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Journalists Increasingly Unsafe in the Indian Subcontinent

NOVANEWS
  • Journalists in India.
    Journalists in India. | Photo: Reuters
India and Pakistan headed the list with seven of the professional journalists killed in the last six months.

The Indian subcontinent as a whole today stands on the cusp of being a danger zone for journalists, as the region witnessed the murder of over 10 journalists in the first half of 2017.

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India and Pakistan headed the list with seven of the professional journalists killed in the last six months; with Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives added one casualty each.

The year started with sad news for India as the dead body of a Jharkhand-based journalist was recovered in Hazaribagh in the first week of the year.

Hari Prakash, 31, whose body was found on Jan. 2, on a roadside was missing for some days. The family members of Hari, who was a law graduate working for a Hindi daily, alleged that he was kidnapped and later killed.

More bad news was awaiting the families of media professionals as a Bihar-based journalist was shot dead at a Samastipur locality on Jan. 3, by some
unidentified assailants. Brajesh Kumar Singh, 28, received serious injuries to his head and died on the spot. It was the third assassination of a journalist in Bihar within a year after Rajdeo Ranjan and Dharmendra Kumar Singh were killed in 2016.

The third and fourth incidents involving the murder of working journalists were reported in Madhya Pradesh. Shyam Sharma, 40, who worked for a local evening newspaper, was stabbed to death in the Anshul neighborhood of Indore on May 15. Shyam received multiple injuries and died on the spot. Meanwhile, the local police have arrested two suspects for their alleged role in the murder.

Kamlesh Jain, 42, was shot dead in his office in the Pipliyamandi locality of Mandsaur on the evening of May 31. Kamlesh was rushed to a nearby hospital, where the attending doctors pronounced him dead. According to the police on duty, two people entered Kamlesh’s office and one of them shot him. The culprits quickly fled from the location on motorcycles.

Working for Nai Dunia, a Hindi daily, the journalist had recently exposed a few local people involved in illegal liquor trades through a number of roadside Dhabas, or restaurants. He was also threatened with dire consequences a few days before his death. The police took prompt action and arrested two individuals.

Various journalists organizations from Jharkhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh along with Journalists’ Forum Assam, Indian Journalists Union, National Federation of Newspaper Employees, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, International Federation of Journalists and others, expressed serious concerns over the murder of the journalists and asked the responsible authorities to find and arrest the culprits.

Condemning the assassinations of Shyam and Kamlesh, the IFJ commented, “two murders in nearly two weeks illustrate the dangerous conditions
that journalists in India are facing.” The global media group called on Indian authorities to immediately and thoroughly investigate these murders and bring those responsible to justice.

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In a recent statement, the IFJ, representing over 6,00,000 journalists in 140 countries, disclosed that 93 journalists were killed in 2016 around the world. Iraq witnessed the highest number of journo-killings (15); followed by Afghanistan (13); Mexico (11); Yemen (8); Guatemala, Syria, and India (6), and Pakistan (5).

Pakistan lost three professional journalists and a media student to assailants in the last six months. Muhammad Jan, who was working for an Urdu newspaper in Baluchistan province, was shot on Jan. 12, and later died from his wounds. A television reporter, Abdul Razzaque was gunned down on May 17 in Punjab province and another news channel reporter Bakshish Ellahi was shot dead by unknown gunmen on June 11, in Peshawar.

Meanwhile, a student of journalism, Mashal Khan, fell prey to an angry mob in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on April 22, over the alleged blasphemy
charge against him.

The CPJ called on Pakistani authorities to investigate all the killings related to media personnel. The New York-based media rights group also expressed concern over the situation in Afghanistan, where four media workers namely Mohamad Amir Khan, Zinullah Khan, Abdul Latif and Ghani were killed in a suicide attack on May 17 in the Jalalabad locality.

Later two more media people, Mohammed Nazir and Aziz Navin, died in a Kabul blast on May 31.

Infamous for many atheist bloggers’ deaths, Bangladesh witnessed the murder of one rural reporter in the Sirajganj locality. Abdul Hakim Shimul, who used to work for Dainik Samakal, was shot dead on Feb. 2, while he was covering the clashes between two factions of the Awami League ruling party. Bangladesh Manobadhikaar Sangbadik Forum strongly condemned the assassination.

Relatively peaceful Myanmar reported one murder in the first half of 2017. Wai Yan Heinn, 27, a Rangoon-based weekly editor was killed on April 16. The reason behind the attack was yet to be confirmed.

Along with local media outlets, the RSF urged the Myanmar authorities to identify and bring the culprits to justice immediately.

The Paris-based media rights group expressed concern that the investigation had gone slowly in last year’s murder on Dec. 13, of Soe Moe Tun, reportedly for exposing illegal loggings in his locality.

Benjamin Ismaïl, the former head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, recently commented that Soe’s family was still waiting for justice, but in vein.

A small nation like Maldives drew the attention of international media recently with the sensational murder of a prominent journalist and human rights defender. Yameen Rasheed, 29, who remained an outspoken critic of corruption and human rights violations on the island nation, was stabbed to death on April 23 in the capital of Male, putting the country on the list of risky nations with growing intolerance toward free information flow.

India’s other neighbors including Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet have not reported any incidents of journo-killings in the last six months. In contrast, India has emerged as one of the worst places for working journalists, where they are attacked deliberately and justice is rarely delivered to their bereaved families.

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Who is Behind Assault on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner?

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Image result for Assault on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner PHOTO

By Sajjad Shaukat Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Ibrahim Ansar was assaulted by a group of persons at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Sep 4. 2016, when he was returning after dropping several Sri Lankan parliamentarians at the Airport after attending a conference in Kuala Lumpur.

In this regard, Colombo Telegraph wrote on September 5, 2016, “The Sri Lankan Government summoned the Malaysian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka to express their displeasure and deep concern over the attack on the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Malaysia, and to also inquire about the investigations into the incident which occurred at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport…Meanwhile, Malaysia’s IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that the Malaysian police have launched an investigation on the incident, and police were currently trying to track down the culprits behind the attack.”

Colombo Telegraph also disclosed, “Ansar came under attack by a group of [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] LTTE supporters at the airport when he had arrived at the airport to send off Minister Daya Gamage, Deputy Minister Anoma Gamage and Joint Opposition Parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena.”

Although police of Malaysia have arrested five people in connection with the assault on the Sri Lankan envoy, yet question arises, as to who is behind attack on the Sri Lanka’s envoy.

In this context, Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva said that supporters of some fringe political parties in South India may be involved in the attack on the Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Ansar.

When questioned about progress of a probe into the attack, Dr. Harsha de Silva explained, “We think we have identified some fringe political parties in South India whose associates were involved in the attack on the High Commissioner to Malaysia,”

He added, “Though the government is still awaiting the results of the Malaysian police’s investigation into the assault on Ibrahim Ansar that he was confident that the situation had been handled properly.

The fact of the matter is that Indian secret agency RAW which still has connections with LTTE militants is behind assault on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Malaysia. Online sources disclosed that Ibrahim Ansar was targeted by the LTTE gangs of Indian origin. The government of Sri Lanka should take all necessary steps to demand the Malaysian Government to track down these Indian origin LTTE terrorists and bring them before the “Rule of Law” in Malaysia at the earliest and appropriate punishment should be mooted against them. Sri Lankan government must have joint investigation with Malaysian government in this respect.

While, the the Government of Malaysia should tender a formal apology. Malaysian government must assure that such a repetition will not occur in the future.

