Sunday, September 28, 2014

China's Draconian Sentence against her Mandela is Suicidal

China has one of the worst records on human rights. Its inhuman and savage treatment of Uyghur (also spelled as Uighur) Muslim minorities living in the far western Xinjiang region (East Turkistan) is one of the worst our world is witnessing outside how the Rohingyas are treated inside Myanmar.
Beijing’s leaders do not tolerate any dissent and consider anyone questioning their Draconian measures inside Xinjiang an enemy of the state. On September 23, Tuesday, a Chinese court imposed a life sentence on Professor Ilham Tohti (born October 25, 1969), a Uyghur economist who taught at Beijing’s Minzu University, on separatism-related charges. The Urumqi People’s Intermediate Court handed down the sentence after a two-day kangaroo trial of Prof. Tohti. The court also ordered the confiscation of all of his possessions. The 44-year-old defendant was calm during the session but shouted “I don’t accept this!” when the sentence was read out. It is the most severe penalty in a decade for anyone in China convicted of illegal political speech. Political activist Wang Bingzhang was the last person to receive a life sentence for political speech when he was convicted in 2003 after starting a pro-democracy publication outside China and founding two opposition parties in the country.
Professor Tohti, widely recognized around the world nowadays as China’s Mandela, is known for his research on Uyghur-Han relations and is a vocal advocate for the implementation of regional autonomy laws in China. In 2006 Tohti founded a website called, Uyghur Online, which published articles in Chinese and Uyghur highlighting issues affecting the ethnic group. In mid-2008 authorities shut down the website, falsely accusing it of forging links to extremists in the Uyghur diaspora.
In a March 2009 interview with Radio Free Asia, Prof. Tohti criticized the Chinese government's highly provocative and discriminatory policy to allow migrant workers into Xinjiang Uyghur while the native Uyghurs remain unemployed inside the province and their young women moving to eastern China to find work. He also criticized Xinjiang Uyghur Governor for stressing the stability and security of Xinjiang while neglecting basic human rights of the Uyghur people. That same month, Tohti was detained by authorities, accused of separatism, and interrogated.
On July 6, 2009 after ethnic rioting broke out between Uyghurs and Han in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, the Uyghur Online was cited in a speech by the regional Governor as a catalyst for the violence. On July 8, 2009, Radio Free Asia reported that Tohti's whereabouts were unknown after he had been summoned from his home in Beijing. The Chinese dissident Wang Lixiong and his Tibetan activist wife Woeser started an on-line petition calling for Tohti's release, which was signed by other dissidents including Ran Yunfei. The Amnesty International, PEN American Center and Reporters Without Borders also issued appeals or statements of concern on his detention.
Prof. Tohti was released from detention on August 23, 2009 along with two other Chinese dissidents, Xu Zhiyong and Zhuang Lu, after pressure on Beijing from the international community. Tohti was warned against criticism of the government's handling of riots. The authorities also prevented him and his family from leaving Beijing.
Chinese authorities arrested and detained Professor Tohti again in January 2014 along with seven of his students. They removed computers from his home. He was held at a detention center thousands of miles from Beijing in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
On April 1, 2014, Professor Tohti was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award,an American human rights award given to writers anywhere in the world who fight for freedom of expression. According to the statement from PEN, Tohti, was "long harassed by Chinese authorities for his outspoken views on the rights of China's Muslim Uyghur minority. Tohti represents a new generation of endangered writers who use the web and social media to fight oppression and broadcast to concerned parties around the globe. We hope this honor helps awaken Chinese authorities to the injustice being perpetrated and galvanizes the worldwide campaign to demand Tohti's freedom."
