Maoists deny links with Binayak Sen


Raipur, June 13, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu 

Human rights activist Binayak Sen during a function in Hyderabad. File photo
The Hindu Human rights activist Binayak Sen during a function in Hyderabad. File photo

Rebels term Shubranshu Choudhury’s book a “pack of lies, half-truths and scattered information”

For the first time, Maoists have denied links with social activist and paediatrician Binayak Sen.

The statement on Tuesday night came in the form of a rare rebuttal of a recent book, Let’s Call Him Vasu by journalist Shubranshu Choudhury. While Mr. Choudhury preferred to “stand by” his book, Dr. Sen said it is a “good development” for him.

Read review of Let’s Call Him Vasu.

Mr. Choudhury has also named other eminent activists of Chhattisgarh, who ostensibly are associated with the Maoists, in his book which deals with the day-to-day life of the rebels in the central Indian forest and the impact of the armed movement on the lives of tribals.

The State wing of the CPI (Maoist), Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), called the book a “pack of lies, half-truths and scattered information.” The release said that “even the disseminated information is distorted… and true lies, especially, the episode on Dr. Binayak Sen and the so-called relationship between Jeet and Mukti [Guha Niogi] and our party.”

The party has also refuted the allegation that it has taken money from Essar Steel as claimed in the book.

Mr. Choudhury has quoted a courier, Anil, of a senior Maoist leader and claimed in his book that Dr. Sen, a respected doctor and social activist, who was arrested for his alleged links with the Maoists, was actually an intermediary between Sabyasachi Panda, erstwhile leader of the Maoists in Orissa, and Narayan Sanyal, a Polit Bureau member of the party.

While Anil told the author that Rs. 50,000 was “collected” by a tendu leaves financier of Bengal, Piyush Guha, to deliver it to Mr. Sanyal for his legal expenses, through Binayak Sen, it is not clear if the money actually passed through the hands of the beleaguered doctor.

“I asked him [Sabyasachi Panda] if he ever got the money back. Piyush had been arrested before he could deliver or return the money, he replied,” Mr. Choudhury wrote in his book. With the DKSZC’s denial of the “Binayak Sen episode,” the controversy involving the doctor and the Maoists took a new turn.

Dr. Sen told The Hindu that he believes Mr. Choudhury is a “promising, young journalist,” and added, “… I have been saying all along what he [Mr. Choudhury] has stated is not true. For me, it is a good development, what I have been saying has been finally confirmed by the other party involved in the alleged transaction.”

Jeet and Mukti Guha Niyogi, the son and daughter of legendary trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi, are also named in the book. Mr. Guha Niyogi could not be reached on the phone for his comments.

The rebels, however, have not threatened the senior journalist and the rebuttal is more of a discussion on the praxis of the Maoist movement in India.

DKSZC spokesperon Gudsa Usendi said Mr. Choudhury had not made any “serious attempt” to understand the Maoist movement. “He has claimed to have spent seven years with us but… he has not tried to understand the basic aspects of class war.” However, other than underscoring their objections regarding the claims made about the civilian activists, the release has not clarified why the Maoist leadership is critical about the book.

The allegation seems to be more on how Mr. Choudhury failed to understand the Maoist movement than a point-by-point rebuttal.

The spokesperson is more direct about Mr. Choudhury’s radio broadcasts, which, according to Mr. Usendi, are “baseless.” Media reports suggest that comrade Ramanna alias Ravula Srinivas replaced veteran leader comrade Khosa as DKSZC secretary recently.

According to the release, Mr. Choudhury claimed in a recent radio programme that “Maoists will [now] focus more on violence after a change in the leadership.” Mr. Usendi objected to this observation and said such “imaginary analyses” are “bunkum.”

Alleging that “false propaganda” is often spread against the underground party to negatively influence the people’s movement, the release said “… consciously or unintentionally Mr. Choudhury has become part of it [propaganda machinery].” Mr. Usendi has also denied that there is a “rift” among the senior leaders.

Refuting the allegations, Mr. Choudhury said he stood by his book.

“My book was written on the basis of research conducted within the Maoist dominated areas and after detailed interviews with many Maoists. I stand by what I have written,” he said.