It is notable that Ibrahim is a member of the Sri Lankan Muslim Community who is a longstanding and respected career diplomat of the Sri Lankan Foreign Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka.

It is mentionable that the Sri Lankan High Commission staff member who was accompanying the High Commissioner as the video shows “body language signs” that this official ran away leaving the High Commissioner to be beaten up and later appears casually holding his cell-phone camera and pretending to look for something on the floor. Forensic analysis of this situation will tell the real motives behind these officials’ actions which have to be probed at a high level by the Malaysian police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka.

Besides, Muslim civil society movements and groups including Muslim politicians should take up this matter with the Indian government and also bring it to parliament for discussion.

Notably, in the aftermath of the terror attack at a military base in Uri, which was a false flag terror operation conducted by RAW close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, India is deliberately increasing war hysteria against Pakistan.

Some small countries Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh which have accepted Indian hegemony in the region refused to attend the SAAR summit scheduled in Islamabad in November. But Colombo which has refused to Indian regional dominance did not follow Indian instructions.

It is of particular attention that Indian RAW was also behind the Lahore terror-attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, on March 3, 2009. In this context, the bus of the Sri Lankan team was targeted, killing eight and injuring nine individuals including six visiting cricketers.

It is noteworthy that under the pretext of Mumbai carnage of November 26, 2008, India had cancelled the scheduled visit of its cricket team to Pakistan, while Sri Lanka accepted the invitation of Islamabad. Indian rulers and its media anchors had expressed their displeasure at Colombo’s decision. Hence, New Delhi clandestinely pressurized Sri Lanka’s government to withdraw the decision. It could be judged from the fact that even Sri Lankan sports minister Gamini Lokuge revealed that Pakistan “tour had become a diplomatic issue”.

Its Foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama had stated that he decided the trip, taking it as a sporting issue, as his country promoted “people-to- people visits” among South Asian member states.

In fact, despite Indian duress coupled with a sense of jealousy, Sri Lanka remained determined and sent its cricketers to Pakistan. So, New Delhi punished Colombo through pre-arranged terror-attacks, conducted by well-trained and well-equipped terrorists of RAW.

In this regard, it is worth-mentioning that in 2009, by striking a blow to the Indian backed militants of the LTTE and by capturing their strongholds; Sri Lankan security forces successfully dismantled the Tigers’ mini-state in northern Sri Lanka where the rebels lost all the territory, and were compelled to retreat.

In the 1980s, India was conducting ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka by providing armed training to Tamil insurgents. New Delhi allowed the LTTE and other terrorist outfits to set up their base in Tamil Nadu. These militant groups received funding and weapons from India. The training was being imparted by former Indian army officials—training of guerilla warfare, handling of arms, boat driving etc.

However, on March 7, 2009, Sri Lankan Foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama, while showing solidarity with Islamabad and opposing India, categorically expressed Sri Lanka’s firm opposition to isolate Pakistan in the sporting arena or in any manner internationally over the incident of March 3, 2009.

Indian awkward strategy of mixing politics and sports is totally strange. Whether Indian team plays with Pakistan or that of Sri Lanka or the latter with our team has positive impact in restoring peace in South Asia, but regrettably, it is only anti-Pakistan and anti-Sri Lanka agenda of New Delhi whom politics and sports make no difference. And India seems determined to sabotage South Asian peace by terrorizing even the cricket teams which intend to visit Pakistan.

Nonetheless, Like Pakistan, Sri Landa has refused to accept Indian hegemony in the region, as Indian intentions clearly show the way India want to control the whole region. Its hegemonic designs and suppression—ways to achieve its targets, shows its rigidness.

In these terms, through the assault on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Ibrahim Ansar, India wants to send a strong message to all small neighbouring states that we are mighty and can do whatever we want and the one who oppose us, will have to face the wrath.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Targeting Pakistan on Human Rights Violations in Sri Lnka

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

The civilized Western World has always shown double standard of human rights in the modern

era of open diplomacy, economic development and maintenance of fundamental rights of various

peoples. But, it is regrettable that major powers like the US and some European countries have

continuously been acting upon duplicity regarding human rights violations. In this regard, their

silence over the massacre of the Rohingya Muslim community at the hands of the Rakhine

extremist Buddhists in Burma (present Myanmar), perpetual bloodshed of Kashmiris in the

Indian occupied Kashmir and unending genocide of several Palestinians in Gaza might be cited

as example. In these cases, US-led Western World which was overtly or covertly supporting the

state terrorism of Myanmar’s military junta, Indian and Israeli regimes was strongly condemned

by the Islamic Word’s intellectuals. In wake of Muslim tragedy, it was also exposed that world’s

apex body, the UNO has also been following double standard of human rights, and has become

instrument of America and its allies at the cost of the Muslim World.

Especially, the US has been protecting its selfish interests including those of India and Israel

by using the UNO against the Islamic countries like Iran, and Pakistan because the latter is

also the lonely nuclear country in the Islamic World. Hence, they want to destabilize Pakistan

by supporting the militants’ outfits which continues subversive attacks in Balochistan, Khyber

Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and other parts of the country.

Besides, foreign-backed NGOs and human rights groups leave no stone unturned in distorting

the image of Pakistan in relation to human rights violations. In this context, while speaking in

the tone of external elements—since the supreme court has been taking notice of various cases,

without grasping realities, Pakistan’s internal entities have manipulated every issue and case like

the Memogate case, missing persons of Balochistan, law and order situation in Karachi, military

operation in North Waziristan, incident of Malala Yousafzai etc., to tarnish country’s image.

Let us take the example of the missing persons. Everyone knows that majority of the disappeared

persons have been killed in bomb blasts, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in various

places of Pakistan, arranged by the foreign-assisted militant outfits, particularly TTP. In case

of Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other similar insurgent groups which

have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from anti-Pakistan secret

agencies. These terrorists abducted and killed many innocent people and the security personnel

in the province, while claiming responsibility. And since 2001, a majority of Pakistanis also left

for Afghanistan for Jehad purposes, while many people joined the Jahadi groups in Pakistan.

As regards Pakistan’s internal entities, some persons are on the parole of foreign secret agencies,

while some have pro-American or western tilt, as they want to get international fame by

distorting the image of Pakistan. In other worlds, they malign their own county by fulfilling the

nefarious agenda of anti-Pakistan countries intentionally or unintentionally.

In this connection, in one way or the other, Asma Jahangir, the famous human rights activist

has always indicated her old stereotype-prejudices against Pakistan and its security forces by

following the blame game of US-led India and some western countries in relation to any major

issue or case of human rights abuses. For the purpose, she had also manipulated the cases

of missing persons, especially those of Balochistan. In fact, Asma can create some hostile

justification for the sake of hostility by maligning Pak Army, superior intelligence agency, ISI

because in this way, she can not only get good media coverage in abroad , but can also please her

external masters.

Recent nomination of Asma Jahangir as an expert to investigate human rights violations/abuses

committed by the government forces in Sri Lanka during the last phase of war against Liberation

of Tamil Elam (LTTE) may cause psychological embarrassment and emotional exasperation for

Pakistan, as Sri Lanka is a friendly country. Asma is known for her arrogance, self importance

and bluntness as a lawyer, human rights activist and high profile international investigator. She

is the former President of Pakistan Bar Council and has especially been selected by UN along

with two other eminent international experts. Her nomination is quite controversial in Sri Lanka,

as very few Sri Lankan politicians who wanted UN to interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs to

topple the sitting government of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), supported her

case. Sri Lankan political leaders believe that this is the only way in toppling the government and

a way forward to regime change.

