Democracy Now – Pakistani Report on Drone Strikes

A leaked Pakistani government report has bolstered claims that civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes are far higher than the Obama administration has been willing to admit. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released figures from the Pakistani government’s own research into casualties from drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Pakistani report investigates 75 CIAdrone strikes and five operations by NATO between 2006 and 2009. It finds that the attacks left at least 746 people dead, including at least 147 civilians, 94 of them children — a conservative count given the omission of key data. The high number of civilian casualties directly contradicts statements made by senior Obama administration officials and top lawmakers. We go London to speak with Chris Woods, a reporter with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s drones investigation team, which won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism last month.

First Leaked Pakistani Report on U.S. Drone War Undermines Claims of Low Civilian Toll

Watch more Democracy Now! reports on the U.S. drone program at
http://www.democracynow.org/topics/dr….

Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,100+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday.

What a shame – Women of the Wall – home vandalized by ultra orthodox Jews!

Anat Hoffman and other Women of the Wall praying at the Wall.

Anat Hoffman has written an article “Answered Prayers” in which she announced “Judge Moshe Sobel of the Jerusalem District Court issued a groundbreaking ruling saying our group was not illegal and we would be allowed to pray at the Wall without fear of further detentions. That same week, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky sat with Women of the Wall to discuss his plan for new section that would be set aside for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. I began to receive congratulations from around the world as if the struggle was over, but, as is often the case in politics, the devil is in the details.”

Today I received the following mail informing me that Ultra Orthodox Jews have vandalized the home of one of the Woman of the Wall. What is with the ultra orthodox Jews why can’t they allow Jewish women to pray at the wall wearing their tallit? This is shameful.

—————————————-

Dear Mark,

With Anat away on a speaking tour in the United States, I wanted to update you on some disturbing patterns we have been observing here in Jerusalem.

Since the landmark Sobel ruling in Jerusalem’s District Court, which enabled Women of the Wall to pray according to their customs at the Kotel, the backlash from the ultra-Orthodox community has been growing steadily. We witnessed a wave of violence at the Kotel last Rosh Hodesh. A week ago, Peggy Cidor, a board member of Women of the Wall, had her home vandalized with threatening graffiti.

The spiritual leader of the Shas political party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has threatened to bring 100,000 protesters with him on June 9th for Rosh Chodesh.  Hopefully, this will not lead to a repeat of last month’s violent outbursts at the Western Wall.

Given the increase in violent rhetoric coming from opponents of the Sobel ruling and the Sharansky plan, it is our duty to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions. Anat is the most visible leader in the Jewish world on this issue. Her safety is always our primary concern and we will make sure that all relevant security measures are in place, both at home and in the office, to enable her continue to lead us in the fight for equality and freedom.

Meanwhile, we need to keep up the flow of emails to the Prime Minister’s office until next week, letting him know that although the ultra-Orthodox can make a big show, we are still the majority of world Jewry.

Sincerely,

Noa Sattath
Director, IRAC
Please write to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Thank you.

Ultra Orthodox Jews at the Wall threatening women of the wall who had gone to pray

This is not Iran it is Israel!

irac
L to R : 01.This one is outside the main shopping mall that is used by both secular and religious Israelis.Welcome to the Haredi Shopping Center Customers are required to respect the feelings of the residents that are faithful God and his Torah. And to wear modest dress. This includes: Closed blouses with long sleeves, long skirts, no pants, no tight or revealing dress.” 02. This one is on one of the main thoroughfare.”Women passing through this neighborhood are required to dress modestly. Including: Closed blouses with long sleeves, long skirts, no pants, and no tight or revealing dress”. 03. This sign is outside a synagogue on the main street. “Women are requested not to loiter in front of the synagogue.”

I just received this in the mail from Anat Hoffman of Irac.org. The Haredi are no better than the Mullahs. This is shameful and all self respecting Israelis must stop this….

Dear Mark,

Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen a sign reading “No shirt, No shoes, No service”? If you feel that this dress code is strict, imagine living in Beit Shemesh, where women are intimidated while walking on public streets if their clothes do not conform to a strict interpretation of modesty. A group of Orthodox women from Beit Shemesh found this situation intolerable and they came to IRAC for legal help.