 

Three questions for Madhu Kishwar


JUNE 13, 2013
Guest post by DILIP D’SOUZA

Dear Madhu,

20+ years ago, I picked you up at the airport in Austin and you stayed at my home there for a few days. You had come there to deliver a lecture, as I’m sure you remember. We developed a friendship based on a degree of mutual respect and liking. I think you’ll agree? Several years after that I remember a stimulating afternoon sitting with you in Panchgani, catching up on many things and discussing various issues threadbare.

We haven’t met in some years now, but I’m going to call on the privilege of our 20+ years of friendship as I write these lines.

I have no problem at all with your desire to learn about Gujarat and Narendra Modi for yourself. Nor with your desire to see beyond what you’ve called the “targeting” of Modi. Nor with your speaking in support of Modi: if there are people who criticize Modi, I understand and accept that there are those who support him — it’s a democracy we live in after all. Nor with your speaking your mind: you have always done so and it’s the least I expect from you. (In turn, it’s the least you should expect from me).

No Madhu, I have no problem with any of that. And I’m not going to get into debates about Gujarat’s development (as with most things, there are multiple ways of looking at it). Not even into debates about what Modi did or did not do in 2002 to stop the massacres. I travelled there in that time and I have my own opinions, but I realize others see things differently.

There are probably three things I do have problems with.

One is in your reply to Zahir Janmohammed. Your third sentence there says his letter “annoyed me no end.” Your sixth sentence says “my annoyance kept increasing at your jaundiced viewpoint.” It seemed to me this set the tone for the whole reply. So I’d like to ask: Zahir’s viewpoint is clearly and dramatically different from yours; does that necessarily mean it is “jaundiced”?

These are wrenching, divisive issues you and he and all of us are grappling with. I can’t deny they get people on all sides annoyed. But you actually end your letter to Zahir by saying we need to “know how to bridge divides rather than widen them”. How do we bridge divides if we start out by calling the other guy “jaundiced”? What happened to respecting the other guy’s views and engaging with them? Is it not conceivable that some might see your views as jaundiced? And if so, what if they began a note to you by saying “I’m annoyed by your jaundiced views”? Would you feel like continuing a dialogue with such a person?

After all, I didn’t agree with some of what you said that afternoon in Panchgani (among other things, we discussed the RSS). Yet I think you will agree, if you remember that conversation, that I didn’t call your opinions jaundiced, and that it was indeed a stimulating afternoon.

I don’t know if you think this is a trivial thing. But I don’t. I think this is fundamental to any attempt at understanding and dialogue. And given the divisions and polarization I see around me, we need dialogue more than ever. Or the anger and hatred, I fear, will one day consume us all.

The second is your criticism of Teesta Setalvad (for example, in your interview with News Livehere) — among other things, for all that’s happened with the SIT. Npw I will support fully your right to disagree with Teesta. But surely you know — to pick just one thing to wonder about — of the discrepancies between the preliminary and final SIT reports? For example look at a couple of side-by-side excerpts here. What happened to “The explanation given by Shri Modi is unconvincing and it definitely hinted at the growing minority population” in the preliminary report?

This is the kind of thing that has people, and not just Teesta, asking serious questions about the SIT report.

The third is one Kodnani. For me, one thing about 2002 stands out and so many years later, I cannot see any way to suppress its implications. In 2007, after he won the Gujarat Assembly elections, Modi actually appointed Maya Kodnani as his Minister of Women’s Development and Child Welfare. He did this despite knowing what she had done in 2002 (for which she is now in prison). We know so because Modi’s own government, in which Kodnani was a Minister, actually filed an affidavit in the High Court in 2009 saying Kodnani “was the leader of mob … she was instigating the mob to commit crime and therefore she was playing the main role.” What’s more, “she is a minister in the present government, so there are ample chances of tampering with prosecution witnesses by way of giving threat.” (See this article for some details).

Overseeing the welfare of Gujarat’s children and its women’s development for a period a few years ago was a lady doctor who, a few years before that, had orchestrated the murder in Naroda-Patiya of 90+ Gujaratis, including 34 children and 32 women. Knowing that history, Modi appointed her to that position.

It’s simple, then: A man who knowingly appoints a murderer as Minister of Women’s Development and Child Welfare is not a man I want to see as PM of this country. It astonishes me that anyone would.

Good luck, Madhu. As always, I wish you only the best.