Last week, Prof. Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment in a kangaroo court. The court ruled that Ilham Tohti had “bewitched and coerced” students into working for the website and had “built a criminal syndicate,” according to the government’s official Xinhua News Agency. “Tohti organized this group to write, edit, translate and reprint articles seeking Xinjiang’s separation from China,” Xinhua said. “Through online instigation, Tohti encouraged his fellow Uyghurs to use violence.”
During the trial, prosecutors cited Ilham Tohti’s lectures and online writings, including his discussion of the different roots of the Han Chinese and Uyghur peoples. Speaking in his own defense, Ilham Tohti denied that he had encouraged separatism while addressing Xinjiang’s cultural and legal challenges.
Amnesty International stated that Tohti's legal team were never shown evidence and furthermore denied access to their client for six months, and condemned the trial as an "affront to justice". On September 24, 2014, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized what he called a 'harsh' sentence, and called for Tohti's immediate release.
Prof. Tohti’s lawyer Li Fangping also complained of the harsh sentence. “Of course, this life sentence is too much,” Li said by telephone from outside the courthouse. “But he has said that no matter what the result, this should not lead to hatred. He has always said he wants to create a dialogue with the Han Chinese.” The life sentence will leave Ilham Tohti’s wife, Guzulnur, with no means to take care of their two young children, Li said.
Ilham Tohti’s 20-year-old daughter, Jewher Ilham, said in Indiana, where she is studying, that she will continue to fight for her father’s release. Her father was arrested in January 2013 at Beijing’s main airport as he was boarding a plane to take her to school in the United States.
“He wanted me to stay in a land that has freedom,” she said. “I’m speaking out for him. I won’t stop.”
The European Union condemned the sentence, calling it “completely unjustified,” and urged that he be released immediately. “The EU deplores that the due process of law was not respected, in particular with regard to the right to a proper defense,” it said in a statement. After his arrest, Ilham Tohti was held for about eight months without being able to meet with his family or lawyers.
“Ilham Tohti worked to peacefully build bridges between ethnic communities and for that he has been punished through politically motivated charges,” William Nee, a China researcher at human rights group Amnesty International, said in an e-mailed statement. “Tohti is a prisoner of conscience and the Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him.”
Chinese writer Wang Lixiong said on Twitter that the government had created a “Chinese Mandela,”referring to South African leader Nelson Mandela, who was jailed for 27 years before becoming president. Columbia University Tibet specialist Robert Barnett called the sentence “deeply shocking.”
As I have written in the past, ethnic tensions have run high and flared into violence in Xinjiang, where many of China’s Uyghurs live under a very hostile and oppressive condition. There is no doubt that the harsh sentence against Professor Tohti again demonstrated Beijing’s intolerance of criticism from even the most conciliatory of voices. By imposing a life sentence, surely, China has not learned the basics of nation-building in the 21st century.
If Beijing is genuinely serious about territorial integrity it must learn to accept criticism of its inhuman and discriminatory policies and follow a path of reconciliation with the Uyghurs and Tibetans, who are denied basic human rights, and work towards creating a sense of belonging to them, away from its faulty Hanification policies that only breed hatred and nurture secession.
In this age of information technology, Beijing simply cannot fool anyone with its Goebbels- and Mao Tse Tung- era propaganda but only its dogmatic, brain-dead Hans who are unwilling to wake-up and see the world as it is. It must learn to adapt for greater good of everyone living inside China, and not just the majority Hans. Uyghurs matter! Their Mandela needs to be released immediately.cS

