Archive | Asia

Pakistan: Would we hang a 14-year-old ‘terrorist’?

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Shafqat Hussain was said to be 14 years old at the time of his conviction. —Photo courtesy of the<br /><br />
Justice Project Pakistan
Shafqat Hussain was said to be 14 years old at the time of his conviction. —Photo courtesy of the Justice Project Pakistan

To forget the pain of deaths past, we must do some killing of our own.

Executions are set to guide the plot of Pakistan’s latest episode of the War on Terror. Every day brings news of the numbers, 8,000 awaiting death, a few hung already, the ominous pictures of nooses plastered on the pages of newspapers.

So much hope and consensus exists around the idea of executions; their necessity, their justification, their absolute ability to curb the scourges coursing through Pakistan that one dare not argue.

There is no room to say that the problem with death by state sanction is not that the crime is not horrendous, the massacre not punishable, but that the possibility of a mistake, of killing the wrong man for the wrong crime is a taint no state can risk.

Then, there is the case of killing children themselves.

Shafqat Hussain belonged to this very category. Said to be 14 years old at the time of his conviction by an anti-terrorism court in 2004, the only evidence against Shafqat was his own confession, produced after nine days of detention in police custody.

In speaking to the human rights group Reprieve, Shafqat said that during those nine days he was kept in solitary confinement, blindfolded, beaten, electrocuted and burnt with cigarette butts.

After enduring that day after day, the boy not much older than many of the children who perished in Peshawar said that he was so broken and in such agony that he would have admitted that a deer was an elephant” if asked to by the police.

Despite this, the Anti-Terrorism Court that heard the case against him handed down a conviction.

 

Also read: Not justice

After Peshawar happened and the death penalty for Pakistan’s over 8,000 death row inmates was reinstated, this past Saturday, the Ant-Terrorism Court issued a “black warrant” in Shafqat’s case and set the date for his death sentence after the Sindh High Court and President Mamnoon Hussain both rejected his mercy petition.

Shafqat Hussain was to be executed in Karachi’s Central Jail on January 14, 2015. He is now 23 years old.

Last minute rescue is not common in Pakistan, the bombs that kill hundreds always go off, the robbers always get away, the police never get there on time and despite the broken hearted lover weeping at the door, the bride always marries the wrong man.

So it nearly was in Shafqat Hussain’s case; his family had been told by the authorities at Central Jail in Karachi to get ready to meet their son for the last time.

It was then that the news came.

In response, to what were termed objections from civil society organisations who were calling attention to the errors in the case, the coerced confession and a death sentenced imposed on a boy who was still a juvenile, a stay was being granted on the execution. The Ministry of Interior would be conducting an inquiry on the boy’s case.

So, Shafqat Hussain is safe – for now.

It is like the condition of all other children, especially those from poor families, a precarious and unpredictable reprieve. If another grotesque terror attack occurs and the vengeful fires that burn in the belly of an angry nation are stoked again, it will be easy to sacrifice him to sate them.

Innocence and guilt matter little when revenge is the goal; and increasingly, in a Pakistan disinterested in the safeguards of procedures it is what rules.

With the new amendment under its belt, the Government may shove the case into the country’s newest military courts. There the poor family and the penurious advocates that represent them could try once again to point to the child’s innocence. The rules of that new venue, however, are as unknown as Shafqat Hussain’s fate.

There are many who support the death penalty in Pakistan. However, robust and dearly held their justifications may be in the case of adults, the case of Shafqat Hussain tried and tortured as a child should make them reconsider, consider more closely the architecture of victimisation that is behind them.

Even if juvenile suicide bombers are caught in the act, the mechanisms of brainwashing that are used to force them to commit such acts rely on the pliability of a child’s mind.

Even if this fact is disregarded, perhaps some other facts can convince them.

Research done at Harvard University and the University of California Los Angeles has suggested that the prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain responsible for allowing humans to plan, anticipate consequences, control impulses, prioritise thoughts and think in the abstract, is the last part of the brain to develop.

This means that in many teenagers, the reasoning ability that would allow them to resist brainwashing is simply not yet developed. In many countries around the world, this research has been the basis of a ban on applying the death penalty to juvenile offenders even if they are rightfully convicted.

The children we could not save are already gone, their ghosts haunting the desolate playgrounds and deserted alleys of the country left behind. Sentencing even more children to death cannot honour the memory of those children nor can it bring them back.

It is after all not only the child that is killed by the suicide bomber that is the victim of a country that has lost its moral bearings; it is also the child that is the suicide bomber.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Drone Guidelines to Protect Civilians Do Not Apply to Afghanistan: White House Official

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New Rolling Stone article provides more evidence that, despite public claims, U.S. war in Afghanistan is nowhere near over

The ISAF color guard marches during the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and XVIII Airborne Corps colors casing ceremony, Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. Despite public ceremonies like this one, marking the supposed conclusion of U.S.-led combat, the war continues. (Photo: ISAF/Public Domain)

The ISAF color guard marches during the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and XVIII Airborne Corps colors casing ceremony, Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. Despite public ceremonies like this one, marking the supposed conclusion of U.S.-led combat, the war continues. (Photo: ISAF/Public Domain)

Despite the December 28th “official” end of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, a new Rolling Stone article provides more proof that armed combat is nowhere near over: the Obama administration still considers the country to be an “area of active hostilities” and therefore does not impose more stringent standards aimed at limiting civilian deaths in drone strikes.

At issue are the Presidential Policy Guidelines (pdf), passed in May 2013 in response to widespread concerns about the killing and wounding of non-combatants by U.S. drone strikes. The new guidelines impose the requirement that “before lethal action may be taken,” U.S. forces are required to attain “near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed.” It is impossible to verify the impact of this reform on civilian deaths and injuries, because U.S. drone attacks are shrouded in near total secrecy.

However, an unnamed senior administration official told Rolling Stone journalist John Knefel that the Presidential Policy Guidelines do not apply to Afghanistan. “Afghanistan will continue to be considered an ‘area of active hostilities’ in 2015,” said the official. “The PPG does not apply to areas of active hostilities.”

This is not the first time President Obama has played fast and loose with its own drone war reforms. In October 2014, it was revealed that the Obama administration holds that the reforms also do not apply to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria, because they are also deemed to be “areas of active hostilities.”

According to Knefel, “That perplexing distinction – that formal combat operations are over but that the U.S. still remains in an armed conflict – in many ways exemplifies the lasting legacy of Obama’s foreign policy. From Yemen to Pakistan to Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan, the administration has consistently downplayed its actions – some acknowledged and some covert – saying that the wars are (almost) over while retaining virtually all the powers of a country at war.”

Posted in Afghanistan, USA0 Comments

Watch Out: Hong Kong Crime Rings

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Targeting naive maids in parks and on social media

Syndicates befriend domestic workers on social media and in parks with a view to recruiting them to smuggle drugs or launder money

By: Bryan Harris

Maids gathering in Hong Kong's open spaces are being targeted by criminals. File photo: Martin Chan

Organised crime gangs are using social media and a physical presence in Hong Kong’s public spaces to coerce domestic helpers to engage in money laundering and drug smuggling, the Sunday Morning Post has learned.

Victoria Park – a popular recreational area among the city’s more than 300,000 domestic workers – is just one of many public areas where criminals attempt to spark friendships with helpers with a view to using them later for illegal acts.

Hong Kong’s migrant workers – most of whom hail from rural villages in the Philippines or Indonesia – are considered among the most vulnerable members of society and criminals prey on their trusting, sometimes naive, mindset, according to Sringatin, chairwoman of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union.

Last year, the Post reported that Hong Kong triads were using migrant workers to smuggle drugs across the region, something Sringatin said had been happening for a “long, long time”. In December, a 29-year-old Filipino domestic helper was arrested at Chek Lap Kok airport for allegedly trying to smuggle more than 2kg of cocaine into the city. She faces up to 26 years in jail if found guilty of trafficking.

Benny Mamoto, deputy chief inspector at Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN), said international drug traffickers, often in the guise of tourists or expatriates, targeted the helpers in large, public congregations.

