Kamayani aka kractivist
Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu
Rights activist Binayak Sen has been denied permission to participate in an international seminar on health care in Kathmandu by a Raipur court. Dr. Sen sought permission to visit Kathmandu after confirming his participation to the seminar organisers and hence “the application is not bona fide” the court order said.
Dr. Sen was invited by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to speak in an international two-day seminar on providing health care in conflict areas. Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, told The Hindu that he is “surprised and shocked” by the court’s order. He said the report of the meeting would be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Hours before his departure on Friday, a court order restricted Dr. Sen from visiting Kathmandu. “It is evident from the application that the applicant has agreed to take part in the programme without the permission of this court. He sought permission on June 28 and accepted the proposal (to visit Kathmandu) on June 21,” Additional Sessions Court judge Alok Kumar Upadhyay said in his order.
“Dr. Sen agreed to attend the meeting (before June 21) before he sought a permission, so that the organisers could send him the accommodation and flight details and he could furnish those in turn (to court) with his application,” said Dr. Sen’s lawyer, S.K. Farhan. The details of accommodation and a copy of the air tickets to and from Kathmandu were attached with the application.
Earlier, the court sought a reply from the police about Dr. Sen’s application, to which Additional SP, Raipur, Lal Umed Singh replied that Dr. Sen’s visit is detrimental to the country’s security.
“Such foreign visits of Dr. Sen consolidate Naxal and Maoist networks. India’s internal security is also compromised,” Mr. Singh stated. “In view of increased Maoist violence, killing of security personnel and prominent political leaders, objection is raised against Dr. Sen’s foreign visit,” Mr. Singh told the court.
Dr. Sen was invited to speak on healthcare delivery and accessibility to people in remote conflict areas, especially focussing Chhattisgarh. His topic was broadly described in the draft agenda as ‘availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health facilities, goods and services — duties and responsibilities toward affected populations, obligations of non-discrimination and medical independence, Treatment of parties to the conflict cf. civilians.’ He was supposed to speak on the first day of the seminar alongside health care and human rights activists from Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Jamshid Gaziyev, Special Procedures Branch, Katherine Footer of John Hopkins School of Public Health and International Committee of the Red Cross will be attending the seminar, according to the draft agenda.
In April 2011, a Chhattisgarh Court directed Dr. Sen to surrender his passport as a bail condition in line with the Supreme Court order. While it is not mandatory to have a passport to travel to Nepal, Dr. Sen needs permission from court for any overseas travel.
Earlier, he was allowed to travel abroad twice — to South Korea in 2011 and United Kingdom in 2012 — and on both occasions the Chhattisgarh court approved the travel.
In his plea, Singh has alleged that such large scale spying by the US authorities is detrimental to national security and urged the apex court to intervene in the matter. He has claimed that the Internet companies are sharing information with the foreign authority in “breach” of contract and violation of right to privacy.
“As per reports, nine US-based Internet companies, operating in India through agreements signed with Indian users, shared 6.3 billion information/data with National Security Agency of US without express consent of Indian users.Such larges cale spying by the USA authorities besides being against the privacy norms is also detrimental to national security,” the petition, filed through advocate Virag Gupta, has said.
Singh has submitted that it is a breach of national security as government’s official communications have come under US surveillance as services of private Internet firmsare being used by them. He has sought directions to the Centre to “take urgent steps to safeguard the government’s sensitive Internet communications” which are being kept outside India in US servers and are “unlawfully intruded upon by US Intelligence Agencies through US-based Internet companies under secret surveillance program called PRISM”.
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Women Feature Service
The concept of gender needs to be transformed. That was the central thrust of a recent study entitled, ‘Breaking The Binary’, released by the queer feminist collective, Labia, at an event organised in Mumbai’s well–known SNDT University.
Questioning the male–female binary, the study concluded that there can be no uniformity within these identities. Even when people use the same term like ‘man’, ‘woman’, ’transgender’ to define themselves, their lived realities may differ greatly. Such categories, therefore, should necessarily be less rigid because when the boundaries between them get blurred, individuals are enabled to exert greater agency and choice in moving across them. According to the study, gender needs to be consensual; it needs to get transformed from a hierarchical discrete, binary system to a porous, multiple–gender one.
‘Breaking The Binary’ was based on 50 life history narratives that explored the circumstances and situations of queer PAGFB (Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth), who were made to, or were expected to, conform to existing social norms pertaining to gender and sexuality.