Representing several of these women, last week we filed a lawsuit against the city of Beit Shemesh, claiming that city authorities have allowed a small but extreme sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews to act as a “modesty police” against the city’s residents. The suit centers on street signs that were put up in public places telling women they can only enter wearing “proper dress” and a description of the kind of dress that is considered proper. City officials, including the ultra-Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh, have so far refused to intervene and act against the radical group behind these signs, thereby giving the signs tacit approval.

It is important to understand that the four women we are representing, and the many other women who have come to us about this issue, are not radical non-conformists. They are modest Orthodox women in every sense. The stories they told us about being afraid to walk down the street for fear of men hurling insults or worse at them was heartbreaking. It is hard to fully express the level of intimidation these women are feeling.

We are suing the city for not taking steps to remove these offensive signs and we are seeking significant damages (25,000 shekels) for emotional distress on behalf of each of the women named in the case. It is our hope that the sting of Israel’s justice system will remind the officials in Beit Shemesh of their responsibilities to protect all residents.

The views of this extreme group represent neither the majority of Israelis, nor the majority of Orthodox Jews, but they hold a disproportionate amount of power because hardly anybody else besides these brave women and IRAC are pushing back or providing help against this kind of religious coercion.  .

This case accentuates how important it is for Israel to have a government that represents all its citizens. Prime Minster Netanyahu has asked for a two-week extension in forming a government. We need to keep the pressure on him to fill his cabinet with moderates. Click here to email the Prime Minister and send him that message.

L’shalom,
Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, IRAC

PS: Click here to see pictures of the signs in question

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Action Alert: Write the Prime Minister!

Use this link to write Prime Minister Netanyahu to urge him to form a government that will include parties committed to pluralism. Once you have finished you canforward the letter to your friends and post it on your Facebook page and other social media.

Human Rights Watch – Mexico – Crisis of Enforced Disappearances

Mexico

Peña Nieto Needs Strategy to Investigate, End ‘Disappearances’

(Mexico City) – Mexico’s security forces have participated in widespread enforced disappearances, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Virtually none of the victims have been found or those responsible brought to justice, exacerbating the suffering of families of the disappeared, Human Rights Watch found.

The 176-page report, “Mexico’s Disappeared: The Enduring Cost of a Crisis Ignored,”documents nearly 250 “disappearances” during the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, from December 2006 to December 2012. In 149 of those cases, Human Rights Watch found compelling evidence of enforced disappearances, involving the participation of state agents.

“President Peña Nieto has inherited one of worst crises of disappearances in the history of Latin America,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “While his administration has announced some important measures to assist victims, it has yet to take the steps necessary to ensure that those responsible for these horrific crimes are brought to justice.”

Human Rights Watch found evidence that members of all branches of the security forces carried out enforced disappearances: the Army, the Navy, and the federal and local police. In some cases, such as a series of more than 20 enforced disappearances by Navy personnel in June and July 2011 in Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, the common modus operandi of the crimes, the scale of the operations, and the inconsistent accounts by the Navy suggest the crimes may have been planned and coordinated.

In over 60 cases, Human Rights Watch found evidence that state agents collaborated directly with organized crime groups to “disappear” people and extort payments from their families. For example, evidence indicates that local police in Pesquería, Nuevo León arbitrarily detained 19 construction workers in May 2011 and handed them over to an organized crime group. The men have not been seen since.

The nearly 250 disappearances documented in the report do not represent all of the cases in Mexico since 2007. On the contrary, official statistics leave little doubt that there are thousands more. A provisional list compiled by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the Interior Ministry of more than 25,000 people who were “disappeared” or reported missing since 2006 was leaked to the media in November 2012.  

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials consistently fail to search thoroughly and promptly for people reported missing or to investigate those responsible for the disappearances. All too often, these officials blame the victims and tell families it is their responsibility to investigate, Human Rights Watch found. What limited steps prosecutors take are undermined by recurring delays, errors, and omissions.

In none of the 249 cases documented by Human Rights Watch have the people responsible been convicted for carrying out disappearances.   

The inept or altogether absent investigations exacerbate the suffering of the families, for whom not knowing what happened to their loved ones is a source of perpetual anguish. Making matters worse, families of the disappeared may lose access to basic social services that are tied to the victim’s employment, forcing them to fight slow, costly, and emotionally draining battles to restore essential benefits such as child care.