Yours,
Dilip

 

#India -13 Women activists from Maitree arrested for protesting in Kolkata #Vaw #WTFnews


Protests outside Mamata‘s house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

Edited by Surabhi Malik (With Inputs from IANS) | Updated: June 13, 2013

Protests outside Mamata's house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

KolkataWomen activists demonstrated outside Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s residence in Kolkata this morning to protest against a spate of rape cases in the state. They wanted to meet Ms Banerjee and submit a memorandum of demands. But an hour into the protests, police dispersed the women activists and arrested 13 of them.

The protesters, led by Maitree which is an umbrella organisation of women activists, also wanted to meet Mamata to seek her response to a report released by the National Bureau of Crime Records which says West Bengal has the maximum number of crimes against women in the country.

Unable to meet Mamata, the activists left an “open letter” for her asking her why she had not spoken about the two recent and brutal rape and murder cases in the state.

The two incidents happened in quick succession and left Kolkata shocked. Last Friday, at Kamdoni village about 25 km from Kolkata, a 20-year-old college girl was brutally raped and murdered by six men. Three days later, a 13-year-old school student met the same fate at Gede in Nadia district.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says Bengal recorded the highest number of crimes against women for the second year in a row in 2012. The state government however contested the data, claiming its disclaimers were not published.

According to NCRB, Bengal recorded 30,942 cases of crime against women in 2012 – of which 2,046 were rapes, 4,168 kidnapping, 593 dowry deaths and 19,865 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives.

But state Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said rape cases had come down “considerably” in 2012. He attributed the hike in crimes against women to cases registered under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, related to cruelty towards a woman by her husband or his relatives.

In 2012, West Bengal recorded 2,046 cases of rape – lower only than Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In 2011, the state had recorded 29,133 cases of crime against women, 2,317 of these were rapes.

 

#India – Appeal to observe Anti Posco Black day on 22nd JUNE 2013


 

We remember people who sacrificed their self interests for the benefit our freedom in the 66th year of Indian Independence. Sadly, during the one and a half decades of the post-globalisation era in India, our leaders are sacrificing the very purpose of the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom. India’s land, rivers, hills, seas and forests are being sold to global corporates, displacing millions of farmers, dalits, adivasis and fisher folk today, devastating this country’s environment.

The project planned by the multinational giant POSCO represents the largest  Foreign Direct Investment of this country (FDI) during the post-globalised India. The project will destroy the lives of thousands of farmers, dalits, women, children, fisher people and indigenous people.

The people’s movement against POSCO started soon after the signing of the MOU between POSCO and Odisha Government. Since then over hundred bombs have been thrown at the resisting villagers by the pro-POSCO goons and around 100 villagers have been shot by the Odisha police. Our leaders like MR. Abhay Sahoo and four others are in the jail. More than 1500 villagers and activists are facing over 250 fabricated false charges. Many villagers can not come out of their villages even for their hospitalization, due to the threat of arrests. The struggle against POSCO led by POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti is still resisting this invasion by a global capitalist giant in partnership with the Central and State Governments.

 

We believe that if the anti-POSCO movement is suppressed due to the interests of the corporations, it will affect many similar struggles in Odisha as well as rest of India. Since this SEZ project is the largest FDI investment in this country, it has to be treated as a symbol of struggle against globalization and India’s freedom.

 

Therefore, we appeal to all freedom lovers in India and all over the world to mark your resistance by responding on the day of the completion of the 8th year of signing of the MOU between POSCO and the Government, on June 22, 2013. We appeal to all activists, organizations, people’s movements and concerned individuals against globalization to express their strong protest against this corporate invasion of our lands. We appeal to groups and people’s movements working on fisher people, dalits, women, children and indigenous people to organize solidarity actions on June 22nd, since it is the lives of these very forces which are at stake. On this historical event, PPSS calls for the following actions all over India and abroad to initiate the following actions:

 

1.     Protests in your region demanding the ouster of POSCO and removal of all fabricated false cases against activists and villagers.

 

2.     Public meetings in your region condemning the threat of displacement and environmental destruction by POSCO.

 

3.     Expressions through, songs, posters, paintings, theatre, print media and internet actions against POSCO.

 

4.     Mobilise concerned sections to be part of the event in Odisha.

 

5.     Write letters to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Odisha.

 

6.     Document the events in Odisha and elsewhere through written media as well as video for future campaigns, or

 

7.     Any other symbolic or imaginative actions you may chose.

 

We welcome all those who wish to participate in the mass rally and demonstrations at Patnahat village of Jagatsighpur district  in Odisha  on 22nd June 2013 and express their support to this historic struggle.

In Solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

 

 

Telegram. Stop. To die. Stop. On July 15. STOP.


By ANAND HOLLA, Mumbai Mirror | Jun 13, 2013,
Telegram. Stop. To die. Stop. On July 15. STOP.
What was once the fastest mode of conveying information – usually terrible news of death and loss- will soon be a nostalgic thing of bygone years. The death of the telegram has been signalled by BSNL which has announced that it will be curtains down on its 160-year old telegraph service from July 15.

The organisation is unable to sustain what it feels is an unviable service in these days of instant communication. The telegram has been roundly upstaged by smartphones and the easily accessible Internet. But apart from fans of nostalgia, it is the BSNL Employees Union that is up in arms at the announcement.

In its circular issued by Shameem Akhtar, Senior General Manager, Telegraph Services, BSNL has asked all telegraph offices under BSNL to stop booking telegrams from July 15 onwards.

On Wednesday evening, the Central Telegraph Office at Fountain in Mumbai, which also doubles up as a customer service centre for BSNL, wore a forlorn look. Its staff, who are part of BSNL Employees Union, Mumbai Division, said none of them was consulted by the management.

One of them said: “Rural India still uses telegram services to a great extent, and so do government offices. Why kill a legacy when it still has its own demand base?”

The union says it is “seriously concerned” about the abrupt termination notice. “No doubt we have entered the age of internet and 4G services, but still telegraph services are being used by the public and government departments,” says their letter to the BSNL management.

The union also reasons that the telegram is the only legal document accepted in a court of law as documentary evidence.

“E-mail, fax, SMS or any other means of communication are not accepted as valid proof. Daily working of medical representatives is based on telegram messages throughout the country. Defence services like Army, Air Force and Navy send a large number of telegrams all over the country regarding tenders, leave of defence personnel, etc. Many other departments like FCI, Banks and state governments are also using the telegraph services,” their letter says.

In May 2011, the government had revised telegram charges for the first time in 60 years – to Rs 27/50 from Rs 4/50 for inland services. If that wasn’t a bad sign enough, it withdrew overseas telegram services two months ago. But the employees still harbour hopes of changing the management’s mind, as it has sought “detailed discussions” with it over the issue.

 

US death row author William Van Poyck executed #deathpenalty


Petition to get Bill off Death Row

AP | Jun 13, 2013, 07.07 AM IST

STARKE, FLORIDA: A US man who orchestrated a deadly prison van ambush in 1987 in an attempt to free a prisoner has been executed.

William Van Poyck died on Wednesday evening by injection at the Florida State Prison.

“Set me free,” were his final words.

His case drew international attention because Van Poyck published three books and maintained a blog while on death row. He wrote recently about his pending execution.

The 58-year-old had been convicted of murdering prison guard Fred Griffis.

Van Poyck and Frank Valdes ambushed a prison van outside a doctor’s office in a failed attempt to free James O’Brien. Prison guard Fred Griffis was fatally shot after he threw the van’s keys into the bushes to foil the escape.

Van Poyck and Valdes were captured following a car chase.

In his appeals, Van Poyck argued that Valdes fired the fatal shots. The Florida Supreme Court last week rejected Van Poyck’s latest appeal involving Valdes’ widow, who says her husband told her he was the shooter.

In 1999, Valdes was stomped to death in prison. Seven guards were charged with his death, but none were convicted.

Van Poyck wrote an autobiography, “A Checkered Past: A Memoir,” saying his purpose was not to elicit sympathy but “to put a human face on me and convicts in general.”

“He is deeply remorseful for the ending of Fred Griffis’ life,” his sister Lisa Van Poyck told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The family of Griffis has said in interviews that they were frustrated that news stories focused on Van Poyck, the crime and his writings — and not the victim.

HIS LAST  LETTER 
Dear Sis~
Tomorrow Elmer will be executed and I’ll be next up to bat, with 15 days to live.   A situation like this tends to make you reflect on the elusive nature of time itself, which some folks – physicists and metaphysicists alike – claim is an illusion anyway. Real or not it sure seems to be going someplace quickly!

