Press freedom stifled in India’s Naxal areas


         13 February 2012 -| By Gayatri Parameswaran

It might be the world’s largest democracy but India is struggling to defend its democratic status in the ‘red corridor’ – areas troubled by Naxalite or Maoist insurgency. Expectedly, press freedom is taking a beating. Some activists say the government is controlling information to hide its bad human rights track record.

“I can’t meet you openly. Let’s get into your car and drive away from here. We’ll talk in the car,” Satish Naik tells me over the phone. Naik is a local TV journalist in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state in India’s Naxalite belt.

Epicentre
One of the least developed areas in the country, Dantewada has been at the epicentre of the conflict between the Indian government and the Naxalites in the past few years. Government reports suggest that in 2011, over 500 people have died in the violence. A recent Human Rights Watch report condemned India for its handling of the security situation in the Naxalite war zone. It said, “Impunity for abuses committed by security forces remains a pressing concern.”

The Naxalite movement began in West Bengal in 1960s and spread to central India in the 70s and 80s as a popular armed revolt. The Naxalites claim to be fighting on behalf of adivasis (indigenous tribals), the main victims of the land grabs sponsored by multinationals with the help of the Indian government. The tribals are living on land rich in minerals and forest resources and there are fortunes to be made from the exploitation of the natural wealth.

Surreptitious
Naik is justifiably cautious about being seen to be helping an outside journalist. In recent years, the police has arrested and beaten tribals and local journalists who tried to tell the story of official repression in the region’s remote rural communities. “They [police forces] might get curious about who you are and what you are trying to find out. They might follow us,” he warns just before the phone line is cut.

Mobile lines in Dantewada and other Naxal areas are notoriously unreliable, and journalists and activists are conscious that they could be bugged. When I arrive to pick him up, Naik dives quickly into the car and urges us to leave immediately. At the frequent police check points on the road, he hides his face and at times ducks away.

Self-censorship
Naik says that the authorities believe that most ‘outsiders’ come looking for ‘human rights-type’ stories that would put them in a bad light. “I don’t want to be seen as assisting outside journalists. I have to be careful, because I could get into trouble,” he stresses.

Naik tells me that the war has challenged India’s democratic character: “It’s not like rest of India here. There’s no freedom of movement or expression.” Journalists bucking the local system can lead to trouble, so many journalists subscribe to self-censorship. This has led to a blackout of important information.

Vengeance
Recently, Naik received a notice from the local authorities ordering him to vacate his house. He had written a story “about how a local collector abused his local labourer.” He says, “A few days later I got the notice.”

Naik was accused of illegally occupying forest land, but he says, “This is a tactic to bully me. The house isn’t registered on my name, but the notice was served under my name.”

Attacks
Human rights activist Himanshu Kumar says there have been cases of independent journalists being attacked, threatened, intimidated and even killed. He recounts the recent case of Lingaram Kodopi, an adivasi from Dantewada district.

Kodopi was the first tribal to be enrolled for a journalism course in Delhi. Last year, he filmed testimonies from villagers after a police raid where houses were burnt and several people were killed. After the film was released to the Indian media, Kodopi was arrested, and while he was in custody, he was brutally beaten. When his aunt, Soni Sori, filed a protest, she too was arrested and beaten. Both are now in prison, accused of being Naxalites.

Read more here

Tweet, Tweet Justice: Company’s Censorship Policy Probed


twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

By Meg Roggensack
Senior Advisor, Business and Human Rights, Human Rights First

In her 2010 landmark speech on internet freedom, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton laid out her vision for one internet where access to information isn’t defined by geographic boundaries or political regimes. Today, that vision is even more remote, as evidenced by Twitter’s recent announcement that it would comply with host governments that wish to censor messages.

Twitter made clear that it will censor only after legal review, be transparent about its decisions unless precluded by local law, and ensure that messages censored in one country are available in others. These are important steps and align with commitments made by the tech companies that belong to the Global Network Initiative (GNI). This also puts Twitter on the same side as other companies trying to address the human rights impacts of their global ICT operations – as opposed to those who are not even in the conversation.