Luz María Durán Mota – whose 17-year-old son, Israel Arenas Durán, was disappeared together with three coworkers in Monterrey, Nuevo León after being detained by local police in June 2011 – told Human Rights Watch, “It is a daily torture, not knowing where he is. If they are torturing him. If he has eaten anything.”

Efforts by the Calderón administration to address this problem were belated and grossly inadequate. For most of his presidency, Calderón denied that security forces had committed human rights violations. In his last year he acknowledged that abuses had occurred and pledged to take steps to address them. But he did not fulfill most of his commitments, such as completing a national registry of the disappeared, or submitting a new legislative proposal to Congress to reform the Code of Military Justice that complied with four rulings on the issue by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The report also documents examples of positive steps at the state level to address disappearances. In Nuevo León, government officials and prosecutors, responding to pressure from victims’ families and human rights defenders, have begun to investigate seriously a select group of approximately 50 disappearance cases. While progress so far has been limited, and only a few disappeared people have been found, the collaborative effort shows how winning back the trust of victims’ families and empowering them to hold prosecutors accountable can help overcome some of the greatest obstacles to investigations.

Ultimately, the success of state-level efforts will depend in large measure on whether the federal government takes steps to address the problem. To this end, Human Rights Watch urged the Mexican government to:

  • Establish comprehensive, accurate national databases of the disappeared and of unidentified human remains;
  • Reform the Military Code of Justice to ensure that all alleged human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, committed by military personnel against civilians are investigated and prosecuted in the civilian justice system;
  • Revise the definition of enforced disappearance in federal and state laws to ensure that it is consistent across Mexico and in line with international human rights law; and
  • Issue an executive order mandating the immediate presentation of all detainees before the public prosecutor’s office and making clear that under no circumstances may detainees be taken to military installations, police stations, or illegal detention facilities.

An enforced disappearance is a “continuous” crime under international law: it persists, and continues to inflict suffering on the victim’s family, as long as the fate of the missing person is unknown or concealed.

“While disappearances may have started on Calderón’s watch, they did not end with his term,” Vivanco said. “Thousands of the disappeared are still missing. Soldiers and police are hiding the truth about their fate. And the victims’ families continue to suffer from not knowing what happened to their loved ones.”

Examples of disappearances featured in the report in which evidence strongly suggests the involvement of security forces:

  • Ten men from Guanajuato were illegally detained in December 2011 by local police in the municipality of Joaquín Amaro, Zacatecas as they returned from a hunting trip. According to two members of the group who escaped, police officers blindfolded, beat, and interrogated the men about whether they had ties to organized crime. Security camera footage shows local police later handed eight of the detainees to armed men at a gas station in Fresnillo, Zacatecas. The eight men were never seen again.
  • José Fortino Martínez Martínez was arbitrarily detained at his home in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas in June 2011 by men wearing Navy uniforms, as members of his family looked on. Relatives of Martínez and other men abducted that night took photographs and video footage of the vehicles that participated in the detentions, which bear Navy insignia. In July, Martínez’s wife met with federal prosecutors and representatives of the Ministry of the Interior to request investigations into her husband’s disappearance. Three days later, her home was sprayed with bullets.
  • Roberto Iván Hernández García and Yudith Yesenia Rueda García, both age 17, were abducted from the home of Rueda’s grandmother in Monterrey, Nuevo León, on March 11, 2011, by men wearing federal police uniforms. Several family members witnessed their illegal detention. Approximately a week later, a man came to Hernández’s home and warned a relative that if the family wanted to avoid more children being taken, they should not report the case to authorities. Hernández and Rueda have not been seen since.
  • Oscar Germán Herrera Rocha, Ezequiel Castro Torrecillas, Sergio Arredondo Sicairos, and Octavio del Billar Piña all called their spouses separately to tell them they had been stopped by local police at a gas station in Francisco I. Madero, Coahuila in May 2009. They were never seen again. Three people disappeared in identical circumstances in the same location the previous month.

List of Terrorist Organisations Proscribed by the British Home Office

Invisible Palestinians  PROSCRIPTION CRITERIA

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home Secretary may proscribe an organisation if they believe it is concerned in terrorism. For the purposes of the Act, this means that it:

commits or participates in acts of terrorism;
prepares for terrorism;
promotes or encourages terrorism (including the unlawful glorification of terrorism);
or is otherwise concerned in terrorism.

