Friday, May 31, 2019

The Indian elite and the erosion of democracy

By
It is early to say what these elections might portend but they are already fuelling anxieties among the social and economic elites about an impending transformation of the country. Much of the public discourse is blaming the opposition parties for failing to stem Modi's meteoric rise, public institutions and mainstream media for allegedly being partial towards the ruling dispensation, and voters for not knowing better than to vote in a government that will upend the Indian democracy and constitution.
The blind spot in the torrential outrage is the liberal elite's own contribution towards this moment in history. Indian democracy is not under threat merely because majoritarian forces are gaining ground. Majoritarian forces have gained ground because democracy has been under threat. And the Indian elite, whose members have had disproportionate access to education, resources, and opportunities in India, have let that happen.
The BJP and its supporters are undoubtedly propagating an aggressive and grotesque brand of nationalism designed to consolidate a fragmented Hindu identity by othering and demonising minorities. But it is a stretch to claim that India had been robustly secular until Modi became prime minister in 2014. The BJP has deepened not created fault lines which the Indian elites had done very little to mend.
India has the world's second-largest population of Muslims who have remained grossly underrepresented in political life and in private and public institutions. They have lagged behind nearly all other disenfranchised communities on economic and educational indicators and remained vulnerable to patriarchal and sectarian prejudices. For decades, the majority of political parties have exploited the Muslim minority as a vote bank without addressing the wider, more urgent needs of ordinary Muslims.
The liberal elite, including the relatively small part of it that is Muslim, has largely remained apathetic to the predicament of minorities for decades. They have failed not only to follow in the footsteps of India's founding fathers and articulate an idea of Indian secularism that would take root, but also to counter the rampant bigotry in their own circles.
This inaction on part of the liberal elite has paved the way for hate speech to dominate the political discourse today and fuel attacks against minorities. Upper-class liberals have responded to the proliferation of hate crime by adopting slogans like "Not In My Name" and directing their disapproval solely towards the ruling dispensation. The rot, however, runs deeper. 
Modi and the BJP are accused of undermining various state institutions but the truth is this process had started long before they took power.
Today, human life in India is cheap because the criminal justice system is broken and the rule of law is far from firm. For decades on end the liberal elite, who has had privileged access to justice, has thought little to push for necessary reforms that might have mended a broken system preying on its own people and inoculated the country against social division and upheaval.
They have turned a blind eye to endemic delays in the delivery of justice and judicial manipulation. As a result, perpetrators of crimes of various scale have not only enjoyed impunity but have also been able to infiltrate the political system.
Some 43 percent of the newly-elected members to the lower house of Parliament face criminal charges, up from 34 percent in 2014. They hail from all major political parties and have among their ranks prominent names like terror suspect Pragya Singh Thakur from BJP and Dean Kuriakose from the Congress party who stands accused in some 200 different criminal cases.
The criminal justice system is by no means the only institution to fail the masses. There has long been a deep disconnect between public institutions and the ordinary Indian; structural vulnerabilities have made the former susceptible to political pressure over time.
The liberal elite has of late been raising the alarm on infringements on the central bank, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the constitutional court of the country and the election commission. The latter came under the spotlight when it was accused of favouring the BJP in the recently concluded elections. Yet those who have followed Indian electoral politics closely would know that much-needed reforms that could have safeguarded its independence were ignored for years even before 2014. 
But the commission's lapses are not the only issue with the electoral process. There are a number of ways in which the level playing field can and was distorted by the ruling dispensation - disproportionate access to money tops the list. Campaign finance is the ageing elephant in the room and no political party has been inclined to bring about reforms that encourage transparency and regulation in this context. The elites have largely ignored the problem, as they themselves have benefitted from the status quo.
The role of the media as a watchdog of democracy in India has also been eroded. BJP's victory was a victory of consent manufactured through propaganda by pliable mainstream media and fake news. It was aided by journalistic complacency and failure to push for self-regulation and come up with technological and regulatory solutions to defeat lies.
This complacency is the direct result of the elites' dominance over the media sector which has reflected almost exclusively their world view, keeping the voices of the subaltern out. Dalits and tribals have been particularly underrepresented in this media dominated by upper castes.
Ignoring all these red flags, the liberal elite has used its privilege to ensconce itself in an ivory tower that resembles feebly the aspirational first world in terms of material comforts, leaving the vast majority of Indians behind. In its imagination, the poor deserve food and shelter but not aspiration.
The liberal elite's misdirected rage towards the electorate is symptomatic of its shallow commitment towards democracy and its total disconnect from the general population. It has failed to understand that voters who cast their ballots for the BJP did so for a variety of reasons, one of them likely being their admiration for Modi, who as a member of the lower classes managed to rise to prominence and snatch power from the self-serving elitist establishment.
In order to counter toxic majoritarianism, the liberal elite needs to truly comprehend the mandate Modi has won and go beyond lamentation to educate, organise, agitate, and participate in democratic life.
On the other hand, the emerging right-wing elite who has backed the BJP needs to tread carefully not to repeat the mistakes of the liberals and make excuses for a ruling party intent on deepening India's social and institutional crises.
It is high time that those at the top of Indian society from across the ideological spectrum face the fact that, in the long run, a hollowed-out democracy is not in anyone's interest - especially in a country as multifarious as India, where a million negotiations and accommodations between diverse communities underpin social stability. 