But is Twitter’ s policy adequate? Does it propel Secretary Clinton’s vision forward? We at Human Rights First think Twitter is on the right path, but can do better – by making clear the principles for evaluating the legitimacy of requests, and by mounting tough challenges to requests that conflict with national and international guarantees of free expression.

As Secretary Clinton observed in her speech, “The internet will be what we make of it…we need to [take affirmative steps to] synchronize our technological progress with our values.” This can only happen if Twitter and other companies in the ICT sector work harder to realize this vision of a single, unified internet. We’re concerned that Twitter’s new policy is likely to encourage more censorship, not less.

How will Twitter’s new policy affect the overall integrity of its global service? Will there be any jurisdiction where the entirety of Twitter’s messages will be available to users, as Secretary Clinton envisioned, or will Twitter’s service be a Swiss cheese of big and small holes, reflecting censorship preferences around the globe?

Twitter has proven in the past that there’s a better way to handle these requests. It successfully challenged a U.S. federal court’s gag order associated with Wikileaks and then informed the targets of the subpoena so that they could challenge the order. In conveying its new policy, Twitter should make clear that it will aggressively challenge these restrictions, based on available national and international rights guarantees. Many authoritarian governments have broad constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and/or have signed on to international treaties. Twitter should use these guarantees to elaborate and publish its criteria for screening such requests, and should mount constitutional challenges when pressed. This would leave no doubt about Twitter’s commitment to internet freedom.

Twitter was instrumental to the Arab Spring as one of the few platforms that activists could use to organize and disseminate their views. One year later, Twitter’s role in bringing about political reform is even greater. As Human Rights First heard from a prominent Egyptian pro-democracy leader two weeks ago, Twitter has become the platform for activists. It is easy to use, quick, and searchable.

Without the ability to freely view and post tweets, Twitter’s users, including pro-democracy and human rights activists, can’t communicate, organize, and advocate in real time. Even if the rest of us are able to read tweets that repressive governments censor, tweets that are not accessible to the original posters and their networks are deprived of their utility and transformative power.

Twitter should build on the important safeguards it has announced. And Twitter’s dilemma should spark all ICT companies to think carefully about how the choices they make today will affect the internet we use tomorrow.

Mentally challenged man sterilized in Madhya Pradesh


12-FEB-2012

BHOPAL : A 35-year-old mentally retarded and childless man was allegedly taken away and vasectomised in the district hospital in Rewa, under the government’s sterilisation drive.

Ramavtar Gupta, a resident of Mahsaw village, underwent vasectomy in the district hospital on Thursday. His brother, Moolchand, has now petitioned the police seeking action.

In his complaint to Kotwali police, Moolchand says his brother was taken by two anganwadi workers from Mahsaw and vasectomised in the district hospital.

“Ramavtar is mentally incapacitated for sure. He started undressing right here in the police station when I asked him what had happened,” Inspector S S Rajput of Rewa Kotwali Police Station said. “I wonder how and why the doctor operated on him,” he added.

Silent State: The Campaign Against Whistleblowers in Washington


February 11, 2012

On January 23rd, the Obama administration charged former CIA officer John Kiriakou under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of al-Qaeda suspects. His is just the latest prosecution in an unprecedented assault on government whistleblowers and leakers of every sort.

Kiriakou’s plight will clearly be but one more battle in a broader war to ensure that government actions and sunshine policies don’t go together. By now, there can be little doubt that government retaliation against whistleblowers is not an isolated event, nor even an agency-by-agency practice. The number of cases in play suggests an organized strategy to deprive Americans of knowledge of the more disreputable things that their government does. How it plays out in court and elsewhere will significantly affect our democracy.

Punish the Whistleblowers

The Obama administration has already charged more people — six — under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined. (Prior to Obama, there were only three such cases in American history.)

Kiriakou, in particular, is accused of giving information about the CIA’s torture programs to reporters two years ago. Like the other five whistleblowers, he has been charged under the draconian World War I-era Espionage Act.

