Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Burmese army's campaign of genocide against the Rohingya was premeditated

The Burmese army's campaign of genocide against the Rohingya was premeditated and planned.
In its damning report, Fortify Rights details how the Myanmar authorities made “extensive and systematic preparations” for attacks against Rohingya civilians during the weeks and months before militants attacked police on August 25, 2017. The report finds “reasonable grounds” that crimes against Rohingya constitute genocide and crimes against humanity. Today, please tell your U.S. senators to pass targeted and tough sanctions on Burma's army.

Today, email your U.S. senators to sanction Burma's army now
Thanks to your phone calls and emails, 25 senators have co-sponsored the the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018 (S.2060). Last month, senators Gary Peters (D, Michigan), Maria Cantwell (D, Washington), and Christopher Murphy (D, Connecticut) signed up as co-sponsors.
One man, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is standing in the way of this bill. as Senate Majority Leader, he is blocking a vote on the Senate floor on the Burma sanctions bill.
But we do have influence. As Majority Leader, Senator McConnell listens closely to his Republican caucus. If your senators are Republican, please demand that they support and co-sponsor the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018 (S.2060).

Today, email your U.S. senators to sanction Burma's army now

After you have emailed your senators, please follow up by phone. Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your senators' office. Or simply search the web for the phone number of their office in Washington, DC.
  • Check to see if your senators have sponsored the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018 (S.2060). (If you live in Maryland, Massachusetts, or Oregon, both of your senators are already sponsors.) If they are a co-sponsor, call to thank them.
  • When you reach your legislator's office, ask to be connected to the staffer responsible for foreign policy. (Before being connected, ask for the spelling of the staffer's name and their email address.)
  • Simply tell the staffer - in person or on their voicemail - to support and co-sponsor S. 2060: the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018.
  • Leave your name, number, and city of residence to indicate that you live in the district.
  • Follow up with an email to the staffer. The staffer's email will follow this format: "[first name]_[last name]@[senator's last name].senate.gov".
  • Email me at simon.billenness@rohingyacampaign.org and tell me how your call went and send me the name and email of the staffers.
  • And, finally, if this is the level of activism that you'd like to continue, contact me. I'm looking for a few good folks in every state willing to work together to form a local chapter of the International Campaign for the Rohingya. If that's you, let's talk!
Let’s make this a habit of calling Congress every week until they do the job of putting effective pressure on Burma.
Thank you,
Simon Billenness, Executive Director

4 years of Modi rule of India

Attached find four booklets published by the CPI(M) on the four years of BJP rule. Please feel free to share this on FOIL.

These booklets, in my view, constitute useful resources to expose the BJP and Sangh Parivar.

The resources are available at www.cpim.org:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Notes on a lynching of Minority Muslims in India

Written by Sachin Pilot
The recent incident of mob lynching in Alwar has re-opened the festering wounds of Rajasthan’s failed administration. The killing of Rakbar Khan, the sole breadwinner of his family by cow vigilantes points to a series of ills that afflict the Vasundhara Raje regime. Actually, it is the lack of any form of governance which leads to such incidents. The saffron brigade, encouraged by the BJP and propelled by the RSS, has shown yet again the inhuman face of political hatred.
The number of incidents of mob lynching has been exceptional ever since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. I don’t think it should matter what offence was allegedly being committed by those who were lynched. Taking the law in one’s own hands is completely against the law but today the saffron brigade sees itself as above the law. They know they can get away with anything, it is as if they have the protection of the political system. Mob lynching has to be viewed as a premeditated act. It’s not a spontaneous act of public rage. It derives nourishment from the favour offered by the administration. When Union minister Jayant Sinha garlanded those convicted of lynching upon their release, it spoke of the general ideology the BJP wishes to support and propagate. This is the first government which welcomes mob lynchers with garlands, paving the way for future lynchings.
The Supreme Court has been strongly critical of this phenomenon. The words which came from the highest court of justice were stern and expressed grave concern. On July 17, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra termed incidents of mob-lynching in India as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” and directed Parliament to draft new legislation to effectively deal with the incidents across the country. The apex court directed the police to register an FIR under Section 153A of the IPC against those who indulge in such activities. While the Court asked the police to do everything in their power to ensure that social order was maintained, in the Alwar lynching case, the cops first took the cows to safety and only subsequently took the victim to hospital. It makes one wonder if the police and government are deliberately acting in defiance of the apex court’s order. I, for one, refuse to believe the theory that the poor and uneducated indulge in such acts. It is becoming increasingly clear that such criminal acts are executed thanks to political collusion, at least of the ideological kind.
As someone who has travelled extensively across the state in the last nearly 20 years, I can vouch for the bonhomie that exists between communities in Rajasthan. When the people are faced with any natural disaster, they lend each other a helping hand without thinking about the caste/religion divide. Various religious identities have been coexisting here for hundreds of years. But today, the party in power allows bloodshed just to prove a political point.
What they fail to realise is that the public has had enough. A state which is battling especially difficult weather conditions and lack of water already has a lot to deal with. Moreover, thanks to the false promises of the Raje government, there is widespread joblessness and poverty. The chief minister has ensured the shutting down of schools and even made strides in the privatisation of education.
The chief minister’s answer to incidents of lynching and mob violence can be summed up in one word: Tweets. She tweets about the “strictest possible action” which will some day be taken against the offenders. Unfortunately, that day of reckoning has not come even once in the last five years. Justice seems to be a distant dream. Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal says, “The more Modiji becomes popular, the more such incidents will occur”. I have noticed that such comments, and even the CM’s superficially reassuring tweets, only add fuel to fire. Voters can seem naive and innocent but I want to assure Modiji that they are not foolish. They understand the falsehoods being churned out on a daily basis by the BJP.
We, as a country, have been reduced to a vulnerable lot since 2014 by the deliberate acts of communal hatred all around us. I believe that BJP president Amit Shah’s declaration of Vasundhara Raje’s name as the chief ministerial candidate for the next assembly election in Rajasthan would be the party’s biggest undoing. Raje has failed in striking a chord of affection and sympathy with the people. She has lost support from all sections of the society due to her perpetual absence in the time of the public’s need. Her policies have been few, weak and poorly implemented. The lacunae in governance have been noticed by people who live in the farthest corners of the state.
I am still hopeful that under a new sun, Rajasthan will be geared for a higher development and a much higher happiness index. I am hopeful that the new sun will shine brighter with Raje Raj’s imminent sunset.