“Recruitment is common in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, as it is the central gathering of women workers,” Mamoto told Indonesian media last month.

The recruiters at first appear friendly, treating the women to meals and hinting at the possibility of a relationship, said both Sringatin and Mamoto.

They later request favours from the women, such as opening bank accounts or transporting luggage, which invariably contains drugs or other illicit items. The helpers, Mamoto says, are typically tricked or coerced into such actions.

On Wednesday, a 25-year-old Indonesian domestic helper was cleared of wrongdoing in a money laundering case after she set up a bank account at the behest of a man she met in a park in Yuen Long. The account was used to wash HK$340,000 of suspect transactions, but the helper was found not guilty because she had no idea about the purpose of the account, Sringatin said.

“These men abuse the emotions of the migrant workers by telling them ‘I like you’ or ‘I will marry you’,” Sringatin said.

The maids wanted to change their lives and were easily taken in by such ploys, she added.

Crime syndicates are also increasingly using social media and mobile applications such as WhatsApp to recruit domestic helpers. Again, the recruiters purport to seek a romantic relationship, before ensnaring the women in illegal schemes.

According to BNN statistics, about 36 per cent of drug-trafficking suspects in Indonesia admit to meeting their overseas recruiters through social-media sites like Facebook.

“[Many workers] think they can trust people they meet on social media without knowing their background,” Sringatin said. “This is very dangerous.”

Posted in China, Far East0 Comments

Hong Kong and HSBC under scrutiny as US cracks down on American tax cheats

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Under Fatca, financial firms around the world are required to report to the IRS information on clients who are US taxpayers. Photo: AFP

US authorities are stepping up their investigation of tax evasion across Asia, with one recent case involving HSBC Holdings and Hong Kong providing an example of how wide the net is being cast to catch American tax cheats, lawyers say.

Officials with the US Internal Revenue Service were now stationed in overseas jurisdictions, including the American consulate in Hong Kong, gathering information, said Travis Benjamin, the head of tax practice at law firm Deacons.

“We’re seeing greater activity of foreign tax authorities, not only those of the US, in investigations and information gathering in jurisdictions across Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore,” Benjamin said.

With the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) taking effect since July last year, US authorities would increase their investigations of international tax evasion by US taxpayers in Hong Kong, said Peter Chen, a partner at Zhong Lun, a Chinese law firm.

Under Fatca, financial firms around the world are required to report to the IRS information on clients who are US taxpayers.

HSBC and Hong Kong were part of an international web of suspected tax evasion announced on the website of the US Department of Justice last month.

The IRS had been authorised to issue summonses requiring HSBC Bank USA National Association (HSBC USA) to supply information on alleged US tax evaders who were suspected of using international offshore services provider Sovereign Management & Legal to hide overseas assets, the department said.

Unnamed banks in Hong Kong and Panama were suspected to have worked with Sovereign Management, and HSBC USA held US correspondent bank accounts for these banks, the department disclosed.

These accounts were likely to have records of financial transactions between Sovereign Management and its US-based clients, it said.

The IRS would also issue summonses to US logistics giants FedEx, DHL and UPS, as well as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Western Union Financial Services and Clearing House Payments to provide information on suspected tax evaders, the department said.

The IRS investigation has determined that Sovereign Management used FedEx, UPS and DHL to correspond with US clients, and Western Union to transmit funds to and from clients in the US. None of the companies have been charged with wrongdoing.

“We may require clients to provide information relating to their status and provide their consent to the provision of information, in accordance with Fatca regulations,” said an HSBC spokesman.

The IRS learned that Sovereign Management helped US clients evade taxes as a result of leads obtained from a US Drug Enforcement Agency investigation of online narcotics trafficking, the justice department said.

Posted in China, USA0 Comments

Stopping the Killers From Killing

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An Interview With Allan Nairn on Indonesia and Guatemala
by CRAIG HUGHES and JOHN M. MILLER

During the 2014 presidential campaign in Indonesia, investigative journalist Allan Nairn released previously unpublished discussions with presidential candidate and notorious military leader Prabowo Subianto. Prabowo, who received significant training and support from the United States government, has been implicated in mass killings in Indonesia, East Timor and West Papua during the 1980s and 1990s. Nairn’s articles were based on a 2001 interview between the two, and Prabowo talked candidly about the risk of committing massacres in front of the press and his view that Indonesia was not ready for democracy. As a result of the reports, Nairn was criminally charged at the request of the Prabowo campaign. His reports undoubtedly affected the course of the election, which Prabowo lost.

In addition to Nairn’s recent and ongoing work in Indonesia, he is a lifelong activist and investigative journalist who has played important roles in grassroots solidarity efforts with the peoples of Guatemala, Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor), Indonesia, and elsewhere. He is a survivor of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Timor, which was a decisive turning point in the Timorese struggle for independence.

This interview with Nairn was conducted on January 3rd, 2015 in in New York City. Nairn discusses recent developments in Guatemala and Indonesia, the societal impacts of accountability and impunity for mass crimes, and the role of social movements and international solidarity activists in forging progressive change.

In 2013 Guatemalan’s achieved a successful prosecution of former dictator Rios Montt, who had overseen the torture, disappearance and murder of many thousands of civilians, in addition to the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands. What forces moved that case forward, and what impact did that have in the region?

Nairn: The history is that the military and the oligarchs basically won in Guatemala. They are still in power, although they had to make some concessions, and the power of the military is much less than it used to be. But they were basically the winners. The poor, and especially the indigenous Mayans, were the losers. This was the opposite of victors’ justice, which is what most of these war crimes cases are. In this case those who prevailed in the courtroom were those who lost in the bloodshed. It was a massive achievement.

There was a case where, using the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Spanish courts indicted and filed for the extradition of a series of Guatemalan generals, including Rios Montt. Within the Guatemalan system there were just enough honest judges and prosecutors, and one of them, Claudia Paz y Paz, had become attorney general, and that, combined with the continued pressure from the victims, brought the case together. I think a lot of it was luck. The oligarchy and the military were asleep at the switch – I don’t think they took the effort seriously. By the time they really started to pay attention the case had basically been green-lighted. The attorney general had gone forward with it. That’s part of the reason why they [the oligarchs] acted so fiercely after the verdict of Rios Montt, when he was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Yassmin Barrios, the judge in the trial, delivered a long decision – the printed version was more than 900 pages – stating that there was genocide, describing it in detail, and attributing it to the military structure of which Rios Montt was a prominent figure. The rulers, the oligarchs, just went crazy. The body of the oligarchy in Guatemala is the CACIF, the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations. They held a press conference and proclaimed, ‘this cannot be tolerated. This verdict cannot be tolerated. It must be annulled, we won’t stand for anything less.’ They got it suspended – they got the Constitutional Court to do their bidding, and the case was thrown into limbo. But the case is due to resume soon. There’s maneuvering going back and forth right now as to whether it really will.

But, the big blow was already struck when it went to trial and when the verdict was delivered, because this was the first time that any nation on its own had brought a head of state to trial for genocide. That’s really the significant part – that they did it on their own. It wasn’t the UN, it wasn’t an international tribunal. Even more significantly, it wasn’t victors’ justice.

How did you end up being asked to testify in the case?

AN: One of the amazing political aspects of it was that it was done under the presidency of Perez Molina, who was himself a general and a key figure in the massacres. Many people were surprised, because he could have intervened to stop the case from going to trial in the first place. He chose not to. He and Rios Montt had split many years back – Perez Molina planned to oust him many years prior. So he allowed the case to go forward and, the theory was that there was a tacit bargain that the case would be limited to Rios Montt and the old intelligence chief [Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez], and no one else. It would not extend to the other generals, and it certainly would not extend to Perez Molina. Essentially under those conditions, he allowed it go forward.

In the process the attorney general’s office and those who were working with them asked me to testify. I had met Perez Molina in the mountains in the midst of the massacres. His men described to me how they went into villages, rounded people up and had them dig their own graves, and they would pull them out one by one for interrogation and finish them off by strangulation, or with machetes, rifle executions, or with whatever method. Then they would come back and bomb the villages with U.S. supplied helicopters and planes.

