Showing posts from August, 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi Seeks Elusive Peace in Burma with Panglong Summit

Hannah Beech has written a good piece in the Time on Myanmar government's new effort to bring peace to the divided nation.
She writes, "Nearly seven decades after her father convened a conference on the future of one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations, Aung San Suu Kyi on Aug. 31 kickstarted a new national reconciliation summit in Burma.
Dubbed the 21st century Panglong—after the town where national hero Aung San held his 1947 confab in the months before Burma’s independence from the British—Suu Kyi’s five-day peace conference boasts a formidable to-do list: ending some of the world’s longest running civil conflicts; reining in a powerful army with little respect for rebel militias; promoting trust among ethnic civilians who have endured decades of repression at the hands of the Burmese army and some of their own insurgents; and encouraging development in frontier lands that, despite Burma’s most bountiful natural resources, remain some of the poorest in an alread…

Myanmar: Investigate death and alleged rape of Rohingya woman

The Amnesty International has issued an appeal below:

The Myanmar authorities must ensure a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation into the death and alleged rape of a Rohingya woman. The alleged refusal by the police to investigate the case, and to bring those responsible to justice is a violation of their human rights obligations and sends the message that crimes against Rohingya, including  unlawful deaths, rape and other crimes of sexual violence, will continue to go unpunished.  
On the morning of 18 August 2016, Raysuana, a Rohingya woman in her mid-twenties, was found unconscious in a ditch close to a military compound, named locally as Bandula Hall, in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State. According to local sources, Raysuana’s body was found by military personnel, however, instead of taking her directly to a hospital, they called leaders from nearby Thet Kay Pyin village and asked them to come and pick her up. The village leaders then took her to Thet Kay P…

Myanmar ethnic groups attend government peace talks

The news below is reported by the BBC: The government and military in Myanmar are holding landmark peace talks with armed ethnic groups as part of efforts to bring an end to decades of conflict. The meeting in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, involving 17 groups, is being opened by Aung San Suu Kyi and attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Negotiations on a permanent peace are expected to last months if not years.
But opening the five-day talks, Aung San Suu Kyi said unity was essential for Myanmar's future.
"So long as we are unable to achieve national reconciliation and national unity, we will never be able to establish a sustainable and durable peaceful union," she told attendees.
"Only if our country is at peace will we be able to stand on an equal footing with the other countries in our region and across the world."
Mr Ban has said the talks are "an important first step".
Why are the talks happening now? Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been p…

Death threat against Brahmin historian D N Jha for writing about beef

Beef—it's the oldest shibboleth in the Indian mind. The cow has been a political animal in modern India, but it has become more political under the present BJP governments at the Centre and in some states, which are obsessed with beef bans and cow slaughter. 

It is with textual evidence from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain canons that historian D.N. Jha took on the sacred cow.

Nearly 15 years a go, writing about Prof. Jha, Sheela Reddy said, "For over a month, the mild, balding professor of history, Dwijendra Narayan Jha, has been shuffling to his classroom in Delhi University escorted by a police constable. Teaching ancient history does not usually endanger one's health, but ever since Jha went public with the best-kept secret in Indian history—the beef-eating habits of ancient Hindus, Buddhists and even early Jains in a book titled Holy Cow—Beef in Indian Dietary Conditions—his phone hasn't stopped ringing. "The calls are usually abusive," says Jha, "but …

USA Today Editorial: Burkini fasion police take liberties in France

The USA Today's Editorial View is shared below:
The specter of French police patrolling beaches — and ordering women to remove their demure swimwear or leave — raised a lot of eyebrows last week. It also raised a provocative question: How is France, with its national commitment to secularism, any different from Saudi Arabia, with its national religion of Islam?
In Saudi Arabia, as in France, officials have been known to patrol public spaces sanctioning women for their attire — in their case because it is too revealing, not too modest. And in Saudi Arabia, as in France, officials justify their actions based on an overarching national cause.
France’s secularism is not a state religion. But when it reaches the point of police officers telling women what to wear and not wear, it becomes a form of suppression of individual liberties by an overweening state.
Friday's ruling by a top French court — striking down one town’s ban on burkinis, the full-length swimsuits designed for Musl…

Why We Should All Remain Seated: the Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

To read Sam Husseini's piece, click here.

