Aug 17, 11
Commentary on Missionary Intention
Agenzia Fides - Vatican City - July 26, 2011
"May Western Christians, compliant to the Holy Spirit, rediscover the freshness and enthusiasm of their faith"
the primitive Church, due to persecution and the evangelical zeal of the first
disciples, the apostles and their collaborators spread throughout the land known
at the time. St. Paul evangelized Greece and reached Spain and Rome, where he
was martyred. Even St. Peter gave his life for the Master near the Vatican Hill.
From the capital of the Roman Empire, the faith of Christ spread throughout
Europe, influencing the culture and permeating all aspects of the gospel in
social life. Western civilization was built on Christian values, a vision of man
marked by his being the son of God, by his eternal destiny in Christ.
new evangelization of the continent spread around the world, a culture that is
rooted in the Gospel and is inseparable from faith. Unfortunately, the
eighteenth century begins with the Enlightenment in Europe, a wave of
secularism, which has the pretext to get rid of its Christian identity
throughout the West. This wave of secularism leads to Christianophobia, as
stated by Pope Benedict XVI. Secularism has the effect of bringing man to live
as if God did not exist. This has produced a great lack of hope, which manifests
itself in a certain angst about the future, in the decline in birth rate, in the
number of vocations, and an inability for the young to make definite decisions
for their lives, including marriage.
his visit to Santiago de Compostela, in November 2010, the Holy Father Benedict
XVI said: "It is a tragedy that in Europe, especially in the nineteenth
century, the conviction that God is the enemy of man and the enemy of his
freedom was affirmed and spread. (...) God is the source of our being and the
foundation and peak of our freedom, not its opponent. (...) How is it possible
that the first public silence occurred regarding the first and essential reality
of human life? "(Holy Mass on the occasion of the Holy Year in Compostela,
Plaza del Congreso, on November 6, 2010).
disciples of Christ in the West must actually recover the enthusiasm for the
faith, overcoming consumerist materialism and open up to a transcendent
dimension of life. It is necessary to rediscover the person of Christ as Someone
who is alive, who is among us. It is necessary to find new space for silence and
meditation on the Word of God, to enter in communion with the person of Jesus.
So this is why the Pope has called Christians to "follow the example of the
apostles, getting to know the Lord more each day and offering a clear and
courageous testimony of his Gospel".
Mary, Queen of the Apostles, obtain for us with her maternal intercession a new
effusion of the Holy Spirit so that the Church in the West may be renewed.
by Vivienne Walt
- July 18, 2011
Abdel-Hady still shudders at the memory of that morning in 2006 when he was
summoned to Egypt's Ministry of Investment and handed a three-page document.
"They said, 'Just sign,'" says Abdel-Hady, a ministry official who had
been charged with evaluating privatization deals. The document authorized the
sale of Omar Effendi, one of Egypt's biggest chains of state-owned department
stores, for "the amount stipulated on the attachment," says
Abdel-Hady. Yet there was no attachment. When Abdel-Hady hesitated, his
colleagues ordered him not to question the document. Three days later, all 82
department stores plus the land on which they stood were sold to a Saudi
businessman for about $99 million — a fraction of what Abdel-Hady had
previously estimated they were worth. "The government was in a hurry to
sell," he says bitterly, "no questions asked."
the questions are coming thick and fast. In the space of a few months, the Arab
Spring has shattered years of silence over corrupt backroom deals, which have
been a feature of business in the region for decades. People are now free to
challenge what happened under their ousted dictators and are demanding back
billions of dollars that they claim leaders, along with their relatives and top
officials, siphoned off and often stashed abroad. "These economies operated
under a cloak of opacity," says Anthea Lawson of Global Witness, an
anticorruption research organization in London. "Corruption was the entire
basis of these uprisings, and people were sufficiently furious to risk their
lives and try and overthrow it."
Tunisia, the economy was dominated by relatives of President Zine el Abidine Ben
Ali, who fled on Jan. 14. His family owned houses in Paris, the Alps and the
south of France. Switzerland froze about $69 million of the ruling clan's bank
deposits, while both the French and Swiss governments impounded private planes
belonging to the family.
the first demands of Libya's rebels when the revolt erupted in Benghazi in
February was for Europe and the U.S. to freeze all assets of Muammar Gaddafi and
his family members, who are worth billions, according to estimates by officials
who defected. Just a few of those now frozen assets: an office building in
London's West End, 3% of the British publisher Pearson, a stake in Italy's
Juventus football club and a 7,000-hectare spread on Spain's Costa del Sol.
missing fortunes appear equally staggering and were a driving force behind the
revolt. Months after Hosni Mubarak finally abandoned his nearly 30-year rule,
many in Cairo believe the revolution might have stalled in early February, its
activists exhausted and cold, had it not been for an article in Britain's
Guardian newspaper on Feb. 4 that estimated the Mubarak family fortune at $40
billion to $70 billion, including homes in Beverly Hills, Manhattan and London's
article caused a sensation in Egypt. "I was in Tahrir Square when that
story broke, and I trembled," says Hossam Issa, a commercial-law professor
at Cairo's Ain Shams University. "My first reaction was, 'This could be a
way to topple Mubarak.'" Issa was right. Within a day of the story's
publication, tens of thousands more Egyptians poured into the square to join the
protests, many of them poor people chanting, "Mubarak stole $70
billion." Within a week, Mubarak was gone.
for all the fury over stolen billions, it will not be easy to take the alleged
loot home. In numerous interviews, financial experts in Switzerland, Britain and
the U.S. say tracing the dictators' fortunes — including that of Gaddafi, who
is still in power — is just the first daunting challenge. Most countries
require those trying to recover stolen assets to identify the people who have
hidden money, jewels or other riches and where the assets are. "You cannot
just go on a fishing expedition," says Lawson. "You have to know what
you are looking for."
officials in Egypt, Tunisia and rebel-held eastern Libya are scrambling to piece
together the puzzle of their leaders' wealth in order to submit the raft of
documents required by foreign banks. Their work is greatly complicated by the
reluctance of most public servants and other sources to divulge details, which
could land them in jail for years, depending on who ends up in power. Since only
a few officials know where to look, there is pressure to find the assets
quickly. "The risk in cases like these is that nobody knows where the money
is and that people die and the documents are never recovered," says Pierre
Schifferli, a Geneva attorney who helped recover billions embezzled by Nigerian
President Sani Abacha and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. "Marcos'
money was so well hidden that not even his family members knew where it
was," Schifferli says. "It's like hiding 30 Easter eggs in the garden,
and the kids find 28 of them. For a long time you will think, 'Where the heck
are the other two?'A quarter-century later, Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gaddafi are
believed to have deposited assets in dozens of countries, including the Gulf
states and elsewhere in Asia, where governments have been slow to help trace
them. Wealth left at home is an easier target. Tunisian investigators have
uncovered hoards of jewels and cash in Ben Ali's palaces, while Libya's
central-bank governor, Farhat Bengdara, who defected in March, estimates that
Gaddafi keeps about $500 million in cash in Tripoli, as well as about 155 tons
of gold bars, worth about $7.5 billion.