At the time I was working with a TV documentary crew, and we were filmed talking, standing over bodies, corpses of men who had just been killed while under interrogation by his men. At that time he did not own up to being Perez Molina, he was using an alias – he called himself Mayor Tito. I said ‘Ok, this is Major Tito,’ or so I thought. Years later I started to hear that some people were saying that the politician Perez Molina, this is before he became president, was Major Tito. He was the field commander for that one particular region, the Ixil region, in late ’82.

As it happened, the war crimes and crimes against humanity case against Rios Montt was based on those massacres, the Ixil region massacres, which were only one small portion of the overall sweep of massacres in Guatemala. But because that’s where they were able to gather the evidence and where the plaintiffs took the initiative to push it, that’s what the case was about. And so Rios Montt was being tried for massacres that, in important part, Perez Molina had carried out on orders originating from Rios Montt.

About 10 days before I was due to take the stand, one of the witnesses, a former army engineer, surprised everyone, including the attorney general’s office who had prepared him. He testified by video hookup from a secret location for his safety. They didn’t feel it was safe for him to come into the courtroom. While testifying under those circumstances he blurted out the name of Major Tito – Perez Molina. He had been in the Ixil region in that same period that Tito was there and that I was there, and he said “yes, Mayor Tito, who is Perez Molina, ordered killings, ordered tortures, ordered the bombing of villages.” This stunned everyone, and it broke the tacit bargain because now Perez Molina had been drawn into the trial. It created a crisis within the case and within all of Guatemalan politics.

Behind the scenes, Perez Molina intervened and kept me off the stand because he was afraid that I would then talk more about him. Then I went public with what had happened behind the scenes with the secret intervention of Perez Molina, which had not been known to that point, and that generated a lot of criticism. Within about two weeks the trial resumed again, and it was able to proceed to verdict, the 80-year verdict. And that caused the oligarchs to band together for the cancellation.

There’s an interesting parallel to Indonesia. I was talking about the case in Indonesia during the presidential campaign and recently, and what a lot of Indonesian’s say is, ‘well that cannot ever happen here because our system’s so corrupt, the military’s so powerful.’ My response is, in some respects, the Guatemalan system is even worse. Guatemala was ruled by an elected general, just like Susilo [Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesian president 2004-2014]. Perez Molina was a general who won an election because he got money from the oligarchs, as did Susilo. Perez Molina’s crimes were never an issue in the election because the facts weren’t put onto the table by the press, just as the facts of [former General] Prabowo’s crimes were not put on the table in local press in the last election. Even under those conditions, with a president like that, and with a judiciary and legal system that is basically as corrupt as that of Indonesia, they were able to find a way with a few honest people inside the system and with pressure from below.

About pressure from below: Similar to East Timor during the Indonesian occupation, there’s a history of a strong Guatemalan solidarity movement in the U.S. Can you discuss the role that long-term solidarity organizing had in bringing that situation to justice?

AN: Well, in Guatemala in the ‘80s as the terror was happening, which dated back to ’55, a lot of the effort from people in the U.S. was to try and stop the U.S. support for these massacres. In Guatemala, for example, we succeeded, at one point, in getting the delivery of helicopter spare parts cutoff. That may have prevented the machine gunning of number villages and saved some lives, but the basic policy of arming, financing, and backing the killers continued. That’s in contrast to East Timor and Indonesia, where we were able to succeed and help bring down Suharto, and clear the way for an independence move for Timor. The outcomes were very different.

In the aftermath in Guatemala, the international pressure was important in helping to bring the case to fruition, especially through the case in Spain. That was very important, because it developed a lot of the evidence and the legal theories that were later used in the case in Guatemala. I guess you could say that the solidarity work was more successful in helping to prosecute these two killers than it was in stopping them as they were doing the killing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the particular circumstances.

What are the implications of the Guatemalan prosecutions for prosecuting mass crimes in Aceh, West Papua, and Indonesia?

AN: It’s a great precedent. But, in Indonesia, generals like Prabowo, Wiranto, Hendropriyono, Sutiyoso – those involved in the biggest crimes are unlikely to be prosecuted quickly, but they are starting to lose their grip on power, on state power, for the first time.

How do you think the 2014 Indonesian presidential elections affect this?

AN: What happened during the election in Indonesia was, I think, a breakthrough. As often happens in politics it emerged quickly, kind of surprisingly.

Jokowi [Joko Widodo] emerged as a candidate quickly, as did Prabowo [Subianto]. So you had this contest setup between a civilian, Jokowi, who speaks the language of the poor and was not himself involved in atrocities, and the worst of the generals, Prabowo, who talked about fascism, talked about dictatorship, and was [former Indonesian dictator] Suharto’s son in law. There was a direct clash, and Suharto and the things he represents lost, and that creates a situation where there’s potential for a basic break in the power of the army. It won’t necessarily happen, but it is possible. And it hasn’t been possible since 1998.

There was a moment in ’98, as Suharto was falling, when the power of the repressive army could’ve been broken. In moments of crisis things happen very quickly. What happened then was that Suharto fell but the army stayed intact. Perhaps the crucial moment was when, after the series of demonstrations that brought down Suharto, there was a plan for a massive demonstration, the ultimate one, that Amien Rais was helping to organize. [Armed forces chief] Wiranto went to him and said, don’t do it, if you do that it will be another Tiananmen. And they cancelled it. The army stayed intact since then, and their doctrines of killing civilians has continued to be the doctrine of the state. They kill them whenever necessary.

Now, with this new government, there is a range of possibilities. Things could stay as they are, or could even get worse. Jokowi is not a killer but he’s surrounded by killers: Hendro and Wiranto for example. But, the difference is, if people mobilize now and there’s mass pressure from below demanding fundamental change, and if they go into the streets, it seems likely that Jokowi could react in a constructive manner. Unlike previous presidents, unlike Prabowo, he probably would not say open-fire. He would probably say, ‘ok, let’s sit down, and see if we can work something out.’ And that could be the beginning of some real change. Jokowi himself is not going to initiate this, but if there’s pressure from below that changes things.

In the recent past major human rights activists have been murdered by Indonesian government agents. What is the current climate like in relation to organizing and potential consequences of organizing?

AN: Well, the threat of abduction, assassination, is not really there anymore for the national-level activists, like it was for [human rights activist] Munir [Said Thalib]. Because of his work and others, people like [labor activist] Marsinah, or Aceh’s [human rights activist] Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, the climate has changed today. So national-level activists don’t really face the threat of death, but, at the local level, many still do.

There are all sorts of people at risk who have been working on local environmental or corruption issues, including many local journalists, especially in West Papua, because Papua is the main target area. There are activists in areas all over the country who have been disappeared, who have been killed. It’s still dangerous for them, but not really at the national level at this point. That’s an example of something that could be changed. If word goes out from the central government that they will no longer tolerate the local military commands and the branches of the national police targeting activists or targeting journalists, they can stop it. But that word has not gone out yet.

The recent massacre in Paniai in Papua is an example. The massacre happened just as it could have in any moment in the previous government. Jokowi was completely silent for 20 days, but then he finally made a statement saying that the killings were bad and, most importantly, that they would convene a fact-finding mission to find out what happened, rather than taking the word from the police as to what happened. That is a basic break from the past, but there has to be massive pressure to ensure that the military and/or police who are behind those shootings are actually put in prison.

Indonesian politicians and military personnel are deeply intertwined. What are the prospects for a strong separation under the current president?

AN: That will be one of the last things to change, because they’re completely intertwined: the politicians, the military, and the oligarchs, the ones who provide the big money.

This is a small example of how it works. The moment when Prabowo truly emerged as a serious candidate with a chance to win – because for a long time Jokowi was the presumptive winner – was when [Aburizal] Bakrie failed to make a deal with [former Indonesian president, 2001-2004] Megawati [Sukarnoputri] and Jokowi to support them. They were making a deal, and it collapsed at the last moment. He switched and backed Prabowo.