India’s hardest fall


BY giving Modi’s BJP a landslide victory, the Indian electorate has dealt its country a blow that might take a long time to recover from. The outcome of the polls has virtually buried India’s ideal of secularism and tightened the hold of crooks and the vulgar rich over the house of the people.
The main plank of the BJP’s election strategy was a pledge to complete India’s transformation into a Hindu state. By backing Modi, the voters have indicated that their belief in secularism was only skin-deep. They have given Modi licence to tyrannise the minorities, and settle the Kashmir issue through brute force and chicanery.
The only other plank in BJP’s electoral campaign was a threat to national security and belligerence towards Pakistan. Its triumph will put a strain on relations with all neighbours, especially Pakistan. Worse, it could increase the state’s amenability to pressure from the armed forces and lead to curtailment of basic freedoms and the rule of law.
While the BJP’s victory is spectacular, no less sensational is the defeat of Congress and the rout of the Left parties. The CPI-M that had ruled West Bengal for many years lost to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in 2014 and has failed to win any Lok Sabha seat from that state this time. Both Congress and the Left Front failed to counter Modi’s rhetoric about national security and religious exclusiveness.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sisi's Egypt rearrests Al Jazeera reporter released last week

                    Egypt rearrests Al Jazeera reporter released last week
Egypt rearrests Al Jazeera reporter released last week
                                  

Egypt rearrests Al Jazeera reporter Egyptian authorities rearrested an Al Jazeera journalist who was ordered released last week after more than two years in detention on accusations of spreading false news, his family and lawyer said Wednesday.

Under Egyptian procedure and following last week's court order, Mahmoud Hussein had been transferred from prison to a police jail to await his release.

But his lawyer, Gamal Eid, said that instead of being freed, Hussein was apparently ordered detained again in a separate case.
Eid did not know what the new charges against the journalist were, saying authorities did not notify him or Hussein's family.
Hussein's family said in a statement Tuesday the new case dates from last year, when he was already in detention.
Doha-based Al Jazeera on Wednesday criticised the rearrest of Hussein after authorities opened a new investigation against him with unspecified charges.
"It is deplorable that Mahmoud has once again been sent back to one of the notoriously deplorable prisons in Egypt," said Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, referring to Tora prison in Cairo.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which oversees police, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Hussein, an Egyptian working for the Qatar-based satellite network, was detained at the Cairo airport in December 2016, when he arrived on a family vacation from Doha.
Since the 2013 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi amid mass protests against his one year rule, the Al Jazeera network has been portrayed as Egypt's national enemy for its sympathy toward Islamists, especially the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.
Al-Jazeera's news website has been blocked since 2017, along with dozens of other news sites deemed too critical of the government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Egyptian authorities also sentenced former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, Ibrahim Helal, to death in absentia for allegedly endangering national security.
Since his assent to power, Sisi has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent, arresting thousands - mostly Islamists but also prominent secular activists and journalists - and rolling back freedoms won after the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak.
Also on Wednesday, an Egyptian court sentenced 40 suspected members of the Muslim Brotherhood group after they were convicted of wounding at least five people in 2017 in the Sharqiya province, northeast of Cairo.

They were also convicted of joining the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government designated as a terrorist group in 2013.
The verdict can be appealed.

