Soni Sori’s letter to the Nation-( English and Hindi)


 03/02/2012-Soni Sori’s letter from Prison, she  asks questions to all the citizens of  India, Please answer her

This if for all social workers intellectuals, NGOs, human rights organisations, women’s commission and citizens of India, an abused and helpless tribal woman, is asking you to answer her  why she is being brutally tortured  and she wants to know–

  1.  That by giving me current, by stripping me naked, or by  brutally  assaulting me  inserting stones in my rectum- will the problem of Naxalism end ? Why so many atrocities on women? I want to know from all countrymen
  2.  When I was being stripped, that time I felt someone should come and save me and it did not happen. In Mahabharata , Draupadi’s  honour was  saved  when she called upon  Krishna  Whom should I have called , I was given to them ( police )  by the court  . But now ,I will not say that save my honour as  I have nothing left. Yes, I want to know from all of you that why was I Tortured?
  3.  Police officer, S. P Ankit Garg after stripping me says that “you are a whore, a bitch, who pleases  naxal leaders by selling your  body and  they come to your house every day and night. We know everything, “he said adding that “. You claim to be a good teacher, but you sell yourself  even in Delhi. What’s your status anyways, you think the big stalwarts will support such an ordinary woman like you”. Why will a police officer say this? Today history is witness that whenever there is war in country or any other conflict, women have contributed a lot to the nation. Jhansi Lakshmi Bai fought with the Britishers, did she sell herself ? Indira Gandhi as the prime minister of India , she governed the country, did she sell herself ? Today all the women who are working in their respective areas are they selling themselves ? All of us are bound with each other in unity and support, then why no one is coming to help me ?  I would like to have an answer from you?
  4.  Who has made the world?  Who gave birth to the powerful, intellectual fighters? If woman would not have been there, was it possible that India would have got i freedom or no? I am a woman, so why did this happen to me, answer me
  5.    My Education has been mocked at. I got my education at Gandhian school Rukmani Kanya Ashram, Dimripal. I strongly believe in the power of my education. Whether its naxal problem or any other, I can face  it.  Education is my tool  for survival and pen is my weapon of choice . Still they have put me in jail as a naxal supporter. Mahatma Gandhi also had the same tools. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, then he would also have been put behind bars as a naxal supporter? I want to know from all of you
  6.  Why only the villagers, tribals are being put in jails as naxal supporters and cases have been fabricated against them? Many other people can be naxal supporters. Is it because they are illiterate, uneducated, simple people, living in huts in forests, and they have do not have money or is it because they have the capacity to tolerate torture much more? Why? I want to know from you people
  7.  We  Adivasis are being abused and tortured in many ways; we are accused of being naxal supporters, cases are being fabricated against us, even for 1-2 cases people are being kept in prison for 5-6 years. Neither there is judgement, nor bail or acquittal. After all why? Is it because we adivasi people do not have the calibre to fight the government or that government is not with adivasi. Or because adiiavsis are not sons/ daughters. Relatives of big political leaders. Till when the adivasis will be exploited, till when? I am asking all citizens of India, Answer  me
  8.  In jagdalpur and dantewada prisons, 16 year olds boys and girls were bought and they are now 20-21 years old. But still their cases are not being heard. If their cases will not be  heard in coming days or years, then what will be their future? Why so much atrocities upon the adivasis?  All social workers, intellectuals, NGOs, citizens  Please think
  9.  The Naxals looted my father’s house and shot my father in the leg making him disabled.  Why did they do that, they thought my father was a police informer.  About 20-25 people from my father’s village bade-bidema have been put in jail as naxal supporters. The naxalites punished by Father for their imprisonment. I want to know from you, tell me who is responsible for this? Government or police or my Father? Today there is no support or help for my father; instead the police administration is trying to implicate his daughter as a criminal. If he was a politician he  we would have got help but my father is a  ordinary villager and an adivasi, what will the government do for the adivasis? tell me

Struggling with Torture- woman of Chhattisgarh

Signed

Soni  Sori (Sodi)

सोनी सोरी के हम सब से कुछ सवाल – जेल से भेजा गया नया पत्र 03/02/2012

गुरूजी,आप सब सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं, बुद्धिजीवी संगठन वाले, मानवाधिकार महिला आयोग, देश वासियों से पीड़ित लाचार एक आदिवासी महिला आप सबसे अपने ऊपर किये अत्याचार का जवाब मांग रही है| और जानना चाहती है कि –
(१) मुझे करंट शार्ट देने से, मेरे कपड़े उतारकर नंगा करने से या शरीर में बेदर्दी के साथ कंकड गिट्टी डालने से क्या नक्सलवाद समस्या खत्म हो जायेगा| हम औरतों के साथ ऐसा अत्याचार क्यों| आप सब देशवासियों से जानना है |(२) जब मेरी कपड़े उतराया जा रहा था उस वक्त ऐसा लग रहा था कोई तो आये और मुझे बचा ले पर ऐसा नहीं हुआ| महाभारत में द्रोपती अपने वस्त्र अहरण में कृष्णजी को पुकारकर आपनी लज्जा को बचा ली| मैं किसे पुकारती मुझे तो कोर्ट न्यायालय द्वारा इनके हाथो में सौपी गई थी| ये नहीं कहूँगी कि मेरी लज्जा को बचा लो| अब मेरे पास बचा ही क्या है| हाँ आप सब से जानना चाहूंगी कि मेरे साथ ऐसा प्रताडना क्यों किया गया|