the missing funds is Step 1. Government officials in Egypt and Tunisia and, if
Gaddafi is one day ousted, Libya will then have to prove in court, both at home
and in countries where the missing funds are, that the wealth was illegally
obtained. "It is not a crime to be wealthy and to have a political
role," says Daniel Thelesklaf, co — executive director of the Basel
Institute on Governance in Switzerland, who flew to Cairo in May to advise
officials on how to try to recover the Mubarak regime's fortunes. The Ministers
of Tourism and the Interior under Mubarak have already been convicted of
stealing public funds and are serving long prison terms. Mubarak's Finance
Minister, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, fled Egypt to avoid the same fate, but in early
July he was acquitted of squandering public funds. Other cases could be more
difficult to prove, since so many officials were also major businessmen.
"The picture is never black and white," Thelesklaf says. Egyptians say
corruption has long pervaded their daily lives and that they still grease palms
in order to park a car, rent an apartment or renew a passport. But the
multibillion-dollar corruption within the regime's top ranks was more opaque.
for those with political connections, there were fortunes to be made during the
1990s and 2000s. As Egypt, Tunisia and Libya began privatizing their state-run
economies and opening to Western investment, partly in response to World Bank
and IMF demands, there was a frenzy of dealmaking on everything from land to
energy, power plants to mobile-phone licenses, with assets hurriedly bought,
sold and then resold without tenders. In Tunisia, Ben Ali's in-laws, the
Trabelsi clan, ultimately came to control much of the economy by acquiring
hugely lucrative multinational subsidiaries, like Toyota dealerships, Carrefour
supermarkets and the Orange telecom company, at very low cost.
Cairo, Ahmed el-Sayed el-Naggar of the Center for Political and Strategic
Studies for the government-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, spent years documenting how
Mubarak's political associates bought public assets in no-bid deals at fire-sale
prices, then resold them for profits in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In
2000, Mubarak's close aide Ahmed Ezz, who is now in detention on corruption
charges, was allowed to buy a large tract of land near the Gulf of Suez for just
$16 per sq m on the condition that he build a factory there. He built a
metalworks, which he still owns, then sold the land within months to a Kuwaiti
company, making about $37 million in profit. "Nobody wanted to put any
obstacles in the way of privatization," el-Naggar says. "Not a single
deal was correct."
Arab revolutions could change all that. In Egypt, dozens of officials face
charges of abusing their power in making huge profits. On May 24, Mubarak and
his sons Alaa and Gamal were indicted on corruption charges. Tunisian officials
have frozen assets of 110 members of Ben Ali's regime as well as numerous
Trabelsi relatives. Libya's sovereign-wealth fund, valued at more than $50
billion last year, has been frozen under U.N. sanctions. U.N. investigators are
probing whether member states have in fact frozen the assets in the fund, but
their task is complicated, since the fund's investments were scattershot and its
record keeping erratic, according to KPMG, which the Libyan government hired
early last year to try to organize the fund's management. Shortly before the
global economic meltdown in 2008, the fund invested more than $2.3 billion with
Goldman Sachs and lost about 98% of the money once the crisis hit.
mid-May, three months after Mubarak was driven from power, an Egyptian judge
finally annulled the 2006 sale of the Omar Effendi department stores, ruling
that the deal had been fraudulent. For Abdel-Hady, the ministry official who
recounted being ordered to sign the sale documents, it was a personal
vindication. Egyptian authorities are looking into whether then Minister of
Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin — who is now managing director of the World Bank
in Washington — violated any laws in the flurry of deals under his watch,
including that of the Omar Effendi department stores. To the millions struggling
to find jobs and make a living in a deeply unequal society, bringing back their
countries' lost billions is not only a matter of justice. It would signify that
their revolution has been a success. That's a victory the Arab world may have to
wait years for.
and the need to form world citizens by Imtiyaz Yusuf
Nation - July 26, 2011
is leading to uniform global patterns in consumerism and materialism, however,
mutuality in religious and cultural diversity is lacking.
ideological group of the world's population - secular, atheist, religious,
agnostic - refuses to accept the other and remains entrenched in its own
worldview. Such attitudes lead to religious and non-religious forms of
problem of entrenchment of prejudices is the result of conditioning in
mono-racial, mono-ethnic and mono-cultural environments. Europe was mono-racial
and mono-religious until the immigration of outsiders after World War II; the
Muslim world was multiracial, multicultural but mono-religious; Africa was
largely mono-racial until Arabs, Europeans and Asians settled there; South Asia
had been mono-racial until the coming of Islam and Christianity that turned it
into a multi-communal region; Southeast Asian countries were always
early historical trends in globalisation occurred in the Indian Ocean because of
maritime movements between Asia and Africa; similar movements occurred along the
Silk Route, giving these regions early forms of multiculturalism.
20th-century trend of globalisation occurred in a different economic and
technological environment shaped by the global market and multinational
institutions. Contemporary globalisation is based in essential features of
modernity such as reason, science, technology and global capitalism; it is also
based in the modern philosophy of separation between religion and society. This
last feature of modernity has created social tensions in emerging multicultural
societies, resulting in the emergence of secular and religious fundamentalism
and ethnoreligious separatism.
the formerly mono-racial Western societies became culturally diverse due to the
increase in Asian and African immigration, they faced the challenge of
multicultural integration, which caused Islamophobia to grow among the host
societies. The roots of Islamophobia lie in the history of contacts between
Christianity and Islam, which the former saw as a heresy. Meanwhile, Asia and
Africa, in their encounter with modernity and globalisation in a mostly
semi-secular environment, witnessed increasing exclusivism focusing on
ethnoreligious identities. This resulted in citizens taking refuge in religious
conservatism, religious fundamentalism, ethnoreligious separatism and also
succumbing to consumer/materialist culture, while other sections of the world
population entered into a postmodern condition of unbelief in meta-narratives.
of the main reasons behind the rise of ethnoreligious conflicts and religious
extremism today is not poverty but racial and cultural discrimination faced by
the youth, be it in London, Paris, Sydney, New York or in certain Asian cities.