'Harassed, discriminated': Story of Assam's Bengali origin people

This is an old article, pub. in Al Jazeera back in 2018. Because of its relevance, it is reposted here.
------
As Assam counts its citizens, the fate of nearly 250,000 people, whose cases are pending in Tribunals, remains in limbo.
By Saif Khalid
Assam, India - At around midnight of November 29, 2016, Morjina Bibi was woken up by repeated knocks on her door.
"When I opened the door, I saw two female police officers. Within a minute, several other policemen entered my house and asked me go with them," the 27-year-old told Al Jazeera.
Bibi was thrown into detention centre for being a "Doubtful" or "D" voter - a concept introduced by India's Election Commission in 1997. Those marked as "D" in electoral rolls are stripped of their citizenship rights.
She walked free on July 17, 2017 after it turned out she was a case of mistaken identity.
Bibi, who is from Fofanga Part I village in Assam's Goalpara district, had spent nearly nine months in detention.
I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. The only thought that came to my mind was, 'What did I do? Why did they put me in this hell?'"
Morjina Bibi
"I asked them, 'What was my fault, why are you doing this to me?' I had not done anything wrong. They ordered me to keep quiet," she said.
She was sent to Kokrajhar detention centre the next day. 
"I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. The only thought that came to my mind was, 'What did I do? Why did they put me in this hell?'" she said, sitting in the courtyard of her hut.
Bengali origin people suffer from mass illiteracy and poverty [Al Jazeera]
Life inside the detention centre was difficult with poor quality food and crowded cells, she said. 
"In one room, there were between 50 and 60 people. People collided with each other while sleeping on the floor."

Mistaken identity

She had been mistaken for Merjina Begum, a woman from another village.
Bibi's case was taken up by All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a party that advocates for people of Bengali origin, who have often complained of harassment at the hands of authorities.
"When we found that another woman of the same name had a case, we filed for her bail," said Aminul Islam, AIUDF's general secretary.
The fear [of undocumented immigrants] was real, but it was amplified by the media
Sushanta Talukdar, senior journalist based in Guwahati
Bibi says police have yet to apologise or offer compensation.
Activists say police harassment in the name of detecting so-called foreigners has ripped apart families and instilled fear among the people.
Ruhul Amin, an 18 year old from a village near Assam's capital, Guwahati, was inconsolable as he narrated the story of his parents, who are currently stuck in separate detention centres.
In 1997, his father and mother Ayub Ali and Rahima Khatun were sent a notice to prove their nationality, which meant they were required to prove their legitimacy in one of the 100 Foreigners Tribunals (FTs), specialised courts to decide on the citizenship of people who are suspected of being foreigners.
After losing their case in Guwahati High Court in 2015, they were taken into custody.
"We sold the shop to fight the case in Supreme Court. Father had already sold the land to fight the case in high court," said Amin, through tears.

Detention centres

Amin was forced to drop out of school to support his siblings, including his 14 year old brother. His elder sister was married with the financial help from neighbours and relatives.
"Boys of my age are studying. I too had a dream to study and do something good in life but that dream is not going to be fulfilled any more," he said.
Amin, like many members of the community, is terrified of the police. He fears he could also be declared a foreigner.
"If they arrest me and put in the detention centre what will happen to my younger brother? Who will look after him?"
Ruhul Amin's parents are among 899 people who are in six detention centres across Assam [Al Jazeera]
His hope is now pinned on the Supreme Court. If they lose the case in the top court, the parents will languish behind bars for life.
They are among 899 people who are in six detention centres across Assam - all of which are currently located inside district jails.
The government is planning to build a large detention centre in Goalpara district. 

NRC exercise

Meanwhile, Assam is carrying out a massive operation and counting its citizens to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) - the first since 1951 - aimed at finding out the exact number undocumented immigrants.
But more than 250,000 cases of "D" voters and suspected citizens pending in FT courts have been excluded from the NRC process, which means that their lives will remain in limbo in the years to come.
Their children born after 2003 will also not be eligible to become Indian citizens, putting their future in jeopardy.
Moreover, those who won't find place in the NRC list, slated to be published end of June, will have to go through the long-drawn and arduous process in the tribunal courts.
"It will take several generations for the cases to be finalised. What will happen to their children? Neither they can study nor can they get jobs," said Islam, the AIUDF leader. 
He called for fast track courts to expedite the cases as India's judiciary is already burdened with some 30 million backlogged cases.
The state government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came to power in 2016 on an anti-foreigner platform. The right-wing party denounces people of Bengali origin as infiltrators.
Some 15,000 people were declared foreigners last year under the BJP administration. According to government figures nearly 90,000 people were declared as foreigners between 1985 and 2016.
The uncertainty has led many to commit suicide. 
Last week Gopal Das, 65, ended his life apparently after he received a notice from the Foreigners Tribunal in Udalguri district. His family, as reported by a local news website, claims his name is included in the 1966 voters list.