In her recent interview with BBC, published by Sri Lankan print media, while warning the Sri

Lankan government of dire consequences, Asma Jahangir arrogantly asserted, if they tried to

stop people from contacting the UN investigating team—any attempt to prevent people from

testifying would be detrimental for the Sri Lankan Govt.

No doubt, such aggressive statements by a Pakistani national certainly lead to creation of

diplomatic irritants between the two governments. Asma’s forewarning was not very well taken

by Sri Lankans, as most of them perceive that a Pakistani national in UN investigation team will

only come for their rescue.

People of Sri Lanka and the government have made up their mind not to let any such

investigation team enter their country at any stage. Sri Lanka, being a friendly state does

not—will not expect a Pakistani national to oppose their rulers on an issue which has already

been supported by Islamabad during UN Human Rights Commission’s related resolution.

Furthermore, India has recently supported Colombo’s stance and has opposed any international

investigation within Sri Lanka.

It is notable that as regards Human Rights Commission of Pakistan led by Asma Jehangir, in

2006, I had myself visited its head office, located in Lahore. I met some writers of a particular

newspaper, who had been working there. I came to know that its members were being sent to

various villages of Pakistan so as to note various crimes which were also published in magazines

and afterwards these were sent to western countries, especially America with the sole aim to

show the progress of this Commission which is financially supported by the US. No doubt,

we must condemn these crimes in our society, but if we point out these anti-social activities to

please our foreign masters, and in order to tarnish the image of our own country including its

forces, such a practice itself becomes a greater crime.

I ask the former HRCP’s Chairperson Asma Jehangir as to why multiple crimes, committed

inside the United States are not being indicated by this Commission with detail. From time to

time, a number of students have been shot in various American universities, but I did not read

any statement of Asma Jehangir in that respect. And why there is no detailed statement against

American forces, CIA and FBI which have so far tortured and killed a number of innocent

Muslims entailing Pakistanis at various detention centers under the pretext of war against

terrorism. She never spoke about atrocities, perpetrated by the American troops in Abu Ghraib,

other CIA torture-cells, and human rights violations inside the US homeland where since 9/11;

thousands of Muslims were targeted, labeling them as suspected persons.

The fact of the matter is that Asma Jehangir is waiting for Nobel Prize which is mostly awarded

to the western people and rarely to the Muslims. In this context, Asma is also making strenuous

efforts by getting this award by showing to the US-led western countries that she is serving

as human rights activists at the cost of Pakistan. One cannot note difference between her

hypocrisy and the US-led Hindu-Jewish lobbies which are determined to disintegrate Pakistan.

Nonetheless, all this shows the real face of Asma Jehangir.

However, a Pakistani national, being part of the UN investigation team, pitched against a

friendly country should be a matter of concern for every patriot Pakistani. Therefore, Pakistani

government should either get her name withdrawn from the investigation team or clarify (on an

international forum) that anything reported/presented or displayed by Asma Jahangir will be an

individual act, and will not reflect the policy of Islamabad. In this regard, media must impress

upon the policy makers to address the issue, because it will have serious consequences for

Pakistan–Sri Lanka relations at every level. The matter should be addressed as soon as possible

since the inquiry is already in process and the investigation team is to present and submit its first

report to UN in September 2014.

Particularly, Pakistan’s media must project that Asma Jahangir is blunt, arrogantly confident,

self projecting and outspoken individual, having qualification and experience in practicing law.

Her rebuking statement against the Sri Lankan government through BBC interview indicates the

extent of her being self-centeredness and idiosyncratic character. Islamabad holds Sri Lanka in

high esteem as a trust worthy friend under all seasons.

Government and people of Pakistan get deeply hurt every time, they recall the deplorable

episode of terrorist attack against Sri Lankan Cricket Team in Lahore. Such a devilish attack was

planned by anti-Pakistan elements to damage cricket in Pakistan and to create conditions to spoil

diplomatic relations between Islamabad and Colombo. Fortunately, relations between the two

friendly countries are still flourishing, while cricket is also being played between their national

teams. Terrorists and master minds of attack against Sri Lankan Cricket Team have surely been

frustrated and perturbed.

Nevertheless, any attempt by Asma Jehangir to target Pakistan on human rights violations in

Sri Lanka through so-called UN investigation must be thwarted by Pakistan’s top officials and

media.

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How the West has always backed brutal Sri Lanka

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My weekly Guardian column:

The Sri Lankan Navy band was busy last week, learning the tune to Waltzing Matilda. They played it to welcome Scott Morrison, the Australian immigration minister, who was visiting to launch two patrol boats donated by the Australian government. A photo of the moment,tweeted by journalist Jason Koutsoukis, showed Morrison sitting alongside president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, defence minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Perhaps it didn’t worry Morrison that there are growing calls to prosecute Gotabaya Rajapaksa for war crimes, because of his actions in 2009 during the Sri Lankan civil war. Australia has been aware of Sri Lanka’s breaches of human rights for some time.

Australia is now closer to the regime than ever, because of their assistance in implementing Morrison’s tough border protection strategy. As Emily Howie, the director of advocacy and research at the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre, reported in 2013, “the Australian government is actively funding and supporting Sri Lanka to undertake these interceptions [of asylum seekers].”

Her report was based on interviews she gathered in Sri Lanka with people who wanted to leave and were stopped, interrogated and often tortured. Howie wrote in The Conversation that arbitrary detention, beatings and torture are routinely meted out to those in custody, Tamil and Sinhalese, with Canberra’s knowledge.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) works closely with its Sri Lankan counterparts, providing training, intelligence, vehicles and surveillance equipment. This has been happening for years. From time to time, stories surface alleging that AFP offers have been present during Sri Lankan police beatings and interrogations of returned asylum seekers. If true, this fits into a wider pattern of Western officials colluding with thuggish militias and authorities over the last few decades, including in Northern IrelandIraq and Afghanistan.

Britain has had its own peculiar involvement in the darkness of Sri Lanka’s recent past. A groundbreaking new report by British researcher and journalist Phil Miller, a researcher at London-based Corporate Watch and regular contributor to Open Democracy on detention issues, outlines how brutal British tactics utilised in Northern Ireland were brought to Sri Lanka in its war against dissidents and Tamils.

The report uncovers new evidence of government and mercenary elements colluding to put down Tamil independence and calls for equal rights. From the early 1980s, London denied any official involvement in training Sri Lankan “para-military [forces] for counter-insurgency operations” but documents show how the British were working closely with Colombo to stamp out the Tamil Tiger insurgency.

Britain saw a unique opportunity to maintain influence with Colombo by training a generation of Sri Lankan officers. London set up a military academy there in 1997, supplied a range of weapons to the army, assisted Sri Lankan intelligence agencies, protected Sri Lanka in international forums against abuse allegations and pressured various governments to ban the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organisation after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

One month after the end of the civil war in 2009, Britain was working to assist the growth of Sri Lanka’s police department. There was no concern over the serious allegations of massive human rights abuses of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan military. The agenda was economic and political, with Liam Fox, the British defence minister, explaining in June 2011 that Sri Lanka played a vital role in combating international piracy.

“Sri Lanka is located in a pivotal position in the Indian Ocean with major international shipping routes between the Far East and the Gulf within 25 miles of your coast”, he said.