As a result, the youth are attracted to religious extremist propaganda or
antisocial political rhetoric of a fascist type. In Asia, meanwhile,
mono-ethnoreligious communities which had coexisted with other religious
minorities without engaging in inter-religious dialogue are succumbing to
xenophobia. This scenario is a far cry from historical precedents, with Muslim
Spain or the Ottoman Millet system of autonomous communities providing examples
of cultures of tolerance in which the Muslims, Jews and Christians coexisted
Germany, France, the United Kingdom and others embarked on a policy of
multiculturalism to deal with problems resulting from the racial and religious
diversification of their societies. Each country interpreted multiculturalism
differently depending upon its national ideology. Germany believed that its
mostly Turkish workers would soon return to Turkey, while France hoped that its
non-European populace would assimilate into French secular culture - but neither
happened. Rather, some sections of the second-generation youth of the immigrant
community began laying emphasis on their religious identity as a response to
social discrimination, while sections of indigenous European youth became
radicalised by resorting to rightwing racism. This marked the failure of the
Asia, some Hindu, Muslim and other youth, too, became ethnically and religiously
exclusivistic by being drawn into fundamentalism and religious conservatism.
reason for such developments is the non-development of the human as
"homo-religiosus" - total human being rather than a fragmented person,
ie, one who has a broader understanding of faith and the history of religion.
Besides food and air we also possess the faculty of faith, which enables us to
be in tune with cosmic patterns. The modern venture of multiculturalism lacks
this aspect; it places diverse humanity into ethnoreligious and cultural boxes.
As a superficial project, it has failed to produce multicultural citizens who
recognise human diversity as natural to human existence.
all societies face the challenge of accepting human diversity, be it at national
or international levels, without which there will be little peace. In the case
of the Muslim world today, non-recognition of cultural diversity on the part of
its political and religious leadership has resulted in the separation of
Southern Sudan, the tragedy in Darfur, the Kurdish problem, etc. It has also led
to the rise of the spectre of sectarian violence in the current tumultuous
Middle East and inter-religious conflicts in Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, etc.
problem of religious conflict is not restricted to the Muslim world; the
challenge of pluralism in Southeast Asia, the communal religious tensions in
South Asia and the rise of rightwing groups in Europe tell us that there is a
worldwide need to produce citizens who recognise cultural diversity as a natural
boon and who are ready for dialogue. Such a venture has to be a pedagogical
undertaking, otherwise, while being materialistically uniform, we would become
dehumanised beings. In the case of the Muslims, it is imperative that they
adhere to the meaning of the Quranic references which they often cite, ie,
"Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made
you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily,
the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious
of Him." (Quran 49:13); "There is no compulsion in religion."
(Quran 2:256.) This means that followers of all religions should enjoy freedom
to practice their respective religions in all Muslim countries, while members of
other religions and ideologies will also need to develop their ways of
recognising human diversity from their own sources in a dialogical form. On the
occasion of Switzerland's banning of minarets, John Esposito asked the Swiss
citizens a question, "Are Swiss Alps Threatened by Minarets?".
Obviously, such fears do not augur well for forming world citizens.
Imtiyaz Yusuf is professor of Islamics and Religion at the Graduate School of
Philosophy and Religion, Assumption University, Bangkok.
illness suffer medieval treatment across the globe by Stephen Leahy
Ipsnews - Uxbridge, Canada, July 22, 2011
young girl in Somalia sits chained to a tree. Women in the Ukraine wander
aimlessly in the halls of a decrepit psychiatric hospital. Those are the
startling images in a recent article by a global panel calling the world's
attention to the extent and tragedy of hundreds of millions suffering from
mental illnesses and who go untreated in the global south.
Challenges Canada responded to that call Thursday, announcing 20 million dollars
in funding specifically for research proposals to tackle the issue of mental
health in developing countries.
is the first investment in response to the global panel's call for action,"
said Peter Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada.
illness in low- and middle-income countries is perhaps the most neglected of the
'neglected diseases'," Singer told IPS.
disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy, dementia and alcohol
dependence represent 13 percent of all diseases worldwide, more than heart
disease and cancer combined, the global panel of 422 experts reported in the
Jul. 7 issue of the journal Nature.
panel was convened by the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health initiative
and funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the Global
Alliance for Chronic Diseases in London.
450 million people are afflicted with mental disorders, and more than 75 percent
live in the developing world. In a recent survey, the World Health Organization
found up to 85 percent of patients with serious mental disorders did not receive
any treatment in the past year of their illness.
83 percent of low-income countries, there is no primary care treatment of
Parkinson's disease, which causes dementia. In 25 percent, there are no
anti-epileptic drugs, the panel reported.
solutions means doing research, and there is extremely little research funding
for mental health in low- and middle-income countries," said Abdallah Daar,
co-leader of the panel and chief science and ethics officer of Grand Challenges
illnesses are really the grandest of the challenges," Daar said in a
has 200 times as many psychiatrists as Africa, but no one can afford to bring
that level of care to Africa or many other low-income countries, said Singer.
"Innovation is what is needed to improve treatment and access to mental
health services," he stressed.
need for home-grown innovation is paramount, according to Singer. There simply
isn't enough money to meet the need in poor countries using the same approaches
taken in richer countries to treat mental illness, he argues.
in many countries are at a very basic level, if they exist at all. We are
looking for treatment innovations by researchers in the developing world who
best know the reality in their countries," he said.
and Grand Challenges Canada are hoping for revolutionary breakthroughs in terms
of treatment and access to mental health services.
years ago, most of Africa was without phone services, but the solution was not
to copy what Europe or North America did by building a costly network of land
lines. Innovation brought the mobile phone and now Africans not only have phone
service but are using it in new ways such as transferring funds with Mpesa (M
for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money), said Singer.
money to fund Grand Challenges Canada comes from Canada's 228- million-dollar
Development Innovation Fund, which was designed to support collaborative
research into solutions to global health challenges. This forms part of Canada's
recently increased commitment to overseas development assistance.
of a million dollars or more will be awarded to the best proposals from social,
scientific, business researchers for significantly improved treatment and
increased access to care for patients.
proposals will include treatment practices for remote area health workers, ways
to reduce the cost and improve the supply of drugs, affordable community-based
care, or the development of mobile and other technologies like telemedicine to
important are proposals to address the issue of stigma, discrimination and
social exclusion of those with mental illness.
knows someone who has a mental disability, be it depression or something
else," said Singer. "It is not acceptable on any level to chain a
child to a tree or lock people up as treatment for mental illness. We need to
find new and better solutions."
consensus in Security Council on climate change by Inaki Borda
South Asia - July 22, 2011
national leaders have stressed on the enormity of the climate change issue and
its anticipated effects on international security. However, the recent Security
Council meeting has not taken a strong stand on the issue.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had called the meeting "essential" to
raise political awareness and fast-track adaptation and mitigation measures.
between communities and countries for scarce resources - especially water - is
increasing, exacerbating old security dilemmas and creating new ones...These are
all threats to human security, as well as to international peace and
security," Ban said.
island states in the Pacific have been urging the Security Council to act for
years, as sea levels rise and the "existential" threat to their
nations and cultures becomes increasingly imminent.