Wrongly detained

Activists say some of the detained were wrongly declared foreigners in judgements where defendants did not turn up in courts.
They also allege that many of the so-called declared foreigners did not receive notice from the court.
Aman Wadud, who practices at the Guwahati High Court, says the process of identifying undocumented immigrants or "D" voters is "arbitrary", "random" and done without proper investigation.
You are putting people on trial without an investigation. It's like filing a charge-sheet in a criminal case without investigation
Aman Wadud, lawyer
"You are putting people on trial without an investigation. It's like filing a charge-sheet in a criminal case without investigation," Wadud said.
The process of proving one's citizenship takes a heavy financial toll on the people who are summoned, most of whom are poor or marginal farmers, who earn 250 and 350 rupees ($3.6-$5) a day.
"They sell their cattle and lands to pay legal fees, which may go up to 50,000 rupees ($734)," said Wadud, who has successfully fought the cases of wrongfully declared foreigners.
Lawyer Aman Wadud says the process of proving one's citizenship takes a heavy financial toll on the people [Al Jazeera]
"People are spending their lifetime of income in proving their citizenship as there are few pro bono lawyers or those who charge less," he said.
In the current environment, genuine Indian citizens are being declared foreigners and people are sent multiple notices.

Genuine citizens harassed

Ajmal Haque, who served in the Indian army for 30 years, was asked to prove his citizenship by border police - a specialised force of more than 4,000 personnel tasked with identifying undocumented immigrants since it was formed in 1962.
He subsequently proved his citizenship.
Though procedures have been laid out, activists and those accused have said it is hardly followed on the ground.
"Election commission can mark 'D' voters without hardly any investigation while the border police follow few procedures in identifying suspected citizens," said Wadud, the lawyer.
Our basic job is to submit the names to the Foreigners Tribunal after proper verification of the papers if any individual is suspected to be illegally staying here
Raunak Ali Hazarika, Border Police chief
Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, says due process should be followed in handling "D" voters cases and the NRC process.
"The process must be clearly in accordance with India's international obligations" he said.
Sajahan Kazi, a government school teacher from Barpeta district, was marked "D" voter in 1997. It took 20 years for him to prove his citizenship, during which he was stripped of voting and other rights.
People of Bengali origin feel discriminated and harassed by police.

Police refute the allegation of harassment

Moinal Mollah of Barpeta district's Bohri village was detained despite his parents and grandparents declared as Indian citizens with the necessary documents.
He remained in Goalpara detention centre for nearly three years until the Supreme Court ordered his release. A non-profit, MY-FACTS, provided free legal assistance to Mollah.
"My brother took money on interest and spent nearly two lakh rupees ($2,938) while we were fighting the case in the high court. Till today we are repaying the debts," Mollah told Al Jazeera as his parents sat beside him.
"I didn't receive any compensation from the government, neither have they apologised to me."
 Assam border police chief Raunak Ali Hazarika refuted the allegation of harassment.
"Legally it's not possible. Our basic job is to submit the names to the Foreigners Tribunal after proper verification of the papers if any individual is suspected to be illegally staying here," Hazarika told Al Jazeera.
Nearly 2,000 people were masscared in Nellie village in 1983, but no action has been taken against perpetrators, say community leaders [Al Jazeera]
He denied that linguistic minorities or Bengali-origin Muslims were being harassed.
"No way that's possible, as the process of enquiry does not have any specific criteria to enquire on religious or linguistic line".

Indigenous versus the outsiders

Assam is home to 32 million people - one-third of them are Muslim, most of them Bengali origin.
The first arrival of Bengali cultivators began in the 19th century after British colonial rulers took over Assam from the Ahom king in 1826.
Back then, Assam was sparsely populated with dense jungles. In 1855, an English military officer, Major John Butler, called Assam a "dreary and desolate wilderness ... devoid of man, beasts, or birds".
By the early 20th century, millions of Bengali people were settled in Assam, as part of the British policy. The fertile land of Assam attracted people not only from Bengal but also from Bihar and Odisha states.
The policy of bringing more Bengali immigrants by the government of Sayed Mohammad Sadullah in the 1930s as part of its "Grow More Food" programme further polarised Assam's politics on the issue of indigenous versus the outsiders.
CS Mullan, superintendent of the 1931 Assam Census, likened Bengali immigrants to "an invading, conquering army, to a terrifying birds of prey, and to insects".
For Mullan, an Indian civil service officer, Bengali immigrants were like "vultures" looking to grab lands.
"The motivation behind such irresponsible and utterings was clear. He wanted the Assamese and the immigrants to be set against each other," wrote academic Amalendu Guha in his book, "Planter Raj to Swaraj".
After India's independence in 1947, more than 200,000 Bengali people were deported to what was then East Pakistan under the Prevention of Infiltration from Pakistan scheme.
Author Rizwana Shamshad wrote in her book, "Bangladeshi Migrants in India: Foreigners, Refugees, or Infiltrators?", that a narrative was built around Bengali origin people as "land grabbers" and "settlers" against ethnic Assamese depicted as "vulnerable".