The writer, a former Union minister, is president of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee

UN rights chief sharply criticizes Israel over Gaza killings

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief sharply criticized Israel on Monday, calling recent killings by its soldiers during Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza border fence "shocking" and saying living conditions inflicted by Israel's 11-year blockade of the territory are "grossly inadequate."
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a video address to the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that the situation in Gaza has escalated dramatically in recent months with "the potential to generate threats to peace across a far broader region."
Zeid, who heads the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said it is essential for all parties to cooperate with the independent, international commission of inquiry into the recent deadly events in Gaza that his office is helping to establish. It was authorized by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on May 18 "to advance accountability" for the killings and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, he said.
Zeid said there are "serious concerns" that Israeli accountability mechanisms don't comply with international standards of "independence, impartiality, and effectiveness."
"Very few investigations ever occur," he said. "In the rare cases where an investigation has led to an indictment, the sentence has been extremely lenient in light of the gravity of the crime committed."
Zeid said it is vital to address the root causes of the Gaza demonstrations, which have resulted in the deaths of over 100 Palestinians, including 17 children, and the wounding of more than 4,100 others with live ammunition since March 30.
In addition to "grossly inadequate living conditions" caused by Israel's blockade for the residents of Gaza, most of whom are refugees, restrictive measures have also been imposed by Egypt that have "exacerbated these conditions," Zeid said.
He added that the situation in Gaza may be "severely aggravated" in the coming months by the financial crisis facing the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, as a result of dramatic cuts to its budget by the Trump administration.
Zeid criticized last week's approval by Israel's parliament of a bill defining that country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He said that it "anchors inherent discrimination against non-Jewish communities," most notably the Arab citizens of Israel and residents of occupied East Jerusalem. He warned that it "could also further inflame tensions."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the bill's passage a "historic moment in the history of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel," saying: "Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, which honors the individual rights of all its citizens."
Zeid also criticized Israel's approval, planning and construction of settlements across with West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.
He called Israel's detention of hundreds of Palestinian children, some without charge, under a system of "administrative detention," a "fundamental human rights violation."
"It should be absolutely clear that international law requires detention only be used for children as a last resort," he said.
And whether for children or adults, Zeid said, detention without trial "contravenes Israel's obligations under international law."
"An estimated 440 Palestinians are being held in 'administrative detention,' according to the latest figures," he said. "Israel should immediately charge, or release, all of them."

U.N. court orders UAE to lift measures against Qataris

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates was ordered by the highest U.N. court on Monday to immediately allow Qatari families affected by a dispute between the countries to reunite, imposing the measure before it hears the full case filed by Qatar at a later date.
The UAE had argued before judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on June 28 [L8N1TU3GS] that the case was without merit and should be dismissed, but on Monday the judges granted Qatar’s request for so-called provisional measures by a majority vote of 8 to 7.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar in June 2017, severing diplomatic and transport ties and accusing it of supporting terrorism, which it denies.
According to Qatar, which filed the suit in June, the UAE has as part of the boycott expelled thousands of Qataris, blocked transport and closed down the offices of the Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel.
“Many Qataris residing in the UAE appeared to have been forced to leave their place of residence without the possibility of return,” the judges’ ruling said.
“There is an imminent risk that the measures adopted by the UAE could lead to irreparable prejudice to the rights invoked by Qatar.”