Stephen, the president of Nauru, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that,
"The Security Council should join the General Assembly in recognising
climate change as a threat to international peace and security. It is a threat
as great as nuclear proliferation or global terrorism."
suggested that a special representative on climate and security be appointed and
then, as a final step, the United Nations system should be assessed to see
whether it is capable of responding to a crisis of that magnitude.
Osorio, Colombia's U.N. ambassador, admitted that even if responses to minimise
the effects of climate change are not within the mandate of the Security
Council, "We believe that we are called to play a role in conflict cases
that are exacerbated by the effects of climate change."
not every country agrees with that proposition.
Security Council should not interfere on issues like climate change, even though
the situation is 'severe' and 'urgent' "Maged A. Abdelaziz, Ambassador of
A. Abdelaziz, Egypt's ambassador and chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the
Non-Aligned Movement, told the Security Council that it should not interfere on
issues like climate change, even though the situation is "severe" and
"urgent". China stated that its position had not changed and expressed
its opposition to the Security Council making decisions about climate change,
since, as Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative Wang Min told Inner City
Press, there are already "blue" or empty seats at the General Assembly
as it loses power.
Movement also stresses that climate change and its adverse impacts must be
addressed from the perspective of sustainable development, promoting a
comprehensive approach to address the root causes of the problem,"
according to him, can only happen through the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the General Assembly, the Economic and
Social Council, and the Commission on Sustainable Development.
Movement stresses the importance of fulfilling the international commitments
under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol...Therefore, this debate should not
result in any form of outcome that undermines the authority of the relevant
bodies," he concluded.
Ambassador Alexander Pankin, the country's deputy permanent representative to
the U.N., also said that involving the Security Council in the debate could lead
to "increased politicisation" of the issue.
U.S. ambassador Susan Rice complained that the council's failure to approve a
presidential statement is "pathetic, it's shortsighted and quite frankly,
it's a dereliction of duty."
debate took place the same day the United Nations declared a state of famine in
two regions of southern Somalia.
millions of people around the world in danger of running out of water or food as
a result of droughts or floods caused by climate change, the stability of those
places is at stake.
are looking at massive migration issues, water issues, food scarcity
issues...and if you put them in geographic regions that are already unstable,
the situation becomes unbearable," Daniel Kreeger, executive director of
the Washington-based Association of Climate Change Officers, told IPS.
resource issues are clearly international security issues and something that the
Security Council should be looking very seriously at"Daniel Kreeger,
Executive director of Association of Climate Change Officers.
cited the current tensions among India, China and Pakistan, three nuclear-armed
states which are currently fighting over water supplies.
are clearly international security issues and something that the Security
Council should be looking very seriously at," he said.
the secretary-general issued a report to the General Assembly on climate change
in 2009, the international community has reached certain agreements in
Copenhagen and Cancún.
agreements provide an important, but incomplete, foundation for action on
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enabling all countries to adapt," Ban
added that the next UNFCCC Conference of Parties meeting in Durban this December
must be decisive: "Minimalist steps will not do."
debate held on the 20th of july 2011 was the second attempt by the Security
Council to consider climate change and peacekeeping, the first taking place in
heating of the planet, caused by pollution from oil and coal, is driving social,
political, economic and ecological change, increasing the frequency of extreme
weather events, and impairing food production around the globe," said
Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, in a statement.
impacts will have important implications for security in many regions of the
world, and it is significant that they are recognised at the highest level of
international affairs," he said. "National governments must now
consider how best to respond in their own self- interest – in economic and
security terms as well as environmental ones."
to Water Still a Political Mirage by Thalif Deen
Ipsnews - United Nations - July 23, 2011
the international community commemorates the first anniversary of a historic
General Assembly resolution recognising the right to water and sanitation as a
basic human right, there will be no joyous celebrations in the corridors of the
United Nations, come Jul. 28.
think member states have been slow to react," complains a highly-
disappointed Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, one
of Canada's largest citizens' organisations promoting social and economic
know my own government has still not endorsed it, and still says – incorrectly
- that the General Assembly resolution was not binding," Barlow told IPS.
landmark resolution was adopted by the 192-member General Assembly on Jul. 28
last year, and two months later, was endorsed by the 47-member Human Rights
Council in Geneva.
a former senior U.N. adviser on water and who chairs the Washington-based Food
and Water Watch, said, "I think the most significant progress was the
adoption of a second resolution by the Human Rights Council."
only did the second resolution lay out the responsibilities of governments to
realise this newly recognised right, because it was based on two existing
international treaties, but it also clarified that the General Assembly
resolution is now binding, she added.
human right to water and sanitation is now as binding as any other (resolution)
ever adopted by the United Nations," Barlow noted.
the resolution proved politically divisive, with 122 countries voting for it, 41
abstaining, but with no negative votes.
United States abstained and so did some of the European, as well as
industrialised countries, including Britain, Australia, Austria, Canada, Greece,
Sweden, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark, and
several developing nations, mostly from Africa, also abstained on the vote,
siding with rich industrial countries. These included Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya,
Lesotho, Zambia, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
Anderson, international campaign coordinator for the London- based End Water
Poverty, told IPS that despite the U.N. resolution, the water and sanitation
crisis has continued for another long year.
the problem is not water scarcity or climate change but choices by governments
not to fund water and sanitation provision for every community," she said.
said millions of ordinary people around the world could have life-changing water
services by next year, "and we keep pushing our governments to treat this
as the emergency situation which it is."
said campaigners for End Water Poverty welcomed the recognition of the right to
water and sanitation, and this has led to an increasing number of ordinary
people around the world wanting to speak out and claim their right.
the sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG), to reduce by 50 percent the
number of people without access to adequate sanitation by 2015, is from being
reached so far, she noted.
governments need to take far more bold action and increase spending on
sanitation to one percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
these rights will remain meaningless for the parents of the 4,000 children who
die every day from diarrhoea caused by lack of sanitation, said Anderson.
'Sanitation and Water For All' partnership has the potential to prove a
leadership by governments and civil society in providing the increased funding,
coordination and better planning needed, but governments and member states need
to step up to this challenge.
the 'business as usual' approach to sanitation continues, the sanitation MDG
won't be met for another 200 years, and this makes a mockery of the fine
commitments to the right to water and sanitation," she added.