(३) पुलिस आफिसर अंकित गर्ग एस पी नंगा करके ये कहता है कि तुम रंडी औरत हो मदर सोद गोंड इस शरीर का सौदा नक्सली लीडरो से करती हो तुम्हारे घर में रात-दिन आते है| हमे सब पता है| जिससे एक अच्छी शिक्षिका होने का दावा करती हो| दिल्ली जाकर भी ये सब कर्म करती हो| तुम्हारी अवकात ही क्या तुम एक मामूली सी औरत का साथ इतने बड़े-बड़े लोग देंगे| पुलिस प्रशासन का आफिसर ऐसा क्यों कहा| आज इतिहास गवाह है कि देश की लड़ाई हो या कोई भी संकट हो नारियों का बहुत बड़ा योगदान रहा है| क्या झाँसी की रानी लक्ष्मीबाई अंग्रेजों से लड़ाई लड़ी तो क्या उसने अपने आप को सौदा किया| इन्दरागांधी देश की प्रधान मंत्री बनकर देश को चलाया तो क्या उसने अपने आप को सौदा किया| आज जो महिलाए हर कार्य क्षेत्र में आगे होकर कार्य कर रहे हैं| क्या वो महिलाये भी अपने आप को सौदा कर रहे है| हमारे देशवासी तो एक दूसरे के मदद एकता से जुड़े है| फिर हमारी मदद कोई क्यों नहीं कर सकता| आप सभी से जवाब जानना चाहूंगी|

(४) संसार की श्रृष्टि किसने किया| बलशाली, बुद्धिमान युद्धाओं का जन्म किसने दिया| यदि औरत जाति ना होती तो क्या देश की आजादी संभव था या नहीं| मैं भी तो एक औरत ही हूँ| फिर मेरे साथ ऐसा क्यों किया गया| जवाब दीजियेगा|

(५) मेरी शिक्षा को भी गाली दिया गया| मैं एक गांधीवादी स्कूल माता रुक्मणि कन्या आश्रम डिमरापाल में शिक्षा प्राप्त किया है| मुझे अपनी शिक्षा की ताकत पर पूरा विश्वास है| जिससे नक्सली क्षेत्र हो या कोई और समस्या फिर भी शिक्षा की ताकत से सामना कर सकती हूँ| मैंने हमेशा शिक्षा को वर्दी और कलम को हथियार माना है| फिर भी नक्सली समर्थक कहकर जेल में डाल रखा है| बापूजी के भी तो ये ही दो हथियार थे| क्या आज महात्मा गांधी जीवित होते तो क्या उन्हें भी नक्सल समर्थक कहकर जेल में डाल दिया जाता| आप सभी से जानना है|
(६) ग्रामीण आदिवासियों को ही नक्सल समर्थक कहकर फर्जी केस बनाकर जेलों में क्यों डाला जा रहा है| और लोग भी तो नक्सल समर्थक हो सकते हैं| क्या ये लोग अशिक्षित है सीधे-सादे जंगलों में झोपडियां बनाकर रहते हैं इसलिए या इनके पास धन नहीं या अत्याचार सहने की क्षमता है| आखिर क्यों| हमे आपलोगों से जानना है |

(७) हम आदिवासियों को अनेक तरह का अत्याचार करके, नक्सल समर्थक, फर्जी केस बनाकर, एक-दो केस के लिये भी ५ वर्ष ६ वर्ष से जेलों में रखा जा रहा है| ना कोई फ़ैसला, ना कोई जमानत, ना ही रिहाई| आखिर ऐसा क्यों| क्या हम आदिवासियों में सरकार से लड़ने की क्षमता नहीं है या सरकार आदिवासियों के साथ नहीं है| या ये लोग किसी बड़े नेताओ के बेटा, बेटी, रिश्तेदार नहीं हैं| कब तक आदिवासियो के साथ शोषण होते रहेगा, करते रहेंगे आखिर कब तक| आप सब देशवासियों से पूछ रही हूँ| जवाब दीजियेगा |

(८) जगदलपुर, दंतेवाड़ा जेलों में १६ वर्ष की उम्र में युवा-युवतियो को लाया गया वो युवा-युवतियां लगभग २०-२१ वर्ष के हो रहे है| फिर भी इन लोग का कोई सुनवाई नहीं हो रहा है| यदि कुछ दिनों वर्ष बाद इनकी सुनवाई भी होती है तो इन लोगों का भविष्य कैसा होगा| हम आदिवासियों के साथ ऐसा जुल्म क्यों? आप सभी सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं, बुद्धिजीवी संगठन वाले देशवासियों सोचियेगा |