Bakrie controlled [Indonesian political party] Golkar, but more importantly he controlled TV1 – one of the two national 24-hour news channels. The other one, Metro TV, is controlled by Surya Paloh, a Jokowi supporter. When that happened TV1 instantly became a 24-hour propaganda outlet for Prabowo. And because it’s a very big operation, very professional, really very high quality – up until that moment they had very high quality news – they did very good propaganda. Their propaganda was actually better than the Jokowi propaganda coming out of MetroTV.

It had a big impact. Prabowo started ascending rapidly in the polls. That’s when I decided, because I wasn’t in Indonesia at the time, I decided to go back there and bring out an old Prabowo interview. I said, ‘oh my god, there’s a chance he could become president,’ which hadn’t seemed like a realistic possibility.

That’s just an example. They will be the last to change. That whole crew will be together, and of course Jokowi comes out of that confluence of those powers. His party is Megawati’s party. She’s the one who told the military when she was president, don’t worry about human rights. These killer generals who surround Jokowi are Megawati’s generals – Hendro, [Indonesian Defense Minister] Ryamizard [Ryacudu] especially. When, on election afternoon, after the quick count showed that Jokowi was likely the winner, at the victory press conference, Wiranto was sitting at Jokowi’s right hand. So he, Jokowi himself, comes out of this pool of blood and corruption. But, that doesn’t mean that he can’t help to transform it if he wants to, and he may be open to that. But it has to come from a mass of pressure.

What other potential changes are in Jokowi’s power to make?

AN: Some of the earliest changes that could happen would be, for example, Jokowi commits a serious prosecution on the Paniai massacre case. He follows through with his pledge to have what he refers to as a dialogue, but what become actual serious negotiations with Papuans. He removes Ryamizard as defense minister. He takes up the recommendations of [Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights] Komnas HAM, which have been sitting in the attorney general’s office for years. They filed a series of criminal referrals on at least seven different major cases including the [1989] Talangsari massacre, Wamena in Papua, Timor ’99, the ’65-’67 massacres, the mysterious killings of 1982-1985, and a number of others. And they issued criminal referrals on generals, including Hendropriyono, in a number of these cases. The attorney general has never done anything and Jokowi could order that those now be taken up. He could put a stop to Ryamizard’s plans to restore the (what used to be called) the territorial function of the military, where they get involved in local-life at a very intensive level, or the ‘entering the villages’ programs as they call it. Ryamizard has floated the idea of doing that. Jokowi could put a stop to that.

Jokowi could also re-open the Munir case. Komnas HAM has just convened a special, outside advisory investigatory on the Munir case,looking toward re-opening. They’re supposed to report back in a few months. And he can do that.

Jokowi could follow-up on the concessions that Hendropriyonmade to me. Hendro said that he was willing to stand trial for Talangsari, for Munir, for Timor in 1999 – he said that he was calling for the release of all Indonesian government documents, including TNI [Indonesian army], BIN Indonesian intelligence agency, and POLRI [Indonesian National Police]relating to those cases. And, also, all U.S. government documents related to those cases. So, Jokowi could immediately, on his own authority, just with the stroke of a pen, order the release of all of those Indonesian government documents. And he could have the attorney general go to the U.S. government and call for the release of the related CIA, NSA, White House, State Department and Pentagon documents. I specifically asked Hendro about those U.S. documents, and they’re especially relevant because Hendro worked with the CIA, as he acknowledged, and he said that, yes, he would call for those to be released as well. So Jokowi could follow-up on all of those things. All those things are very doable.

That’s just in one sphere – that of justice and the military and intelligence. It’s not to mention wages, and agricultural rights, stopping the persecution of religious minorities, and so many other things. There are all sorts of things that could be done very quickly with executive action, and you could imagine them practically happening. So if there is enough pressure from below, those things could happen.

The final disentanglement of the military and the oligarchy, however, will be way down the road. It hasn’t yet happened in the United States. But basic blows can be struck at the power of that system that relies on murder. It’s very important, and there’s a real struggle for power going on, and it’s just beginning.

alannairn

Journalist Allan Nairn.

So in the meantime, what are the societal impacts of pervasive impunity in places like Timor-Leste, Indonesia, and in the United States?

AN: It’s a good question because sometimes this is discussed as a historical matter, as looking to the past and getting it right, and figuring out who did what and settling the scores. But, in fact, that’s a minor part of the issue. The big part is stopping the killers from killing. Removing them from power. Locking them up so they don’t continue to kill, and creating a precedent that makes the institutions they come from change policy. So they change the policy from, ‘we will kill civilians to we won’t kill civilians.’

The fact that nothing was done substantively after Timor proved to be devastating for people in Indonesia. [former Timor-Leste president Jose] Ramos-Horta and Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana [Gusmao], especially Xanana. but both of them, said ‘oh, don’t worry about it, we’re not going to prosecute anybody.’ In fact, they even, especially the people around Xanana, they even went into business with Kopassus men. A former [Indonesian] colonel, who I met in 1990 and ’91, was the intelligence chief at the time of the Santa Cruz massacre– he’s now a businessman who does all sorts of business with the Timorese government. By taking that stance and basically waving away the slaughter of a third of their population, they endangered the lives of people in Aceh, and people in Papua, and undoubtedly cost the lives of thousands in both areas. The Indonesian army used the same policies again — the policy they used in Timor, they then used in Aceh, and they then used in Papua. Each time it was with diminishing intensity, so Aceh was not as intense as Timor, and Papua is now not as intense as Aceh, because there were other pressures from within Indonesian society that made it less tenable to do the mass slaughter that they did in Timor. But the basic policy of being willing to kill civilians and using that as an instrument continued. In fact, even the same individuals continued doing it. Dozens and dozens of the same officers who, in Timor, carried out the slaughter as captains and majors, later did it as colonels and generals in Aceh and Papua. These same guys, the same people who, had there been any justice in Timor would be sitting in jail, instead were sitting in Aceh and Papua giving orders and getting people killed in those places.

Now, it’s true that the Timorese didn’t have the power to actually physically apprehend these people. They had left and were in Indonesia, and they weren’t coming back, and the Timorese couldn’t go into Indonesia and capture them; do rendition back to Dili like the Americans do. But they just waived away, they gave them a free pass — they said don’t worry about it. They could have put them on trial in absentia and attempted to extradite them from Indonesia, though it wouldn’t have succeeded.

What do you see as the potential for change in West Papua?

AN: The situation in Papua is very tough. It’s a lot of tougher than it was for Timor in terms of possibilities. Because, first, Papua is very rich in natural resources. The mainland of Papua is full of minerals, forests and other things that are very important to the Jakarta establishment. And they are not going to give those things up easily. Whereas Timor was seen marginal in an economic sense; even politically, it was somewhat marginal to Jakarta. They just didn’t want the precedent of anyone being able to break away from their control. But, apart from that, it wasn’t as if Timor was part of the economic core of Indonesia. Papua is.

Secondly, the legal status – Timor was recognized as separate internationally. A U.N. Security Council resolution soon after Indonesia’s 1975 invasion called on Indonesia to ‘withdraw without delay’ from Timor. It was a clear act of aggression. But, in Papua, in actually one of the more – maybe the most egregious cases in U.N. history – the U.N collaborated and was complicit in the takeover of Papua by the Indonesian military. So it had the U.N. imprimatur, which makes it harder for them [the Papuans].

The third factor is that with the transmigration and the other forces that push Indonesians into Papua. The Papuans are now a minority in Papua. In Timor there was always a very simply solution and a very good answer to the question, “well, what do the Timorese want?” The answer was, they just want a free election. They just want to vote. Now if you had a referendum in Papua most of the voters would be Indonesians who are relatively recent settlers there, as opposed to the Papuans.