Russia, China, Israel and America have sold military hardware to Colombo both before and after 2009. Wikileaks cables show the US government recognised the Sri Lankan military’s role in atrocities during the civil war. Although the Tamil Tigers undeniably committed terrorist acts, state terrorism by the Sri Lankan establishment was far worse. Australia’s view has been consistent for decades: Canberra rarely recognises state terrorism if committed by an ally.

Australia’s former high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Bruce Haigh, stationed in the country from 1994, recalls how the high commission in Colombo would regularly liaise with its Sri Lankan counterparts, run training programs and accept Colombo’s line that any and all Tamils associated with the liberation struggle were terrorists.

This mindset existed long before September 11. Little has changed, though. Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, has gone even further than his mentor, John Howard, by expressing sympathy for a Sri Lankan regime that tortures its opponents and refuses to endorse an independent investigation into the end of the civil war.

How nations like Australia should relate to Sri Lanka and other human rights abusing countries is a tough question, when Canberra itself routinely breaches its international obligations. At the very least, we should call for rights to be recognised and improved in foreign lands and at home.

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Stop the extreme group of monks called Bodu Bala Sena

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Stop the extreme group of monks called Bodu Bala Sena
Stop the extreme group of monks called Bodu Bala Sena in who ignites the religious hatred, enmity and violent oppressions against Muslims and other minority religious groups.

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-director-stop-the-extreme-group-of-monks-called-bodu-bala-sena-in-who-ignites-the-religious-hatred-enmity-and-violent-oppressions-against-muslims-and-other-minority-religious-groups

This petition aims to gather opposition to the extremist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organisation in Sri Lanka. Its general secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero, along with other members, continues to violate the religious rights of minorities via their hatred propaganda and violent activities.

We appeal to all human rights activists, organisations and individuals to demand immediate action on the issue.

Since the so-called end of the civil war in May 2009 in Sri Lanka, BBS Buddhist chauvinist monks have turned their attention to religious minorities provoking and perpetrating physical harm against Muslims, mosques, historical graveyards, Christian churches, and Hindu temples. But the Sri Lankan authorities remain silence even though there has been proper complaints made.

Most ordinary people, including some Buddhist monks, have started to oppose Bodu Bala Sena. This is especially the case since BBS’s violent attack on a press meeting organised by Jathika Bala Sena (JBS) – another group of Buddhist monks that promotes peace and co-existence in the country and opposes BBS.

The JBS general secretary, Watareka Vijitha Thero, was stopped and threatened violently in front of the state media. BBS forced him to make a public apology for attempting to speak out to the media against religious oppression and for defending the rights of people to all religious beliefs, including of Muslims, rather than promoting Sri Lanka as a Buddhist-only state.

More than 50 listed incidents of violence have taken place in the last few years, against Sri Lankan Muslims and their religious practices. This takes place under the mask of a disgraceful Buddhist ‘cleansing of Sri Lanka’ – propagated by the extreme BBS group.

The security forces and the authorities are remain silent and encourage Bodu Bala Sena indirectly. But despite religious, ethnic, and racial differences the majority are opposed to this violent attack and propaganda against the Muslim community.

This attack is an attack on democratic rights in general.

All forms of hatred, violence against religious and other minorities and attacks on democratic rights must be opposed.

We demand that:

 1.       Attacks of all kind on the Muslim community must be stopped immediately

 2.       We defend the right and support the building of multi-ethnic democratic defence bodies against   the mob attacks provoked and perpetrated by the BBS. We also need defence against state repression, especially in the areas where Muslim communities live

3.       The right of an individual to practice any religion or none must be respected, with protection for minority rights in all areas.

To:

The Director, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Secretary, Minority Rights Group International

Emma Eastwood, Minority Rights Group International
Secretary, International Justice Mission UK

Secretary for Minority Affairs, International Crisis Group
Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for the Office of Human Rights

Minister of Justice – Sri Lanka, Ministry of Justice, Superior Courts Complex Colombo 12, Sri Lanka

Eleanor Blatchley, Coordinator, Human Rights Watch

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UK prime minister covers up crimes against humanity, and lectures Sri Lanka on crimes against humanity

NOVANEWS

by hasta_la_victoria

Fallujah in Iraq, destroyed by Nato's stormtroopers in 2004

Fallujah in Iraq, destroyed by Nato’s stormtroopers in 2004

Sirte in Libya, destroyed by Nato's luftwaffe in 2011

Sirte in Libya, destroyed by Nato’s luftwaffe in 2011

By Felicity Arbuthnot, via Global Research

“Hypocrisy, the most protected of vices.” Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673)

Last week, a little more was learned as to the circumventions in Whitehall and Washington delaying the publication of the findings of Sir John Chilcot’s marathon inquiry in to the background of the Iraq invasion.

The UK’s Chilcot Inquiry, was convened under then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to establish the decisions taken by the UK government and military, pre and post invasion. It ran from 24 November 2009 until 2 February 2011 and cost an estimated £7.5m. The as yet unpublished report is believed to run to 1,000,000 words.

The stumbling block – more of an Israeli-style ‘separation barrier’ in reality – has been the correspondence between Tony Blair and George W Bush, prior to an invasion and occupation that former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally told the BBC was “illegal”, and that “painful lessons” had been learned. ‘Lessons’ clearly not learned by the current British government. (16 September 2004)

The communications, in Sir John Chilcot’s words to former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell, related to “The question of when and how the prime minister (Tony Blair) made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq, and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its considerations.” (Guardian, 17 July 2013)

Further: “Chilcot said the release of notes of the conversations between Blair and Bush would serve to ‘illuminate Mr Blair’s position at critical points’ in the run up to war.

The inquiry had also been seeking clarification from O’Donnell’s successor, Sir Jeremy Heywood, regarding inclusion of references to “the content of Mr Blair’s notes to President Bush, and to the records of discussions between Mr Blair and Presidents Bush and Obama”. The wall remains in place.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, now the country’s most senior civil servant, was Tony Blair’s private secretary during the period of the trans-Atlantic lies that led to the Iraq war and during the creation of the Blair regime’s ‘dodgy dossiers’.

Interestingly too: “O’Donnell had consulted Blair before saying the notes must remain secret.” Effectively, one of the accused – in an action that has destroyed a country, lynched the president, murdered his sons and teenage nephew and caused the deaths of perhaps one and a half million people – is deciding what evidence can be presented before the court. Chilcot has seen the documents, but seemingly needs the accused’s permission to publish them.

A stitch-up of which any ‘rogue’ or ‘totalitarian’ regime would surely be proud.

Centre to the dispute between the inquiry, Cameron and his ennobled gate keepers is material requested for inclusion in the final report: “to reflect its analysis of discussions in Cabinet and Cabinet Committees and their significance”.

The documents being denied to the inquiry include 25 pieces of correspondence sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush and 130 documents relating to conversations between these lead plotters of Iraq’s destruction. Additionally: “dozens of records of Cabinet meetings”.

Ironically, on 31 October 2006, David Cameron voted in favour of a motion brought by the Scottish National Party and Wales’ Plaid Cymru (‘The Party of Wales’) calling for an inquiry into the Blair government’s conduct of the Gulf war.

On 15 June 2009, in a parliamentary debate, the terms of the Chilcot Inquiry were presented in detail, duly recorded in Hansard, the parliamentary records.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Blair’s successor stated: “In order that the committee is as objective and non-partisan as possible, the membership of the committee will consist entirely of non-partisan public figures acknowledged to be experts and leaders in their fields. There will be no representatives of political parties from either side of this House.”