France’s top administrative court overturns burkini ban

After a month of intense national scandal and heightened international outrage, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, on Friday overturned the burkini ban in a coastal area of the south of France.Imposed in the name of secularism, perhaps France’s most sacred ideal, the highly controversial burkini bans — currently affecting 25 French towns and cities besides Villeneuve-Loubet, which the court primarily addressed — prohibit Muslim women from wearing full-bodied bathing suits designed to respect traditional codes of modesty on the beach.
But in its Friday ruling, the administrative court concluded that the idea of a burkini ban insulted “fundamental freedoms” such as the “freedom to come and go, the freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”
In recent weeks, a network of local mayors and officials across France passed similar bans on the Australian-born bathing suit, casting the burkini as the latest iteration of the burqa, the full-face veil that, in 2010, Fran…

Fresh clashes in Indian Occupied Kashmir

A young man was killed and dozens of other civilians were wounded Friday when Indian government forces fired bullets and shotguns to quell new protests against Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
A police officer said thousands of Kashmiris defied harsh security restrictions and joined the protests after Friday Muslim prayers. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy. Clashes erupted in over a dozen places, including in the main city of Srinagar, between rock-throwing protesters and troops, who fired live ammunition, shotguns and tear gas. Police said the man died in southern Pulwama town. At least 50 civilians were injured in the clashes. Earlier, government forces blocked worshippers from offering prayers at large mosques for the seventh consecutive week. However, prayers were allowed at small neighborhood mosques. A strict curfew, a series of communication blackouts and a tightening crackdown have failed to stop some of Kashmir's larg…

Israeli Army Says Palestinian Shot Dead Was Not a Terrorist

The Israel Defense Forces say the Palestinian man shot dead Friday morning in the West Bank after allegedly charging an army outpost was not a terrorist. Official Palestinian medical sources identified the man as Iyad Zakariya Hamed, a resident of Silwad who locals said was married and a father of three children with special needs. For the full text of the news, click here.

FBI's "Don't Be a Puppet" game targets Muslim youth, teachers' union says

The main screen of the FBI’s Don’t Be a Puppet online game on extremism, which was launched in February. Photograph: FBI
A controversial FBI program targeting Muslim teenagers has drawn criticism from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), claiming it leads to bullying and profiling.
The union, which represents 1.6 million teachers in the US, sent an open letter to FBI director James Comey earlier this month to call for an end to the agency’s Don’t Be a Puppet program which aims to prevent youth from being radicalized.
“What we saw with the Don’t be a Puppet program, was that it created this broad based suspicion of people based upon their heritage or ethnicity,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said.
Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism is an online game the FBI launched in February. It is set in a dingy basement where students compete a series of tasks to liberate a puppet on strings.
“Increasing ideological policing and surveillance efforts like the Don…

The Annan Commission needs to be successful

On Friday, 19 August 2016, the first World Rohingya Day demonstrations took place around the world. Rallies and demonstrations took place in London, UK; Washington DC, Toronto, Canada, New York, Chicago; Stockholm, Sweden; Boston; Los Angeles; and many other places. The speakers demanded end to the ongoing genocide of Rohingya people who are indigenous people of Myanmar (formerly Burma) living in their ancestral lands.
The Rohingyas of Myanmar are a stateless people who are the most persecuted people in our time. They have been facing genocidal campaigns, especially since 2012, which saw a series of ethnic cleansing drives by the Rakhine Buddhists of Arakan – planned and aided by the local and central government and organized and mobilized by racist politicians and bigoted monks. It was a national project put into practice for the elimination of the Rohingya, who differ in ethnicity and religion from the majority Buddhists in this country of 55 million people. As a result, probably tho…

India opens all the gates of the Farraka Dam to worsen flood situation inside Bangladesh

The water level may cross danger level in the next 24 to 28 hours, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) officials have said.
India opened Farakka's 106 gates to save Bihar from flooding.
At Rajshahi point, Padma has risen by 12 to 13 centimetres each day during the past week, BWDB Administrator Mir Mosharrof Hossain told
Padma, the main distributary of the Ganges, enters Bangladesh from India near Chapainawabganj and meets the Jamuna River in Goalonda, Rajbarhi.
The city of Rajshahi, a major metropolitan in the country's north, sits on the banks of the mighty river.
Flowing 120 kilometres ahead, the consolidated stream then meets the Meghna River at Chandpur before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
The Farakka Barrage, which stands across the Ganges River in the Indian state of West Bengal, roughly 16.5 kilometres from the border with Bangladesh near Chapainawabganj, has been the cause of a long-standing dispute between Bangladesh and India.
Bangladeshi expert…

Can Kofi Annan Bring Peace to a Troubled Region?