Apart from this is that the structural surveillance and provocation by Indonesia’s security forces. . A few years ago, [army special forces] Kopassus documents on Papua were published. (A lot of them weren’t published, because it would have been too dangerous for too many people.) If you look through these papers it’s astonishing. They’re basically the internal personnel files for Kopassus intelligence on Papua. There are hundreds and hundreds of pages listing people they have worked with, and these are regular people – farmers, shopkeepers, people who work at kiosks, teachers, all sorts of people. And in the file they talk about how they get the people to spy for them. Often it’s coercion, that’s the way a lot of these intelligence operations work. The descriptions of how they turn people into secret collaborators is reminiscent of what the Israeli’s do in the West Bank – they put this ruthless pressure on people. And Kopassus does the same thing in Papua. They’re attempting not to police, or to do military defense, they’re attempting to control the society. So it all creates a very tough situation for Papuans.

There may be a way out though. A first step would be pulling out the army and the police. That’s something Jokowi could do with the stroke of a pen – just stopping that repression. That has to come from Jakarta, and Indonesians have to press for that, international forces have to press that. Within Papua, some unity among the Papuans would help, because there are many splits and it just weakens the movement. But, if there could be enough of a coming together and they can compel Jokowi to sit down with them and start some kind of political process, who knows where it could lead. For example, there might be some way to organize some kind of vote that could lead to a constructive change in the political status of Papua. Hardly anybody remembers it, but when the Timor referendum was held, the Indonesians settlers were not allowed to vote. Nobody really paid any attention then because there were so few of them, they actually hadn’t been there very long. In Papua though, they’re now the majority, so if you tried to use that condition you’d actually, in a sense, disenfranchise the majority of people that are presently there. But, that’s the kind of thing that political talks can go through. You might be able to find some formula that is seen as tolerable by the Indonesian community that’s in Papua, as well as the Papuans themselves, leading up to some kind of vote regarding status with a question proposed in a way that could at least be a first political step.

Now, if you reach the point of a test of independence, there will be a huge clash because a lot of the core of the ideology, of not just [Jokowi’s and Megawati’s] PDI-P party but all the national political parties. They wouldn’t tolerate independence for Papua – they just can’t conceive of that. But it should be discussed and it should be on the table, because that is what many Papuans want and that is what strong, persistent movements in Papua want. So it has to be discussed. And Jakarta has to explain themselves, and justify themselves, and look for a way out. But first you have to stop the repression.

Looking back at the case of Munir, the human rights lawyer who was murdered 
on Sept. 7, 2004 while traveling to the Netherlands. Do you think there is a chance that the truth will come out publicly in his case? Is there a chance for justice?

AN: There’s already a lot of information on public record. The basic story is mostly there already. The problem has been that the army and the Indonesian system has not allowed fair trials. This was clearly an intelligence operation, led by A.M. Hendropriyono, the head of Indonesia’s Indonesia State Intelligence Agency. If you had an honest, functioning attorney general’s office, they should be able to proceed to trial immediately – a retrial of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto who was just released from prison, of As’ad who was the number two in BIN at the time, and of Hendropriyono, and a half dozen other BIN officials, where there’s strong evidence of their involvement.

Then you could do further investigation about the role of Megawati, who was President at the time, and the role of the CIA. Because at the time the CIA had a liaison relationship with BIN, and Hendro was personally working with the CIA. There have been many reports, the Washington Post did a detailed report, and also some U.S. officials have said to me, that Hendro got money from the CIA. He denied that to me; he acknowledged to me that he was working closely with the CIA and that he did indeed meet with George Tenet, the director, but he denied that he got money. At the time of the killing he was working with CIA, he had a liaison relationship with the CIA, so just institutionally that means that the CIA bears some responsibility and the Indonesian government can now subpoena, if they want to, the U.S. documents. If they start a criminal investigation, they can subpoena all the BIN records and the CIA records regarding their meetings with Hendro, meetings with other BIN officials, what information they have. The NSA would have a massive archive of information, because through Australia they do very extensive intercepts of the TNI and of BIN. So, it’d be very easy to quickly gather additional documents, beyond what’s already there – there’s already a ton of material on the public record. It’s just a matter of deciding to honestly proceed to trial. There’s plenty of evidence.

Have you heard anything from U.S officials in response to the recent work you’ve been doing around these issues?

AN: No. Not at all. I haven’t had any dealings with them. And, interestingly, it’s clear that the U.S. influence in Indonesia is much less now than it was. The U.S. is less and less of a factor in terms of what happens in Indonesia. We were able to win the major victories in cutting off arms and training to the TNI, setting the stage for the fall of Suharto and independence in Timor, all through the instrument of changing U.S. policy – pressuring U.S. congress, changing the U.S. policy and thereby changing the Indonesian government policy. That wouldn’t really work today because the U.S. stance is no longer as crucial as it was. They’re still first among equals in terms of outside in terms of outside influences. Bu in the old days, the U.S. would call Suharto or would call Prabowo and would basically get what they happened.

What changed?

AN: This is yet another consequence of the years of activist pressure on the U.S. by activists from within the U.S., and on the TNI from within Indonesia. First, the TNI is less powerful than it was – the U.S. exerted power mainly through the military and the military is less dominant in Indonesia than they were. So the weakening of the TNI itself was a factor. And then the fact the [military aid] cutoff meant that U.S. power over the TNI is not as direct and decisive as it used to be. Those are all good things. During the last campaign it was very interesting. When I found myself in the middle of it, the U.S. embassy was not a factor at all in any significant way really, which is a switch from previous times, and a good one.

Why do you think you weren’t arrested during the campaign?

AN: Well, I don’t exactly know. The chronology was like this. I published the first of the articles and then the Prabowo campaign demanded that the army capture me; they were calling in the army to do that, not the police. That was the first step. They said that I had previously been captured 7 times, for being in the country without permission, and that I had been declared an enemy of the state and so on. When they said that, I had actually lost count of how many times I had been captured by the army. So when they said 7 times I started to really think about it, and though, that probably is right. And that must mean that they got the internal military records, because some of them were publicized events in the press, but not all of them were. It was true that I had been banned as a threat to national security by, originally by the Suharto administration. They attacked in many different ways.

I responded with a series of challenges to Prabowo – the most important were political. Because one of his angles of attack was to say that I was an agent of American imperialism. I said, well, ok, if that’s the case and Prabowo is an anti-American, will Prabowo join me in calling for the arrest and trial of all living American presidents – Obama, Bush junior, Bush senior, Carter and Clinton – and put them all on trial for crimes against humanity? Secondly, would he join me in calling for [the mining company] Freeport-McMoRan to be expelled from Indonesia? He backed off on both of those – he wouldn’t sign up for either of those. Because he was running as a phony nationalist. And as I described in thesecond installment of the piece, he worked for years with American intelligence, and he was closer to U.S. intelligence and U.S. special forces than anyone else in the TNI. He was, as he put it, the “American’s fair haired boy” – that’s the way he described himself to me.

Then another challenge was this. His camp had also kept changing their stories, but at some moments they would say I was lying about having interviewed him. At some moments they would say I never met him, he never met me. At others they’d say, well Prabowo didn’t exactly say that to him. My response was to say, well, if Prabowo really thinks that I’m lying then he should bring criminal libel charges against me and we can face off in Indonesian court. I’ll use the opportunity to talk about his murder of civilians, and his work with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, and the crimes of other generals and their work with the U.S. In response to that they backed off and they said they weren’t going to file the charges. When they did that they got mass ridicule, and the most damaging was the ridicule that said ‘oh Prabowo’s the tough guy and here he is backing down.’ And so, political people told me that a lot of things, but that in particular, hurt him in the campaign.

The very last day of the campaign, the afternoon of the last day, they filed criminal charges against me. I guess in response to all that ridicule, they went ahead and did it. They said the charges included inciting hatred against the army, causing Prabowo to lose, criminal libel, all sorts of things. But the police never followed up. Why? I don’t exactly know.

Now, it’s an interesting situation because – even though the police haven’t contacted me – I think I’m still technically a defendant in those cases. Though they never advanced the cases I believe they’re still there, I don’t think they’ve been dropped.