This may be my last letter to reach you before you begin your journey down south to be by my side for my final days. These many visits I’ve recently received from those who love me have been a blessing for me.  I’m acutely aware that some guys on death watch have absolutely nobody to help them bear their burden during their last days and hours on earth, not a soul willing to share some love.  It’s a terrible thing to die all alone…  I continue to be inundated with letters of support and love from around the world, many from kind-hearted strangers, and many similar blog posts which you’ve shared with me.  Many are very moving, and all are deeply appreciated. I am humbled.  While I’ve answered many I simply cannot respond to them all in my allotted time remaining.  As my shortening days inexorably telescope down my focus turns ever inward as I wrestle with the timeless questions of the universe that have puzzled man since the dawn of consciousness here on Schoolhouse Earth.

I read in a recent newspaper article that the brother and sister of Fred Griffis, the victim in my case, are angry that I’m still alive and eager for my execution.  These are understandable human feelings.  I have a brother and sister myself and I cannot honestly say how I would deal with it if something happened to you or Jeff at the hands of another.  I have thought of Fred many times over the years and grieved over his senseless death.  I feel bad for Fred’s siblings though if seeing another human being die will truly give them pleasure.  I suspect when I’m gone, if they search their hearts, they will grasp the emptiness of the closure promised by the revenge of capital punishment.  There’s a lot of wisdom in the old saying “An eye for an eye soon makes the whole world blind.”

All is well with me here in the death house.  I’ve been blessed with a strong body and a stout mind and spirit, more than sufficient to see me through this final passage.  The deep love of others, freely given to me by those I’m honored to call my friends, helps ease the journey.  The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God.  This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in due time, and which gives me my peace.

Light & Love,
Bill

 

#RIP – Mourning Reingamphi Awungshi, 21 year old from Manipur #Rape #Vaw


JUNE 11, 2013
This is a guest post by PRATIKSHA BAXI:  Kafila.org

imagesWhen the police found Reingamphi Awungshi, a twenty-one year woman from Ukhrul district in Manipur brutalised, assaulted and dead in her rented apartment in Chirag Delhi on 29 May 2013, they did not file an FIR. Rather, the Malaviya Nagar police station, a site of anguished protests, began by designating her death as suicide, even as they waited for a post mortem report! Although the family argued that the state of her bloodied and injured body clearly indicated sexual assault and murder, the police ended up filing an FIR, after three days, as a case of abetment to suicide.

It seems very clear that the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape protests have not made a dent in practices of policing—it should not take hundreds of protestors to ensure the registration of a police complaint. Nor is it reasonable for the police without thorough investigation and competent medical examination of the body to conclude that the death was a suicide rather than murder; and that the injuries on the body, the outcome of substance abuse rather than assault. This is evidence of bias, rather than an impartial investigation.

But for protests, the case would not have been transferred to the Crime Branch, nor an FIR filed for murder.

485711_176998665800763_1475018579_n

Image from Justice for Reingamphi Awungshi

The police’s initial stance that this was suicide illustrated bias. The dead woman’s character was maligned to generate a motive for suicide. The police claimed it was suicide since the door of her room was locked from inside, ignoring the fact that her room led to another door opening into the landlord’s house. The police concluded that she overdosed herself without forensic analysis to determine whether or not the medicines found in her room, if consumed, could have led to toxicity. The police concluded that rodents nibbled her face and other parts of the body leaving her eye and nose in a bloody mess, without waiting for forensic analysis to establish rodent bites. The police assumed that this young woman who had shopped for her next breakfast would kill herself and then rodents in a reasonably well-kept room would assault her. Thereafter, the scene of crime was not secured and it is not even clear whether forensic samples were collected from the scene of crime.

The second post mortem, while the histological reports are awaited, after five days by a three-member panel of forensic experts, concluded that opinion of death could only be offered after the analysis of the viscera by chemical analysis and histopathology report. The PM report further held that two-fingers could easily pass through the vagina, hence the dead woman was habituated to sex—making it impossible to determine whether she was raped, without other forensic tests. Yet again the Delhi protests failed to persuade doctors that while clinical findings of whether or not the vaginal passage is distensible in a dead survivor may have very limited evidentiary value, such a victim cannot be characterised as a habitué. To characterise the victim as a habituated to sex, especially when she is dead, is to assume that the vagina can be examined as if it were a record of past sexual history of consensual sex. Surely it is equally possible that the vagina is a record of past sexual history of sexual violence. To characterise the victim, as a habitué is not only unconstitutional, it prejudices investigation and the framing of charges, if any person is ultimately held responsible for sexual assault.