Colonial role overlooked

The dominant narrative in Assam has overlooked the colonial role in bringing immigrants to Assam.
Sushanta Talukdar, a senior journalist in Guwahati, said the media helped "perpetuate the stereotype about the community".
"The fear [of undocumented immigrants] was real, but it was amplified by the media," he said.
"We cannot deny that there is no problem, but media should have played a responsible role in finding out facts and instead of being carried away by the agenda of the political parties."
Hafiz Ahmed based in Guwahati has been vocal about the problems faced by his community [Al Jazeera]
India's Supreme Court quoted Mullan in its 2003 judgement, when it scrapped a controversial tribunal, the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act (IMDT), set up in 1983 to try suspected foreigners.
Assam politicians had demanded the repeal of the IMDT Act, under which the burden of proof was on the state.
"The SC brought back foreigners Act 1946, a British era law, under which the burden of proof shifted to suspects," Wadud said, adding that it is against natural justice.
Islam of the AIUDF party says the agenda over who is a foreigner has gradually changed over the years.
"In the 1970s, they said remove outsiders, including Indians from other states. Then they said remove foreigners, including Nepalis and Bangladeshis," Haque said. "Now they are saying exempt Bengali Hindus and deport Bengali origin Muslims. From outsiders it has come down to just Muslims. It's a secular state, rules should be applied equally to all."

The sons of the soil

Among those of Bengali origin, such as Suleman Qasimi from Nellie village, there is a belief that people who have harmed and killed Muslims have enjoyed impunity.
"We are bhumiputra, the son of the soil. Do not call us Bangladeshis, we are Indians," he said, anger palpable on his face.
His brother was among the nearly 2,000 people massacred in 1983 in his village during the height of anti-Bengali movement.
"[Until now], no one has been charged for the carnage, except for a compensation of 5,000 rupees ($73)," said Qassemi, who is the leader of a local mosque.
We are bhumiputra, the son of the soil. Do not call us Bangladeshis, we are Indians
Suleman Qasimi, community leader
"Muslims were killed because they voted in defiance of the election boycott called by the protesters. My brother died for democracy," he said, claiming that those who harassed and killed Muslims during the Assam Movement have been rewarded.
In 2016, the BJP government in the state announced compensation of 500,000 rupees ($7,345) to the more than 800 killed during the anti-Bengali Assam agitation.
But successive Congress governments, Qasimi said, did nothing to provide justice to the victims.
Organisations and political groups such as All Assam Students Union (AASU), which led the Assam agitation between 1979-85, have played on the fear of undocumented immigrants.
"The problem is that the BJP is creating a fear psychosis that Muslim population is growing by leaps and bounds and they are going to swamp the local indigenous population," Assam Congress leader Prodyut Bordoloi said.
He said that the migration from Bangladesh has "almost stopped in the past 25 to 30 years".
Muslims have been well represented in the state Assembly with 30 members from the community in the 126-seat state assembly, but they are at the bottom of development indices.
The community suffers from mass illiteracy and poverty while the fear of being branded foreigners persists.

Assimilated into Assamese society

Hafiz Ahmed, a Guwahati-based Bengali-origin Muslim and activist, says that Muslims face discrimination and harassment despite having living in the state for generations.
Children of people whose cases are pending in Foreigners Tribunal are also not eligible to become Indian citizens [Al Jazeera]
"My grandfather came to Assam … We do not need any certificate that we are Assamese," he said. "Muslims have contributed a lot to the Assamese language and culture. And they have always wanted to be assimilated with the greater Assamese nationality."
The 54-year-old started writing Miya poetry to express the anguish and pain at the way the community has been treated.
"Miyan means gentleman but here it is used in a derogatory manner to refer to Bengali origin people," he said. "Miya poetry is a voice against injustice and discrimination.
"For the first time we have seen that some young people from the community have come out. They have used literature as a means of protest."
Kazi Neel is one among the young protesters from the community who has picked up a pen.
The land that makes my father an alienThat kills my brother with bullets My sister with gang-rapeThe land where my mother stokes in heart live burning coals
That land is mineI am not of that land
The land where limb after limb is chopped and sent afloat the riverWhere in 1983, the executioners danced a shameless grisly dance of celebration
That land is mineI am not of that land
The land where my homes and hearths is uprootedWhere my heritage is negatedWhere they conspire to bind me forever in darknessWhere they pour gravel, not gruel on my plate
That land is mineI am not of that landThe land where my throat cracks with appeals and no one hearsWhere my blood flows cheap and no one paysWhere they do politics over my son's coffinAnd gamble with my daughter's honour The land where I wander crazy, confused as a beast
That land is mine I am not of that land
[Poem originally written in Miya dialect by Kazi Neel. Translated into English by Shalom M Hussain]
Kazi Neel writes poetry in Miya dialect and also teaches children from the community [Al Jazeera]