If the statutory test is met, there are other factors which the Secretary of State will take into account when deciding whether or not to exercise their discretion to proscribe. These criteria are:

the nature and scale of an organisation’s activities;
the specific threat that it poses to the UK;
the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas;
the extent of the organisation’s presence in the UK; and
the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism.

Proscription makes it a criminal offence to:

belong to or invite support for a proscribed organisation.
arrange a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation.
wear clothing or carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of the proscribed organisation.

The penalties for proscription offences can be a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a £5,000

The information about the groups’ aims was given to Parliament when they were proscribed.

Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Al-Gama’at al-Islamiya (GI)
Al Ghurabaa
Al Ittihad Al Islamia (AIAI)
Al Qa’ida (AQ)
Inspired and led by Usama Bin Laden, its aims are the expulsion of Western forces from Saudi Arabia, the destruction of Israel and the end of Western influence in the Muslim world.
Al Shabaab
Ansar Al Islam (AI)
Ansar Al Sunna (AS)
Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa) (Ansaru)
The aim of the GIA is to create an Islamic state in Algeria using all necessary means, including violence.
Asbat Al-Ansar (‘League of Partisans’ or ‘Band of Helpers’)
Babbar Khalsa (BK)
Basque Homeland and Liberty (Euskadi ta Askatasuna) (ETA)
Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA)
BLA are comprised of tribal groups based in the Baluchistan area of Eastern Pakistan, which aims to establish an independent nation encompassing the Baluch dominated areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ)
Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain (GICM)
Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades
Harakat-Ul-Jihad-Ul-Islami (HUJI)
Harakat-Ul-Jihad-Ul-Islami (Bangladesh) (HUJI-B)
Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen/Alami (HuM/A) and Jundallah.
Harakat Mujahideen (HM)
Hizballah Military Wing
Hezb-E Islami Gulbuddin (HIG)
Indian Mujahideen (IM)
IM aims to establish an Islamic state and implement Sharia law in India using violent means.
International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)
ISYF is an organisation committed to the creation of an independent state of Khalistan for Sikhs within India.
Islamic Army of Aden (IAA)
Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Jaish e Mohammed (JeM)
Jammat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)
Jeemah Islamiyah (JI)
Khuddam Ul-Islam (Kul) and splinter group Jamaat Ul-Furquan (JuF)
Kongra Gele Kurdistan (PKK)
Lashkar e Tayyaba (LT)
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad – Shaqaqi (PIJ)
Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Party – Front (Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi – Cephesi) (DHKP-C)
Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Groupe Salafiste pour la Predication et le Combat) (GSPC)
Saved Sect or Saviour Sect
Sipah-E Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) (Aka Millat-E Islami Pakistan (MIP) – SSP was renamed MIP in April 2003 but is still referred to as SSP) and splinter group Lashkar-E Jhangvi (LeJ)
The aim of both SSP and LeJ is to transform Pakistan by violent means into a Sunni state under the total control of Sharia law. Another objective is to have all Shia declared Kafirs and to participate in the destruction of other religions, notably Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism.
Tehrik Nefaz-e Shari’at Muhammadi (TNSM)
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan (TAK)
TAK is a Kurdish terrorist group currently operating in Turkey.
(Note: Mujaheddin e Khalq (MeK) was removed from the list of proscribed organisations in June 2008, as a result of judgements of the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission and the Court of Appeal).

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LIST OF PROSCRIBED NORTHERN IRISH GROUPS

Continuity Army Council
Cumann na mBan
Fianna na hEireann
Irish National Liberation Army
Irish People’s Liberation Organisation
Irish Republican Army
Loyalist Volunteer Force
Orange Volunteers
Red Hand Commando
Red Hand Defenders
Saor Eire
Ulster Defence Association
Ulster Freedom Fighters
Ulster Volunteer Force
Home Office
23 November 2012
 
And now Britain has its very own homegrown movements….born and fed in Britain.
download (5)
 
 
The recent expose by a British publication on the life  and hate speeches of Anjem Choudary is a clear indication that “loving hands at Home” have permitted this for reasons best known to the puerile politicians.
 

Dear Anat Hoffman we support the Women of the Wall!

Anat Hoffman, Rabbis Jeremy Gordon & Moshe Freedman debate Women of the Wall and who owns Judaism. 