David Cameron, then Leader of the Opposition stated piously:

“The whole point of having an Inquiry is that it has to be able to make clear recommendations, to go wherever the evidence leads, to establish the full truth and to ensure that the right lessons are learned … in a way that builds public confidence.”

Cameron was particularly concerned about: ‘openness’. How times change.

Further, said Cameron:

“The inquiry needs to be, and needs to be seen to be, truly independent and not an establishment stitch-up … The prime minister was very clear that the inquiry would have access to all British documents and all British witnesses. Does that mean that the inquiry may not have access to documents from the USA … On the scope of the inquiry, will the prime minister confirm that it will cover relations with the United States …”

Cameron concluded with again a demand for “openness and transparency”.

In response, Gordon Brown stated:

“I cannot think of an inquiry with a more comprehensive, wider or broader remit than the one that I have just announced. Far from being restricted, it will cover eight years, from 2001 to 2009. Far from being restricted, it will have access to any documents that are available, and that will include foreign documents that are available in British archives. [Emphasis mine.]

However, four years is a long time in politics, and last week, as David Cameron traveled to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, it transpired that the documents Sir John Chilcot had been pursuing and been denied for six months have been also blocked by: “officials in the White House and the US department of state, who have refused to sanction any declassification of critical pre-and post-war communications between George W Bush and Tony Blair”.

David Cameron is apparently also blocking evidence “on Washington’s orders, from being included in the report of an expensive and lengthy British Inquiry.”

However, ‘shame’ clearly not being a word in Cameron’s lexicon, he landed in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon, a British Colony 1815-1948) as the above shoddy details broke, in full colonial mode.

Spectacular welcoming ceremonies barely over, he launched in to an entirely undiplomatic, public tirade, at this gathering of the ‘Commonwealth family of nations’ alleging that his host, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was guilty of war crimes during the civil war with the Tamil Tigers.

It is not disputed that, as in any conflict, terrible crimes were committed on both sides. But these are accusations from the man both covering up the genesis of massacres of genocidal magnitude – and who enjoined in the near destruction of Libya, the resultant lynching of the country’s leader, the murder of his sons and small grandchildren and uncounted others in another decimation of a country that had threatened no other.

Cameron’s Libya is Blair’s Iraq. As in Iraq, the dying continues daily.

The pontification also from a prime minister backing funding for the cannibalistic-orientated insurgents in Syria – the beheading, dismembering, looting, displacing, kidnapping, chemical weapons lobbying, child killing, infanticide-bent crazies – including those from his own country.

In Sri Lanka, he demanded the country ensure “credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes” and said if this did not happen by the March deadline he arbitrarily imposed, he would press the UN Human Rights Council to hold an international inquiry.

Further: “truth telling”, he said, was essential. To cite hypocrisy of breathtaking proportions has become a redundant accusation, but words are failing.

In the event Cameron “left Colombo having failed to secure any concessions from President Rajapaksa or persuade fellow leaders to criticise Sri Lanka’s record in a communique”. (Guardian, 16 November)

As the prime minster slunk out, President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered an apt, withering reaction: “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” he responded.

Ironically, in spite a tragic recent past, Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia rated high on the Human Development Index. The UK and ‘allies’ recent victims Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan barely make it to the bottom.

David Cameron returned to Britain still having to grapple with how to evade delivering truth to the Chilcot Inquiry.

Hopefully, he will read a letter from writer Lesley Docksey:

It was British taxpayers’ money that funded the Chilcot Inquiry, and this taxpayer wants her money’s worth. All the British government papers concerning the sorry affair of an invasion of another country belong to this nation – not to the United States, not to Tony Blair and not to the current government. Taxpayers aren’t here to save the faces of politicians.

Nor is it, in the words of the Cabinet Office, ‘in the public’s interest’ that exchanges between the UK prime minister and the US president are kept secret’ – sorry, ‘privileged’ – from those who are paying their wages. The phrase ‘in the public interest’ only ever means the interests of the government of the day.

“Unless Sir John Chilcot and his team can publish a full and honest report, no lessons will be learnt by future governments. But then, if those lessons were learnt, and we the public knew (as in fact we do) what they were, this country would find it difficult to ever invade anywhere ever again.

So, Sir John, in the words of a former PM, the Duke of Wellington, ‘Publish and be damned!’” (Independent, 18th November 2013)

Oh, and as David Cameron was lecturing Sri Lanka on ‘transparency’, the Conservatives were removing “a decade of speeches from their website and from the main internet library – including one in which David Cameron claimed that being able to search the web would democratise politics by making ‘more information available to more people’”.

The party removed records of speeches and press releases from 2000 until May 2010. The effect will be to remove any speeches and articles during the Tories’ modernisation 

Posted in Sri Lanka, UKComments Off on UK prime minister covers up crimes against humanity, and lectures Sri Lanka on crimes against humanity

UK Prime Minister Covers Up Crimes Against Humanity – Lectures Sri Lanka on Crimes Against Humanity

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Hypocrisy, the most protected of vices.” Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673.)

Last week a little more was learned as to the circumventions in Whitehall and Washington delaying the publication of the findings of Sir John Chilcot’s marathon Inquiry in to the background of the Iraq invasion.

The UK’s Chilcot Inquiry, was convened under then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to establish the decisions taken by the UK government and military, pre and post invasion. It ran from 24th November 2009 until 2nd February 2011 and cost an estimated £7.5 million. The as yet unpublished Report is believed to run to 1000,000 words.

The stumbling block – more of an Israeli-style “separation barrier” in reality – has been the correspondence between Tony Blair and George W. Bush, prior to an invasion and occupation, which former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally told the BBC was: “illegal” and that: “painful lessons” had been learned. (BBC 16th September 2004.) “Lessons” clearly not learned by the current British government.

The communications, in Sir John Chilcot’s words to former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell related to: “The question when and how the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq, and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its considerations.”(Guardian 17th July 2013.)

Further: “Chilcot said the release of notes of the conversations between Blair and Bush would serve to ‘illuminate Mr Blair’s position at critical points’ in the run up to war.”

The Inquiry had also been seeking clarification from O’Donnell’s successor Sir Jeremy Heywood regarding inclusion of references to: “the content of Mr Blair’s notes to President Bush, and to the records of discussions between Mr Blair and Presidents Bush and Obama.” The wall remains in place.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, now the country’s most senior civil servant, was Tony Blair’s Private Secretary during the period of the trans-Atlantic lies that led to the Iraq war and during the creation of the Blair regime’s “dodgy dossiers.”

Interestingly too: “O’Donnell had consulted Blair before saying the notes must remain secret.” Effectively, one of the accused, in an action which has destroyed a country, lynched the President, murdered his sons and teenage nephew and caused the deaths of perhaps one and a half million people, decides what evidence can be presented before the Court. Chilcot, has seen the documents but seemingly needs the accused permission to publish them.

A stitch-up of which any “rogue” or “totalitarian” regime, would surely be proud.

Center to the dispute between the Inquiry, Cameron and his ennobled gate keepers is material requested for inclusion in the final Report: “to reflect its analysis of discussions in Cabinet and Cabinet Committees and their significance.”

The documents being denied to the Inquiry include twenty five pieces of correspondence sent by Tony Blair to George W. Bush and one hundred and thirty documents relating to conversations between these lead plotters of Iraq’s destruction. Additionally: “dozens of records of Cabinet meetings.”(i)

Ironically on 31st October 2006, David Cameron voted in favour of a motion brought by the Scottish National Party and Wales’ Plaid Cymru (“The Party of Wales”) calling for an Inquiry into the Blair government’s conduct of the Gulf war.