The research team for the study comprised 11 members, with Chayanika, Raj, Shalini and Smriti from Labia anchoring the work. Explained Chayanika, “Through this study, we looked at the experiences of our subjects within their natal families and while at school. We charted their journeys through intimate relationships and we attempted to understand what happened to them in public spaces, how they were treated by various state agencies, what were their sources of support and refuge when they came under the threat of violence or faced discrimination.”
The people interviewed came from a wide cross–section of society in terms of location, age, caste, class, and religion. These variations were critical, according to Chayanika, as the intention was to reach those living at the intersections of many marginalised identities. But achieving this was difficult, even impossible. As she put it, “The silence and invisibility around individuals who continually transgress gender norms meant that we were able to approach only those individuals who have some contact with queer groups.”
The 50 respondents were spread across north, east, west and south India – living in cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Pune and Thrissur. The representation of individuals living in rural areas was low, but two persons – one from rural Maharashtra and the other from rural Jharkhand – were interviewed, and 11 of the respondents had grown up in rural settings. Of the 50 individuals who participated in the study, 30 were from the dominant castes, 11 people were from the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Special Backward Classes, three were from Other Backward Classes (OBC) and six identified themselves as Others.
‘Woman’ as a biological category was one of the subjects that figured in the interviews. Persons whose biological sex did not correspond with their psychological sex, were branded as gender “variants”, even though women do not constitute a homogenous category and could belong to many different categories – including a category as unfamiliar as ‘working class lesbian’ or ‘dalit lesbian’.
According to Raj, a member of Labia, “We found that being from an upper class background was no guarantee of privilege. There was a 20–year–old from a business family. Because of family dynamics, she was unable to get the education she had wanted and was forced to support herself by earning small sums of money playing cricket. Another respondent, identified as upper class, was also deprived of a meaningful education.” Clearly, a privileged, upper class background does not protect queer persons, especially if they happen to challenge gender and/or sexuality norms.
The study identified three levels of violence the respondents had faced. The first is at the individual level, where harmful acts are perpetrated against people and property. This can range from taunts to forced marriage and even murder. The second is at the institutional level, where damaging consequences are perpetrated by social institutions with the idea of obstructing the spontaneous expression of human potential – as, for example, when an office denies promotion to an employee on account of sexual orientation. The third is at the structural – cultural – level as, for instance, when religious or political beliefs rule that homosexuality is immoral or illegal.
A woman’s sexual orientation can, among other things, determine her access to resources as well as her social status, according to the study. Women suffer severe material loss when their families desert them and many experience emotional and psychological trauma in their struggle against discrimination and ostracism. Mis–recognition and non–recognition can become a very perverse form of violence as it seeks to naturalise the power enjoyed by dominant groups over non–dominant ones.
For instance, families, friends and teachers could refuse to recognise the need of lesbians to be acknowledged as they are and treated with dignity, leading them to experience a severe loss of self–esteem. This constitutes a form of violence imposed by the majority on a minority. As Shalini, one of study team members, put it, “Every society has its own notion of what is normal and what is assumed to be normal. Going beyond that construct could invite violence on the individual. Many of the respondents felt that the gay rights movement was crucial precisely because people cannot hide behind identities that are not their own. Therefore, just as women defied patriarchy through the women’s rights movement, queer persons defy heteronormativity through the queer rights movement.”
This study, the first of its kind, has helped shed light on how queer persons have addressed the challenges of life and how they continue to search, negotiate, and challenge multiple boundaries. It has attempted to answer some important questions. Where, for instance, are the points at which gender binaries rupture? How are the normative gender lines being reinforced? What situations help to create varied gender identities? Most important of all, the study has helped to capture the experiences of Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth and their negotiations with families, friends, communities, social structures, as well as the health and legal systems.
The team hopes to take the study forward to highlight areas of concern and conceptualise effective interventions. As one of the team members put it, “We are aiming to convey its insights to the more general category of people, at least those who are interested in taking proactive steps in addressing violence against any human being in any form and also for those who would like to understand the root causes of homophobia. We also want to take it to educational and governmental institutions, so that they can also help usher in change.”
The study was released not just in Mumbai, but in Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Thrissur and Chennai as well. A Hindi translation of it is also on the cards. (WFS)
Mangalore: June 14; The State Government has dropped all charges against journalist Naveen Soorinje in connection with the Morning Mist home stay attack Recently The Visual Media Journalists Association of Dakshina Kannada district had submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urging him to drop all charges against journalist Naveen Soorinje and TV cameraman Sharan in connection with the Morning Mist home stay attack.
As per the Cabinet meet on Thursday June 13 it was decided to withdraw cases registered against journalist Naveen Soorinje in the Morning Mist Home Stay attack .