Why does violence continue to plague Assam?


Inside Story
Why does violence continue to plague Assam?
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News

India is proving to be a den of intolerance under BJP rule

I am seriously disturbed and concerned by what is happening to India. Under Hindutvadi fascists, the country is becoming a den of intolerance against Muslims. Already we have seen how millions of Assamese Muslims have been robbed of their citizenship simply because they are Bengali speaking Assamese who happens to be Muslims. The same litmus test is not held for the Hindu Bengalis inside Assam, which during the British rule was part of Bengal (today's Bangladesh and Bangla or formerly West Bengal state of India).
Read the report below about a Muslim army officer who has been declared recently 'foreigner.' What a travesty in India!
============
'Humiliated': Ex-Indian army man in Assam declared 'foreigner'
Sana Ullah says he joined the Indian army in 1987 and served in the troubled Indian-administered Kashmir [Courtesy: Sana Ullah's family]

Mohammad Sana Ullah, who served in the Indian army for 30 years, is sent to a detention camp in Assam state.

by
Guwahati, India - An Indian army veteran has been sent to a detention centre after he was declared a "foreigner" in the country's northeastern state of Assam.
Mohammad Sana Ullah, a 30-year veteran of the Indian army, will be held in a detention camp after a Foreigners Tribunal in Kamrup district declared that he was not an Indian citizen on Wednesday.
Assam, located in India's northeast and surrounded by Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar, has set up 100 Foreigners Tribunal courts to handle cases of undocumented immigrants.
 
In his affidavit, Sana Ullah, a resident of Kalahikash village in Kamrup district, said he joined the army in 1987 and had served in Doda and Kupwara in troubled Indian-administered Kashmir.
Sana Ullah retired from the army in 2017 as an honorary captain and joined as sub-inspector with the state's Border Police, which is responsible for detecting undocumented immigrants, according to his relatives.
The Tribunal order stated that Sana Ullah "failed to establish the fact that he is an Indian citizen by birth".
"He [Sana Ullah] has been declared a foreigner and we have taken him into custody. We will proceed as per existing rules and guidelines," Parthasarathi Mahanta, the Superintendent of Police of Kamrup district, told News18 website.
This is not the first case of army or police officers questioned for their citizenship in the state, which last year declared four million people illegal, effectively stripping them of citizenship. A final list of citizenship is expected to be published in July.
India's Supreme Court on Thursday directed authorities in Assam to ensure a fair hearing in Sana Ullah's case and not rush through the process to meet the July 31 deadline for the final list.

Suspected as undocumented immigrants

Many religious and linguistic minorities have alleged that they are seen as suspected undocumented immigrants.
Sana Ullah's family members are in shock and said they will challenge the verdict in a higher court.
His cousin Azmal Haque, who also served in the Indian Army, told Al Jazeera: "This is very unfortunate that time and again we have been humiliated. After serving the army for 30 years, now court says he is not an Indian. We are hurt and devastated."
In 2017, Haque was asked to prove his citizenship by a Foreigners Tribunal. His name was cleared after the police said it was a case of mistaken identity.
Human rights activist and lawyer Aman Wadud alleged that there had been no investigation whatsoever before accusing Sana Ullah of being a "foreigner".
The border police prepared the verification report without even meeting him, in its report, police says he is a labourer. It is apparent from the report that police even forged thumb impression," Wadud said.
"The Foreigners Tribunal very mechanically declared him a foreigner without appreciating all his documents," Wadud, who will fight the case at the state's highest court, Gauhati High Court, told Al Jazeera.
Sahidul Islam, Sana Ullah's son-in-law, said he is hopeful of receiving justice from the High Court: "We have all the documents to prove the citizenship of Sana Ullah," he said.
Islam, also an advocate, said they came to know about Sana Ullah's case after his name was excluded from the draft citizenship list published last year as part of the NRC.
Tens of thousands of refugees arrived in Assam from Bangladesh during its 1971 liberation war. Decades of agitation ensued against the influx of so-called foreigners and finally, March 25 of 1971 was set as the cut-off arrival date for immigrants to be considered for citizenship.
Government records show there are at least 899 individuals who had been declared foreigners being held in six detention camps across Assam.==
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News

Message from Senator Bob Casey, Jr. on Uyghurs of China who are masss detained

Dear Dr. Siddiqui:
 
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the Chinese Government's detention and persecution of the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang Province. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.
 