That Act has a sordid history, having once been used against the government’s political opponents. Targets included labor leaders and radicals like Eugene V. Debs, Bill Haywood, Philip Randolph, Victor Berger, John Reed, Max Eastman, and Emma Goldman. Debs, a union leader and socialist candidate for the presidency, was, in fact, sentenced to 10 years in jail for a speech attacking the Espionage Act itself. The Nixon administration infamously (and unsuccessfully) invoked the Act to bar the New York Times from continuing to publish the classified Pentagon Papers.

Yet, extreme as use of the Espionage Act against government insiders and whistleblowers may be, it’s only one part of the Obama administration’s attempt to sideline, if not always put away, those it wants to silence. Increasingly, federal agencies or departments intent on punishing a whistleblower are also resorting to extra-legal means. They are, for instance, manipulating personnel rules that cannot be easily challenged and do not require the production of evidence. And sometimes, they are moving beyond traditional notions of “punishment” and simply seeking to destroy the lives of those who dissent.

The well-reported case of Thomas Drake is an example. As an employee, Drake revealed to the press that the National Security Agency (NSA) spent $1.2 billion on a contract for a data collection program called Trailblazer when the work could have been done in-house for $3 million. The NSA’s response? Drake’s home was raided at gunpoint and the agency forced him out of his job.

“The government convinced themselves I was a bad guy, an enemy of the state, and went after me with everything they had seeking to destroy my life, my livelihood, and my person — the politics of personal destruction, while also engaging in abject, cutthroat character assassination, and complete fabrication and frame up,” Drake told Antiwar.com. “Marriages are strained, and spouses’ professional lives suffer as much as their personal lives. Too often, whistleblowers end up broken, blacklisted, and bankrupted,” said the attorney who represents Drake.

In Kiriakou’s case, the CIA found an excuse to fire his wife, also employed by the Agency, while she was on maternity leave. Whistleblower Bradley Manning, accused of leaking Army and State Department documents to the website WikiLeaks, spent more than a year in the worst of punitive conditions in a U.S. Marine prison and was denied the chance even to appear in court to defend himself until almost two years after his arrest. Former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Morris Davis lost his career as a researcher at the Library of Congress for writing a critical op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and a letter to the editor at the Washington Post on double standards at the infamous prison, as did Robert MacClean for blowing the whistle on the Transportation Security Administration.

Four employees of the Air Force Mortuary in Dover, Delaware, attempted to address shortcomings at the facility, which handles the remains of all American service members who die overseas. Retaliation against them included firings, the placing of employees on indefinite administrative leave, and the imposition of five-day suspensions. The story repeats itself in the context of whistleblowers now suing the Food and Drug Administration for electronically spying on them when they tried to alert Congress about misconduct at the agency. We are waiting to see the Army’s reaction to whistleblower Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, who documented publicly this week that senior leaders of the Department of Defense intentionally and consistently misled the American people and Congress on the conduct and progress of the Afghan War.

And this remains the most partial of lists, when it comes to recent examples of non-judicial government retaliation against whistleblowers.

Government bureaucrats know that this sort of slow-drip intimidation keeps people in line. It may, in the end, be less about disciplining a troublemaker than offering visible warning to other employees. They are meant to see what’s happening and say, “Not me, not my mortgage, not my family!” — and remain silent. Of course, creative, thoughtful people also see this and simply avoid government service.

In this way, such a system can become a self-fulfilling mechanism in which ever more of the “right kind” of people chose government service, while future “troublemakers” self-select out — a system in which the punishment of leakers becomes the pre-censorship of potential leakers. At the moment, in fact, the Obama administration might as well translate the famed aphorism “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent” into Latin and carve it into the stone walls of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, or the main office of the State Department at Foggy Bottom where I still fight to keep my job.