Arrest of Anat Hoffman at the Wall. She was strip searched and made to sleep on the floor of a prison cell for the night!

Anat and the Women of the Wall ….we are with you…don’t give up…you are the true face of Israel!

xxx

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013, one billion women will dance, dance to highlight the atrocities committed against them, sing for equality, and celebrate freedom of Self.  Let us begin to be the change.

LINK

Omar Abdullah why are you sympathetic towards Mohammad Afzal Guru?

The Indian media is all about how you “feel” about the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru.

Have you also shared how you feel about his involvement in the terrorist attack on the Parliament which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war? Have you admitted that due process of law had been followed? Have you on the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru aired your feelings for those killed in the terrorist attack on the Parliament?

On the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru all you can say is that the Kashmiri youth feel alienated. So are you suggesting that the Kashmiri youth sympathise with the terrorist acts of Mohammad Afzal Guru?

What are you saying? That his family was not allowed one last meeting with the deadly terrorist and therefore you feel a great injustice has occurred?

Thousands of Kashmiris Pandits since the height of terrorist activity in the Kashmir Valley were killed, chased out of the Valley by “Kashmiri Muslim terrorists”. They lost everything. They are the indigenous people of Kashmir “before” Islam arrived with the sword. One doesn’t read how you feel about the Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus). Nor does one read how “much” you have done for those dispossessed Kashmiri Pandits.

Is there something that we are missing?

I do hope you recall when you were sworn in as Chief Minister you swore allegiance to the Indian Constitution. One sincerely hopes that you haven’t forgotten this oath.

Your statement ““Like it or not, the execution has reinforced the point that there is no justice. We will have to deal with how we can change that sort of alienation,” the Chief Minister” – I think this says it all.

Is it because  Mohammad Afzal Guru is a Muslim from Kashmir and those on death row like Rajiv Gandhi’s killers are not that you feel this grave injustice? Why don’t you say it aloud…shout it from the rooftops!

Thankfully your illustrious father Sheikh Farooq Abdullah has rightly contradicted you and set the record straight by saying, “As far as I am concerned the courts had given the death sentence. His plea was put in front of the President. He rejected the plea. The matter is over.”

Justice has been done and Afazal Guru hanged. Deal with it and look inwards towards your own and question why such things are occurring and why the Kashmiri Pandits have still not received compensation from your State.

What you should be looking for is a Kashmiri Gandhi instead of feeling “sorry” for Mohammad Afzal Guru, a deadly terrorist who got his due.

I. like many stand, by the Government of India’s decision to go ahead with the hanging of Afzal. The Government has done the right thing.

The Myth of Mother India

http://liveencounters.net/?page_id=2555
 
A woman is molested every 12 minutes,
burnt for dowry every hour
and raped every 21 minutes.
(Praful Bidwai Column LINK)
 

Rape, female foeticide, casteism and slavery are diseases that are endemic in the world’s largest democracy. But where do these sordid social afflictions originate from and why has the mindset of Indian society been largely resistant to the legitimate protests from women’s rights groups and enlightened citizens?

Will 2013 be a watershed year for the emancipation of the Indian woman?

The “Amanat” rape case in Delhi, which is believed to be the rape capital of the country by statistics, has unraveled the myth of Mother India. Perhaps it should be called Father India because of its skewered patriarchal society that continues to treat the Woman as a receptacle for the male libido, breeding machine and domestic help… an appendage to Man. The myth of Mother India has been perpetuated based on the premise that the country is the spiritual mother – strong, passionate, loving, forgiving…And that the people rest in her embrace. A movie was made portraying the ‘super Indian woman with high moral values overcoming all life’s hardships’.

In reality this personification of the Indian woman has just been raped.

In fact, this has been going on for a very long time and the image perceived and flaunted of “Mother India” exists in the realms of fantasy. One has only to read how Sita ended her life in the Ramayana and the fate of Draupadi in the Mahabharata to understand the psyche of many Indian men who view women as a sub -species.

In the aftermath of the Delhi rape there were quite a few misogynistic statements by Indian politicians. Here are some classic examples:

01. “One has to abide by certain moral limits. If you cross this limit, you will be punished, just like Sita was abducted by Ravana” – LINK.

02. The President of India’s son has said, “These pretty ladies coming out to protest are ‘highly dented and painted’,” LINK.