Sauer of Water for People told IPS that from the U.S. perspective, there has
been a step forward in the appointment of a Global Water Coordinator, Christian
they took another step by signing the Memoradum of Understanding (MOU) with the
World Bank on World Water Day. These are two good steps, he said.
said while certainly more progress is needed, some countries have taken this
example, in Liberia, they've done a base line survey of all of their rural water
points. The government of Liberia and the World Bank's Water and Sanitation
Programme used a monitoring and evaluation platform called FLOW, which Water For
People helped to create as a part of this base line survey process.
has helped feed into a national plan that is right now before the President of
Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first woman president and a former
assistant administrator of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP).
of this has been supported by the new coalition Sanitation and Water for All,
which I think is where you should look to ask and see progress of the
implementation on the Human Right to Water," Sauer said.
is particularly important that Liberia has taken all of these steps given that
the president of Liberia is head of the African Water Ministers Council. She is
certainly trying to set a good example, said Sauer.
what civil society plans to do in ensuring the implementation of the U.N.
resolution, Barlow told IPS, "Our global water justice community has been
working hard on the next steps."
we are working to create a domestic plan of action in as many countries as we
can and most will include lobbying their governments to write its plan of action
for submission to the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and
for this plan to clearly spell out how the government will meet the three
required obligations (to respect, to protect, and to fulfil)," she said.
Council of Canadians also plans to campaign governments to adopt the right to
water and sanitation into their own constitutions, thereby removing this
fundamental right from the whims of changing political parties.
the Council seeks to enlarge the traditional view of a human right from the
individually-centred one, currently used at the United Nations, to one that is
more inclusive of cultural and collective realities.
also want the right to water and sanitation to include the rights of water
itself and the rights of watersheds to be protected from extractive industries
and corporate and government pollution," Barlow said.
Council will also target women and indigenous peoples, as well as the most
marginalised, for priority services.
It will campaign globally for the wealthy governments of the North to increase their foreign aid and target it to water and wastewater infrastructure investment in the global South and continue to promote water and wastewater delivery systems that are public and not-for- profit.
Improving sanitation, still a long way to go
by Aimable Twahirwa
Ipsnews - Kigali -
July 22, 2011
Callixte Munyabikari, a potato farmer from Gakenke in northern Rwanda, was
rushed to a regional hospital after he fell ill with diarrhoea, he thought it
was just a bad case of food poisoning.
never imagined that it was an intestinal disease that I contracted from drinking
water from (a) neighbouring river. Yes, the river was contaminated. It is used
everyday by local residents for cooking and other activities, such as washing
clothes along the banks," he said.
2007, the issue of hygiene and sanitation in rural areas has been of major
concern as Rwanda's government reduced spending on medical care for patients
affected by poor hygiene and sanitation diseases across the country.
is important to eradicate the persistent behaviour among rural communities. A
number of households used to have access only to a shared latrine," said
Rwanda's minister of infrastructure, Colette Ruhamya, while underlining the role
of proper sanitation and hygiene as the main component of sustainable
can dig, and the latrine (and) the roof are lower cost material(s)," she
said. Government’s aim is that each household, wherever possible, should have
access to its own sanitation facility. Rwanda seeks to be a model of hygiene and
sanitation for other African countries.
fact, it is one of only four countries in Africa which look set to achieve
Millennium Development Goal 7 to ensure environmental sustainability, which
includes halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to
safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The other three countries are
Mozambique, Ghana, and Sierra Leone.
at the Africa Sanitation and Hygiene Conference (AfricaSan 3), which was held
from 19 to 21 Jul. in Kigali, were divided on whether poverty was the main cause
of poor sanitation facilities and waterborne diseases currently affecting
millions of people across the continent.
is an urgent need for African countries to address the issue of sanitation and
hygiene without relying on donors’ aid," declared Rwandan President Paul
to him, the only inclusive solution to promote measures to prevent waterborne
diseases is from local initiatives and without having to rely on foreign
comments came at a time when experts from several African praised the
initiatives undertaken to promote hygiene across the Central African nation.
2001, Rwanda has embarked on strong measures aimed at wiping out unhygienic
practices, while sensitising local communities in urban and rural areas to
change behaviour and bad habits that relate to poor hygiene.
initiatives taken to prevent waterborne diseases include the installation of
toilets for each household across the country, while ensuring potable water
supply systems in several remote areas across the country. Official statistics
show that 61 percent of Rwanda's rural population have access to improved
drinking water sources, while 20 percent has access to improved sanitation.
some participants expressed pessimism arguing that there is still a long way to
go as only four countries across the continent are on track with providing
access to safe drinking water, compared to the rest their counterparts.
better to be realistic about commitments made (by governments) toward
sustainable solutions, but this implies going along with proposed actions, by
ensuring that the majority of rural communities are benefiting (from a) potable
water supply and adequate sanitation infrastructure," said the Zimbabwean
minister of water resources development and management, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.
is still unbelievable that only four African countries are on track toward
achieving (the) MDG on sanitation," Nkomo deplored. He blamed inadequate
policies to mobilise financial resources in some African nations as a reason.
on the fringes of the joint summit by the United Nations and African Ministers
Council on Water, Nkomo urged governments in countries still lagging behind
achieving the MDG for concrete actions, while identifying that priority was need
at grassroots level.
civil society is still optimistic that Africa could finally be turning a corner
in the sanitation crisis; officials say the big challenge is more about adopting
adequate policies in this area to curb the consequences of waterborne diseases.
to Lydia Zigomo, the head of the environmental non-governmental organisation
WaterAid, the challenge (in policy decision-making) remains formidable.
total of 584 million people in Africa do not have an improved sanitation, and
the poorest are 18 times more likely to practice open defecation," Zigomo
said. She said that the issue of hygiene has always been the most neglected and
off-track of the MDGs, with little funding, resources or political will to
address the crisis.
some representatives of African governments say that necessary resources are
available, and that what was most needed was not money, but educating
communities on how they can change bad habits with regards to hygiene and
includes providing toilets after it has been noticed that hundreds of thousands
of Africa's rural population still practice open defecation, while ignoring the
worst consequences of hygiene-related diseases," Nkomo told IPS.
statistics show that diarrhoea, malaria, schistosomiasis, trachoma and
intestinal helminths, are major diseases caused by poor hygiene practices and
contamination of water across several developing countries, especially in
general, 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoea diseases, which
includes cholera, while 90 percent are children under five, mostly in developing
countries," a World Health Organization report said.
Rwanda is a region described by health experts as having the highest number of
hygiene- related diseases. Here a majority of people consume polluted water from
neighbouring rivers, which run across the mountainous region.
in collaboration with local administrative leaders, has implemented a number of
measures, including sensitising the population to changing bad habits, and not
consuming polluted water.
2004, the International Committee of the Red Cross has implemented 23 clean
water supply projects in several rural areas in northern Rwanda as a way to
prevent against contracting waterborne diseases.