But I’m going to be a witness in another case against Hendropriyono. One of the things that Hendro said to me, regarding Talangsari , he said the victims all committed suicide. He said that he and his forces surrounded the houses, told the people to come out and they didn’t. He said ‘if you don’t come out we will attack,’ and then he said they all committed suicide, they all killed themselves. And I was kind of astonished. I asked him many times if that’s what he meant, he said that’s what he meant. So in response to that statement, the few survivors and the family members of the victims have filed criminal charges saying he libeled them – the dead. The police accepted that case, and I’m going to be filing a formal legal statement to the police attesting to the fact that yes, Hendro really did make these statements to me. So I’m a witness in that case and conceivably a defendant in the others.

Interestingly, after the campaign was over, after the quick counts had shown that Jokowi had won, for several weeks they had the long official counts — that was the period when the Prabowo campaign started agitating intensely, almost on a daily basis, that the police arrest me. And what was happening behind the scenes at the time, is there was a big struggle going on – it wasn’t clear that Jokowi would be allowed to take office, even though he won the election. There was still a bit of an open question. So, as the campaign was attacking like this, demanding every day that the police arrest me, I chose to stay silent because I think they were trying to provoke me, trying to create a diversionary issue – because at that time the main public focus among the public was, ‘oh Prabowo lost the elections it’s such a humiliation for Prabowo.’ They were trying to create a new story about me and the police. I said nothing for weeks. But before the campaign what my position was, and what I was very tempted to say but I always held back on, was, ‘yes, go ahead arrest me, I would love to have a trial with Prabowo.

You were a major part of the East Timor Action Network, now the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), from its founding onward. Can you discuss the effect of ETAN in the struggle for an independent Timor? 

AN: In the case of ETAN, I think the biggest effect was legislation – the various congressional actions that we were able to get, that step-by-step cutoff of the weapons, training and political support to the TNI – that was kind of clearly the key. It started with the IMET [military training] cutoff, which was in ’92. It culminated with, during the burning of Dili and the massacres of the countryside and the siege of the U.N. compound in ’99, the withdrawal of U.S. military aid. In the midst of that devastation, which got world press attention and generated intense congressional pressure, Clinton finally – but very reluctantly – pulled the plug on the last of the military aid, and within days Jakarta pulled out of Timor. And of course prior to that, the reason that the UN referendum had taken place in the first place is because Suharto had been toppled.

When I had asked, after the fact, Suharto’s old security chief Admiral Sudomo, why Suharto had been toppled, he said well, it’s because we – the military and police – failed to open fire on the demonstrators when the people started coming out on the streets in late ’97, early ’98. He said, had we just put them down immediately with a massacre that would have ended it. He might well have been right, because that tactic had been very successful in the past – it was a plausible argument. So I asked, well, why didn’t you? He said because we were afraid that the rest of our U.S. aid would be cutoff that it would be like the Santa Cruz massacre. At the time, in ’97 and ’98, they still had some [military aid], and they wanted to retain that. They were afraid that if they massacred the crowds then they would lose that – this was according to Sudomo. Because of that they held their fire and that emboldened the people – they saw, wow, well you can go out on the street and demonstrate against Suharto and not get shot. So they continued and the crowds got larger and larger. Then, months later, when on three occasions they actually did open fire in a small way (Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II) and killed a few people, it got a massive popular reaction, because people had grown accustomed to be able to demonstrate without being shot – they had started to accept this as their right and so they were shocked when they opened fire.

As a result there was just a mass explosion and Suharto was overwhelmed, he just couldn’t stand up to the tide anymore, and that – according to Sudomo and I think it’s true – was precipitated, the stage for that was set, by those cuts that we had won with pressure on congress.

Of course that was momentous for Indonesia, but it also proved momentous for Timor because Habibie – who replaced Suharto –commissioned a study by his foreign policy advisors, asking the question: what can we do to get our American military aid back? The answer was that they had to allow a referendum in Timor. And Habibie – and it surprised me at that time, I remember ETAN’s Lynn Frederickson called me with the news it had been announced that Habibie had called for a referendum, I was stunned – I didn’t believe it. But amazingly, Habibie reacted to that advice by saying ‘OK, that’s what we’ll do.’ If that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll do.’ And he put it before his cabinet, the generals, and they weren’t very happy about it. But they ended up accepting it because they thought they could control the referendum – we’ll do our operations and we’ll intimidate the Timorese. And then they terrorized the Timorese throughout the campaign – the Liquica church massacre, a series of individual killings and rapes, mass terror through the militias – the Kopassus operations.

Apparently, astonishingly, on referendum day these officers really thought they would win. And they were shocked. They were stunned. I think that was one of the reasons for the ferocity of their reaction, where they basically decided, under the command of Wiranto, ok just level the place, just finish it off, just send a message — partly revenge, but also to send a message, to the world, but especially to Indonesians: don’t get any ideas, don’t think you’re going to get away with what the Timorese just got away with. So they did succeed – there was one report that claimed that 80% of the structures in Timor were burnt. Hundreds of people were murdered. And because the world press had been there for the referendum – because the world press loves an election, an election is one spectacle they can’t stay away from – so they were there as witnesses, and that mobilized opinion, and ETAN was able to put pressure on Congress. Clinton wanted to continue backing the TNI, but he just wasn’t able to. So, he finally pulled the plug. And that was it – a couple days later the military left. That was it. It was the beginning of independent Timor.

You’ve seen an immense amount of trauma. How do you manage to deal with all the trauma and manage to keep going without burning out?

AN: I don’t know that I do manage to deal with it. You know it’s very difficult – to have friends murdered, to see people murdered. It creates all sorts of reverberations inside of you that never really stop. But it also creates a spur to go do something about it, to try to stop it, and also to bring to justice those responsible. That is not so easy to do. There are lots of people who have it a lot harder. In many places, but especially in Indonesia, over recent decades I have seen up close people living just day to day on the edge, always pressured by the police, with threat of violence around the corner, people with not enough. People having to ask how many years can they keep the kid in elementary school? Someone gets sick do you pull the kid out of school in order to get them antibiotic? Do you take another portion of protein out of rice for the week? Which, if the kids are 2 or 3 years old, the age when their brain can be stunted, you’d be doing them some harm. People coming up against all sorts of hard barriers. That’s what’s really hard. Most people in the world have to deal with extreme situations. I don’t really have the option of burning out.

Posted in Far East0 Comments

6 Killed in US Drone Strike‌ in Afghanistan, Main Victims‌ Civilians

NOVANEWS

6 Killed in US Drone Strike‌ in Afghanistan-Main Victims‌ Civilians
Washington carryies out continual drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, killing people. A US-led assassination drone strike has killed at least 6 people in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.

Three other people also sustained injuries in the latest drone attack in the province, Hazrat Hossein Mashraqiwal, the police spokesman for Nangarhar.

The spokesman further said that the drone strike took place in the provincial Lal Pur district on Wednesday.

A similar strike on Wednesday, reportedly killed at least 3 people in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Logar. The US-led terror drones also killed at least seven people in the neighboring province of Khost on Sunday.

The US carries out targeted killings through drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.

 

Posted in Afghanistan, USA0 Comments

India Accuses Pakistan for Atrocities in Bangladesh

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

Since the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and leader of the ruling party, Awami League (AL)

Sheikh Hasina Wajid came into power, India has been employing various tactics to entrap

Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its strategic interests, especially against

Two persons have been killed in Bangladesh in the deadly clashes erupted in the country on

January 5, this year on the first anniversary of controversial elections 2014, and police besieged

the head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia in her office.

In fact, with the support of India, for her second tenure, Sheikh Hasina won the elections 2014 in

wake of bloodshed due to her dictatorial steps. In this regard, head of the BNP, Begum Khaleda

Zia who was leading the alliance of the opposition parties boycotted the general elections, as to

keep her in power, Prime Minister Hasina amended the constitution for holding of elections

under a non-party set up and the opposition accused her of manipulating the electoral process to

establish one party state. The country’s largest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was also

banned from taking part in the elections.