Silent State

I am told that, in its 223 years of existence, I am the only Foreign Service Officer ever to have written a critical book about the State Department while still employed there. We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People exposed what State did not want people to know: that they had wasted enormous amounts of money in Iraq, mostly due to ignorance and a desire for short-term successes that could be trumpeted back home. For the crime of writing this book and maintaining a blog that occasionally embarrasses, State Department officials destroyed my career, even as they confirm my thesis, and their own failure, by reducing the Baghdad Embassy to half its size in the face of Iraq’s unraveling.

“The State Department was aware of Mr. Van Buren’s book long prior to its release,” explains attorney Jesslyn Radack, who now represents me. “Yet instead of addressing the ample evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse in the book, State targeted the whistleblower. The State Department’s retaliatory actions are a transparent attempt to intimidate and silence an employee whose critique of fraudulent, wasteful, and mismanaged U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq embarrassed the agency.”

Without allowing any rebuttal or defense, State suspended my security clearance, claiming my blogging was an example of “poor judgment,” transferred me from a substantive job into a meaningless telework position, threatened felony conviction over alleged disclosure of classified information, illegally banned me from entering the building where I supposedly work, and continues to try to harass and intimidate me.

My travel vouchers from as far back as the law allows have come under “routine” re-examination. My Internet activity is the subject of daily reports. My credit reports have been examined for who knows what. Department friends who email me on topical issues have been questioned by agents of Diplomatic Security, the State Department’s internal police. My Freedom of Information Act request for documents to help defend myself and force State to explain its actions has been buried.

Without a security clearance, and with my Diplomatic Passport impounded, I will never serve overseas again, the lifeblood of being a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). A career that typically would extend another 10 years will be cut short in retaliation for my attempt to tell the truth about how taxpayer money was squandered in Iraq.

All of this has taken place in such a way that I cannot challenge it (except by writing and speaking about it in public — at additional risk). The State Department has standard disciplinary procedures that it could have invoked against me, but those leave room for public challenges and, in some cases, would allow me to force documents into the open that State would rather not share with you.

Hall Walkers: Ghosts in the Machine

Read more here

“Free Medicines for All” soon to be a reality in Govt Hospitals


Feb 13, 2012 NEW DELHI: Free medicines to all patients visiting any government health facility across the country could soon be a reality with the health ministry ready to roll out a nearly Rs 30,000 crore ‘free-medicines-for-all’ scheme with the PMO‘s strong backing.

The free medicine initiative along with an expansion of the National Rural Health Mission to urban areas, a more district-oriented approach and implementation of recommendations of the K Srinath Reddy committee on universal health coverage will be important focus points of UPA-2’s health policy. The scheme is also expected to be strongly backed by the Sonia Gandhi-chaired NAC at a meeting on February 17.

At a meeting chaired by Pulok Chatterjee, principal secretary to the PM, on Friday, the medicine-for-all scheme and other thrust areas got a thumbs up with PM Manmohan Singh keen to roll out health sector initiatives. The medicine proposal will help cut India’s tremendously high out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on health care.

Speaking to TOI, a ministry official said, “We are ready to roll out the scheme which will provide free generic medicines to all those who visit government health care facilities across the country. This will reduce OOP expenditure and also encourage more people to visit government health facilities. However, we can’t make the announcement now with the elections on as it would violate EC guidelines.”

Instead of increasing public spending on drug procurement when millions of Indian households have no access to medicines, several large states have decreased fund allocation. Consider the case of Kerala. Even though the state spent the highest in India on drug procurement last year – 12.5% of its health expenditure – the expense was significantly less than in 2001, when it stood at 17%.

“We estimate that an increase in the public procurement of medicines from around 0.1% to 0.5% of GDP will ensure universal access to essential drugs, greatly reduce the burden on private OOP expenditures and increase the financial protection for households,” a report has said. Drug prices have shot up phenomenally in India over the past decade and a half. This has been the main reason for the rising costs of medical care, which more than tripled between 1993-94 and 2006-07.

Censoring Hitler — and the past


Laws that destroy our civil liberties are dangerous, no matter who passes them

By Ezra Levant,QMI Agency

If every Jew in Europe had a firearm, do you think Hitler could have killed six million of them so easily?

He might still have been able to kill them. But not without a fight. Not like lambs to the slaughter.