Asean gets recognition, now it must act
by Kavi Chongkittavorn
Nation (Thailand) - July 25, 2011
centrality has moved up one notch with the Hague-based International Court of
Justice mentioning Asean in its decision recently in regard to the
Thai-Cambodian dispute. No wonder, Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa
told his Asean colleagues a few hours later at their closed-door meeting in Bali
that "Asean is in the equation".
such, Asean will have to prove its worthiness in the weeks and months to come.
Although the grouping's international profile has many facets involving a myriad
of issues, for the time being the reputation of Asean will be judged on its
effectiveness in handling the Thai-Cambodia conflict as well as its response to
Burma's request for be regional chairman in 2014.
week, both Cambodia and Thailand were quick to agree to comply with the court's
verdict demanding their troops pull out from the disputed areas near Preah
Vihear Temple. Indeed, it was in line with one of the key recommendations at a
meeting held within 24 hours by Thailand's top security leaders chaired by
outgoing prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. It set in motion preparation for full
compliance and an eventual troop pull out by the incoming government.
the moment, Indonesia is waiting anxiously for the Pheu Thai-led government to
make the next move. A new Cabinet is expected to be announced in the second week
of August, ahead of the Queen's birthday.
then, the agreed terms of reference drawn up previously between Indonesia and
Thailand under the previous government would be amended following the court's
recent ruling, especially the newly defined demilitarised zone on both sides.
Certain procedures will still need to be worked out. Cambodia prefers
dispatching the observers during the pullouts, while Thailand wants them in
after the withdrawal.
forward, the current Asean chair is racing against time to ensure some progress
in the next 150 days before its term ends. After the 19th Asean summit at the
end of the third week of November in Bali, Cambodia will effectively assume the
new Asean chair - although officially the term starts in January.
discussions have already started concerning an appropriate role for the incoming
chair, if the Thai-Cambodia conflict continues, which is highly likely.
Frequently asked questions include: Will Indonesia continue its current
responsibility uninterrupted? Will Phnom Penh, as the future Asean chair, agree
to such a plan while it is a party to the conflict?
drawn from the group's experience in Cambodia in July 1997 could be helpful. At
the time, the country was in turmoil due to the coup and political fighting
among factions headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and now leader in exile Prince
Norodom Ranariddh. During the Asean meeting in Kuala Lumpur, they decided to
delay Cambodia's membership in Asean, which upset Hun Sen very much. To mediate
the crisis, the late Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas was quickly named by
Asean ministers to lead a 'troika' together with Thailand and the Philippines.
After the scheduled 1998 election with the return of Hun Sen, Cambodia was
admitted to Asean in 1999.
this backdrop, Cambodia is expected to invite Indonesia, unless Jakarta says it
wants to quit, to stay on in its current role with the consent of Asean. This
way, Cambodia can focus on other important Asean agendas. In particular, Phnom
Penh has an important task to secure the visits of leaders from key major powers
attending the East Asia Summit at the end of next year - including the Asean-US
leaders' meeting. The new chair has to follow up various schemes and initiatives
aimed at promoting Asean's profile in the global community.
14 years of membership, Burma remains a continuing burden for Asean. The Asean
foreign ministers have learnt some lessons and are wiser now. They decided to
avoid making a recommendation for Asean leaders in November on the 2014 chair.
The issue was not included on the agenda of senior officials and foreign
ministers. Apart from the briefing Burmese foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin
gave to his colleagues on the country's political situation and readiness to
host the chair, other Asean members, except Laos, were muted. During the
post-ministerial meetings with dialogue partners, China was the only country to
support Burma's chair and commended the progress accomplished after the November
election, which had been criticised as faulty.
far Asean has remained "ambivalent" on whether to award the chair to
Naypyidaw. That helps explain why Burma has been enthusiastic to have Marty and
his team there for a fact-finding tour. But for the past three months, no trip
has eventuated. Indeed, it has been quite embarrassing for Asean to have US
secretary of state Hillary Clinton constantly warn Asean of the dire consequence
of having Burma as the 2014 chair. In Bali, she asked Burma to release political
prisoners, begin dialogue with the opposition and address nuclear proliferation
issues, otherwise Naypyidaw would not win the trust of the international
that eventuates, Burma has to gain Asean's trust. Singapore, the Philippines and
Thailand, want to see substantive reforms and some progress registered on
dialogue with the opposition as well as the ethnic groups before granting the
chair to Burma. They also support the US call for the releasing of some
political prisoners. Without positive development on these fronts, Marty will
certainly delay his visit. In more ways than one, his visit is considered a
without satisfactory progress inside Burma before 2014 that is accepted by the
international community, the credibility of Asean would be forever tarnished.
Worse still is the prospect of having a chair from a country dreaded the world
over, to reign over the preparation of the launch of the Asean Community in 2015
or in 1,255 days. It would not be an auspicious way to launch a 600-million plus
Norway attacks: We can no longer ignore the far-right threat
- July 24, 2011
guardian.co.uk - July 24, 2011
is not a Norwegian oddity, but symptomatic of a growing culture of politically
motivated violence across Europe
Behring Breivik in a freemason uniform, in footage uploaded to YouTube on 23
July. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
tragedy in Norway this weekend may prove to be a watershed moment in terms of
how we approach far right followers, groups and their ideology. Until now,
European democracies and their security services had focused almost exclusively
on the threat from al-Qaida -inspired terrorism. Rightwing extremist groups and
their more violent affiliates were dismissed as a disorganised, fragmented and
conventional wisdom, however, ignored wider evidence of a more violent and
confrontational mood that was emerging within European far right circles. This
shift may have been a response to the arrival of al-Qaida-inspired terrorism, or
a sense that far right political parties in Europe (such as the Norwegian
Progress party of which the attacker was once a member) were not having enough
influence on issues such as immigration.
years ago, anti-terrorism officers in Britain warned of a growing threat from
rightwing "lone wolves". At the same time, the US department of
homeland security warned of the way in which the wider economic climate and
election of the first African-American president could result in confrontations
between rightwing extremists and government authorities "similar to those
in the past". These past events included the bombing of a federal building
in Oklahoma that killed 168 people.
events over the weekend directly challenged the idea that rightwing extremism is
only a minor security threat. According to Norwegian police, the perpetrator –
32 year-old Anders Behring Breivik – has confirmed that he worked alone on
planning and carrying out the two attacks.
sources of his ideological influences have started to become clear. He was far
from what we might term a traditional rightwing extremist. While he was
profoundly concerned about the effects of immigration, multiculturalism, Islam
and the growth of settled Muslim communities, he was also dismissive of crude
racial supremacist and neo-Nazi ideas and parties that espoused these ideas,
naming for example the British National Party (BNP).
was, perhaps, his rejection of the BNP that prompted his interest in the English
Defence League (EDL). While Breivik was impressed by the speed of their growth,
he also praised "tactical choices" made by their leaders. This
included an endorsement of the EDL's rejection of traditional white supremacist
discourse and racism, and their decision to oppose Islam on cultural grounds.