Qatar’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater, welcomed the ruling.
“This is only the first step on a long road to defend our rights, but at the same time this sends an early strong signal that there will be no tolerance shown to countries that take arbitrary measures against Qataris,” she said in Arabic language comments published by state news agency QNA.
The United Arab Emirates said it was already implementing the provisional procedures ordered by the court.
“The judges rejected the Qatari demands and called for three procedures relating to families, students and adjudication and they are measures the UAE has already implemented according to its national regulations,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a Twitter post in Arabic.
The court found that mixed UAE-Qatari families have been separated, Qatari students have been deprived of the opportunity to complete their education, and Qataris have been denied equal access to justice.
“The court concludes that the conditions required by its statute for it to indicate provisional measures are met,” it said.
The ICJ is the United Nations venue for legal disputes between states. Its verdicts are binding, but it has no enforcement powers.
Final verdicts generally take years and no date was set for the case to be heard in full.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Bart Meijer; Additional reporting by Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai; Editing by Andrew Bolton

Iran’s Destabilization Is Not in U.S. Interest

By Shahed Ghoreishi
“I will never apologize for the United States—I don’t care what the facts are.”
No, this is not President Trump. It’s August 2, 1988, and then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was giving his official take on events that that had happened the previous month.
On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes, on patrol in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, shot down Iran Air Flight 665 in Iranian territorial waters, killing all 290 passengers on board including 66 children. The United States did agree to a $131.8 million settlement, but the lack of apology as well as President Ronald Reagan’s egregious decision to award the commander of the ship the Legion of Merit for his actions continue to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. The Reagan administration deemed its explanation sufficient that experienced U.S. Navy personnel mistook a large and slow Airbus A300 for a small and fast F-14 Tomcat fighter jet.
Unfortunately, indifference to the facts continues to be a trend, and not an exception, in U.S. foreign policy towards Iran and the greater Middle East. Clear-cut examples include the false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which led to a disastrous war.
Last week a subtler but just as ill-conceived strategy was revealed to encourage instability and protests within Iran to weaken the government—via a joint Israeli and American working group. According to an Israeli official involved in the process, “Nobody is seriously thinking about regime change, but this team is trying to see if we can use the internal weaknesses of the Iranian regime in order to create more pressure that will contribute to changing Iranian behavior.”
Given the current state of complete disarray in the region, this underreported Iran-destabilization strategy should be of grave concern. The multitude of destabilized states has been calamitous for the region.
The death toll from the Iraq War, for instance, has included hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers. The same invasion eventually led to the civil war in Syria and the creation of the Islamic State. The millions of refugees that have resulted have placed pressure on the resources and governments of nearby Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. They have also affected the politics of multiple European countries and even the United States, as right-wing parties have used refugees as a rallying cry for discrimination and closed borders. In Yemen, the U.S.-backed and Saudi Arabia-led intervention has caused a large-scale humanitarian disaster, including outbreaks of cholera and famine.
But all of these would look like a cakewalk next to a destabilized Iran. With an ethnically diverse population of 82 million—equivalent to the populations of Yemen, Iraq, and Syria combined—Iran destabilized would have reverberations around the globe. Iran’s powerful security architecture already has a powerful foothold from Beirut to Tehran. None of the destabilized states had anything close prior to their collapse. Oil prices could skyrocket if Iran uses its strategic options in the Strait of Hormuz.
It is not in the U.S. interest to see Iran destabilized, period. Nevertheless, the Trump administration has decided to remove itself from the Iran nuclear deal despite the International Atomic Energy Agency’s multiple confirmations that Iran has complied with the deal. The administration has also re-implemented sanctions to cause economic anxiety, sold weapons to Iran’s regional rivals, and had key officials and advisors attend a conference led by an Iranian opposition cult that once killed Americans and is looking to take over Iran. Interestingly, bots of unknown origin supporting this approach have surged in social media in recent months.
As Iran experiences genuine protests, Iran’s activists and protestors shouldn’t be lumped together with external actors who want to destabilize the country. In fact, the new U.S.-Israel working group provides the Iranian government with an easy way to delegitimize honest protestors that have been an important part of Iran’s history since 1906. Meanwhile, the economic sanctions will move Iran backwards, causing greater authoritarianism and degrading the human rights of tens of millions of Iranians. Trying to destabilize and manipulate Iran’s organic political development is virtually all risk and no reward. Just ask Mohammad Mossadegh.
An isolated, destabilized Iran will hurt U.S. allies in the region and cause blowback, per usual. Washington has engaged in enough self-inflicted crises. Economic and diplomatic engagement with Iran, on the other hand, can help restore some stability to a chronically unstable region.
Shahed Ghoreishi is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His work can be found in The Atlantic, The World Post, and Lobe Log. You can follow him on Twitter @shahedghoreishi.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Countering hate crimes in India