03. “Rapes are rare in “Bharat” (rural India) but occur frequently in “India” LINK.

04. “Restrict women to household work” LINK

05. “Rape of grown-ups understandable but not of minors” LINK

Religion is a controlling tool for man as no one dares argue with his interpretations. The man interprets/makes/imposes the religious laws, while the woman is supposed to obediently comply. Followed closely by religion is the wretched caste system which continues to exist and in some areas flourish thanks to the Great Indian Middle Class, the powerful Indian media and caste politics. One has only to glance through the matrimonial pages/supplements of leading newspapers to view the evidence; and also to trace the machinations of political parties that play vote bank politics.

It is the caste system and the class divide that adds to the Indian woman’s vulnerability. This is reflected in the disparity between the educated Indian Middle Class and the great unwashed; homeless and lower class people of rural India, bonded labourers (people bought/sold into slavery), subsistence farmers and daily wage workers in cities… nearly 400 million living on or below the poverty line. (61 people were set free from a life of slavery in India, including children as young as 5, by International Justice Mission – LINK).

Around 77% of the country’s population lives on Rs.20 (00.40cents) per day (Ranjana Padhi’s interview in Live Encounters January 2013 – LINK). These people who have every right to assistance from the State are often subject to abuse. The women in particular face the daunting task of surviving beatings and/or sexual abuse. Even children a few years of age, little girls, fall prey to the sexual depravity of men who know these helpless people cannot retaliate nor seek justice because the System fails miserably.

There are instances where the police themselves have taken sexual advantage of these poor folk. criminal apathy is the order of the day. (A sting operation by Tehelka targeting 23 police stations across the Delhi NCR reveals that men in uniform have a strict litmus test when it comes to determining “real” rape cases. According to their stringent criteria, almost all women deserve to be raped. LINK).

The massive demonstrations in Delhi showed the class divide – women from the educated classes in Metros are more ‘important’ than those of the lesser class… the great unwashed. The class divide is self evident in these two instances that failed to ignite the Nation:

01. Sikar, Rajasthan – An eleven year old girl abducted/raped by six men and after a day left on the roadside bleeding profusely. Five months till date she lies in a hospital after 14 reconstructive surgeries. The men who raped her are believed to have told the family, “You are poor, what can you do? Take some money and take back the case”. LINK

02. Kerala – The Suryanelli rape case. A sixteen year old abducted/raped by a bus conductor and then passed onto others. She was raped by 42 men in 40 days and left on the roadside seriously injured for she couldn’t sit or stand. The Supreme Court is hearing her case after an 8-year gap. LINK

There are no voices for the girl in Sikar and the other in Kerala. The silence from the Indian Middle Class and political parties is deafening. The less said about the response from religious leaders the better.

India has a fixation with the ‘Mother’. Here men adore their mothers and sisters and yet torture and abuse their daughters-in-law for insufficient dowry, sometimes murdering them. Rampant female foeticide, new born girls abandoned on garbage dumps and other public places is wide spread even among the educated classes. The Indian State of Haryana is said to have the lowest male-female ratio. Their men have to look as far as Karnataka in south India for brides. There is no Mother India. It is a myth based on warped perceptions and an embedded Oedipus complex. The sooner Indians except this and work towards creating a living breathing Mother India the better it would be for the position of women in this country.

One hopes that the massive protests in Delhi and elsewhere across the country will bring about a social change in India, a country contaminated by the caste system, class system, puerile caste politics and religious fundamentalism. The change will only come if the Indian middle class, intelligentsia, national media and enlightened politicians come together as a cohesive force to be the Change!

Perhaps a brave new world for the much abused Indian women will begin in 2013.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

The Government of India has hastily passed Justice Verma’s report as an ordinance leaving out important key demands made by the Verma Commission such as: the prosecution of security personnel (AFPSA), barring politicians who have been either accused or convicted of rape from standing for elections, marital rape and more. The Indian Law Minister has stated that the Ordinance will be discussed in Parliament when it is presented to be converted into an ACT and then political parties/people can debate the various issues involved. This has been vociferously objected to by Women’s Rights activists.

Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal is a joke and disgrace to all Bangladeshis!

Will Bangladeshis get justice after 43 years. I doubt it!