Surely it is reasonable for Reingamphi’s family and supporters to suspect sexual assault and murder. It is reasonable to suspect the landlords’ relative who was stalking this young woman for over a month. It is reasonable to be suspicious because the family was not informed when the landlord called the police to break into the dead woman’s room. It is reasonable since sexual assault; stalking and/or murders of women from the North East in Delhi are a statistical high.

Why is there such toleration of violence against women from the North–East in Delhi? The fact is that sexual harassment of women from the North East is both sexist and racist. It is also a social fact that women from the North East are targeted as sexual objects. They are subjected to a racist and sexist gaze, which positions them as vulnerable “outsiders”. Branded, stigmatised and caricatured, they are extremely vulnerable to violence, in particular, to sexual assault.

Such forms of targetted violence of tribal women in Delhi is sufficient to declare Delhi a scheduled area or zone of emergency on the grounds that targeted atrocities against tribal women by non­–tribal men is routine. A provision permitting such declaration is available under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 which specifies that the state government is under obligation to identify ‘the areas where the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are likely to be subjected to atrocities’ and adopt ‘measures so as to ensure safety for such members’.

However, the police almost never mobilises this law to protect Naga, Manipuri or Mizo tribal women from the discrimination they face in the city. Surely the police know that as a form of historic discrimination, such forms of violence have been classified in the law as atrocity. They should also remember that as per Section 4 of the PoA Act ‘whoever, being a public servant but not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, wilfully neglects his duties required to be performed of duties by him under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year’. Non-registration of an FIR in sexual offences is also an offence, by virtue of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Let alone do their duty under these laws police officers routinely treat a complainant from any North–Eastern state as an exceptional and abject subject. It is as if the zone of exception—dramatized by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act—lives in the heart of our city in everyday and ordinary ways.

The impunity and immunity bestowed on men who think that a Tangkhul Naga woman’s life can be exterminated without any investigation, prosecution, or without inciting a collective demand for justice has been permitted by our legal system. Our politicians too permitted this by ignoring the powerful protests against the AFSPA—a demand to recognise citizenship and justice—instead of repressing populations and suspending constitutional law. Our city permits this by creating zones of sexual exceptionalism where some cases find horrified publicity and others do not produce similar public anguish.

Our city does not experience the same horror today, as it did months ago, at the painful and brutalised death of this young woman—perhaps the details of brutalisation are not titillating enough! Perhaps most of us do not identify with a woman whose identity seems so far removed from what we know as familiar? Perhaps it is less disturbing to believe the police version of suicide?

Yet even as we recall every painful instance of violence that was called out, in the aftermath of the December protests, we must remember than Tangkhul Naga women struggling to make the city their home also want azadi from violence. Tangkhul Naga women also protested with us to make Delhi safer.

As we mourn for Reingamphi Awungshi, we must also continue to raise our voices against violence against women, especially sexual assault. Yet, should we also now not reflect where we failed? Fact of the matter is that far from creating prevention of violence and increased safety for women, the forensic detailing of what men do to women’s or girl’s bodies in the media, even though their names were withheld, acted as public pedagogy of what men can do women. Sadly, rape cultures thrive despite the protests, and some may argue, because of the voyeuristic representations of the protests.

Alas, change is a long way away. The cry for transformation demands the sustained energy of the Delhi protesters, who should not be satisfied with increased punishment in the statutes. The aspiration for freedom demands that minimally we say to Reingamphi Awungshi, we are desperately sorry.