The former Secretary General is taking on a new challenge: bringing peace and reconciliation to a desolate, troubled corner of South East Asia.
Rakhine State in Myanmar is a conflict prone region in the western part of the country that has seen widespread abuses against the country’s Rohingya muslim community.  Things became precipitously worse  in 2012, when clashes between various groups killed hundreds and displaced some 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya. Since then, thousands of Rohingya have sought to flee Myanmar, many on rickety boats across the Andaman Sea to Thailand and Malaysia. Many thousands more live in squalid camps in southern Bangladesh.
The Rohingya are essentially a stateless people. They have been long discriminated against by the majority populations in Myanmar, often with official government backing. An official census taken last year included 150 ethnic groups, and purposefully excluded Rohingya. They are most certainly not welcome over the border in Muslim majori…

Guantánamo’s Quagmire by Cesar Chelala

Chelala writes:
The US Government’s recent decision to send 15 Guantánamo Bay detainees to the United Arab Emirates is the largest and most recent detainee transfer under President Obama. The transfer, however, doesn’t hide the fact that Guantánamo (“Gitmo”) remains a stain in the foreign policy reputation of the United States.
Gitmo was opened in January 2002, under the administration of former President George W. Bush, for the purpose of locking up foreign terror suspects after the 9/11/2001 attacks and subsequent U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Some 779 men have been brought there since Gitmo opened. Nine prisoners have died at the facility. While most of them were released by President George W. Bush, 161 were released during President Obama’s administration. Only 61 prisoners remain in Guantánamo, of which only seven are facing criminal charges.
Both Republicans and some Democrats claim that Guantánamo prisoners are too dangerous to keep in U.S. soil, totally rejecting the ide…

The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State

French are one of the most hypocritical nations on earth. The government of France is at war against burkini. Ben Debney writes, "Hilariously enough sales of Burkinis have gone through the roof. Interestingly the designer is Australian; we have something of a love affair with full-length swimwear, eg. champion runner Cathy Freeman, champion swimmer Michael Phelps. They help keep the masses pacified with the provision of spectacles for the old bread and circuses routine though, so not terrorists."
To read the story, click here.

Barrel bombs kill children in Syria

Eleven children were killed on Thursday in a barrel bomb attack carried out by government forces on a rebel-held neighbourhood of Syria's Aleppo city, a monitor said.
"Fifteen civilians, among them 11 children, were killed in a barrel bomb attack on the Bab al-Nayrab neighbourhood" in the south of Aleppo city, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. To read the latest news, click here.

Neocons helped create Trump

Jim Lobe writes, "Prominent neoconservatives, led by Bill Kristol, have played leading roles in trying to block Trump’s nomination or repeal it somehow. They’ve lined up fellow-neocons to sign letters opposing his election and/or declining to serve under him should he actually make it to the White House. Some, albeit a relatively small minority so far, have gone so far as to publicly endorse Hillary for president, if only as the lesser evil. Among the most outspoken in the latter group are Bob Kagan, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, and Eliot Cohen. Indeed, it’s very difficult to find a neocon at the moment who publicly supports the Republican candidate.
As I wrote previously, the reasons are many: fear of “America First” isolationism and all it implies for U.S. foreign policy and alliances; the bromance with Putin; the crudest kinds of nativism, racism, and misogyny expressed at his rallies (and the fear that anti-Semitism can’t be far behind); authoritarian tendencies (to say the least)…

Persecuted Christians in India - the case of Kandhamal

Kandhamal: Long Wait for Justice Ram Puniyani Today, nearly a decade later when we are remember with pain the horrific violence of Kandhmal in 2008, many issues related to the state of affairs of communal violence, state of minorities, the state of justice delivery system come to one’s mind. The incident Just to recall, Orissa witnessed unprecedented violence against the Christian minority in August 2008. On August 23, 2008, Swami Laxmananand along with his four followers was killed, probably by a group of Maoists. Immediately, anti-Christian violence began on a big scale. The way it began it seemed as if preparations for it were well afoot. It was systematic and widespread. It sounded as if preparation was already there just the pretext was being awaited. (1) Christians in India Christians are a tiny minority in India. Contrary to the perception that British brought Christianity to India, it is one of the oldest religions of India. Its spread has been slow. Not much was heard against this …