Advocate M P Amruthesh had filed public interest litigation in the state high court on February 6, challenging the state cabinet’s January 31 decision to withdraw case standing against Soorinje.
But the state High Court had, based on an affidavit that Soorinje was not involved with illegal activities at the venue, granted bail to him thereafter on March 23.
PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
31st May 2013
Unending Spiral of Violence: Darbha
The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) notes with concern the sad loss of 30 lives in the Maoist attack on the “Parivartan Rally” of Congress Party on 25 May 2013. This is the latest in the series of killings, big and small, in the ongoing undeclared war that the Indian government is waging against our own people. Many of the victims of this war are poor adivasis killed in operations by the security forces, that the government assiduously attempts to hide from the public at large. But, as in the present instance, ruling party functionaries, security forces personnel and Maoist cadres have also lost their lives.
Since 2005, the PUDR and a number of civil liberties organizations have been consistently alerting the public to this escalating war against the poorest of our citizens. Between May 2012 and May 2013 there has been a six to eight times increase in the number of security forces operations being carried out in the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh. In every district no less than 10-15 operations were already being carried out each month. These are being conducted away from the prying eye of the media and civil liberties activists and civilian access to these areas is severely curtailed. On 17 May, ten days before the attack on Congress leaders, nine persons including three children were killed by the security forces in the village of Ehadesmeta.
While PUDR sees the killing of two people who were taken into custody in this instance as an act that cannot be justified and against the rules of war, there is a need to speak out about the role of parties such as Congress and BJP in launching Salwa Judum, which was designed to terrorise the adivasis of Bastar. Congress leaders like Mahendra Karma, the BJP led Chhattisgarh government and the UPA government patronized this murderous enterprise until it was declared illegal by the Supreme Court of India. While Salwa Judum may have formally ended, the elements which comprised the SJ including its leaders and handlers in the security establishment were either incorporated in the ongoing operations as regular forces or some of them chose to switch from being ‘hunters’ to ‘running with the hares’ with impending state assembly elections due in November. In any case, every attempt to prosecute those guilty of the heinous crimes had been frustrated by the governments in power. So the carnage that took place on 26 May was something, unfortunately, waiting to happen.
The governments have plainly connected the continuation of the ongoing war with the prospects of growth in national income. None other than Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared Maoists to be the single biggest internal security threat in 2006. Speaking to IPS probationers on 24th December 2010, he also explained the reason for the war: “Naxalism today afflicts the Central India parts where the bulk of India’s mineral wealth lies and if we don’t control Naxalism we have to say goodbye to our country’s ambitions to sustain growth rate of 10-11 per cent per annum.”
All doubts were laid to rest when government actions confirmed the verbal declarations. In Saranda forest of Jharkhand, once the Maoists were forced to pull back, the Forest Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests began clearing proposals of mining corporations to take over forests for non-forest use. It led Minister for Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh, to complain on 7 February 2013 that “I have been at great pains to counter Maoist propaganda that the Saranda Development Project is a ploy to benefit private mining interests. This Forest Advisory Committee decision is a huge setback and very retrograde” (8 February 2013, Indian Express, Delhi). The Union Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo complained to Hindustan Times (17 May 2013) that “my permission [is] not required nor my opinion is sought in matters relating to tribals. My voice goes unheard”.
On the other hand, legislations and constitutional provisions meant to safeguard tribals are being thrown to the winds. The fate of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the showpiece legislation of UPA-I, ostensibly promulgated for empowering forest dwellers, is a case in point. Quite apart from its poor implementation, the core issue of Gram Sabha’s “consent” for non-tribal use of tribal land has been diluted not just in the name of “linear projects”, but in the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh the government has concluded that under the FRA, Gram Sabha consent is required only to permit mining of minor minerals whereas major minerals such as bauxite and iron ore etc are outside their jurisdiction. Supreme Court’s latest order on Niyamgiri Hills narrows down the jurisdiction of Gram Sabhas by reducing and restricting the definition of impacted area to a radius of ten kilometers, when it is a known fact that livelihood and lives are affected across a much larger area.
It is this continued attack on lives and livelihood of people, threat of displacement from forest areas, dilution of FRA, PESA and complete indifference to Sixth Schedule compounded by the increasing restrictions on public protests, arbitrary laws to prosecute those who oppose their dispossession and bans on political opinion that is responsible for the civil unrest that pervades our society. It is this government that places the requirements of Foreign Direct Investment above the needs of our own people, and which attempts to ram down this “development model” with the barrel of a gun, that is at fault.