For several years, China has pursued a crackdown on Uyghurs and other predominately Muslim people living in Northwestern China. As part of this crackdown the Chinese government has imprisoned anywhere from 1 million to 2 million people in internment camps that the government has dubbed "re-education facilities" and has used artificial intelligence and increased policing to surveil citizens, both in public and within their homes. The Chinese government asserts that mass detention of its own citizens is necessary to maintain peace and combat radicalization, contrary to reports from humanitarian agencies of torture, harassment and rampant abuse.
 
I condemn the Chinese government's actions in Xinjiang Province, and firmly believe that the United States must take a strong and unequivocal stand against these gross human rights violations. I was one of the first Senators to call for the end of American foreign assistance to China, with the exception of support for programs that promote democracy and human rights in Tibet. Similarly, the United States must direct resources to combat the intimidation, harassment and abuse of Uyghurs, both within China and living abroad.
 
I am proud to cosponsor S. 178, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on January 17, 2019. This bill would direct the State Department, the Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to report to Congress on the scope of China's crackdown in Xinjiang Province, the extent of the propaganda machine to cover-up the mass detainments and documentation of China's harassment or threats against Uyghurs and Chinese nationals currently residing in the United States. This bill also calls on the State Department to consider the creation of a database on missing Uyghurs in China and a formal position within the State Department to oversee U.S. foreign policy regarding Xinjiang province and the treatment of Uyghurs. 
 
Please be assured that I will continue to speak out against China's abuses against the Uyghurs and other religious and ethnic minorities and support legislation that holds China accountable for its human rights violations. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.
 
Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator

Support for the Buddhist terrorist Wirathu grows

Our world is increasingly becoming difficult for Muslim minorities around the globe. Even Muslim majorities in many of the Muslim countries are not safe from the harassment and detention of the current regimes, if they are perceived a threat to the regime and its agenda of uninterrupted, undemocratic/authoritarian rule.
In Myanmar, as part of a very sinister Buddhist national program, more than a million Muslims, mostly Rohingya, have been forced to seek refuge outside. Many are now housed inside Cox's Bazar in southern Bangladesh, which may likely become their permanent abode for a foreseeable future. The Buddhist fascist monk Wirathu played a major role in their extinction internally and exodus to external world with his toxic, venomous appeal to the Buddhist monks and mobs to ensuring the uproot of the targeted minority. Without the government backing, he could not have mobilized his hateful, savage Buddhists to doing the heinous crimes against unarmed civilians. Naturally, his criminal activities have drawn much criticism from the world community who have demanded that he be tried for such crimes. He has been as asset to the racist government of Suu Kyi for having fulfilled the long-term objectives of the regime to purify the Myanmar soil of non-Buddhists, esp. Muslims. Now, with international support for Suu Kyi waning, Wirathu is viewed as a liability and has recently been charged with sedition. But already the harm has been done and the ferocious tiger is no longer in the cage, and as such it is not going to be easy to put it in the cage where it belongs.
See the report below to find out the support for mass terrorist Wirathu inside Suu Kyi's Burma.
====

At least 300 of Wirathu’s supporters gathered outside the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon.
“He is criticizing the government openly and publicly as a citizen,” nationalist activist Win Ko Ko Lat told reporters. “Using the sedition act against him is entirely unfair,” he said.
The arrest warrant for Wirathu was issued by a Yangon court on Tuesday. Police have not set out the exact grounds for the warrant under a law that prohibits bringing “hatred or contempt” or exciting disaffection toward the government.
At recent rallies, Wirathu has accused the government of corruption and criticized it for trying to change the constitution in a way that would reduce the power of the military.
The military ruled Myanmar for decades until the start of a transition to civilian rule in 2011. Wirathu is the most prominent of the nationalist monks to emerge as a growing political force since then.
Wirathu is based in the central city of Mandalay, but neither police nor his supporters said where they currently believed him to be.
In fiery speeches, Wirathu has often targeted Rohingya Muslims, more than 700,000 of whom fled an army crackdown in Rakhine State in 2017 that U.N. investigators said was carried out with “genocidal intent”.
He has denied accusations of inciting violence.
The charges under the British colonial-era sedition law carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Amnesty Int’l charges Myanmar military with new abuses