On 15th June 2009, in a parliamentary debate, the terms of the Chilcot Inquiry were presented in detail, duly recorded in Hansard, the parliamentary records.(ii.)

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Blair’s successor stated: “In order that the committee is as objective and non-partisan as possible, the membership of the committee will consist entirely of non-partisan public figures acknowledged to be experts and leaders in their fields. There will be no representatives of political parties from either side of this House.”

David Cameron, then Leader of Opposition stated piously:

“The whole point of having an Inquiry is that it has to be able to make clear recommendations, to go wherever the evidence leads, to establish the full truth and to ensure that the right lessons are learned … in a way that builds public confidence.”

Cameron was particularly concerned about: “openness.” How times change.

Further, said Cameron:

“The inquiry needs to be, and needs to be seen to be, truly independent and not an establishment stitch-up … The Prime Minister was very clear that the inquiry would have access to all British documents and all British witnesses. Does that mean that the inquiry may not have access to documents from the USA … On the scope of the inquiry, will the Prime Minister confirm that it will cover relations with the United States …”

Cameron concluded with again a demand for “openness and transparency.”

In response, Gordon Brown stated:

“ … I cannot think of an Inquiry with a more comprehensive, wider or broader remit than the one that I have just announced. Far from being restricted, it will cover eight years, from 2001 to 2009. Far from being restricted, it will have access to any documents that are available, and that will include foreign documents that are available in British archives. (Emphasis mine.)

However, four years is a long time in politics and last week, as David Cameron traveled to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, it transpired that the documents Sir John Chilcot had been pursuing and been denied for six months have been also blocked by: “officials in the White House and the US Department of State who have refused to sanction any declassification of critical pre-and post-war communications between George W. Bush and Tony Blair.”

David Cameron is apparently also blocking evidence: “ … on Washington’s orders, from being included in the report of an expensive and lengthy British Inquiry.”(iii) Confirmation, were it ever needed, that Britain is the US 51st State, whose puppet Prime Ministers simply obey their Master’s voice.

However, “shame” clearly not being a word in Cameron’s lexicon, he landed in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon, a British Colony 1815-1948) as the above shoddy details broke, in full colonial mode.

Spectacular welcoming ceremonies barely over, he launched in to an entirely undiplomatic, public tirade, at this gathering of the “Commonwealth family of nations” alleging that his host, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was guilty of war crimes during the civil war with the Tamil Tigers. Not disputed is, as any conflict, that terrible crimes were committed on both sides. But these are accusations from the man both covering up the genesis of massacres of genocidal magnitude – and who enjoined in the near destruction of Libya, the resultant lynching of the country’s leader, the murder of his sons and small grand children and uncounted others in another decimation of a country who had threatened no other.

Cameron’s Libya, is Blair’s Iraq. As Iraq, the dying continues daily.

The pontification also from a Prime Minister backing funding for the cannibalistic orientated insurgents in Syria, the beheading, dismembering, looting, displacing, kidnapping, chemical weapons lobbying, child killing, infanticide-bent crazies, including those from his own country.

In Sri Lanka he demanded the country ensure: “credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes” and said if this did not happen by the March deadline he arbitrarily imposed, he would press the UN Human Rights Council to hold an international inquiry. Further: “truth telling”, he said, was essential. To cite hypocrisy of breathtaking proportions has become a redundant accusation, but words are failing.

In the event Cameron: “ … left Colombo having failed to secure any concessions from President Rajapaksa or persuade fellow leaders to criticise Sri Lanka’s record in a communique”, reported the Guardian (16th November.)

As the Prime Minster slunk out, President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered an apt, withering reaction: “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”, he responded.

Ironically, in spite a tragic recent past, Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia rated high on the Human Development Index. The UK and “allies” recent victims, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan barely make it to the bottom.

David Cameron returned to Britain still having to grapple with how to evade delivering truth to the Chilcot Inquiry.

Hopefully he will read a letter from writer Lesley Docksey (Independent, 18th November 2013.)

“It was British taxpayers’ money that funded the Chilcot Inquiry, and this taxpayer wants her money’s worth. All the British government papers concerning the sorry affair of an invasion of another country belong to this nation, not to the United States, not to Tony Blair, not to the current government. Taxpayers aren’t here to save the faces of politicians.

“Nor is it, in the words of the Cabinet Office, ‘in the public’s interest’ that exchanges between the UK Prime Minister and the US President are kept secret’ – sorry, ‘privileged’ – from those who are paying their wages. The phrase ‘in the public interest’ only ever means the interests of the government of the day.

“Unless Sir John Chilcot and his team can publish a full and honest report, no lessons will be learnt by future governments. But then, if those lessons were learnt, and we the public knew (as in fact we do) what they were, this country would find it difficult to ever invade anywhere ever again.

“So, Sir John, in the words of a former PM, the Duke of Wellington, ‘Publish and be damned!’

Oh, and as David Cameron was lecturing Sri Lanka on “transparency”, the Conservatives were removing: ‘ a decade of speeches from their website and from the main internet library – including one in which David Cameron claimed that being able to search the web would democratise politics by making “more information available to more people.” ’.

“The party removed records of speeches and press releases from 2000 until May 2010. The effect will be to remove any speeches and articles during the Tories’ modernisation period …” (iv.)

Comment again redundant.

Notes

i. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36879.htm

ii. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090615/debtext/90615-0004.htm

iii. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-us-blocks-publication-of-chilcots-report-on-how-britain-went-to-war-with-iraq-8937772.html

iv. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/13/conservative-party-archive-speeches-internet

Copyright © 2013 Global Research

Posted in Sri Lanka, UKComments Off on UK Prime Minister Covers Up Crimes Against Humanity – Lectures Sri Lanka on Crimes Against Humanity

Tamil Solidarity protest warns Cameron: don’t go to Chogm!

NOVANEWS
Tamil Solidarity protest warns Cameron: don’t go to Chogm!
Protest Friday 15 November, 4-7pm
Say NO to Chogm
British government supports war criminal regime in Sri Lanka

An important warning shot was fired on Wednesday 9 October. On the day the world heard about Canada’s boycott of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Sri Lanka, Tamil Solidarity called a successful protest at Downing Street. “Cameron, Cameron, don’t go to Sri Lanka,” was roared across the road to the home of the British Prime Minister David Cameron who plans to attend the meeting.

The Guardian reports Canadian PM Harper citing “reported disappearances, and allegations of extra judicial killings” to explain his historic withdrawal from Chogm. This continued horrific trampling of democratic rights, and the genocidal slaughter of up to 100,000 Tamils in 2009 means the Sri Lankan regime stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. After the war thousands of young people were rounded up into concentration-style camps with thousands still unaccounted for, four years later. No wonder a popular chant at today’s protest was: “Sri Lankan president, war criminal”.

The protest demanded that the British government follow Canada’s lead, but also warned this was unlikely. Showing the British government’s attitude to the warmonger regime Jon Snow recently reported that William Hague co-hosted a drinks party with the Sri Lankan government at the UN.

As well as chanting angry slogans, Tamil Solidarity invited speakers to address the crowd, providing an opportunity to discuss and debate strategy. Tamil Solidarity joint national secretary Keerthikan was the first speaker. He explained why Tamil Solidarity was protesting – in opposition to Chogm but also explained why we can have no illusions in governments to stand for the rights of oppressed people.