This distinction between traditional race-based forms of rightwing extremism
(such as those of the BNP) and a new anti-Muslim narrative reflects a broader
change within the European far right. Rather than oppose immigration and Islam
on racial grounds (an argument that would attract little support), the emphasis
shifts on to the more socially acceptable issue of culture: Muslims are not
biologically inferior, but they are culturally incompatible, so the argument
goes. The aim is to open modern far right groups up to a wider audience.
most within the far right, while Breivik expressed profound concern over an
array of threats in wider society, he appeared to view the mainstream parties as
either unwilling or unable to respond adequately. He was at one time a member of
the rightwing Progress party that has also rallied against immigration and
voiced criticism of Muslims, but he later denounced members of this party as
"politically correct career politicians" who were not prepared to
"take risks and work for idealistic goals". More broadly, Breivik was
also fiercely opposed to the cultural influence of Marxism and "political
correctness" and called on sections of the right to counter this influence
by taking control of media and other positions of influence.
would be easy to denounce Breivik as a Norwegian exception, but this would be a
mistake. While he is distinguishable by his actions, it is important to note
that some of Breivik's core concerns have also played a prominent role within
Norwegian and European politics more generally. I spent four years interviewing
far right activists, many of whom rejected political violence. Yet what became
clear during this research was that there is, unquestionably, a culture of
violence within the broader far rightwing subculture. Many of the ideas that
were voiced during this research have also come to light over the past 48 hours:
the perceived threat posed by Muslim communities, a belief that mainstream
parties are incapable of dealing with this threat and strong emphasis on a
"clash of civilizations" between members of the majority population
and minority groups.
websites, literature and meetings (all of which, it seems, Breivik was exposed
to), this movement cultivates several narratives among its followers: the belief
that they are engaged in a battle for racial or cultural survival; that their
racial, religious or cultural group is threatened by imminent extinction; that
existing political options are incapable of responding to this threat; that
urgent and radical action is required to response to these threats in society;
and that they must fulfil this duty in order to leave a legacy for their
children and grandchildren.
motives provide followers of far right and fundamentalist groups with a
compelling and convincing rationale for getting actively involved. Foremost,
these citizens perceive that a wider community is under threat, whether from
al-Quaida, supranational organisations such as the EU or UN, immigration or the
growth of settled Muslim communities.
they also contend that this threat is cultural rather than economic. It is not
simply about jobs or social housing. It is a profound sense of concern that a
set of values, way of life and wider community are under threat, and that only
the most radical forms of action can remove this threat.
recently reviewed an academic book that ended with the prediction that the next
wave of terrorism in Europe will come not from al-Quaida-inspired groups, but
rather rightwing groups that want to respond to this threat and reassert the
position of their wider group. It is far too early to tell whether Breivik's
actions will inspire copycat attacks, but one thing remains clear: the threat
from rightwing extremist groups and ideas deserves far greater attention.
AsiaNews correspondent seized by the authorities in Nepal
by Kalpit Parajuli
- Kathmandu - July 26, 2011
May 27 the police in Nepal have held William Gomes in custody for no reason. The
activist was trying to reach Hong Kong via Nepal after being tortured and
threatened by the authorities of Dhaka for his activities on behalf of
Christians. Spokesman of the main opposition party accuses the government of
Nepal of serious violations of human rights and calls on the Prime Minister to
fleeing from Bangladesh after having been tortured by police, William Nicholas
Gomes, AsiaNews correspondent and activist for human rights, has for months been
in police custody in Kathmandu. Since 27 May the authorities are doing
everything possible to deport him, but to date have not provided any
ran away to Nepal to reach Hong Kong and save my life - Gomes says - with the
help of the Asian Human Rights Commission. When I went to the office of
Immigration, officials delayed the process and then tried to deport me. "
The activist said that on July 9, while trying to catch a plane to Hong Kong,
the police searched his luggage for the presence of drugs and other banned
substances, but found nothing.
the control - he says - I was stopped from boarding saying that my documents
were not valid for travel abroad. Without further explanation they put me in
detention, guarded by two policemen with anti-drug dogs, forcing me to ask the
Bangladesh embassy for permission to transit. " The activist said he had
obtained all the necessary documents for travel abroad and transit in foreign
countries. "There is no reason for detention - he said - I have a visa to
stay legally in Nepal, but the police consider me a criminal."
21 May last men in a dark car kidnapped and tortured William Gomes, a Muslim
convert to Christianity. The man, a member of the Asian Human Rights Commission
(AHRC) and founder of the Christian Development Alternatives (CDA - a
humanitarian organization), was stripped naked, forced to the ground and
questioned for nearly five hours. These men, including a native English-speaker,
accused him of being in contact with Pakistani intelligence (ISI - Inter Service
Intelligence) and receiving bribes in order to "damage the Bangladesh
Army." Moreover, they charged that Khaleda Zia had paid him to discredit
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. After the death threats to him and his family,
Gomes vowed to leave the AHRC and was released.
says he's concerned about the lives of his family who are still in Bangladesh.
"My wife, my children are in danger. I have become a man without a country,
my government is working against me. Where should I go to save my life and that
of my loved ones? ". He calls on all Catholics to convince the Nepalese
government to release him and save his life.
recent months the Gomes case has aroused much concern between the Nepali human
rights organizations and opposition parties who accuse the authorities of acting
without any authority or mandate, in violation of democratic norms and civil
rights in the country.
to Subodh Pyakurel, Informal Sector Service Centre for Human Rights in Nepal,
the authorities have no right to hold the man in custody. "When I spoke
with the airport authorities to help Gomes they couldn’t give me any concrete
reason. The police can not prevent him from reaching Hong Kong and does not even
have the right to deport him. "
Narsingh KC, spokesperson of Nepali Congress, the country's main opposition
party, said: "How can our government ensure respect for human rights, when
for no reason it holds an activist within its borders." After this scandal,
Arjun invites the Prime Minister to resign and called on police to release Gomes
allowing him transit to Hong Kong.