Lucky for Hitler, the Jews in Germany had been disarmed by do-gooders long before he took power. It actually was part of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War.

These same liberals brought in censorship laws, too — under which Hitler himself was prosecuted.

So when Hitler took power in 1933, much of his work was done for him — civil liberties had already been limited, by the “good guys.”

According to the great journalist and historian George Jonas, when Hitler started limiting personal freedom, a left-wing legislator stood up in the Reichstag to complain about it.

And here’s what Hitler said: “Late you come, but still you come. You should have recognized the value of criticism during the years we were in opposition (when) our press was forbidden, our meetings were forbidden, and we were forbidden to speak for years on end.”

It’s a terrifying reminder that laws that destroy our civil liberties are dangerous no matter who passes them, and no matter what good intentions accompanied them.

The lesson is, don’t let the government take away your rights.

In a crisis, the only way to protect your rights is with your own gun. That’s why gun control was so important to Hitler.

This month, the Conservative government is finally repealing the Canadian gun registry. It was a well-intentioned law, enacted by Liberals, for the most idealistic reasons. Just like Germany’s gun laws were.

Larry Miller, an MP from Ontario, noted the authoritarian streak in those who enacted Canadian gun control, and compared it to a gun control quote from Hitler. The opposition clucked.

They don’t have to agree with him. That’s the point of Parliament. But not according to Parliament’s would-be censor, an old Liberal hack named Irwin Cotler.

Cotler doesn’t spend a lot of time giving speeches in Parliament these days — at least not in Canada’s Parliament. He uses his government-funded office to carry on a public interest law practice for people in other countries.

He’s always issuing press releases about clients of his in places like Egypt or Bahrain or Russia. Which is great, but he’s supposed to represent his riding here in Canada.

Cotler took time out of his busy international law practice to come to Canada’s Parliament last week to condemn Larry Miller for noting Hitler’s views on gun control.

But Cotler didn’t just want to oppose Miller’s views, or debate them or disagree with them. Cotler wanted to censor them.

Seriously.

He stood up and whined to the Speaker of the House of Commons that Larry Miller shouldn’t be allowed to compare anything to Hitler — or at least anything the dear Liberal Party has done. He wanted that comparison banned.

Miller did not call Cotler a Nazi, or compare him to Hitler. Miller noted that Hitler relied on gun control.

Are we seriously not allowed to remember that part of Hitler’s plan? Because Irwin Cotler so loves gun control, we’re not allowed to mention that a brutal dictator did, too?

What other parts of the Holocaust does Irwin Cotler not want us to be able to talk about? What other words does Cotler want us to ban?

Irwin Cotler is a doddering old fool. He’s long past his best-before date. He clearly has lost interest in his parliamentary duties — he loves jet-setting around the world for photo ops, with him posing as a civil liberties hero in the Third World.

Funny, that. Because his love for gun control and censorship here in Canada is the stuff of authoritarian bullies, not civil liberties.

And, by trying to forbid Miller from talking about Hitler’s odious works, Cotler is interfering with the proper remembrance of the Holocaust and the promise to never let it happen again.

The path of isolation


 | Opinion | 

OUR state machinery revved into quick action last week to denounce the hearings on Balochistan conducted by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Malaysia deports Saudi journalist accused of insulting prophet


 Hamza Kashgari fled to Malaysia after calls for death penalty in response to Twitter comment about Muhammad

Kate Hodal, Bangkok, Feb  13, 2012,-Malaysia has deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad on Twitter, despite claims by rights groups that he could face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Hamza Kashgari, 23, a newspaper columnist, tweeted doubts about Muhammad on the prophet’s birthday last weekend. After death threats, he fled to Malaysia on Tuesday and was detained at Kuala Lumpur airport while trying to leave on Thursday. Malaysian police said Kashgari was handed over to Saudi officials and flown back on Sunday morning, with flight arrangements handled by the Saudi authorities.

Malaysia and Saudi Arabia do not share a formal extradition treaty, but do have close ties as fellow Muslim countries. The Malaysian interior minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said in a statement that Kashgari’s deportation was due to a common agreement.