BANGKOK — Myanmar’s military, accused of massive human rights violations against the Muslim Rohingya minority less than two years ago, is committing war crimes and other atrocities as it engages in new military operations in the western state of Rakhine, the human rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday.
Myanmar’s army has “killed and injured civilians in indiscriminate attacks since January 2019” as it battles the Arakan Army, a well-trained guerrilla force from the Buddhist ethnic group seeking autonomy for Rakhine, Amnesty said in a report.
It accused the military of carrying out “extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill treatment, and enforced disappearances.” But it also says the Arakan rebels have committed abuses against civilians, including kidnappings, though on a lesser scale.
“The new operations in Rakhine state show an unrepentant, unreformed and unaccountable military terrorizing civilians and committing widespread violations as a deliberate tactic,” said Nicholas Bequelin, regional director for East and Southeast Asia at Amnesty International.
The group said it had written to top Myanmar government and military officials with specific questions about its findings and conclusions, but had not received any reply.
Rakhine is best known for a brutal counterinsurgency campaign launched by the military in 2017 against the Rohingya, which caused more than 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. The army and other security forces were accused of major abuses, including organized rape, murder and the burning of villages.
Critics including U.N. experts have accused the Myanmar forces of ethnic cleansing, and possibly even genocide, but the government has insisted it was engaged in acceptable military operations after Rohingya guerrillas carried out attacks on police posts and bases.



While Rohingya insurgents have been largely inactive since late 2017, the Arakan Army has been engaged in increasingly fierce fighting with government forces since late last year. The group seeks autonomy for the region.
Amnesty International said it uncovered evidence of new abuses carried out by units implicated in previous atrocities.
The government declared the Arakan Army a terrorist organization after it killed 13 police officers and wounded nine in attacks on Jan. 4.
Last month, the main U.N. human rights agency expressed concern about the upsurge in fighting, especially attacks on civilians by both sides.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the agency had “credible reports of the killing of civilians, burning of houses, arbitrary arrests, abductions, indiscriminate fire in civilian areas, and damage to cultural property.”

Hindutvadi fascism forces Muslim Assamese to eat pork

Assam: Mob thrashes 68-year-old Muslim man for selling beef, forces him to eat pork

The mob suspected 68-year-old Shaukat Ali of selling beef and cornered him. They thrashed him and also proceeded to force feed him pork. The incident took place in Assam's Biswanath Chariali.


Rights group accuses Egyptian forces of war crimes in Sinai

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces have committed widespread abuses against civilians in northern Sinai, some of which amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.
Egypt’s ground and air forces last year launched a major operation in Sinai to crush Islamist militants behind a wave of attacks against civilians and security forces. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the operation after gunmen killed hundreds of worshippers at a Sinai mosque months earlier.
The HRW report accused security forces of arbitrary arrests including children, torture, extrajudicial killings, collective punishment and forced evictions.
An Egyptian military spokesman denied the report, saying it was based on undocumented sources.
“The armed forces take into consideration the lives of civilians while implementing military operations against terrorist elements by conducting air raids outside population centres,” the military said in a statement.

The watchdog documented what it said were 50 arbitrary arrests of residents, including 39 cases where the detainee was held incommunicado at an undisclosed location.

Some died in custody because of ill-treatment and lack of medical care, HRW said.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm its findings.

The report also documented 14 cases of extrajudicial killing of detainees, using methods that match similar cases reported in a Reuters investigation published in April.

A spokesman for Egypt’s State Information Service said he would not respond before seeing the report. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry had no immediate comment.

Conflict in the Sinai escalated after President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was toppled by the military in 2013.

Tens of thousands of North Sinai’s estimated 500,000 population have been forcibly evicted or fled while thousands have been arrested and hundreds secretly detained, HRW said.

The military spokesman said the razing of houses along Egypt’s border with Gaza was based on a cabinet decision issued in 2015 and that those affected had been compensated. A new town has been built with more than 10,000 housing units, he added.

The HRW report called on the United States, which gives $1.5 billion annually in aid, and Egypt’s other international partners to halt military and security assistance.

HRW also documented abuses by Sinai Province, the local branch of Islamic State, which it said has attacked civilians, kidnapping, torturing and beheading perceived opponents.