This is shameful. It dishonors all those Bangladeshis who fought and died in the war of independence from Pakistan.

The latest news is that an Islamist leader, Abdul Quader Mollah,  convicted of war crimes was spared execution. He has been given a life term. Mollah,64, is assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami of the country’s biggest Islamist party. You know what this means?

Bangladesh became part of Pakistan at the end of British rule in 1947 but broke away in 1971 after a war between Bangladeshi nationalists, backed by India, and Pakistani forces that cost 3 million lives, saw thousands of women raped, and forced nearly one million people to flee to India.

–  Some factions in what was then East Pakistan opposed the break with Pakistan, and numerous abuses were committed during the nine-month war. Jamaat-e-Islami denies accusations that it opposed independence and helped the Pakistani army.

It appears that the Jamaat-e-Islami, a powerful Islamic political party controls Bangladesh and it is the followers of this ruthless party that has taken complete control of Bangladesh.

Incidentally, large amounts of money has/is being transferred from Pakistan to the Jamaat-e-Islami to help it take complete control of this beautiful country, Bangladesh!

What a pity that Bangladesh is being controlled by right wing Islamic thugs.

Will history repeat itself?

– I suppose if one wants to control people – put the fear of God and the resident mullah in them.

Olympics 2014 Russia: Migrant Olympic Workers Cheated Exploited

russia0213_reportcover_0

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT

At 1-Year Countdown to Winter Games, IOC Intervention Urgently Needed

(Lausanne) – Migrant workers building sites and infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, have been cheated and exploited. With exactly one year to go before the Winter Olympics, Russia and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should make rigorous monitoring of workers’ rights on Olympic construction sites a top priority to prevent further abuses.

The 67-page report, “Race to the Bottom: Exploitation of Migrant Workers Ahead of Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi,” documents exploitation of migrant workers on key Olympic sites, including the Central Olympic Stadium, the Main Olympic Village, and the Main Media Center. Workers told Human Rights Watch that some employers cheated workers out of wages, required them to work 12-hour shifts with few days off, and confiscated passports and work permits, apparently to coerce workers to remain in exploitative jobs.

“Like the athletes competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia has big hopes and dreams for its performance in Sochi as the host,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “But exploiting workers is a victory for no one, and Russia urgently needs to change course.”
In preparation for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in February and March 2014, Russia has radically transformed the Black Sea coast resort town of Sochi and nearby Caucasus Mountains by building state-of-the-art sports venues, lavish hotels, and ultra-modern transportation and telecommunications systems. Russian officials see the area becoming “a premier winter sports destination.” The large number of construction projects in Sochi has required an influx of tens of thousands of workers, including over 16,000 migrant workers from outside of Russia.

Human Rights Watch’s report is based on interviews with 66 migrant workers employed on Olympic and other construction sites in Sochi from 2009 through 2012. The workers came from Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. Nearly all workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Sochi worked in low-wage, low-skill jobs such as odd-jobs workers, carpenters, welders, or steel fitters. They reported typical earnings of between 55 and 80 rubles (US$1.80 to $2.60) an hour.
Workers consistently reported that employers failed to pay full wages and in some cases failed to pay workers at all. A group of workers employed on the Main Media Center, the central hub for journalists covering the Olympics, worked for months without wages, hoping to be paid. One worker from Uzbekistan, “Omurbek,” said that in December 2011 a subcontractor on the site offered him a job paying $770 per month.
“I worked for almost three months … for nothing. Nothing but promises, promises from them,” Omurbek told Human Rights Watch.

In a letter to Human Rights Watch, a subcontractor for the Main Media Center project who the workers said hired them, claimed that its workers are paid on time and in full.

Numerous workers on the Central Olympic Stadium site and on the Main Olympic Village site interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that employers withheld the first month’s wages. Workers received their first payment only after working for two months, and were told they would get the first month’s wages only after the employer decided they had completed the job. If they quit or were fired, they would not recover the first month’s wages.
In letters to Human Rights Watch, the general contractor for the Central Stadium, Engeocom, and the project manager, Botta Management Group, denied the workers’ allegations after Human Rights Watch wrote to them.

All migrant workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Sochi said that they worked long hours with very few days off. Work sites maintained a system of two 12-hour shifts. Workers most often said they worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., with a one-hour break for meals and for changing into and out of work gear. They typically worked seven days a week, with just one day off every two weeks, for long stretches. Russian law specifies a 40-hour work week, overtime pay, and at least one day off per week.