(९) नक्सली मेरे पिता के घर को लूट लिये और मेरे पिता के पैर में गोली मारकर विकलांग बना दिया| पुलिस मुखबिर के नाम से ऐसा किया गया| मेरे पिता के गांव बड़े बेडमा से लगभग २०-२५ लोगों को नक्सली समर्थक कहकर जेल में डाल रखे हैं| जिसकी सजा नक्सली मेरे पिता को दिया| आप सबसे जानना है| बताइए इसके जिम्मेदार कौन है| सरकार या पुलिस प्रशासन या मेरे पिता| आज मेरे पिता के लिये किसी तरह का कोई सहारा नहीं दिया गया ना मदद किया गया| बल्कि उनकी बेटी को पुलिस प्रशासन अपराधी बनाने की कोशिश कर रही है| नेता होते तो शायद मदद मिलती मेरे पिता ग्रामीण निवासी और एक आदिवासी हैं| फिर सरकार आदिवासियों के लिये क्यों करेगा|

छत्तीसगढ़ की नारी प्रताड़ना से जूझती
स्व हस्ताक्षरित
श्रीमती सोनी सोरी (सोढी)

Soni Sori letter page 1

Soni soriletter page 2

Audio Soni Sori Letter tp Nation- Page 1

Audio of Soni Sori’s letter to Ntaion Page 2

Idea of Heterosexuality Traced to German Law


Cover of "Virgin: The Untouched History"

Cover of Virgin: The Untouched History

Sunday, February 5, 2012

By Hanne Blank

The revision of legal codes in Germany in the 1860s raised questions about sexual misconduct, says Hanne Blank in her book “Straight.” In this excerpt, she examines how that led to the creation of the concept of heterosexuality and homosexuality.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Had the German-speaking world not been going through some legislative growing pains in the 1860s, we might still live in a world without heterosexuals.

Germany came together in 1866 along geographic lines that are more or less familiar to us today, an amalgamation of the multiple German-speaking kingdoms, duchies and principalities of the North German Confederation joined together under a generally Prussian leadership. Like many civil governments, Germany was still wrestling with the implications of the French Revolution, as well as feeling the aftershocks of its own revolutionary conflicts in 1848.

The new ideals of secular and civil government compelled German lawmakers, as they revised their legal codes to suit a new, composite nation, to figure out what to do with inherited collections of sex-related laws that were often more or less identical to old Church decrees.

It was a fraught process. Paragraph 143 of the Prussian Penal Code of April 14, 1851, in particular, provoked significant protest. P. 143 stipulated harsh punishments, consisting of up to five years of hard labor and accompanied by the loss of civil rights during the period of punishment, for anyone convicted of “unnatural fornication between people and animals, as well as between persons of the male sex.” The rationale given for this law, and the severity of its consequences, was that “such behavior is a demonstration of especial degeneration and degradation of the person, and is so dangerous to morality.”

The law, clearly written to sound dispassionate, nonetheless sounds the old familiar religious gong of morality and sin. As befitting a post-Enlightenment, science-respecting culture, the law invoked nature as both a stand-in for God and a dispassionate secular authority. The addition of degeneracy made it au courant with fears of a decaying race.
Sexual Misconduct Targeted

Taken all together, P. 143 provided highly effective leverage against sexual misconduct for the government. It also, inevitably, provided the same for blackmailers. Officially or unofficially, it was a law to ruin lives with.

Among the individuals who stepped forward to oppose the law were Karl Ulrichs and Karl-Maria Kertbeny. They were not friends, though they corresponded for a while, and only Ulrichs is known to have been attracted to men. But both shared the conviction that P. 143 was unjust and it is due to their work that we have the word and the concept of the “heterosexual.”

Ulrichs’ devoted opposition to P. 143 stemmed from his having been sacked from a promising bureaucratic career when his attractions to men were discovered. The injustice led him to devote his life to arguing, as logically and as rigorously as he could, that same-sex sexuality was natural, inborn and unchangeable, and therefore ought not to be punished.

Ulrichs was no scientist, but he scoured the medical literature for insights into his own sexual condition. Impressed by medical literature about hermaphrodites, he developed a theory that he too was a type of hermaphrodite. Where hermaphrodites’ bodies encompassed both male-typical and female-typical organs in the same body, Ulrichs claimed that the Urning, or man who loved men, had a male body but a female mind. (The notion that gender–the social aspects of sexuality–might be separable from biological sex did not become widespread until the second half of the twentieth century.)

Ulrichs’ theory of “sexual inversion,” rigorously logical by the standards of the day, was presented in 1864 in a pair of pseudonymously self-published pamphlets. Ulrichs hoped that his pamphlets would persuade German legislators to change their minds and thus the law.