by Ram Puniyani
We are passing through times when Hate against weaker sections of society and religious minorities is increasing by leaps and bounds. The increase in the mob lynching all over the country on the pretext of child lifting is coming on the back of mob lynching on the pretext cow-beef, public flogging-humiliation of dalits on the issue of beef and other issues related their caste humiliation. Mobs seem to be emboldened by the fact that there has been an approval of these acts from the top. Ministers like Mahesh Sharma came to the funeral of Dadri accused, now Mr. Jayant Sinha welcomed the accused of Alimuddin lynching accused when they got bail. The matters are frighteningly increasing as now the horrid incidents of rape are being given a communal twist, fake news is being employed with impunity on one side and rape accused are getting social support on the other. It’s a matter of shame that in case of Kathua the then Ministers from BJP Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, attended the event organized by Hindu Ekta Manch, which was protesting against the arrests in the case.
Now in case of Mandsaur rape, the incident is being given false twist to demonize a community. The accused belonged to Muslim community. Muslim groups took out a procession demanding severe punishment to the accused. Jyotiradiya Scindiya of Congress joined a candle light procession to demand death penalty to the accused. Social media was used to spread the hateful message as if he was demanding the release of the accused. The pictures of procession were photo shopped to present Muslims in bad light. A message was circulated, which said that members of the Muslim community rallied in Mandsaur demanding that the perpetrator of the crime be released because the Quran sanctions rape of non-Muslim women.
The text of the placards in the Mandsaur procession was “We won’t tolerate attacks on daughters, stop this brutality”. A tweet was circulated NCRB report: India is most dangerous for women reason: In India, 95% of the rape cases have a Muslim perpetrator. Of the total 84734 rape cases, 81000 rapes had a Muslim rapist and 96% of the victims are non-Muslims and with an increase in their population, number of rapes will also increase.”
Nothing can be farther from truth. NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) does not record the religion in cases of rape. This tweet and the one about Jyotiraditya Scindia was exposed by AltNews, the portal going to the roots of such fake news and is doing a great service to society by giving the truth and exposing the news which is deliberately trying to demonize the religious minority. One recalls that in case of Muzzafarnagar; the violence was incited by circulating a photo of two young men being beaten by a Muslim looking crowd. It was presented that Hindu youth are being beaten. As such that picture was from Pakistan, the crowd beating two thieves.
Recently in Kairana the Mahagathbandhan candidate Tabassum Hasan won the election against the BJP candidate. After winning she stated “This is the victory of truth and ‘Mahagatbandhan’ (coalition) and defeat of the BJP in the state and Centre. Everyone has come out and supported us. I thank them.” On social media and on TV debates what was presented was that she said “This is the victory of Allah and defeat of Ram”. This quote was posted on a number of pro-BJP pages on Facebook among which Yogi Adityanath-True Indian posted it on 1 June, and was shared massively.
One recalls that in recent times BJP has deliberately muddied the waters of social media by employing thousands of trolls, as Swati Chaturvedi’s “I am a Troll”, tells us. As such the hate propaganda began with demonization of Muslim kings for breaking Hindu temples in medieval period, for spreading Islam, for having large families, indulging in polygamy, being terrorists etc. Now it has taken a dangerous turn with people trained in communal ideology and in the use of social media twisting the facts blatantly. There are reports that in the forthcoming elections BJP is planning to train lakhs of volunteers in the use of social media for electoral gains. The rising hatred is becoming like a monster, propelling itself beyond control.
Can we just accuse the social media for intensifying this hate? Some control and restraint is needed, some fact check is necessary for this highly impactful media. What is also needed is that mechanisms like AltNews are made more popular to counter these falsehoods. It is heartening to note that Twitter has decided to suspend seven Crore fake accounts. We also need to ensure that the misconceptions and Hate which is ruling our society, streets need to be countered by message of love. What we need is that truth is propagated and message of peace is made more effective. We have activists like Faisal Khan, who through his Khudai Khidmatagar takes out peace marches. Harsh Mander’s Paigam-E-Mohabbat (Message of peace) has been doing yeomen service by meeting the families of victims of lynching and creating an atmosphere of amity. Mahant from Ayodhya Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, through his less advertised peace marches is trying to reach sections of society with a message of tolerance and peace. Such efforts need to be upheld and broadened. These are just few examples of the initiatives in this direction, there are many more which need to be projected to promote and preserve amity in India.
Countering Hate and promoting amity became the central message of father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who struggled to promote peace, in the highest traditions of his Hinduism. As the fake news is assuming frightening proportions and is doing serious harm to the concept of fraternity inherent in Indian nationalism, we need to retune ourselves to the core value of amity, which was the foundation of freedom movement and is very much the part of our Constitution

Street attacks on Muslims rocket in UK

Street attacks on Muslims rocket in UK as perpetrators 'emboldened' by terror attacks and political rhetoric, report finds.

‘Anti-Muslim rhetoric is bleeding into the political landscape – it emboldens people’, writes, Lizzie Dearden.


Islamophobic street attacks are on the rise in the UK as perpetrators feel “emboldened” by terror attacks and political discourse, a report has found.

Tell Mama, which measures anti-Muslim incidents in Britain, recorded a 30 per cent rise in street incidents and a 16 per cent rise in 2017, taking the number of verified reports to a record of 1,201.

The group warned of a “marked shift” towards more serious offline incidents like physical attacks, vandalism and abuse, as hatred continues to spread on social media.

Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, said Islamophobic hate crimes had been continually increasing over the past six years and fears the trend will continue.

“It is partly driven by terrorism, partly by groups who just want to divide communities, we have social media and we have politicians who seek to blame migrants,” he told The Independent.

“Anti-Muslim rhetoric is bleeding into the political landscape – it emboldens people.”

Mr Mughal described protests in support of jailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson as “frightening”, following outbreaks of violence and the blockade of a bus driven by a Muslim woman.

“The protests are growing and these people are trying to mainstream hate against the Muslim community,” he added, accusing Ukip of moving to the far right under leader Gerard Batten. “We need to have a zero tolerance approach in politics.”

Tell Mama recorded a 475 per cent rise in anti-Muslim street attacks in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, but that was dwarfed by a 700 per cent increase in the week following the Manchester Arena attack and spikes were also seen after each Isis-inspired atrocity last year.