Pratiksha Baxi is Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University

 

 

 

They don’t make them like her anymore: A tribute to Vina Mazumdar #poem


June 12, 2013 Obituary
vina mazumdar vina mazumdarPoem recited at the memorial meeting for Vina Mazumdar, on 11th June, 2013 in New Delhi, organised by Centre for Women’s Development Studies

By Urvashi Butalia

They don’t make them like her any more
It’s a very particular kind of recipe
You’d need an enlightened father
You’d need a visionary mother
It would help if you had an educated book loving driver
You’d need friends scattered all over the world
They’d have to be doctors and feminists and academics and activists
You’d need a good dose of children
You’d have to have politics in the blood
A firm belief in democracy
You’d need universities that believe in teachers and teaching
A rare thing these days
You’d need international recognition
That women deserve to be counted
You’d need mentors at home
And well wishers abroad
You’d need a spirit of questioning
A liberal dose of rebellion
A belief in support
A commitment to institutions
You’d need to be curious and interested
Awesome and inspiring
You’d have to help new groups
Give support to new enterprises
You’d need to support the feminist endeavour
To provide space and step in to sort out their battles
You’d need friends who connived
And plotted and succeeded
You’d need to march in demonstrations
Learn you lessons from the poor
Focus on the town and the city
You’d need liberal doses of Old Monk
A loud voice to shout for Nandan
An ability to give dictation till 4 in the morning
Spiced by Old Monk and hot tea
To your poor long suffering fifth child (aka Nandan)
You’d need to fight for women’s studies
Begin the battle long before other had even begun to think of it
You’d need to produce a report that was just more than a report
You’d need to find a good name for it
Perhaps call it Towards Equality
And then work hard to do what most reports don’t do
Turn it into action, use it to further research
You’d need to keep the focus on the activist
And equally on the researcher
You’d need to extend your attention to the village
To learn from your sisters out there
You’d need grit, determination, braggadaccio, a loud voice
You’d need a friend called lotika di
Another called Neeraben
You’d need a clutch of feminists of all ages
your biological and political jamaat
Who were willing to be your students
Even though you’d never been their teacher
An endless supply of cigarettes
A battle with your publisher for delaying your memoirs
You’d need liberal doses of argument
A vast collection of saris
Some kaftans to be in with your grandchildren
Comrades in the movement
Whom you could rap on the knuckles from time to time
You’d need the honesty to say
Arre, you must stop me, I tend to meander
I’m getting old you know
Put all of this together
And you’d have a very potent brew
By another name it would be called Vinadi
Glasses on nose, cigarette in hand, tea on table, dictation at the ready
Come on, Vinadi, own up, we know you’re up there watching us
And we’ll raise a glass of Old Monk to you tonight
For we know
They don’t make them like you anymore.

With inputs from many feminists across India

 

Swiss Minister calls for ‘world without #deathpenalty’


Didier Burkhalter (left) with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y MarfilDidier Burkhalter (left) with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil (Keystone)

June 12, 2013 – 21:38

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter has highlighted Switzerland’s commitment to the abolition of capital punishment at the opening of the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty in Madrid.

“Switzerland aims to ensure that those countries which have not as yet abolished the death penalty at least place a moratorium on its use,” he said in a statement released by the foreign ministry.

In it, he added that capital punishment was incompatible with the values represented by Switzerland and had an impact on the country’s other obligations such as the prohibition of discrimination.
 
The death penalty was abolished from Swiss federal criminal law in 1942, but remained available in military criminal law until 1992.

Together with Spain, France and Norway, Switzerland is patron of the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty which is hosting around 1,500 delegates from over 90 states in Madrid until Saturday.

Today, 140 of the world’s 198 states have renounced the use of capital punishment, but a quarter still retain the death penalty. Executions continue to take place every year in around 20 states – mainly China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In 2012, various states (Botswana, Gambia, India, Japan, Pakistan and Kuwait) reapplied the death penalty after years of de facto moratorium, according to the foreign ministry.

Bilateral talks

Prior to the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty, Didier Burkhalter held bilateral talks with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil.

Topics set to be discussed included the OSCE chairmanship which will be taken over by Switzerland in 2014, the situation in Europe, youth unemployment and bilateral issues.

“Step-by-step progress”

The stated Swiss goal is a “world without the death penalty” as capital punishment cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights and, in particular, violates the right to life, said the foreign ministry statement.

“Switzerland strives for step-by-step progress with this goal in mind. It advocates for a moratorium or at least certain limitations to be placed on the use of capital punishment in states which continue to employ the death penalty through lobbying at both the multilateral and bilateral level.”

The foreign ministry also calls for compliance with international standards concerning withholding the death penalty for minors and non-enforcement of capital punishment for pregnant women or mentally disabled persons.

In this regard, Switzerland supports, among others, the work of the International Commission against the Death Penalty which was launched at the Fourth World Congress in Geneva in 2010.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

 

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