Austro-Hungarian Kertbeny shared Ulrichs’ conviction that the Prussian law was unjust. A friend and coworker’s suicide, committed because a blackmailer threatened to expose the young man’s “abnormal tastes,” had opened Kertbeny’s eyes to the problems inherent in a law that made it illegal for two men to engage in activities that a man and a woman could partake of together without consequence. Kertbeny produced two strongly worded, anonymously published pamphlets arguing against P. 143 that employed the notion of human rights as derived from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

Varying Approach

Ulrichs’ and Kertbeny’s approaches differed in many ways. While Ulrichs leaned on the innate femininity of the Urning psyche in order to emphasize the involuntary character of same-sex desires, Kertbeny insisted that men who loved men were typically manly and virile and deserving of full citizenship in the modern state. Ulrichs’ approach, with its insistence that men who loved men were on some level not male, implicitly endorsed the idea that biological sex could be legitimate grounds for different treatment under the law. Kertbeny, by contrast, took a leaf from English philosopher Jeremy Bentham‘s book and argued simply that it was wrong to punish actions that harmed no one and all the more unethical to punish them selectively according to the biological sexes of the participants.

The two men shared a moderately sized correspondence, but Kertbeny never adopted Ulrichs’ models or his terminology. He preferred his own system of classification, first explicated in a letter to Ulrichs on May 6, 1868, in which he opposed “homosexuals” to “heterosexuals” as two parallel and, he implied, equal types of human beings.

As it turned out neither man’s argument, nor their associated terminology, made any dent in the law. P. 143 and similar laws were retained through multiple incarnations of the German legal code, later becoming P. 175 in 1871 when Germany was fully united. Later, and infamously, Hitler used this law to legitimize the incarceration and murder of thousands of Schwulen, or “faggots,” in the concentration camps.

The law was not removed from the books until 1969. By that time, the “heterosexual” and “homosexual” terminology of those who had so stalwartly resisted it in the beginning had won out, and so for the most part had the view of sexuality those terms implied.

Excerpt from “Straight” by Hanne Blank. Copyright 2012 by Hanne Blank. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston.

Hanne Blank is a writer, historian and public speaker whose work has been featured everywhere from Out to Penthouse. She is the author of “Virgin: The Untouched History” and seven other books that explore the intersections of sexuality, gender, the body and culture. She has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Teaching and Research on Women, as well as an instructor, guest lecturer and visiting speaker at colleges and universities, including Tufts, Brandeis and Johns Hopkins.

For more information:

Buy the Book, “Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality“:
http://www.powells.com/partner/34289/biblio/9780807044438?p_ti

Hanne Blank’s website:
http://www.hanneblank.com/

When Democracy murders Liberty – Paul Gottfriend


Icon for censorship

Image via Wikipedia

In a recent interview with the German weekly Junge Freiheit, popular satirist and onetime fixture of the left Eckhard Henscheid explained why he had moved toward the libertarian right and was fighting censorship in his “democratic” society. Junge Freiheit had been kept from exhibiting its products at the Leipzig Book Fair and for years has been under investigation by a government organization, the Verfassungsschutz, which goes after what are seen as “fascist” or “far rightist” dangers to German democracy. Although the paper’s editors have been accused of “Holocaust denial,” the newspaper has repeatedly featured articles detailing the Nazi regime’s hideous deeds. Its real sin seems to be operating as an old-fashioned (in the European sense) liberal publication, which calls attention to the outrageous abuses of liberty committed by German antifascists and their collaborators in the government.

Henscheid contrasts the fierce opposition to freedom of thought (Denkfreiheit) among German educators, the German media, and throughout the conformist political class to the far milder censorship in an older and supposedly “authoritarian” German society. In the early nineteenth century, German principalities censored subversive works but with few exceptions did so in a bumbling, halfhearted fashion. These clearly undemocratic regimes retained censors who were supposed to examine publications of a certain page length. If the texts appeared to advocate the government’s overthrow or might produce civil unrest, the authors were prohibited from distributing them in their original form. In some cases, the author could amend the text to remove the offending passages. With sufficient influence in the right quarters, they might even be able to bribe the censors to let their works through.

“Contrary to our self-congratulatory bromides, modern democracy is neither in favor of true diversity nor particularly peace-loving.”

Unlike modern democracies, these “authoritarian” regimes did not give a damn about indoctrinating their subjects, and least of all about turning them into antifascist automatons. They aimed at a more modest goal: staying in power. As a means toward that end, they kept the masses from getting stirred up. My now deceased polyglot friend Eric von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was fond of telling a story about his conversation with a Spanish fisherman near Bilbao, whom he asked (probably in Basque) what he thought about the government. The fisherman answered laconically: “Franco worries about the government; I just fish.” The point of this narrative was not to show what a good guy El Caudillo was. It was to indicate how a traditional authoritarian regime proceeded to act once it had settled scores with the revolutionary left. It was interested in order, not in creating a new democratic or socialist man/woman or in opening hitherto undiscovered paths to sensitivity.

Democracies are far more ideologically driven, and almost always in a leftist totalitarian fashion that becomes increasingly obvious as “liberal democracies” reveal their true nature. Read more here  http://takimag.com/article/when_democracy_murders_liberty#ixzz1lV4MJLC9

Iran ‘detaining’ relatives of journalists: BBC


 The Iranian government has arrested relatives of Persian-language journalists working abroad for the BBC in a bid to silence them.