He was followed by Mayilon, a young worker on a zero-hour contract. He explained why Tamil Solidarity works with the trade unions – to fight the oppression and exploitation we face here as workers and to link our struggles into a powerful movement. He said: “We, in Tamil Solidarity are trying to gather people together and help to fight against all our problems. Until we raise our voices to help others, we will not get any help from others as well. If we are not giving support to others and expecting support from them it is not fair. So, come let’s join together and fight for each and everyone’s problems.”

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Tamil Solidarity national chair, had been asked to read a statement from a young woman who is a Tamil Solidarity member. This moving report of a recent visit to Sri Lanka warned of the way, in a situation of fear and poverty, frustration was finding very negative outlets. She reported “increased domestic violence and sexual abuse” and concluded that “it’s very important for us to raise our voice on behalf of all those that have had their voice stolen”.

Ben Robinson brought support and solidarity from the Socialist Party in the fight for the right to self-determination of Tamil people. He pointed out that Cameron has his eye on business deals with the Sri Lankan regime. They work together so workers and oppressed people must work together. Neil Cafferky pledged that, if an appeal is made, the trade unions will respond with support.

Meena Kandasamy spoke powerfully about the protest hunger strike currently taking place in Tamil Nadu. She also invited people to learn about the history of struggle to inform the struggle of today and asked people to read the new Tamil Solidarity book, History of Resistance.

In this protest young people were to the fore, on the megaphone, giving speeches and in organising the action. This is significant as young people were often leading the 2009 protests and are now questioning how the rights of the Tamils can be won.

The conclusion of Tamil Solidarity is that the struggle must go on and spread out to involve workers and all oppressed people.

Everyone agreed to go to their colleges and universities, workplaces, communities, and trade union branches to build support for the next protest called for 15 November at Downing Street. Tamil Solidarity is calling on all Diaspora groups, trade unions, youth and student groups and individuals who oppose repression to join this protest which will coincide with the Chogm opening ceremony.

Find out more: www.tamilsolidarity.org or call joint national secretary Keerthikan on 0777 8327 044

For speakers for meetings, leaflets to distribute, or to discuss the campaign email Info@tamilsolidarity.org or contact Keerthikan

 

Posted in Sri LankaComments Off on Tamil Solidarity protest warns Cameron: don’t go to Chogm!

Protest Cameron attendance at Commonwealth meeting

NOVANEWS
Protest Cameron attendance at Commonwealth meeting

Tamils living in Britain have reacted angrily to David Cameron’s vague promise to call for an ‘independent’ review of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

The prime minister’s statement yesterday is seen as a cynical attempt to placate Britain’s 300,000 strong Tamil community – a significant electoral constituency.

Tamils in Britain are outraged that the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) is going ahead in Sri Lanka this month and, even worse, David Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague have decided to attend.

The Tamil Solidarity campaign rejects the claim that their participation will compel the government of Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of war crimes, in particular during the final months of the conflict which ended in May 2009.

Many reports have detailed the horrific slaughter, systematic use of rape by armed forces and other atrocities, most recently the third documentary by Callum Mcrae for Channel 4. Each report has been met with denial and denunciation by the Sri Lankan government.

Manny Thain, Tamil Solidarity joint national secretary, said: ‘Rather than put pressure on the regime of president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chogm will give him a world stage. He will use the event to claim the status of a world leader. He will boast of a reinforced legitimacy as Commonwealth heads of government line up to shake his hand.’

Any criticisms of human rights abuses expressed during Chogm will be extremely mild and superficial. There will be no clear call for a truly independent inquiry into war crimes allegations – an inquiry which includes representatives of the communities affected.

There will be no call for real steps to be taken to end the continued oppression and effective military takeover and settlement of Tamil lands in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

There will be no unequivocal call to end the relentless attacks on the democratic rights of people throughout Sri Lanka – the erosion of press freedom, attacks on trade union and political activists, and on human rights campaigners.

Tamil Solidarity has called another in a series of protests outside Downing Street on Friday 15 November, 4-7pm, to coincide with the opening day of Chogm. We will be sending a clear message that David Cameron and William Hague are not attending Chogm in our name.

We will never forget this act of betrayal.

On the same day, our sister campaigns in Europe, India and Malaysia, as well as in Sri Lanka itself, will be organising similar protests.

 

Posted in Sri LankaComments Off on Protest Cameron attendance at Commonwealth meeting

India-Sri Lanka nexus is against the interest of Tamils in every which way possible-Meena Kandasamy

NOVANEWS
India-Sri Lanka nexus is against the interest of Tamils in every which way possible-Meena Kandasamy

Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer and an activist. She plays a crucial role in building campaigns such as Tamil Solidarity and has been a strong voice against the murderous Sri Lankan regime.

1. Thank you for giving this interview to the Tamil Solidarity. According to Indian media, Prime minister Manmohan Singh will not take part in the commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM). However rest of the Indian delegation will take part. Do you think Indian government is playing a ‘trick’ on us.

While it is clear that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to not visit CHOGM in Sri Lanka is clearly a response to the protest movements in Tamil Nadu, and while it is also a decision made keeping in mind the elections early next year—we have to reiterate that this is not enough. India must press for an independent international inquiry, it must demand a demilitarisation of the North, it must ask for an end to the ongoing systematic repression against Tamils in Sri Lanka. In the abstract, we can discuss what India can and what India should do. However, the reality is that not only Sri Lanka’s closeness with Pakistan and China weigh heavily on India’s choices, but, India’s own multinational corporations will be exerting a different kind of pressure. Tata holds the entire bid for rebuilding Slave Island, and many Indian businesses are all involved in their exploitation. They will be lobbying for their own interests in the end, and they will be able to arm twist the government into doing what they want. After all, if there is anything the 1.76 lakh crore 2G scam revealed, it is that the Indian political system is nothing but a puppet in the hands of these corporates. And given how Rajapakse’s family runs the crucial businesses in Sri Lanka, this nexus will operate against the interest of the Tamils in every which way possible.

2. As a writer you have been relentless in your criticism of the Sri Lankan regime. More importantly you actively participated in many actions against the regime and against the on-going horror unleashed on Tamils. Please tell us a bit more about why you continue to do this and what other Indian writers can do on these issues.

Why do I do this? Because I’m informed of what’s going on the ground (in Sri Lanka) and because my anger would break me if I remained silent and helpless. Indian writers (especially those who are not Tamil) might not be fully aware of what is going on there, and sometimes, they become unwitting pawns of Sri Lanka’s PR machinery. When Indian writers visit literary festivals in Sri Lanka for instance, they legitimise Sri Lanka’s culture of repression of writers, journalists, cartoonists. I’ve always been pressing for a cultural boycott of Sri Lanka. South Africa under apartheid was boycotted, Israel is being boycotted, why should Sri Lanka be treated any differently?

3. TNA’s main propaganda in the last NPC election was that the Indian state will somehow help the Eelam Tamils. Similarly a number of Diaspora groups want to keep a friendly relationship with the Indian government. They argue that India is a regional power so Tamils cannot win anything without winning the Indian government to our side. But they appear blind to the treatment of oppressed people in India – and their resistance to the suffering at the hands of the Indian government. How can this lack of understanding be overcome? And how can we bridge the struggles of Eelam Tamils and Indians – particularly those struggling in Tamil Nadu.