In this regard, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has continuously been pursuing Indian directions by

conducting anti-Pakistan campaign. Therefore, after passing of 42 years to the events of 1971,

which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan—in connivance with the judiciary, she

hurriedly executed her political opponent Abdul Qadir Mullah-leader of Jl because of his loyalty

Reviving old animosity, media of Bangladesh and India also started highlighting issue of 195

Pakistan Army officers allegedly involved in killing of Bengalis in 1971 war. Although they

were repatriated to Pakistan after tripartite agreement between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in

1974, yet Prime Minister Hasina Wajid intended to file cases against them at International Crime

By neglecting Islamabad’s positive approach, Bangladesh government has continued its anti-

Pakistan approach to please India. It could be judged from the statement of Prime Minister

Hasina Wajid who has vocally said, “Bangladesh has no room for the people loving Pakistan.”

However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been following pro-Indian policies. In this context,

on the secret insistence of New Delhi, unlike the past years, a ceremony was held in Dhaka on

March 24, 2013, with full pump and show to honour ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award’ in

relation to the separation of East Pakistan. For this aim, several foreign friends who included

various institutions and media anchors from various countries, particularly India were invited.

The main purpose behind was to distort the image of Pakistan and its armed forces regarding

alleged atrocities, committed against the Bengalis. Notably, in December, 2012, Prime Minister

Hasina had refused to attend D-8 conference in Islamabad unless Pakistan tendered apology for

the alleged genocide of Bengalis.

While, as part of pre-planned scheme with the Bangladesh government, India also launched false

propaganda, accusing Pak Army for rape and killings of the Bengalis in 1971 war.

In this respect, a famous Bengali journalist Sarmila Bose authored a book, “Dead Reckoning:

Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War” after thorough investigation. Her book was published in

2011. While countering exaggerations of the Indian and Bengali Journalists, Bose argues that the

number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000, while Bengalis were

equally involved in the bloodshed of Punjabis, Biharis, Pashtoons and Balochis.

Indian secret agency, RAW has a long history of sinister activities in the East Pakistan, backing

secular areas of Hindu minority who had played an important role in motivating Bengali

Muslims against West Pakistan. RAW’s well-paid agents had activated themselves in East

Pakistan in the 1960’s so as to dismember Pakistan. For this aim, it funded Sheikh Mujibur

Rahman’s general elections in 1970. It colluded with the pro-Indian persons and had paid full

attention in training and arming the Mukti Bahnis. RAW, playing with the bloodshed of

Muslims, succeeded in initiating a civil war in East Pakistan. However, huge quantity of arms

started entering East Pakistan along with the guideline of Indian army and RAW. Meanwhile,

India welcomed the refugees from East Pakistan, providing them with every facility to provocate

them against West Pakistan.

No doubt, Majib was already in connivance with India for separation of East Pakistan. Therefore,

when East Pakistan was occupied by Indian Army in 1971, he stated with pleasure that his 24

years old dream of an independent Bangladesh had been fulfilled.

As a matter of fact, we cannot see Indian accusations against Pak Army regarding atrocities

committed in Bangladesh in 1971 war in isolation, as these are part of Indian perennial

psychological warfare against Pakistan. And New Delhi wants to divert attention of international

community from its own atrocities which continues unabated in the Indian-held Kashmir.

In this respect, since 1989, Indian military troops have been employing every possible tactic of

state terrorism and ethnic cleansing to disturb the majority population of Kashmiris. During and

after the so-called elections, intermittent curfews, crackdowns, killings, kidnaps, torture, rape

and massacre of the innocent Kashmiri people by the Indian security forces keep on going to

crush the war of liberation of the Kashmiris. Moreover, in the recent years, discovery of

thousands of unmarked graves of the innocent Muslims who were killed by the Indian security

forces in the fake encounters in the occupied Kashmir might be cited as another instance.

It is notable that several international agencies, human rights organizations, State Human Rights

Commission and UN including Indian writers and researchers like Dr. Anjana Chatterjee and Dr.

Sharmila exposed Indian false propaganda and violence of human Rights. They pointed out,

“New Delhi has been suppressing the innocent people of Indian dominated Kashmir through

mass extra judicial killings, forced disappearances at the hands of forces—gang rapes,

indiscriminate use of force and torture, firing on demonstrations, custodial killings, fake

encounters, detentions etc. Since 1989, nearly 100,000, Kashmiri people have been killed.”

A recent report by Amnesty International stated that up to 20,000 people have been detained

under a law called Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Besides, following the tactics of psychological warfare—supporting subversive acts in our

country and unprovoked cross-border shelling, India has also started cultural penetration in

Pakistan through dramas and films which are making handful of loyal viewership because there

is no any official resistance or prohibiting laws in our country in this respect. However, Indian

cultural assault through electronic media—movies, drama and cartoons must be countered

proactively by Pakistan’s media. There is need to promote our own culture by helping our TV

channels and film industry making them lucrative so that Pakistani talent could divert their

energies in serving their own audience.

Nonetheless, Pakistan’s top officials and media must counter Indian propaganda campaign which

is aimed at distorting the image of Pak Army by accusing the latter about alleged atrocities,

committed in Bangladesh in 1971 war. In this regard, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid should also

change its pro-Indian tilt by rectifying anti-Pakistan policy which is essential for stability and

peace in the region.

Posted in India, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Pakistan: Death Penalty to Terrorists

NOVANEWS

The Taliban gunman who attacked a Pakistan school

By Sajjad Shaukat

While fighting a different war with the non-state actors, Pakistan is passing through

exceptionally unusual circumstances and the situation warrants clear, bold and firm decisions

to deal the menace of terrorism, specially the threat of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

and its banned affiliated groups. After the 9/11 tragedy, American President, Congress, media

and public became one to fight a different war against terrorists. Even, US changed its laws to

institute stringent measures to curb terrorism.

Although various kinds of terror attacks in Pakistan have been conducted by the TTP in the past

few years, yet the massacre of 132 school children at Army Public School and College in

Peshawar on December 16, 2014 proved Pakistan’s 9/11, as it has given a final wake up call to

the nation to unite against these ruthless terrorists.

It is of particular attention that even, the spokesman of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent

(AQIS), Usama Mehmood and some other militant groups have also condemned the TTP in

relation to the massacre of innocent children at Peshawar school.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif and leaders of

various political and religious parties including all the segments of society and the media

strongly condemned the heinous attack on children.

The political leadership encouraged by the resolve of public opinion has responded prudently

in comprehending the delicacy of the situation cohesively, and  lifted the unconstitutional

moratorium on death penalty awarded to the criminals according to law of land.

In this regard, the public was looking towards the Judiciary for playing a supportive and

corresponding role in ensuring speedy trials of the hardcore criminals involved in extremism and

terrorism. Exertion of pressure over the issue of “death sentences” is unjustified and is illogical

in Pakistan where the perpetrators of barbarity generally become emboldened due to

“vigilante justice”, and play havoc with the lives of innocent people.

However, after the Peshawar incident, taking note of the strong public reaction against terrorism

and dislike for Taliban/TTP elements, on January 2, this year, political and military leaders

agreed on a draft of legislative measures which would pave the way for establishment of special

military trial courts. The participants also reiterated the commitment for dismantling and

destroying all forms of terrorism and terrorist networks operating within the country. It was

unanimously resolved that the 20 points enunciated in the All Parties Conference (APC)

Resolution of December 24, 2014 shall be acted upon expeditiously—the bill as 22nd

(Constitutional) Amendment, will be enforced soon after its approval from the parliament.

Taking cognizance of the school attack, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif has himself

started supervising the military action against terrorists, and as part of ongoing operations in

Waziristan and Khyber Agency, especially the operation, Zarb-e-Azb, several terrorists have

been killed during air strikes. Frustrated by their failures, these insurgents are resorting to coward

acts like attack on innocent children in Peshawar.