LONDON: The Iranian government has arrested relatives of Persian-language journalists working abroad for the BBC in a bid to silence them, the British Broadcasting Corporation said Friday.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said the sister of a BBC Persian journalist was arrested last week and held in solitary confinement on unspecified charges at Evin Prison in Tehran, before being released on bail.

“Her treatment was utterly deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” Thompson wrote in a blog, adding that it was only the latest incident “in a campaign of bullying and harassment by the Iranian authorities”.

Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about the arrest. Its Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson warned it was “part of a wider campaign to harass Iranian journalists by putting pressure on them and their families”.

Tehran was sending a clear message “that the government’s long arm of repression can extend well beyond borders,” she said.

Foreign Office Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said he utterly condemned Iran’s “deplorable” tactics.

While it is not the first time the BBC has complained about Iranian harassment of its journalists, Thompson said the past few months had seen “increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics.

“In recent months a number of relatives of members of BBC Persian staff have been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to ‘cooperate’ with Iranian intelligence officials,” he said.

Relatives’ passports had been confiscated, preventing them leaving Iran, while BBC staff had been accused in the Iranian media of offences such as sexual assault, drug trafficking and converting from Islam to Christianity.

Thompson called on Tehran to repudiate the actions of its officials and urged governments and international bodies to help stop “this campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power”.

BBC Persian, based in London, is a multimedia news and information service for Persian speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and around the world.

Iran has frequently accused the BBC of fuelling the unrest that broke out following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

An unnamed BBC staff member who spoke to Human Rights Watch said he and his colleagues had been exposed “to almost daily insults and personal attacks on various pro-government websites and blogs inside Iran”.

But the targeting of relatives “is really a red line for us, and we can’t stay silent”, the BBC worker said.

Foreign Office minister Burt said the Iranian authorities had a “shameful track record” of using family members to put pressure on Iranian lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.

“Such deplorable tactics illustrate again the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, and the desperation of the Iranian regime to silence any independent voices,” he said.

“The international community has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to cease harassment and intimidation of journalists and to prevent illegal jamming of broadcasts. We will continue to do so.”   Published: February 4, 2012 AFP

Mr. Minister, my name is Sunanda Deshapriya. I am not a terrorist.


5 Feb, 2012,  Sunanda Deshapriya      

Tamil rebels in a pickup truck in Killinochchi...

Image via Wikipedia

An Open Letter to Srilankan Minister Keheliya Rambukwella

Mr. Minister, I don’t know whether you have seen the film called ‘my name is Khan. In it, the main character played by popular actor Shah Rukh Khan Repeats the lines ‘My name is Khan. I am not a terrorist’ at different points in the film, in order to affirm his innocence. I too am about to tell you a similar story. ‘My name is Sunanda Deshapriya. I am not a terrorist’. This is my theme.

The story of ‘My name is Khan’ centres around the harassment a Muslim man with the name of Khan has to endure following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, USA. These attacks on the Twin Towers generated both fear and anger in the minds of the American people. Some extremist groups tried to unleash the feelings of anger against ordinary Muslim people living in the US. The film’s narrative is set against this background.

You are trying to do the same thing today. You are trying to use the fear and anger generated in the minds of the Sinhala people because of the brutality of the LTTE against those of us who have been advocating respect for human rights in Sri Lanka, including respect for the rights of the Tamil people of our country. When I say ‘you’ I do not only mean you as an individual, Mr. Minister. I include the entire gamut of people who do your bidding, including those media persons who sing your praises with no shame.

Do you know what baseless and venomous lies the media under your control has spread about me in the past few weeks? Have either you or your acolytes ever tried to behave in accordance with universally accepted media ethics and asked me for my comments on your revelations? Isn’t your talk about media ethics therefore to be understood as mere political hogwash?

In the film, Sameer, the young son of Khan and his wife Mandira is brutally killed by a gang of boys of his own age. This act of savagery became possible only because the feelings of anger and hatred that I described earlier had been let loose in their community. There can be nobody who watches this film whose heart and mind are not captivated by the tragedy of the child’s murder and the subsequent events. In the past weeks I too have read newspaper reports about your children. How disturbed you would have been after reading such stories? Can you imagine how many deaths my family, my children, have gone through as a result of the vicious campaign being carried out against me by you and the media that serves your will?

I fervently hope that one day you will be able to think about others as you think about yourself; this is the preaching of the Lord Buddha.

You talk over and over again about media ethics. You order news websites to be shut down because they are acting without respect for these ethics. You warn us that you will bring about a Code of Ethics for the Media that will be very special to Sri Lanka.

You are levelling charges against a group of journalists, accusing them of receiving money from the LTTE and carrying out a traitor’s agenda. You say that these media persons and journalists are now living abroad. You say they cannot be prosecuted because the Sri Lankan law does not permit it.