Researchers said: “Events which stimulate public discourse on immigration and Islam can correspond with a demonstrable ‘spike’ in anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents.

“It is vital to note that these events are not the underlying cause of anti-Muslim incidents, but rather act as triggers, where people with latent racial prejudices feel emboldened to act on their views, violently or otherwise.”

In the wake of the Isis-inspired Westminster attack last March, a woman wearing a headscarf on a bus was told by a fellow passenger that “people like you” were responsible and spat on her.

In another case, after the Manchester Arena bombing, a trauma surgeon was racially abused and called a “terrorist” while on his way to work to treat victims at Salford Royal Hospital.

A Muslim man travelling on a bus to donate blood following the attack was also called a terrorist by a passenger who said he would “happily kill” him.

Other victims were accused of direct responsibility in the Manchester attack, and abused while laying flowers in memory of the victims.

A day after the London Bridge attack last June, a man left a fake bomb outside of Paisley Central Mosque with a handwritten message which read: “Youse are next, defo.”

Little over a fortnight after the atrocity, Darren Osborne ploughed a van into Muslim worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, killing one man and injuring several others.

He left a note filled with racial slurs in the vehicle citing terror attacks and grooming gangs as inspiration, after becoming radicalised by far-right posts online.

Tell Mama said the attack made it “clear that acts of racial or religious hatred can contribute towards acts of terrorism”, amid calls online for Muslims to be “gassed” and for people to petrol bomb mosques.

Almost three-quarters of verified incidents were street-level and the most widely reported type was abusive behaviour, followed by physical attacks, vandalism and discrimination.

Public spaces like parks and shopping areas were the most common locations for street attacks, followed by public transport, people’s homes and private property.

London saw the highest number of reported incidents in 2017, followed by northwest England, Yorkshire and Humber and the West Midlands.

Victims were predominantly women of Asian ethnicity, while 72 per cent of perpetrators where their identity was known were white men and boys.

Children under 12 were among those attacked and in Rotherham a 14-year-old Muslim boy was beaten and stamped on by a gang of at least 15 white boys who called him “Paki” in an unprovoked attack at a bus stop.

The boy’s mother said he still has a lump on his head more than a year after the attack in May, and that the perpetrators went free because the police “acted very slowly” and failed to submit the case to prosecutors on time.

Last week a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that despite “concerted efforts” some police forces were still responding poorly to hate crime by failing to properly identify incidents, or inform and support victims.

Inspector Wendy Williams said: “Hate crime is personal and pervasive; and the police frequently only have just one chance to identify it. If the victim is given the right support further offending can be prevented, and a force and national picture of hate crime can be built, allowing wider preventative activity.”

Mr Mughal said better outcomes for victims were needed to make them feel them safe to come forward to police, with hate crime believed to be vastly underreported.

“I think we need far better outcomes, we need more prosecutions, we need better access to alternative methods of conflict resolution like restorative justice programmes, so people can see that they’ve been heard,” he added.

Tell Mama also called for improved public education, stronger sentencing and a “zero tolerance” approach to hatred in schools and public authorities.

It said that although the response by social media companies was improving, they remain “behind the curve” with tactics being used both by real people and “bots” to sow division and intolerance.

Cows are safer in Modi's India

Both the BJP and Shiv Sena are part of the fascist nexus under Sangh Parivar that promotes Hindutva fascism. As a result, minorities are marginalized and routinely lynched for not being a Hindu. It is amusing to read the report below on how they are competing for the soul of Hindutva now. Forgotten in Thackery's charges against BJP is the Muslim factor who are at the bottom of the rung in fascist-run India today, as never before in its nearly 71 year history. Their position is below women.
Ratcheting up tensions with its ally BJP, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said in the name of protecting the cow, India had become the most unsafe country for women. He also launched a stinging attack on the government over incidents of mob lynching across the country.
“We (Shiv Sena) never said cows should be slaughtered. But while protecting cows, India has become the most unsafe country for women. One should be ashamed of it. You want to save ‘gau-mata’ (cow) but what about ‘mata’ (mother),” Thackeray said in a no-holds-barred interview to Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’
Thackeray said for over 25 years, the Shiv Sena and BJP were allies because of the shared ideology of Hindutva, the status of Hindus, national interest and the country’s security among others. “I do not accept the idea of Hindutva that is being adhered to in the country. In the name of saving the cow, if you are shifting focus to whether someone is eating beef or not, then it is a sham,” the Sena chief said.
Targetting the BJP for positioning itself as the sole protector of nationalism, Thackeray said the saffron party had no right to decide who was a nationalist and anti-national. “Anyone criticising the government does not become anti-national. Members of Parliament are representatives of people and have the right to raise questions,” he said.
One of the government’s most vocal critics who have not shied away from mincing words, Shiv Sena’s alliance with BJP has been on thin ice and the party twisted theknife after they abstained from the no-confidence vote instead of siding with its ally in Maharashtra and at the Centre. Justifying the party’s stance, Thackeray made it clear that “nobody can shoot the gun from our shoulders” and the “Sena will not fire from someone else’s shoulders either”.
Punning upon BJP’s name, Thackeray said the Sena was a friend of the Bharatiya Janata and not of any party. “We are a part of the government but if something is wrong, we will definitely talk about it. We are friends of the Bharatiya Janata, not of any party,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray said his party opposed only those decisions that appeared not to be protecting the interests of the poor. “I criticise the government if it is taking any wrong steps. I cannot take the appeasement route to woo them (BJP). The previous (UPA) regime was defeated by people and there were big expectations from this NDA government. But this government is also functioning like the previous one,” he said.

