.

“We absolutely do not want YouTube to be accessible.”

Iran has censored YouTube since mid-2009, after opposition demonstrators protesting the re-election victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in polls they believed rigged started posting videos online of their gatherings.

Iran’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance was also sanctioned for closing down newspapers and detaining journalists.

Other entities targeted included the Press Supervisory Board and the Center to Investigate Organized Crime, which helped “identify Internet users who published material insulting government officials,” the US Treasury said in a statement, adding some of the people were later arrested.

“Finding that balance between preventing technology that could constrain and permitting technology that would expand their access to information is kind of a difficult question,” a senior State Department official told journalists.

Also included in the designations were Ali Fazli, a deputy commander of the Basij militia blamed for launching attacks on foreign websites, including foreign media organizations, and Iran police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, who is in charge of tracking Internet activities in the country.

Iranian software companies AmnAfzar Gostar-e Sharif and PeykAsa, as well as their founder, Rasool Jalili, were also targeted for monitoring Web traffic, including moves to block access to Facebook, eBay and YouTube.

The Iranian government was engaged in a campaign to “curtail” freedoms and “prevent the free flow of information both into and out of Iran,” Nuland said in her statement.

“Countless activists, journalists, lawyers, students and artists have been detained, censured, tortured or forcibly prevented from exercising their human rights,” she added.

The new designations resulted from an August 2012 act that came into force on Thursday and mean Americans are banned from doing any business with the targeted Iranians, who are also barred from traveling to the United States.

Any of their assets in the United States will also be frozen.

Other newly rolled out sanctions focused on individuals designated for sponsoring terrorism, in particular the Kata’ib Hezbollah group responsible for violent attacks in Iraq.

A third tranche of the designations targeted the support network of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — including the National Iranian Oil Company, which is already under sanctions, and two Tehran universities.

 

Calcutta High court grants ‘political prisoner’ status, to seven members of PUDR


 

PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

                                                7TH November 2012

 

Calcutta High Court Judgement and Political Prisoners

The West Bengal High Court judgement of August 2012 granting ‘political prisoner’ status to seven members of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) clarifies and reinforces the provision of law as stipulated in West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 and the definition  of political prisoner therein.

PUDR welcomes the judgement to the extent that it brushes aside the mystique woven by lower courts in denying the status of political prisoner to PCPA members on insubstantial grounds despite the law being vivid and clear on it. Section 24 of the West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 takes a broad and encompassing view of what constitutes a political offence. It includes all political and democratic movement that crusades to further social and economic justice without any personal greed or motives and despite the ideological persuasion and means or orientation towards established legal order to be political movement. Consequently, any one detained for being associated with these movements is to be political prisoner. The High Court judgement therefore brings forth the irony and contradictions of the justice delivery mechanisms in India.

The West Bengal High Court Judgement however has its own perils. The high court in its judgement refrained from striking down the category of political prisoner because the said category was not challenged on valid grounds in the legal matter before its disposal. The court found the category of political prisoner to be discriminatory and reinforcing inequality. It held that basic minimum facilities that are stipulated for the political prisoners under West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 shall be moderated and made accessible to all prisoners. In this concern PUDR would also like to draw attention on the colonial practice of discriminations in Indian jails, entirely based on class and various categorisations of prisoners.   While the notion of equality is no doubt welcoming, HC judgment is conspicuously silent on upholding of prevalent structured inequality in Indian Jails. Secondly it would be quite disingenuous to reduce the struggle for the status of political prisoner to the notion of equal access to facilities inside prison.  Contestations over status of a political prisoner or category of ‘political offence and offenders’ goes beyond prison entitlements. It is about defining the domain of ‘legitimate’ politics and diverse politics of dissent and resistance being constitutive of such domain.

The High Court Judgement in totality circumvents what it asserts in the first instance. It  subverts the broader understanding political offence as defined in the West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992  by proposing trampling of boundaries between ‘political’ and ‘routine’/ non political offence.  Following this judgement the Ministry of Home Affair, Government of India swiftly moved to direct the West Bengal Government to either  consider an amendment of the West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 or to appeal against the high court judgment in order to prohibit the conferment of the status of political prisoners to those who question and revolt against the state. Paradoxical it may seem but overall picture around West Bengal High Court Judgement and the MHA directive represents a continuum of subverting a law- (West Bengal Correctional Service Act) 1992- with democratic potential. More so it aims at redefining the contours of the political by ironing out the politics of resistance and dissent.

 

PUDR demands:

1.      That the provision of West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 be adhered to and implemented in right spirit rather than cultivating pretext for its subversion.

2.      That overall living conditions inside prison be made just and humane and rights of prisoners be upheld rather than simply juxtaposing and inducing unsubstantiated contradiction with privileges of political prisoners.

3.      Release all political prisoners and initiate dialogue with them to comprehend and redress the fundamental causes of political unrest.

 

 

Paramjeet Singh and Preeti Chauhan

(Secretaries)