Mr. Minister, while your media people broadcast your words on this subject, they project images of me at various media freedom demonstrations on the screen behind them. With respect to which Code of Ethics are you displaying my photograph to illustrate baseless allegations? You say that it is because you cannot prosecute these persons who have obtained money from the LTTE under existing Sri Lankan law that you are not revealing their names. But your media institutions carry my photograph as an illustration to this statement. What is the intention behind this? Is it NOT to implicate me in your statement? Why is it that your acolytes have permission to do what you don’t dare to do? It must be that you think you do not need to be bound by any ethical standards because you are in power.

You advise the media about the use of language. Yet the media under your control continue to use the vilest forms of hate speech against me, shamelessly and without any proof to back up whatever they are saying. You reward these acolytes of yours with awards of media excellence.

Is it your theory and your practice that only your opponents should be held responsible for respecting media ethics? Is this how you devalue your own use of the media?

Wasn’t it your media that repeatedly broadcast the canard that at the session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September last year, the Maldivian President said that ‘Sunanda Deshapriya is a traitor to the nation’ even after it had been proved to be false and inaccurate? Where were the media ethics that you preach, then? The first ethical consideration of any journalist or media person is that of respect for the truth. Doesn’t the media under your control break this principle every day? Is the proverb ‘Practise what you preach’ not applicable to Ministers of this government?

Since a while ago I have publicly challenged your government to prove that I have received even one cent from the LTTE. The truth of the matter is that neither you nor your government nor anyone else holds on shred of evidence to prove this. If your government is capable of indicting members of the military and the Police for having accepted money from the LTTE, why should we believe that you are not able to do the same in the case of journalists who have received money from the LTTE? I accuse you of trying to unleash the same forces of extremism that Khan and Mandira faced on the murder of their son Sameer against me and all others working for the defence of human rights and media freedom in Sri Lanka today.

It is no secret that I hold an extremely critical view of the Rajapakse regime. As Media Minister, you are obliged to defend my right to hold those views. Instead, you are engaged in taking away that space from us and terrorizing us. Please remember that the right to hold dissenting views is one of ethical bases of media freedom.

On ITN, in the ‘Athulanthaya’ (Interior) programme, you said something ridiculous: That because you cannot take these charges before the law, lacking evidence, you are instead placing them before the people. What does this mean? Why must you take information that has no basis and therefore would not stand scrutiny in a court of law into the public arena? Doesn’t this show us that you are trying to build a hate campaign against me in the minds of the people?

In June 2009, award-winning journalist and Secretary of the Working Journalists’ Association, Poddala Jayantha, was abducted and brutally assaulted because of a similar hate campaign. You who are levelling the most absurd of charges against media persons fighting for media freedom today, what have you done to bring the perpetrators of the attack on Jayantha to justice, almost three years after the attack? Tell us if there is even one example where you and your government have brought any of those responsible for killing, beating and harassing journalists and media persons to justice.

As Media Minister, you are raising against unfounded allegations against us. But the allegations we raise against you as media freedom fighters are completely factual.

When cartoonist and media activist Prageeth Eknaligoda was abducted three years ago, it is you who confidently told us that he would return in two weeks time.

Shahzad’s murder: Safma wants action on commission’s advice


Turkish jails filling up with journalists


Flag of Turkey.

Image via Wikipedia

By DAVID ROSENBERG/THE MEDIA LINE 02/04/2012

Kurdish reporter’s arrest over weekend is the latest in wave of detentions. Aziz Tekin, a correspondent for the Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat, had the misfortune of becoming a news item himself over the weekend when he became the 105th journalist in Turkey to be put behind bars. That places Turkey ? a country usually hailed as an exemplar of democracy and Islam ? ahead of such repressive regimes as Iran and China with the largest number jailed journalists in the world according to the Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists.

Others take issue with exactly how many of the detainees are being held purely for doing their jobs, but they don’t deny that scores of media professionals are being detained and face laws and a judicial system that makes it easy to put and keep them behind bars.

“The press is quite pluralistic and rather free, but it remains dangerous for a journalist who writes a critical article against the government, especially on the Kurdish issue or criticizing the judiciary.The risk of getting arrested is really high,” Johann Bihr, head of the Europe desk at the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, told The Media Line.

The number of detentions has increased “exponentially” in recent months, he said. Turkey fell 10 places on Reporters’ International Press Freedom Index to 148 among 179 countries.

In December, some 30 journalists were rounded up in raids across the country targeting the Kurdish separatist movement. A day before Tekin was hauled in, a court in Istanbul refused to release 13 journalists including Ahmet S?k and Nedim Sener of the Oda TV news portal.

The wave of arrests prompted the US author Paul Auster, whose books are popular in Turkey, to declare he is boycotting the country. “I refuse to come to Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers. How many are jailed now? Over 100?” Auster told the Istanbul daily Hurriyet this week.

The arrests come against a background of a changing power dynamic in Turkish politics. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the first Islamist movement ever to rule in Turkey, is marking a decade in power, presiding over a booming economy while it gently inserts more religion into public life and its backers into key institutions like the courts and the military.

The army, which once dominated Turkish politics and served as a guardian of the country’s secularism, is in retreat. Erkan Saka, who teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University’s communications school and blogs at Erkan’s Field Diary, said the arrests are part of that realignment, which is now encompassing the secular, establishment media. “Under normal conditions, mainstream media has values in parallel to establishment, but now establishment itself is changing,” he said.