“Malaysia had a long-standing arrangement by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other, and [Kashgari] will be repatriated under this agreement,” the statement read. “The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities.”

Kashgari had tweeted about Muhammad last week: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you, and there is a lot I don’t understand about you. I will not pray for you.” He deleted the tweet and apologised, but it attracted more than 30,000 responses, including death threats that spread from Twitter to YouTube and Facebook. Saudi clerics called him an apostate, and a Facebook page demanded his execution. Apostasy, abandonment or renunciation of faith, is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi clerics have already made up their mind that Kashgari is an apostate who must face punishment,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Malaysian government should not be complicit in sealing Kashgari’s fate by sending him back.”

A lawyer for Kashgari called the deportation unlawful and said his counsel had not been informed that he was to be sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Malaysia’s actions set an all new low. “If Kashgari faces execution back in Saudi Arabia, the Malaysian government will have blood on its hands. The Malaysian government engaged in the most crass form of bait and switch, secretly sending Kashgari back, claiming the return is based on a long-standing understanding between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that there is no bilateral extradition treaty between the two. When seeking a seat on the UN human rights council, the Malaysian government pledged it would abide by international human rights treaties, but from the day they took their seat they have walked away from that pledge.”

A lawyer for Kashgari said that he had obtained a court order preventing his client’s deportation but had been stopped by authorities from serving it.

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri told the Malaysian Star: “When we tried to serve the order at the Kuala Lumpur international airport, an immigration officer there confirmed Kashgari had been deported. This is in contempt of court and a violation of human rights.” He added that Kashgari had been denied access to his lawyers since his arrest on Thursday.

Kashgari said in an interview that he was a “scapegoat for a larger conflict” over his comments, Reuters reported. Amnesty International labelled Kashgari a prisoner of conscience and called for his release.

Two weeks ago Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh called on Muslims to avoid Twitter as it “invited [people] to throw charges between them, and to lie in a manner that brings fame to some”, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Saudi Arabia has the third highest number of Twitter users in the Arab region, according to a social media report by the Dubai School of Government. However, those users comprise 0.5% of the nation’s overall population of 27 million.

In January, California-based Twitter said it would censor tweets in certain countries, fuelling debate over freedom of speech on the internet. Thailand, where strict censorship rules already apply, was the first nation to publicly approve of Twitter’s decision. In Malaysia, police have used Twitter and other social media to try to warn activists against rallying in support of the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. In Indonesia, a government minister announced last week that people tweeting in violation of local law – relating to pornography, gambling, threats, fraud and blasphemy – could face seven to 12 years in jail, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Egypt’s Artists Fear Censorship by Islamists


Feb13, 20122- Egypt’s revolution encouraged painters to shake off decades of censorship. But with Islamists gaining power, will provocative art soon be suppressed?

Sublimation is a psychological process in which socially unacceptable impulses are transformed into something less destructive, explains Weaam El-Masry, a fiery Egyptian artist, as she unloads a truckload of her watercolor nudes for sale in a central Cairo art gallery.

“Maybe you have something you want to say—maybe it’s sexual—but society suppresses it,” she says. “When it comes out in your art, that’s sublimation.”

Since the Arab Spring broke out in Egypt a year ago, the country’s art world has started to shake off decades of repression. Sexuality is more out in the open, as are deep-seated social problems such as poverty and corruption—subjects long off limits under former president Hosni Mubarak. Many artists, it seems, no longer feel obligated to cloak their politics in thick layers of allegory.

At Townhouse, a funky art gallery nestled in the heart of central Cairo, iconoclasm is now the rule rather than the exception. In December, the gallery opened D1sc0nN3ct, a dizzying collection of digital-media pieces by a handful of Egyptian artists. Featuring videogames that can’t be won and Web pages with faulty encryptions, the exhibition presents corruption—a debilitating ulcer in a society where you can’t get a driver’s license without paying a bribe—in a daringly critical light.