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What’s new with western duplicity?

Nearly 200,000 civilians have died in the Syrian conflict. The world community has watched the tragedy unfold in front of its eyes and let the massacre of unarmed civilians happen unbridled. Even when it was obvious that Syria’s ruthless murderer President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against his own civilian population, nothing was done to punish him or his regime.
In his address to the nation on August 31, 2013, President Obama promised of taking military actions against the hated Assad regime. After the speech the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an authorization to carry out military action. But instead of securing votes necessary in the House and Senate, Obama abruptly abandoned it. He, instead, opted for a Russian-brokered deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, which gave Assad the green signal to continue with his murderous campaign.
Many Syrians have lost their entire family in this tragedy. It is not difficult to understand why many Syrians have joined the rebel movements to fight against Assad's criminal, sectarian (Nusayri) regime that has been targeting its Sunni population who comprise nearly eighty percent of the population of 18 million.
It is widely known that as a resistance movement drags on for years some extremist groups would emerge stronger than more moderate rebel groups. And that is precisely what has happened with the emergence of the ISIS or ISIL. The extremist group, representing disgruntled Sunnis, not just inside Syria but also Iraq, has been able to solidify its positions in both the countries and represent a mortal threat to the sectarian regimes in both Syria and Iraq.
The western invaders of Muslim lands have never been their liberators and, bluntly speaking, are responsible for the majority of the problems plaguing those nation states today. Their interest has never been stability of those former colonies but the existence of a dynamic balance of power in which all players are effectively paralyzed so that no one would threaten them. Thus, they would rather have murderous criminals like Assad and Sisi rule those former colonies than someone who is perceived as a threat to western interest and hegemony. Period!
The governments of the USA, France and the UK have bombed ISIS positions inside Iraq, which have resulted in the tit-for-tat murder of three western civilians – two Americans and a Brit – by the ISIS. The YouTube videos of the beheadings of those unfortunate civilians — and the government and the media propaganda that ISIS is coming to attack them in their malls – a reminder to 9/11 with al-Qaeda – have created the backdrop for western military re-engagement.
Last week, in his speech to the nation, President Obama made a case to the American people that his government is serious about degrading ISIS. After ignoring the Syrian opposition for years and claiming that it was a ‘fantasy’ to believe that they could have made a difference against Assad’s regime, he is now calling for Congress to provide necessary resources to do just that when its efficacy has become weaker with the emergence of the ISIS.
Such NATO-led attacks, of course, against the ISIS are bound to help the criminal Assad regime, which in recent weeks has bombed civilians living in territories under the ISIS control. In recent weeks, the western attacks have also killed dozens of civilians. Life of ordinary civilians in war-torn countries seems always so cheap and expendable!
A U.N. human rights commission has recently emphasized that the Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has committed the bulk of atrocities in the civil war. The head of the commission, Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, told the U.N.'s top human rights body that the Syrian government's killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups.
Pinheiro told the 47-nation UNHRC in Geneva, "The Syrian government remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily — both from a distance using shelling and aerial bombardment and up close, at its checkpoints and in its interrogation rooms." Pinheiro said, "Checkpoints are often the starting point of a horrific journey of disappearance, torture, sexual abuse and, for many, death. Checkpoints are used to enforce sieges and to trap civilians in areas under indiscriminate bombardment."
Pinheiro expressed the commission's deep frustration that the international community has not found a political solution to end Syria's civil war, which has killed over 190,000 people. "We have charted the descent of the conflict into the madness where it now resides. ... But we have been faced with inaction," he said.
Truly, our world leaders with their selfish interests – which have very little, if any, to do with well-being of the world citizenry – have let us all down. They have led us into a world that is increasingly becoming chaotic and seemingly radar-less. The emergence of ISIS owes it to their monumental hypocrisy in world affairs. They simply cannot have double-standards on matters that affect us all.
Consider, e.g., Israel’s bombing of Gaza in which more than 2,000 unarmed civilians were murdered in a barbaric, murderous campaign. Hundreds of elderly Palestinians and infants were killed whose decapitated, blown out and crushed bodies looked ghastlier than those YouTube videos of the 3 westerners. The UN compounds and schools were deliberately bombed. Children playing in the sea-beach of Gaza were not spared either.
And yet, what have the UN Brahmins done to punish the Israeli war criminals for their heinous crimes against humanity? Nothing! Audaciously, some of them actually resupplied weapons to Israel to prolong its murderous orgy against Palestinian civilians. The UNHRC’s condemnation of Israeli barbarity was simply ignored by these powerful nations of our time. They behaved as if those Palestinians have no right to live normal lives in dignity, free from the infringements to their rights caused by the Israeli occupation of their land.
During NATO’s post-9/11 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of civilians were deliberately killed by the occupation forces. Even the journalists covering the stories in the ground were not spared by Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld’s trigger-happy soldiers. To this date, many civilians are dying in American drone attacks in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan who have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. Was their life less valuable than the life of our American fallen victims?
So, when the same USA and her NATO partners condemn the brutality of the ISIS and its highly deplorable and condemnable treatment of others, people are not amused. They see hypocrisy. What they desire is justice for all crimes – small and big, and not just against some tiny Sudra while the mighty Brahmin criminals go Scott-free. They don’t want to hear that ‘mistakes’ were made by the nuclear Brahmins and their rogue friends or partners while punishable ‘crimes’ were committed by the have-nots. No oops, please.
Once we have fairness and order built into our system that we have created, disorder will go away.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Is Makkah for the rich while historical sites are demolished?