The arrests almost always involve journalists linked to Kurdish separatism or a shadowy anti-government conspiracy called Ergenekon that officials have been investigating in what they say was a wide-ranging plot by the army and other members of the old elite to overthrow the AKP. Critics say the judiciary, which is directly responsibility for the arrests, makes little effort to distinguish between people covering controversial issues and the people and movements they are covering. Thus last December, the scores people rounded up for alleged links with a Kurdish separatist movement included journalists and Kurdish activists alike. “All their interrogations have focused on the articles they have written and trips they have made — why did you attend a conference by left-wing or pro-Kurdish academics? Why did you decide to cover a pro-Kurdish demonstration?” said Reporters Without Border’s Bihr. “It’s really likely that prosecutors have nothing on them except their profession.” Arrests are not the only problem besetting the country’s media.

Turkey has introduced tougher Internet censorship, has pursued what critics say is politically motivated tax cases against media groups and deals harshly with people who violate bans on denigrating the Turkish state. Media observers blame the judiciary first and foremost for the arrests. Turkey’s anti-terrorism law and penal codes give them a lot of latitude to detain people and to keep them under lock and key without filing formal indictments. One of the reasons media experts are not sure about the number of journalists under arrest is that it is impossible to see the charges filed against them. When the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published in December its annual census of imprisoned journalists it could only verify that eight were actually being held for their writing and reporting, a fraction of the 64 or so others counted.

The estimate triggered a sharp debate in the human rights community. But Erdogan and others in the government have come to the defense of the country’s media freedom. “Turkey does not deserve the negative image portrayed to the world by the main opposition and some journalists and writers,” he said last week at an event marking the 25th anniversary of a pro-government newspaper, Zaman.

Others would beg to differ. They say that Erdogan has encouraged an atmosphere of press hostility with personal attacks on journalists who criticize him and his government and by personally pursing defamation lawsuits. Indeed, while defending the country’s record on media freedom, he decried in the same speech media conspiracies against the government.

“If you claim to have media freedom, you shouldn’t launch attacks on [newspaper] columnists who are critical of you. But he does that all that time,” Saka said. “That triggers anti-journalist feeling in the bureaucracy and judiciary.”

Images falling from Tibet shows scenes of Chinese crackdown in Serta


DHARAMSHALA, February 4-Amidst Chinese censorship and propaganda, a series of black mailed graphic images from the Tibetan region of Serta unveils the ongoing crackdown in the Tibetan region.
The Director of the Students for Free Tibet, India, Dorje Tseten told the media that the series of recent photos from Serta shows that China has not been telling the truth about the demonstrations in recent weeks.

“The Chinese government says like those protestors were shot on self defense but in the picture we can clearly see the protestors are like unarmed, they are protesting with non-violent protest and then police crackdown the protest very brutally and kill Tibetans,” Dorje Tseten said, adding that the photos show Chinese riot police brutally beating up the unarmed Tibetan demonstrators, and dragging down to the police station in the region.

While the Tibetan exile world is being disturbed with the growing number of deaths in protests against the Chinese rule over Tibet, the Beijing government has been fabricating the truth-blaming the Tibetan demonstrators and using the normal faulty forceful security measures in Tibet.

Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan prime minister has also said ‘he is getting alarmed’ by the growing number of Chinese military personnel moving into the Tibetan regions of Ngaba, Serta, Golok, and so called Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Following the Chinese open fire in three incidents, Tibetans believe that at least a dozen got killed and dozens got wounded in recent weeks.

Tibet Expert at Columbia University, Robbie Barnett said that the recent protests in Tibet signal what it could be after the Dalai Lama era.

“If the Dalai Lama dies without any resolution, it will take a half century to build trust again,” he explaining that the Dalai Lama’s death in exile would be so significant to Tibetans it could ruin prospects for a reasonable Tibetan-Chinese relationship.

According to exile sources, 17 Tibetans in Tibet have burned themselves, calling for freedom in Tibet, and return of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from exile.

The whole area of Tibet known as the roof of the world is being sealed off by the Chinese police road check points on the roads from China as well as from Nepal, and armed Chinese soldiers manning the day to day life of the Tibetans inside Tibet.

The Dharamshala based members of the Tibetan Parliament will sit on a day-long fast on coming Wednesday, and Tibetans through out the world have also vowed to do the same on the same day to show solidarity and support to the plight of people inside Tibet.

Declaring to forego the upcoming Tibetan New Year, Tibetans and Tibetan supporters in more than 100 cities across the world are going to fast on the first day of the Tibetan New Year which falls on February 22.