Human Rights Watch also documented abuses on a hotel complex that will accommodate thousands of journalists covering the Olympics. Two men who had been on the site for nearly three months said they came to Sochi from Ukraine in March 2012 with 13 other workers. They were promised $1,500 per month, as well as free accommodations and food. The workers did not receive employment contracts. The men worked for weeks without days off and were not paid the promised wages.

The foreman of the group, “Viktor,” said they continued working because their employer repeatedly promised to pay them.

“We will work until tomorrow and then see,” he told Human Rights Watch. “Each day, we will work until tomorrow, hoping to be paid.” After more than two months of work, each of the workers received only around $420, a fraction of what they had been promised. All of the workers except one returned to Ukraine in May 2012.
The company the workers said they worked for, MonArch, a Russian construction company, wrote to Human Rights Watch in December 2012 and said it has “strict rules about the hiring … of workers,” and that these workers may have been hired by one of MonArch’s subcontractors. MonArch denied responsibility for the actions of its subcontractors.

“Athletes, journalists, and Olympic ticket holders in Sochi will watch the 2014 Winter Games in iconic modern sports venues, broadcast centers, and hotels,” Buchanan said. “But many migrant workers have toiled in exploitative, abusive conditions to build these shimmering façades and luxurious interiors.”

Although most migrant workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch signed employment contracts, most were not given copies. In some cases, workers were not given contracts at all.

In several cases documented by Human Rights Watch, employers retaliated against foreign migrant workers who protested abuses by denouncing them to the authorities, resulting in the workers’ expulsion from Russia. Cases like this highlight the vulnerable situation for migrant workers in Russia, particularly those without contracts to document their employment, Human Rights Watch said.

Accommodations and housing are typically provided to the workers as a component of their compensation. But the housing was frequently overcrowded, and the meals were insufficient to sustain workers, given their long hours and demanding work, Human Rights Watch found. Human Rights Watch researchers looked at housing provided to the workers and found that in some cases up to 200 workers lived in very cramped conditions in a single family home. Workers interviewed also described similarly overcrowded conditions in worker barracks.

The Russian authorities, including the State Corporation Olympstroy, which is responsible for delivering hundreds of Olympics-related structures and infrastructure projects, have obligations under national and international law to ensure labor protections. Olympstroy has made a public commitment to protect labor rights on sites falling within the Olympic program and requires contractors engaged in Olympic construction to respect Russian labor law. Olympstroy established an internal department to cooperate with the regional labor inspectorate to monitor workers’ rights on sites that fall within the Olympic program.

Private companies managing and building these sites also have responsibilities to ensure that they respect the workers’ rights, Human Rights Watch said. They should undertake due diligence to identify and prevent human rights problems both in regard to their own practices and the practices of their subcontractors.

“Olympstroy has made some important public commitments, but the patterns of abuse on Olympic sites strongly suggest an inability or unwillingness to take all the steps necessary to guarantee basic rights for migrant workers,” Buchanan said. “We’re not talking about problems with just one worker or violations by one particularly bad employer. We’re talking about serious, consistent reports from workers on several of the major Olympic sites.”

The IOC, which coordinates the Games, sees them as a “force for good” and includes promoting the Olympic ideal of human dignity among its priorities. Since 2009, the IOC has taken its responsibility to preserve human dignity to include a commitment to intervene at the level of a host country’s Olympic Games Organizing Committee in the event of serious abuse. This commitment includes intervening to end abuses against migrant workers at Olympic construction sites. However, the IOC has failed to address protection of workers’ rights in Sochi comprehensively, Human Rights Watch said.

In view of the documented, persistent human rights concerns that arise in the context of Olympic preparations, Human Rights Watch calls on the IOC to establish a standing committee on human rights that would engage with host countries to set, monitor, and enforce human rights commitments.

“As the IOC meets in Sochi this week to celebrate the one-year countdown to the 2014 Winter Games, it has a chance to make a strong statement about respect for human dignity by publicly calling on the Russian authorities to put an end to worker exploitation,” Buchanan said. “The Olympic Games are about excellence and inspiration. The world should not cheer Winter Games in Russia that are built on a foundation of exploitation and abuse.”