I was recently made aware of a very disturbing news about the holy sites of Islam in today's Saudi Arabia. During my pilgrimage, I had the first hand knowledge of the sad state of affairs of those places. Outside the two mosques in Makkah and Madinah, all the historical sites showed serious disregard or criminal neglect.  An important historical site, the Jabal al-Noor, was not accessible and was discouraged by the authorities to make a visitation. It seemed more like going through a junkyard for any visitor! No efforts were made to preserve such sites close to Makkah and Madinah and were left to the mercy of nature and people to see to their eventual disappearance.

In the USA I have seen how much care and attention are paid to preserving historical sites even though there is so little of history to celebrate about. On the other hand, when I saw the neglect in the Saudi Arabia with well-known historical sites dating from the time of the Prophet of Islam (S), I was simply shocked. One could see garbage being dumped and not cleared from the sites around some of those historical sites. You wonder: how could such be when the KSA is one of the richest countries in the world? The kingdom has all the wealth to squander on useless projects, including buying weapons that they never use, and yet necessary funding for preservation of the historical sites is missing. Why? Many see such neglects as willful and deliberate, as part of Wahabism, which the regime professes.

Many Muslims are very concerned that the historical relics and sites are systematically destroyed by the authorities in the KSA to obliterate their connections with history and today's 1.7 billion adherents of Islam. What is going on in the name of expansion of the Kaba's precincts is perceived by many as simply criminal. And probably there is no other way to explain this fact.

Here below are some excerpts from a written posting in the the Independent, UK:

Dr Irfan al-Alawi is the executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation and has fought in vain to protect his country's historical sites. He says, "We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it's not too late to turn things around."

He also bemoans: ""No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism."

Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region's Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. "This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God," he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. "Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers."

Dr Alawi hopes the international community will finally begin to wake up to what is happening in the cradle of Islam. "We would never allow someone to destroy the Pyramids, so why are we letting Islam's history disappear?"

Under Threat
Bayt al-Mawlid
When the Wahabis took Mecca in the 1920s they destroyed the dome on top of the house where the Prophet Mohammed was born. It was then used as a cattle market before being turned into a library after a campaign by Meccans. There are concerns that the expansion of the Grand Mosque will destroy it once more. The site has never been excavated by archaeologists.

Ottoman and Abasi columns of the Grand Mosque
Slated for demolition as part of the Grand Mosque expansion, these intricately carved columns date back to the 17th century and are the oldest surviving sections of Islam's holiest site. Much to the chagrin of Wahabis, they are inscribed with the names of the Prophet's companions. Ottomon Mecca is now rapidly disappearing

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi
For many years, hardline Wahabi clerics have had their sites set on the 15th century green dome that rests above the tomb holding the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar in Medina. The mosque is regarded as the second holiest site in Islam. Wahabis, however, believe marked graves are idolatrous. A pamphlet published in 2007 by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that "the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Masjid".

Jabal al-Nour
A mountain outside Mecca where Mohammed received his first Koranic revelations. The Prophet used to spend long spells in a cave called Hira. The cave is particularly popular among South Asian pilgrims who have carved steps up to its entrance and adorned the walls with graffiti. Religious hardliners are keen to dissuade pilgrims from congregating there and have mooted the idea of removing the steps and even destroying the mountain altogether.

You can read about this disturbing development by clicking here and here.