Sri Lanka Lagging Behind In Social Media


It is estimated that over 425 million people use social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter. The use of social media has been described by many activists as the ‘final medium for free speech’. Catherine Jackson, Reporters without Borders, called on media groups to embrace social media networks as they search for new mediums of communications.
With media freedom reducing all over the world, the question that exists is how far do media institutes use this new form of communication?
Catherine Jackson, speaking to The Sunday Leader, explained that with the growing censorship over media the world over, a new uncontrolled medium must be found. She stated that governments do not have control over social media networks, which allows the opportunity for uncensored news to continue to filter its way to the people. ‘With over 400 million people using social network sites, the reach for media institutes will be unmatched,’ she added.
However, last week Twitter announced that they would be selectively blocking content on a country by country basis. According to their official blog, a country’s government may make a request that tweets (messages by Twitter users) referring to a certain topic be banned in their respective countries. For example, in Germany Twitter may block tweets with any pro-Nazi sentiment. This is because it is illegal to promote the Nazi party or its ideology in Germany. Despite the tweet being blocked in Germany it will still be visible to users elsewhere in the world.
This announcement was met with a mixed reaction by global media advocates, with many claiming that the organisation is simply encroaching on people’s media freedom. Others have argued that this move serves simply to strengthen the message which is being blocked. Twitter defended the decision claiming that it was carried out in the interest of protecting freedom of speech, but also to adhere to the laws of countries.
Regardless of the reasons behind the new action taken by Twitter, it is clear that governments’ influence on social media is creeping in.
In Sri Lanka the media freedom was dealt a blow last December with the announcement that all media websites must be registered with the Ministry of Mass Media. This saw several news websites blocked including http://www.srilankaguardian.com, and http://www.srilankamirror.com. Despite these websites being unblocked two weeks later, there are still conditions existing around their operation.
With media control increasing in Sri Lanka, people are now looking to alternate forms of communication. The use of the internet offers this alternative in the form of social media. However, Sri Lanka has not grabbed on to the power of these online media networks.
Major newspapers use these networks as an extension of their websites, the information received on networks such as Twitter and Facebook is nothing new. Twitter accounts for these newspapers are used to highlight articles that are made available on the website.
Sanjana Hattotuwa, member of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, explained that Sri Lanka is still ‘largely unaware of the potential of social media online to galvanise support’. He added that activism in the country is still limited to physical aspects such as staging protests, however online activism is still to gather momentum. He called on groups to learn how to effectively use such platforms which are resilient to network blocks. ‘Media organisations can more effectively reach a growing number of users within Sri Lanka on these platforms, can virally spread their advocacy, and reach those outside the country,’ Hattotuwa added. Drawing attention to the Arab Spring, Hattotuwa expressed his belief that social media is fundamental to free speech today.
In Egypt, the uprisings and subsequent occupation of Tahrir Square by over a 100,000 people was made possible due to the use of social media.
The organisation by opposition groups, dissemination of their messages and the continuous news streaming from different areas in the country was done through social networks such as Twitter.
In Syria, the crackdown on protestors has been coupled with a ban on foreign journalists entering the country. The only news organisations that continue to broadcast are those that are run by the oppressive regime. However, the world has been made aware of what is going on within the borders of the country due to use of the internet and social media.
Protestors have taken to tweeting regular updates of the situation, while YouTube is continuously being updated with amateur videos of Syrian troops attacking protestors.
Of course this has led to many of the purists claiming that such media reports are unverified and cannot be considered accurate. John Nicholas, lecturer on media and journalism at the University of Newcastle in Australia, wrote in an open letter to the world media that social networks are ‘an unverified entity which will only serve to spread false rumours. As journalists we are trained to find the facts and report them truthfully, social media is a tool that holds potential but can go no further than serving as a link between the media and the people’.
Ironically, it is the governments of the world which have seen the potential of social networks faster than media institutes. In Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government has employed members of their police force to actively monitor social media networks. The job goes further than just reporting on what is being said, but they are also expected to help promote pro-government propaganda.
Similarly in China, Twitter has been blocked by the authorities and replaced with a state operated social network known as ‘RenRen’. This platform was introduced by the Chinese government in an attempt to quell free media while still allowing their citizens an opportunity to enjoy the ‘social aspect of social media’.
In the world of growing internet, it will seem that for free media to continue its growth the embrace of social media seems to be necessary.
By Dinouk Colombage

First Adv Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture , 11th February, Mumbai,


“By showing me injustice, he taught me to love justice. By teaching me what pain and humiliation were all about, he awakened my heart to mercy. Through these hard- ships I learned hard lessons. Fight against prejudice, battle the oppressors, support the underdog.”

Guiding Principles of Shahid’s Life.

FIRST ADV. SHAHID AZMI MEMORIAL LECTURE

On

“The Illusion called Secularism”

By Dr. Mukul Sinha,

Eminent Lawyer and Activist, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Tributes by

Ajit Sahi, Senior Journalist

Arif Azmi, Brother of Shahid Azmi

Advocate Mihir Desai, Mumbai High Court

Maulana Gulzar Azmi, Secretary Jamiat Legal Cell, Maharashtra

Presided by

Professor Jairus Banaji

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

5 PM onwards, Saturday, 11th February 2012

at Conference Hall,

Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, near Azad Maidan (opposite CST), Mumbai

ALL ARE CORDIALLY INVITED

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