On the same night but in an adjacent space, the gallery headlined another bold exhibition titled The Politics of Representation. Composed entirely of campaign paraphernalia from the country’s ongoing parliamentary contest—the first since Mubarak’s ouster a year ago—the exhibit takes on the explosion of political activity that has rocked Egypt in recent months and reduces it to a maze of symbols, slogans, and glossy poster stock. According to William Wells, who founded Townhouse in 1998, the exhibition was conceived as an “interactive, real-time visual representation of the electoral process.”

Egyptian Artist Weaam El-Masry's Antsy Nudes

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Fact finding report on Sterilization camp in Bihar


 

A Fact Finding Report on the Sterilisation Camp held at Governmnet Middle School. Kaperfora village under Kurshakata Block PHC and P.S Dist Araria, Bihar, on 7.01.2012 by Jai Ambe Welfare Society, Jalalgarh, Purnea (Accredited NGO for Sterilisation Work) by the DHS, Araria and other related incidence

Fact finding dates:

7.02.2012, 8.02.2012, and 9.02.2012
The Team:

Mr. Francis Elliot of The Times, London (who went to cover the news), and Devika Biswas (as his translator and accompanying person). This portion of the report and observation is soley owned by Devika Biswas
Sources of Primary Information:

News articles appearing in-
Hindustan, Dianik Jagran, P.K dated 9.01.2012 about raid on sterilization camp by SP,
Hindustan, Dianik Jagran dated 31.01.2012 about DIG’s visit for sterilisation,
Hindustan, Dianik Jagran dated 4.02.2012 about Health Minister’s statement on spurious drug supply at the camp.
Meeting with SP Araria on 7.02.2012
Meeting with villagers, eyewitnesses, sterilized women, school authorities, media, present MO incharge of Kurshakata PHC at the place of incidence and PHC CS, ACMO, DPMO, Reg PMO, other health department officials, Dr. Rajendra Prasad (the then MOIC, Kurshakata), on 8.02.2012
Meeting with DPMO and other government officials of district hospital, on 9.02.2012

Place:

SP Bungalow, Araria, Kaparfora Government Middle School, PHC, Kurshakata, SP Office Araria, CS Office, Araria, DHS Araria.
Inteview and Reporting:

Devika Biswas

Documents Reviewed:

The photocopy of FIR lodged,
The list of sterilized women and their data,
The office order of DHS Araria regarding accreditation of the NGO, and the guideline for conducting sterilization camps,
The faxed photocopy of the report of the DH Araria to the Principal Secretary, Health, Government of Bihar, dated 10.01.2012, on the happenings at the sterilization camps alongwith the inverstigation report of the CS, Araria about the FP camps,
The statement of the then MOIC, Kurshakata,

THE SHS letters and guidelines for financial norms for “Accreditation of private providers for sterilization,

For reference purpose, the following guidelines on standards prescribed by the Supreme Court’s order on the PIL writ file of Ramakant Rai vs. Union Government of India and others, 2003:The Quality Assurance Manual.

Observation of Procedural Violations that took place in Kaparfora Government Middle School in the light of the sanction/accreditation order of the office of DHS, Araria (Memo No 1165/ Araria dated 29.11.2011):

Summary


There have been  gross violation of all conditions/Supreme Court’s order and wants to move the Supreme Court, for stopping further family planning camps for sterilization, till a high-level expert committee (consisting of retired judges, health activists, lawyers, doctors (experts in family planning), human rights activists, dalit right activists) to go to each government health facility centres and certify what are their status to conduct such sterilization work, scrutiny the empanelled doctors’ list (both government and private), and required manpower, and submit a report to the Supreme Court. Based on their report, the Supreme Court should allow only those government and private hospitals which fulfill all physical, manpower, and other standards. The dignity of poor dalit women and their right to privacy should be maintained by all as a part of protection of basic human rights. All the sterilized women had undergone private post-operative care at their own expense. They must get compensation and CSG. The pregnant woman, Jitni Devi must be compensated for miscarriage and treatment due to sterilization done on her.

 Read the fact finding Report

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