Ethiopia prime minister calls for multiparty democracy

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia must pursue multiparty democracy, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Sunday in what could be the latest in a series of momentous changes sweeping the country.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses the members of parliament inside the House of Peoples' Representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
The country allows competing parties but all parliamentary seats are held by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has maintained control in the country of 100 million people since it fought its way to power in 1991.
The ruling coalition has also presided over an economy that has grown faster per annum than any other in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade.
But since Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April the government has instituted reforms including releasing political prisoners, diluting state control of the economy and making peace with northern neighbour Eritrea.
Abiy was meeting national and regional parties on Sunday and his chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said in a tweet:
“PM Abiy concluded: Given our current politics, there is no option except pursuing a multiparty democracy supported by strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law.”
He said the parties appreciated Abiy’s political reforms and also wanted changes to electoral laws. The government this month lifted a ban on opposition groups that were considered terrorist groups. Elections are due in 2020. [L8N1UG1ZZ]

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ethiopia & Eritrea Sign Deal - what next?

As Ethiopia & Eritrea Sign Deal to End 20 Years of War, Will Political Prisoners Be Released Next?
A historic peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea ends 20 years of a “state of war” that saw 70,000 killed and thousands of families separated. We get response from Ethiopian writer Awol Allo, a lecturer at the Keele University School of Law in the U.K., and Vanessa Berhe, an Eritrean human rights activist. She founded the group One Day Seyoum, which campaigns for the release of her uncle, Eritrean photojournalist Seyoum Tsehaye, who was imprisoned in 2001 amid a crackdown on free expression.
To read more on this issue, click here.

PBS Report from Yemen

PBS Report from Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing Civilians.
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen is incredibly difficult to cover on the ground, with many obstacles for journalists hoping to access the capital Sana’a and other areas affected by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombings. We speak with a reporter who smuggled herself into northern Yemen to report on the widespread famine and devastation there in an exclusive three-part series for ”PBS NewsHour.” Special correspondent Jane Ferguson is a Beirut-based special correspondent. Her pieces are titled “Yemen’s spiraling hunger crisis is a man-made disaster,” “American-made bombs in Yemen are killing civilians, destroying infrastructure and fueling anger at the U.S.” and “Houthis deny U.S., Saudi claim that they are Iran’s puppets.”
To read the interview at Democracy Now, click here.

Pakistan election: Who's who and why it matters

Source: BBC
Tens of millions of Pakistanis are preparing to vote in a general election on Wednesday after a campaign tainted by violence and dominated by political controversy.
What happens in this South Asian country of nearly 200 million matters: it is a nuclear-armed rival to India, a key developing economy and one the world's largest Muslim-majority nations.
Here's what you need to know about the election, which has been called the dirtiest in Pakistan's history.

Why it's important

Since independence in 1947, Pakistan has oscillated between civilian and military rule. This election will mark the second time that one civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term - a historic landmark.
But few in Pakistan are celebrating the strength of its democracy. The run-up to the vote has been marked by tensions between the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the military.
The PML-N complains of a targeted crackdown against it by the powerful security establishment, with the alleged help of the courts. Nearly 17,000 party members are facing criminal cases over breaking unspecified election rules.
The media, meanwhile, have faced virulent censorship and intimidation. Another concern for some Pakistani democrats is the participation in the vote of militant groups.
Many believe the military is up to its old political machinations in favour of its preferred candidates. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says there have been "blatant, aggressive and unabashed attempts" to manipulate the polls, with "alarming implications for Pakistan's transition to an effective democracy".
Pakistan election by the numbers
The campaign has also been marred by violent attacks - including an IS-claimed attack in Balochistan on 13 July that killed nearly 150 people.

Who are the key players?

Key players graphic with pictures of Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), 68
The three-time prime minister was disqualified from office last year after a corruption investigation prompted by the Panama Papers. He went to London to spend time with his ailing wife, but made a dramatic return with his daughter Maryam in early July, despite having been sentenced to 10 years in prison. The pair, convicted for their family's unexplained ownership of luxury London flats, are now behind bars.
He blames the military for conspiring against him because he has openly criticised them and seeks better relations with India. The military denies any role. Nawaz's brother, Shehbaz Sharif, has led the PML-N campaign and will be looking to become the next prime minister.
Key quote: "What credibility will these elections have when the government is taking such drastic action against our people and this crackdown is taking place all over the country?"
Current seats: 182
Imran Khan (PTI), 65
The former star international cricketer entered Pakistani politics more than two decades ago, but he has never run the government. This time, many observers are convinced that he is the military's preferred candidate and that they are working to undermine his rivals. Mr Khan and the military deny any collusion but he told the BBC that the current military chief, Gen Bajwa, "is probably the most pro-democratic man we have ever seen". The PTI is supported by controversial groups, including one linked to al-Qaeda.
Key quote: "Pakistan's issue is nothing to do with liberalism or fundamentalism. Pakistan has an issue of governance."
Current seats: 32
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (PPP), 29
Oxford-educated Mr Bhutto Zardari is the latest political candidate from a long political dynasty. Both his mother, Benazir Bhutto, and his grandfather Zulfilqar Ali Bhutto, served as prime ministers. Both were also killed - Ms Bhutto by an assassin and her father by an executioner. The 29-year-old PPP leader, who is standing for parliament for the first time, says he wants to implement his mother's vision of a "peaceful, progressive, prosperous, democratic Pakistan". Polls predict the party will finish third.
Key quote: "If all you have to criticise me on is my age or my accent then you really can't defeat me on the issues."
Current seats: 46

Where will the vote be won?