I think the Indian state—that kills its adivasi people under Operation Greenhunt and through elaborate structural genocide, that denies Kashmiri and Manipuri people the right of self-determination, that has its own mass graves for Kashmiris—is not going to do some dramatic turn-around for geopolitical reasons and “help” the Eelam Tamils. We have to snap out of such idyllic daydreams and confront the reality of what the Indian state machinery is all about. Not only does India kill in its own national interests, but it has also become a mercenary state that sometimes wages war on its own people in defence of toxic corporates like Vedanta. Big businesses have a big say in India.
When I was in the UK, I was surprised by how many first-generation Eelam Tamils saw “hope” in Modi’s rise to power, and how they really believed that he would do good to them. They had no answer to the question: how is Modi different from Rajapakse? After all, the state-sponsored riots in Gujarat in 2002, saw the rapes and killings of thousands of Muslims. Their so-called strategy, that a non-Congress alternative will benefit the Tamils, is very short-sighted besides being extremely dangerous. Why should the people, who are victims of a genocidal-scale of killings, seek support from a man of Modi’s history? It is depressing. The BTF, GTF, TGTE have no embarrassment in shaking hands with Modi. The only progressive voice from the Tamil community was the Tamil solidarity campaign. When news of Modi’s proposed UK visit came, Keerthikan, your joint-national coordinator was actually suggesting that we greet him by throwing eggs! A Modi should be treated no differently from a Rajapakse!

I was disgusted when I saw Tamil media in the Diaspora play up the story of Anbumani Ramadoss making some presentation in the United Nations about Eelam Tamils. How could you forget Dharmapuri? After all, PMK, the party to which Ramadoss belongs, burnt 300 homes of dalit people in three villages. They gave death threats to Dalit men who marry caste-Hindu girls. They decried the idea of love. It is a first-rate casteist party that has no space in a democracy. Why was the Tamil Diaspora sucking up to the Ramadosses? These hate-mongers forfeited their rights to speak on any issue the minute they indulged in such ruthless violence. And yet, we allowed these filthy, reactionary politicians to represent us? How could we allow such a disgrace to take place?

4. In India, both central government and state governments appear to have mastered the art of supressing emerging struggles. Discrimination and attacks vary with regular atrocities perpetrated against those oppressed on the basis of nationality, caste, gender or class. Some argue that the focus of activists must be limited to one issue – ie national liberation, for example. We think this tactic will alienate the struggling oppressed caste activists and others. At the same time some argue that every other struggle against oppression stands in opposition to the national interest of the Tamils in general. How do you look at this.

I think this is a question that the Tamil society must ask itself: Do we need a liberated nation that still ingrains the idea of caste discrimination, patriarchal attitudes, religious hatred? I do not think any self-respecting Marxist will support reactionary nationalism. To simply join the chorus of these reactionary, casteist, feudal, patriarchal forces and to cry for a separate nation—without paying any attention to solving these problems—would be nothing but rank opportunism. We cannot turn a blind eye to these issues. We cannot become “patriots” merely because we oppose imperialist and state-terrorist forces, we need to encourage and stand alongside the progressive forces among the Tamil community. We do not have to become card-carrying supporters for bourgeois nationalism that seeks a nation for itself only so that it benefits the swindlers. If we agree on this basic principle, we can achieve a lot. The struggle of the Dalit people against caste, the struggle of women against violence and patriarchy, the struggle of the working people for their rights—these are in no way in any conflict with the national interest—they are only against casteist, patriarchal and exploitative capitalist interests. These movements do not sabotage the national cause, they do not approve of imperialism, they only dig the graves for centuries-old oppression. We must ensure that the Tamil struggle for self-determination is inclusive, and in fact, propelled by these movements. This is not something that we are dreaming about today. This is not something that has arisen now. There are several Tamil critics, who lose their cool whenever the question of caste or women’s rights crop up. Addressing caste for instance is as old as the Vaddukoddai Resolution. Did that manifesto not ask for the annihilation and eradication of caste? Why are the Tamil nationalists of today silent on this question? I think that instead of having sword-fights with these imaginary ghosts, the Tamil nationalists can get their act together and address the contradictions in society. If I say this I will be immediately labelled a Marxist and a feminist and as a traitor. No one believed in the Indian nation as much as Dr.Ambedkar, and no one fought the caste system as vigorously as him. If people are getting upset when the questions of caste, or the oppression of women arise, it only means that they are afraid of losing the privileges bestowed on them by caste system and patriarchy. In that case, all talk of nationalism is only a shield to protect their own elite interests.

4. A discussion has emerged recently on the best strategy to organise against CHOGM. As you know the fast unto death was used as a focal point but, in some ways hijacked by Dravidian parties. This appears to have effectively cut off the possibility of a strong movement emerging – can you tell us bit about this?

I think that we have to creatively reimagine our basic modes of protest. I believe that democracy subsists on a daily dose of drama—that’s why theatrical forms of protests—such as an indefinite fast are good tools to reach to the people. However, passive resistance is good if you are building a sustained campaign—like Irom Sharmila’s campaign against the atrocities of the armed forces in India’s North-East—but if you seek a clear-cut, short-term goal, I am not sure if such Gandhian-style protests serve their purpose. In this case, I personally felt that the DMK-Congress combine cleverly played into comrade Thiyagu’s fast, which started with the right motive and momentum. A line of assurance, which vaguely spoke about considering various sentiments, was enough to fold up the fast. Did the prime minister write to Thiyagu? Did the powers-that-be actually tell him that they see the reason for the fast? No, he was writing to Karunanidhi. In that pretentious letter, which said a lot, but meant absolutely nothing, there was no condemnation of the atrocities of the Sri Lanka regime, India did not distance itself from the Rajapakse regime, the Centre was merely placating the Tamil people and using the ruse of a letter to diffuse the anger on the ground. I also believe that fasts, or events centred around one individual, often do not give us leveraging power unless a mass students/youth/people’s movement grows around it, which in turn becomes the plank from which to place demands. Historically, we may be trying to recreate the atmosphere of what followed Thileepan’s fast, however, to succeed one has to embrace martyrdom like he did and wait long enough for the ruling powers to expose themselves.

We have also seen instances of how the “indefinite fast” (often misleadingly called fast-unto-death, though no one really entertains suicidal intentions) become a tool of the elites themselves who want to appear as if they are championing a cause, or who want to wear the mask of sacrifice for narrow electoral gains. How can people forget Karunanidhi’s fast during 2009, in the most intense period of war in Sri Lanka? Did Chidambaram not “assure” Karunanidhi to withdraw his fast on the basis of an assurance from Sri Lankan Government that they would continue their “humanitarian operation”, “stop using heavy artillery” and “follow a zero civilian casualty” policy? Why did Karunanidhi buy into that trap and withdraw his fast? Was the killing of close to a hundred thousand people any kind of humanitarian operation, is that how zero civilian casualty works? Clearly, what Karunanidhi was doing was just an eyewash. It was a brilliantly orchestrated drama—DMK, Chidambaram, Sri Lankan state, Rajapakse family—everyone had their vested interests in this absurd theatre.
On the other hand, I also think Tamil society has to rethink its approach to self-immolation. While it is certainly an act of sacrifice, it signals absolute desperation. It means we have resigned to fate that there is nothing we can do, and, that we no longer believe in our power as a collective. I think it is extremely self-defeating.

Posted in Sri LankaComments Off on India-Sri Lanka nexus is against the interest of Tamils in every which way possible-Meena Kandasamy

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