Gen. Raheel stated, “We are extremely saddened, but our resolve has taken new height”, and

added “We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final

In this respect, Gen. Raheel along with the DG of Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) went

to Kabul on December 17, 2014. During his meeting with his Afghan counterpart, President

Ashraf Ghani and the ISAF commander, he presented evidence of the Peshawar massacre’s

linkage with TTP sanctuaries in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. He also asked the

extradition of TTP chief Mullah Fazlluah, and handing over to Pakistan. In response, they

assured him to take action against the TTP.

In fact, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities from where external secret

agencies, especially Indian RAW are sending logistic support to Baloch separatist elements and

TTP militants in Pakistan. Posing themselves as Pakistani Taliban, these enemies have joined

TTP and other banned extremist outfits. In the recent years, especially TTP’s insurgents and its

affiliated banned groups conducted many terror-activities in various regions of the country like

suicide attacks, ruthless beheadings of tribesmen, assaults on security personnel and prominent

figures including Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs as part of the scheme to create

chaotic situation in the country.

In this connection, Pakistan’s religious clerics (Ulema) have condemned the terror attack at

Peshawar school, and they must continue to issue joint or separate fatwa against these brutal

militants, as from time to time, they have clarified that “killing of innocent people, target killings

and suicide bombings including sectarianism are against the spirit of Islam…the terrorists’ self-

adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing, but ignorance and digression from the actual

teachings of the religion.” Religious elements/groups should keep on checking the activities

which are instigating intolerant tendencies.

Nevertheless, there arose the need of immediate execution of outstanding cases of death penalty

to terrorists. In this respect, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revoked the ban on capital punishment

in terrorism cases following which some terrorists facing death penalty were executed. But, still

a majority of the terrorists were not hanged due to complicated judicial procedure or lack of solid

evidence against them, though reality of their criminal acts exists. Therefore, formation of

military courts and military trials of the terrorists after approval of the bill—22nd Constitutional

Amendment from the parliament is essential at this juncture.

Particularly, media should play its continued mature and positive role in the war against

terrorism—in line with the government guidelines. It must avoid national demoralization, as

careful reporting by media without glorifying terrorist acts is need of the hour. By ignoring their

business interests and differences for the country, media must create a harmonious environment

Nonetheless, the inhuman gruesome tragedy in Peshawar requires that the government, leaders of

the opposition and religious parties, media and general masses including all the segments of

society must continue their selfless unity against these ferocious terrorists by supporting

Pakistan’s armed forces including law-enforcing and intelligence agencies in striking back these

anti-state elements and their sympathizers.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

US spymaster dined with North Korea general responsible for Sony hack

NOVANEWS

The US intelligence chief revealed Wednesday that he dined with the North Korean general believed responsible for hacking Hollywood studio Sony, during a secret mission to Pyongyang two months ago.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave a riveting account of the visit at a New York conference on cyber security days after the government imposed new sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the late November attack.

He said it was “the most serious cyber attack ever made against US interests” that could potentially cost hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

He said on November 7, the first night of his mission to free two Americans, he dined with General Kim, “in charge of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the RGB, who’s the organization responsible for overseeing the attack against Sony.”

Clapper did not give the general’s full name but he apparently was referring to General Kim Yong-chol, director of the RGB, also known as Unit 586, one of three North Korean entities sanctioned by the United States in response to the Sony hack.

Clapper called the elaborate, 12-course repast “one of the best Korean meals I’ve ever had” but said the four-star general spent most of the time berating him about American aggression “and what terrible people we were.”

“All the vitriol that he spewed in my direction over dinner was real,” Clapper said.

“They really do believe they are under siege from all directions and painting us as an enemy that is about to invade their country every day is one of the chief propaganda elements that’s held North Korea together.”

He said the pair communicated through a North Korean translator who spoke fluent English “with a British accent, which was kind of strange.”

Kim kept “pointing his finger at my chest and saying the US and South Korean exercise was a provocation to war and of course not being a diplomat, my reaction was to lean back across the table and point my finger at his chest.”

At one point, his assistant suggested Clapper take a “head break” to ease the tension.

At the end, he described presenting Kim with a letter from President Barack Obama, designating Clapper as his envoy and saying that the release of the two US citizens would be viewed as a positive gesture.

He admitted the next day was “kind of nerve-racking” and that he was not sure if they would get the two Americans back or not.

“Kind of creepy”

At one point an emissary came to say North Korea no longer considered him a presidential envoy and as such could not guarantee his safety.

But in the afternoon, they were taken to a hotel for an “amnesty-granting ceremony” where the two Americans, still in prison garb, were handed over.

Afterward they headed straight to the airport and took off, he said.

“I can’t recall a time when that aircraft with United States of America emblazed across it ever looked as good,” he joked.

Clapper, who spent less than 24 hours in North Korea, said the first thing that struck him on arrival was how dark the city and airport were, and how the plane damaged a tire while taxiing because of poor runway construction.

He said people labored with old-fashioned tools and were eerily going about their business dressed in drab clothes.

“It was kind of creepy about how impassive everyone was. They didn’t show any emotion, didn’t stop to greet each other… I didn’t see anyone conversing or laughing,” he said.

Hackers attacked Sony Pictures in late November and threatened the company over the looming Christmas release of the comedy film “The Interview,” which depicts a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korea’s leader.

The threats led worried movie theater owners to drop the film and then Sony cancelled the public debut altogether, before releasing it online.

The FBI said North Korea was behind the Sony intrusion. Pyongyang repeatedly denied involvement but has applauded the actions of the shadowy hacking group.

“They are deadly, deadly serious, no pun intended, about affronts to the supreme leader, whom they consider to be a deity,” Clapper said Wednesday.

“I watched ‘The Interview’ over the weekend and it’s obvious to me that North Koreans don’t have a sense of humor.”

Sony said Tuesday that the film has been its best-grossing online film, making more than $31 million on the Internet and other small-screen formats.

Posted in North Korea, USA0 Comments

Indian Government Orders Internet Providers To Block Vimeo, GitHub, 30 Other Websites

NOVANEWS
The government of India has a relatively long history of trying to censor content and websites that goes against the wishes of the state.

police

(ANTIMEDIA) Censorship laws recently allowed the government of India to request that the country’s ISPs (internet service providers) block access to Vimeo, GitHub, and about 30 other large websites.

The government of India has a relatively long history of trying to censor content and websites that goes against the wishes of the state,  possibly comparable to China. However, even the Chinese government ended up allowing GitHub to function.

Pranesh Pakesh, a director at Bangalore’s Centre for Internet and Society publicly released a list of the websites the Indian government asked ISP’s to block, effectively doing his significant part to ensure that his area remain free of censorship, corruption, overbearing laws, and exploitation.

Below is the list that he released.

list of sites india

The head of the “Bharatiya Janata” political party alleges that the government requested these large sites be blocked because ‘they listed content from ISIS’.

arvind

That has yet to be confirmed, and either way a lot of people would argue that isn’t a valid excuse for a government to block access to dozens of websites. Also, there are a million ways to dispose of ‘content from ISIS’ on a large website, rather than using a large government to take advantage of overbearing laws to bully ISPs into submission.

Unfortunately, it seems service providers have already cut access to some of these sites.

Times of India reported that they “were not able to access Pastebin, DailyMotion or GitHub using Vodafone’s 3G service, although they were able to get on the three sites via rival operator Airtel’s service.”

Now more than ever, the people of the entire world have a say in what their government tries to do to suppress freedom of speech or basic human rights. With the way things are going now, the government of India will continue to find massive opposition to their attempts to regulate the content that reaches people’s minds through the internet. Taking into account a wide variety of factors in this age of global connectedness through the internet, it seems much more difficult for a government to put the tyrannical boot down and enforce laws no one wants to follow.

Observing what happens next could have several implications. Will this government decide to take further action to restrict the internet of India, and how effective would their efforts be in contrast to public opposition and protest? We will see how far the people of India will go to keep their internet free. Most likely the Indian government will continue efforts to restrict the internet, as it has been happening for a while now.

Please share this with anyone who would find this interesting, relevant, or important to a person’s perspective

Posted in India0 Comments

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