Map showing Pakistan's electoral provinces
The PML-N's stronghold is Punjab province - Nawaz Sharif's homeland and the country's richest and most populous province. It has more than half the 272 directly-elected seats in the National Assembly and will be the key battleground.
Mr Khan's PTI will have to make serious inroads here in order to win. In the 2013, the party performed well in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Analysts say Mr Bhutto's PPP is popular among the "rural class" and its voter base is concentrated in the southern province of Sindh.
Inforgraphic showing civilian and military periods since 1947

So what might happen?

In the context of an election where two of the three main parties have cast doubt on the legitimacy of the vote, analysts expect a tight race between the Sharifs' PML-N and Mr Khan's PTI. If neither party wins a clear majority, the support of Mr Bhutto Zardari's PPP and other parties could be crucial to forming a governing coalition.
If the PML-N wins, India and the US may breathe a sigh of relief, given Mr Khan's perceived closeness with the military and accusations that he is soft on Islamist extremism. Although Pakistan is a longstanding partner in the US war on terrorism, it's alleged protection of militant groups active in neighbouring Afghanistan has long irked Washington and President Trump has cut off security aid.
If the PTI wins, the PML-N could lead its supporters into the streets - especially if Mr Sharif remains behind bars.
No matter who wins, however, the military will seek to maintain its extremely powerful role in Pakistan.

Israel's controversial laws

Israel has passed a law characterising the country as principally a Jewish state and putting Hebrew above Arabic as the official language, much to the anger of Israeli Arabs.
The law describes Hebrew as the "state's language", effectively prioritising it above Arabic which has for decades been recognised as an official language alongside Hebrew.
In which other countries has the choice of language proved politically controversial?


Protest in Riga over the Latvian language policy in schoolsImage copyright AFP
Image caption Plans for Latvian to be the teaching medium in secondary schools also led to protests
This Baltic state and former Soviet republic has a sizeable Russian-speaking minority, but the government recognises only Latvian as the official state language. A referendum held in 2012 rejected a plan to accord Russian the status of a second official language. The authorities also have plans to promote Latvian as the language of instruction in all secondary schools, although for the moment, teaching in Russian and other minority languages will still be allowed at primary-school level.


Post office sign in CroatiaImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Croats use Latin rather than Cyrillic script
After its independence in 1991, Croatia abolished the Cyrillic script, which had been used when Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia. Croats write using Latin script and Serbs use Cyrillic. However, when Croatia joined the EU in 2013, it did allow signs in both Cyrillic and Latin script in areas with a significant Serb minority, leading to angry protests by some Croats.


Fish selling in Tamil NaduImage copyright AFP
Image caption Tamil Nadu state has its own distinctive culture and traditions
Plans to make Hindi the sole official language of India in place of English after independence met resistance from non-Hindi-speaking states in a country with a multiplicity of languages. Tamil Nadu - with its own ancient language and traditions - suffered riots over the issue. The central government continues to use English as well as Hindi for official purposes, and individual states have largely been left to decide their own language policy.


Cafe in Diyarbakir cityImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kurdish areas of Turkey have long had restrictions on the use of their language
Turkish is the only official language and there have long been restrictions on the Kurdish minority regarding the use of their language. In 2002, under pressure from the EU, Turkey allowed some teaching and broadcasts in Kurdish. University-level language courses in Kurdish and other minority languages were introduced in 2009 as part of reforms.


Canada flag and US flagsImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption French speakers in Canada worry about the dominance of English
Canada is officially bilingual, with the constitution stating that English and French have "equality of status" in all government institutions and the parliament. However, historically there's been concern in largely French-speaking Quebec about the dominance of English, given Canada's proximity to the US. In 1974, Quebec made French the official language in the province. It's also taken measures to promote the use of French, for example, policing restaurants which use non-French words on their menus.

Another Muslim lynched in India by Hindutvadi vigilantes

India has become today the lynching hub of our time. Shame on Modi's Hindutvadi government that has festered such a level of bigotry that it is simply criminal and shameful. Read the report below:
A 28-year-old was lynched by villagers on suspicion of cow smuggling in Alwar on Friday night, the police said. The victim Akbar, along with Aslam, were transporting cows on foot when they were questioned by villagers in Ramgarh police jurisdiction, Ramgarh police station Sub Inspector Subhash Chand said.
“They were taking two cows on foot sometime between 12 -1 am last night when villagers stopped them. However, they tried to run away and the mob chased them and caught them. While Akbar was assaulted, Aslam managed to escape,” Chand said, adding that “Akbar succumbed to his injuries.”
“We retrieved two cows and sent to a nearby gaushala. We have also registered an FIR under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention),” he said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje condemned the incident and assured strict action against the perpetrators. She tweeted, “The incident of alleged lynching of a person transporting bovines in Alwar district is condemnable. Strictest possible action shall be taken against the perpetrators.”
No arrests have been made in the case.
Shame on India!!!!!