As the war is being scaled up it is also turning ugly. PUDR, therefore, urges all people to bring pressure on the ruling parties at the Centre and the nine state governments currently carrying out this war, to de-escalate the militarisation of this region and show a commitment towards dialogue. We hope that the deaths of 30 persons in the present instance and of hundreds of people in the past eight years are sufficient reason for people to recognize the absurdity of this war.
In the meantime, we ask the Government of India to shed its policy of deniability and accept that it is engaged in an internal war. And we ask both sides to abide by the rules that govern war by declaring its commitment to common article 3 of Geneva Convention and Protocol II, which applies to non-international armed conflict.
Asish Gupta and D. Manjit
By Newzfirst Bureau5/27/13
Singh will be visiting Tokyo on Monday, 27th May in a trip that was scrapped last year after a general election was called in Japan.
With an aim to expand the partnership by discussing a wide range of issues including politics and the economy, it is expected to include the signing of infrastructure projects deals worth $15 billion, say reports.
“We stand in complete opposition to the India-Japan nuclear cooperation agreement that is currently under intense negotiation. The governments of both countries must refrain from promoting nuclear commerce, jeopardizing the health and safety of their people and environments.” reads the petition addressed to the both Indian and Japanese authorities.
Nuclear energy currently provides less than 3% of its total electricity and can be easily replaced, freeing the country to embrace renewable and sustainable alternatives, it adds.
Petitioners have also appealed the Government of Japan to desist the Nuclear Export Policy, through which it exports nuclear technology to other countries.
“The current policy option of exporting nuclear energy to countries like India, Vietnam, Jordan etc… are totally unjust while Japan is reeling under the huge financial losses posed by the Fukushima accident and its citizens are observing massive protests to demand a nuclear-free future and the victims of the triple meltdowns remain uncompensated.” the petition says.
CHHATTISGARH LOK SWATANTRYA SANGATHAN
(PEOPLES UNON FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, CHHATTISGARH)
Calls for urgent intervention by democratic forces
to end the spiral of violence in the Region
25th May, 2013
The Chhattisgarh PUCL strongly condemns the attack by suspected Maoists on the convoy of Congress Party leaders in the course of their election campaign in the forested Darbha Ghati in Sukma area in which, according to news reports till the present time, Congress leader Mahendra Karma and Uday Mudaliar have been killed and the President of the Congress Party Nand Lal Patel is suspected to have been abducted. More than 20 people have been reportedly killed with several seriously injured and the numbers of missing, injured and fatalities are on the increase.
The PUCL has always had a principled stand opposed to violence and the politics of killings and abduction. The spiraling violence in the Bastar region in which the present killings and abduction have occurred, and only a week ago on 17th May, 8 villagers including 3 children and a jawan were killed in an operation of security forces in Village Edesmeta, district Bijapur. For the first time, the police actually admitted that those who were attacked were innocent and instituted an enquiry. This situation requires the urgent intervention of all democratic forces in the country as also expressed in the recent strong and anguished letter issued by the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri K Chandra Deo to the Governors regarding the situation in the Scheduled Areas.
IBTimes Staff Reporter | May 17, 2013 =
A case has been filed with the Nawanshahr police against Honey Singh, accusing him of singing vulgar songs laden with sexual violent content directed at women.
The singer was booked under Section 294 (singing obscene songs at public place to the annoyance of others) of Indian Penal Code and the song “Main Hoon Balatkari” (I Am rapist) with its lyrics has been included in the complaint.
Based on the section of crime, a person can be put behind bars for three months maximum, fined or be subjected to both.
Confirming the case, Nawanshahr senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhanpreet Kaur told Hindustan Times, “We have registered a case against Honey Singh and started further investigations.”
The complaint was filed on behalf of Nawanshahr based NGO, Human Empowerment League of Punjab (HELP), by its general secretary Parvinder Singh Kittna for prohibiting songs laden with lewd contents. Honey Singh’s name was mentioned among others in the petition.
The Punjab and Harayana High Court had rapped the Punjab police for not taking steps against the rapper on 15 May asking, “Why the Punjab government has not taken cognizance of “Main hoon Balatkari” song sung by Honey Singh, even though it attracts the provisions of Section 294 IPC, which is a cognizable offence?”
The rapper was in a fix just when the Nirbhaya gang rape protests rocked the nation. Honey Singh was condemned for his songs which carried derogatory content.
The High Court also questioned as to why the song was still available to the public via YouTube when a song of such stature should have been banned at the earliest.
The court has fixed the next hearing for the case on 4 July.
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