“Please Tell the World What They Have Done to Us”

PHR Medical Evaluations of Rohingya Survivors Point to Crimes Against Humanity

A body of forensic medical evidence released today clearly indicates that Rohingya Muslims suffered grave human rights abuses at the hands of Myanmar security forces and Rakhine Buddhist civilians. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which issued the evidence in a new report, said the actions should be investigated as crimes against humanity.
Entitled, Please Tell the World What They Have Done to Us” - The Chut Pyin Massacre: Forensic Evidence of Violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar,” the report reveals the findings of forensic medical evaluations of 22 Rohingya survivors of a bloody August 2017 assault on the village of Chut Pyin in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
The carnage in Chut Pyin was part of a wave of attacks on Rohingya villages that reportedly killed thousands of people and pushed at least 720,000 Rohingya refugees over the border into neighboring Bangladesh from August 2017 to June 2018. PHR’s report, part of an expansive forensic study covering 25 villages and more than 100 cases, contributes to the growing international effort to document and investigate allegations of atrocities against the Rohingya so that those who committed the crimes can be held accountable. 
The report features in-depth testimonies and analyses of injuries sustained by surviving residents of Chut Pyin. The various injuries, including gunshot wounds, blunt-force trauma, lacerations and more, serve as medical evidence to corroborate the survivors’ accounts of shootings, beatings, stabbings, and other forms of violence which occurred on that day.
“We saw multiple gunshot wounds that are consistent with people having been shot while fleeing, and heard numerous accounts of rape and other sexual violence. We rigorously and meticulously analyzed the injuries, first-hand testimonies, and eyewitness accounts, and all our forensic examinations were highly consistent with the events that the survivors described,” explained Homer Venters, MD, PHR’s director of programs, who led the team of doctors who conducted the forensic medical evaluations in Thangkali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area.
“The power of science, of medicine, is that injuries do not lie. Each laceration, blunt-force trauma, burn, and gunshot wound tells a story, and we use this forensic medical evidence to shed light on what likely happened on that day,” Venters added.
The survivors’ testimonies are compelling, with victims recounting similar experiences, or corroborating others’ accounts. Some used maps to indicate exactly where they were at the time of the attack and where they were injured or hid until neighbors or relatives rescued them.
“It hurt so much. I had so much bleeding and the place was flooded with blood,” said a 12-year-old girl who was shot along with her two younger brothers. The three lost their parents and two other siblings in the attack. Another survivor, a 35-year-old woman, told PHR: “I saw they threw a two- or three-month-old baby into the fire. When the mother cried aloud, they shot the mother dead.” A 19-year-old man said: “Parents were killed. Brothers and sisters were killed. Even small children were burned in the fire.”
Seventeen of the 22 survivors evaluated by PHR suffered at least one gunshot wound and nine of them had their mobility severely affected as a result of being attacked.
“The ordeal didn’t stop when the massacre ended. These survivors had to make their way to safety – many of them traveling up to 12 days on foot to get across the border to Bangladesh, where they are now living in refugee camps under very challenging conditions. They suffered infection and other medical complications on the way that likely only exacerbated the injuries and further increased the impact that the violence had on their lives,” Venters explained.
Survivors also reported that, in the wake of the attacks, soldiers searched for doctors in neighboring villages in order to arrest wounded Rohingya survivors. “They looked for people with bullet wounds in order to erase the evidence. We are the witnesses to reveal their crimes, so they wanted to kill those survivors,” said a 20-year-old woman whose baby was shot dead in her arms.
PHR’s report brings a unique medical and forensic voice to accounts of the August 2017 wave of attacks on Rohingya communities in Myanmar. The report concludes that not only did a range of human rights violations take place in the village of Chut Pyin – including killings and executions; detentions and disappearances; physical assault; rape and other sexual violence; ethnic and religious discrimination; and forcible displacement, followed by looting and burning of homes – several of the survivors, among them many women and children, faced multiple violations during a six-and-a-half hour gruesome attack.
Taking the history of the Rohingya in Myanmar into account, PHR was able to marry its forensic examinations with credible information from local sources, as well as the consistent and detailed testimonies of survivors, to come to one conclusion: that Chut Pyin is a prime example of a brutal campaign of violence carried out by Myanmar authorities against the Rohingya people, and that what happened in Chut Pyin, and elsewhere in Rakhine state, should be investigated as crimes against humanity.
“The international community must support an impartial and independent investigation into crimes against humanity to bring those accountable to justice. The government of Myanmar must immediately cease all human rights violations against individuals and communities in Rakhine state and throughout Myanmar, as well as investigate and prosecute all violations in accordance with international human rights law. Adequate safeguards to prevent future discrimination against ethnic minorities must be put into place and sustainable conditions need to be created to allow for a safe, dignified, and voluntary return for Rohingya refugees before any repatriation can even be considered,” Venters said.
Read the full digital report here.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.