children need more care
Sun - July 27, 2011
is a matter of deep concern that autistic children are not taken adequate care
of in society as people in general do not have much knowledge about autism. The
number of autistic children, according to a report published in daily sun on
Monday, is increasing at an alarming rate in Bangladesh. What is worrisome is
that they are also neglected at school because of lack of trained teachers; it
is tantamount to ignoring their basic rights to education and a decent social
life as citizens of the country. That schools lack facilities and trained
teachers to give specialised education to autistic children although one child
in 250 has symptoms like autism, is deplorable, and it clearly indicates that
this ailment has been mostly lost sight of by the subsequent governments while
formulating the education policy. According to child specialists and
educationists, the ‘inclusive education’ scheme of the government that
trains up teachers to sensitise them to the problems faced by the children with
disabilities does not encompass autistic children who develop social abilities
and communication skills at a much slower pace than their peers. It is a general
propensity of the education system of the country to overlook them and their
inalienable rights as citizens. At the moment, it is imperative to pay special
attention to autistic children to pave the way for them to enter the mainstream
of student life, given the fact that autism is a life-long neuro-development
disorder which should not be mixed with other physical or mental disabilities.
has necessitated a special care for them within the existing educational
facilities is the grim fact that autism is far from a rare affliction and that
of six children with neuro-development disorders four are confirmed as autistic
cases at the institute of Child Health in Dhaka Shishu Hospital. Child
specialists differ with the policy of the government that mild autistic children
should be sent to normal schools and children with severe autistic symptoms
should get admitted to special schools. It seems, for the sustained development,
autistic children need frequent communication and interaction with normal
children. This entails formulation of a comprehensive, inclusive education
scheme by the government, which will organise adequate training for the teachers
on priority basis with special emphasis on sensitising them to the problems
faced by autistic children and by those with other disabilities alike. This will
help them overcome their sense of insecurity stemming from a predicament caused
by the malady to a large extent.
authorities concerned should remember that any violation of their rights would
be a social crime. To avert the situation they should act expeditiously to make
the lives of these hapless children as pain-free and soothing as those of the
children leading a normal life.
prefers to implement develpment projects with own funding to avert donors
- July 25, 2011
Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government preferred to implement development
projects with govern-ment funding to avert unnecessary interference from the
donors. “You can’t imagine how much they (donors) interfere in the project
implementation,” she told the newly elected office bearers of the Engineers
Institution of Bangladesh (IEB) at Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday.
She said that the government funded projects are more quickly implemented
nowadays compared to the donor-funded projects. She recalled that during the
tenure of BNP-Jamaat alliance government it was a normal phenomenon that the
donors complained that the project implementation was hindered for the slow
activities of the government agen-cies. “But the situation has changed a lot.
Now, we are complaining to the donors that the development projects are being
hindered for them (donors),” she said. The Prime Minister said that the
government funded projects are now being implemented more quickly as the present
government has taken a motto to implement the projects as soon as possible.
“As there is no Hawa Bhaban now, there is none to take commission. That’s
why the projects are being imple-mented so fast,” she said. Sheikh Hasina
asked the engineers to make the country self-sufficient in each sector. In this
connection, she re-quested them to use their innovative and creativity ideas.
“You also have responsibility for the country, so you have to act in
responsible manner,” she said. She criticized some vested quarters, who often
said that the ADP implementation rate is very slow. “We have achieved 92
percent implementation rate, so those allegations are wrong,” she said. In
this connection, she mentioned that the government has improved the power
generation so quickly and al-ready 1900 MW of electricity has been included in
the national grid after the present government assumed power. She said that the
government has to improve the power generation further as the foreign investment
is increas-ing day by day. “Bangladesh is now an attractive place for the
investment, huge investment proposals are coming every day. For more foreign
investment we have to provide them electricity and we are committed to improve
the situation,’ she said. In this regard, she said that there is a problem
that the government is facing regarding foreign investment, which is land.
“The land is limited in the country and we will not allow using the
agriculture land for any other purpose. We have to protect the agriculture
land,” she said. Mentioning that the government has been elected for five year
term, she said that the government has many works to complete.
more exclusion of any minority
Sun - July 27, 2011
rights of Urdu-speaking minority of Bangladesh came under discussion at a
national convention organised by Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit at
Dhaka University on Sunday. Some eminent members of the literati and civil
society took part in the discussion, according to a report by our DU
Correspondent published in yesterday’s daily sun. They included former adviser
to the caretaker government Rasheda K Chowdhury, poet Asad Chowdhury and Dr
Shahdeen Malik. The former chief adviser of caretaker government Justice Habibur
Rahman was the chief guest. The event was also attended by some two hundred
Urdu-speaking people from across the country. Participants called for social
inclusion of the Urdu-speaking people and demanded of the government to ensure
the basic rights of the camp-dwelling Urdu-speakers as they too are contributing
to the country’s economy. In his address as chief guest Justice Habibur Rahman
said we are observing so-called secularism in Bangladesh where basic rights of
minorities are often violated.
have often urged in these columns that Bengali nationalism should be an
inclusive entity where no group should feel marginalised on account of religion,
language or ethnicity. Almost every modern democracy cedes some space to
multiculturalism. Diversity and divergence are the main strength of unity. We
may look towards India – a bewildering welter of languages, religions and
ethnicities. India’s may be a classic case but most democracies now uphold
multiculturalism in today’s interactive, interdependent world. Our liberation
from the stranglehold of Pakistan no doubt has a painful history and due to the
force of circumstances the Urdu language in common perception became a tool of
exploitation. Pakistan by foisting Urdu on the Bengali-speaking people did a
great disservice to that language. And it was a communalised version of the Urdu
language that Pakistani rulers were promoting. The people were not allowed to
know that Urdu had a great secular and socialist tradition, that many top
authorities of Urdu were Hindus, especially in the prose side, and even Iqbal
was projected in partial light after excising his secular poetry. (Iqbal was an
avid reader of the Vedas and had translated Gayatri Mantra, a hymn in the Rig
Veda). We may look back to find that at least two Urdu poets residing in Dacca
in 1971 supported the liberation war, chose to stay on in this country and one
of them (now deceased) went to jail in 1971.
is gratifying to note that Urdu department of DU has continued to function. The
media reported recently that two top student leaders of the BCL are students of
Urdu and Persian department. Urdu speakers are not all stranded Pakistanis.
Those aged below 40 years know nothing about Pakistan and had fought, and won, a
legal battle to be voters. They should be helped to become active members of
this composite nation.
extortion on highways troubles drivers: minister
- July 25, 2011
minister Shajahan Khan on Sunday alleged that drivers face difficulties on
highways because of extortion by the police.
are allegations that drivers face difficulties on highways because of extortion
by the police, who file cases against them if they refuse to pay any money,’
Shajahan told the 34th meeting of the Advisory Council of National Road
Transport in the communications ministry.
over the meeting, the communications minister, Syed Abul Hossain, directed the
law enforcement agencies to be relentless in apprehending the people speaking on
cell phones while driving.
directive came against the backdrop of the deaths of 40 persons, including 38
schoolboys, in the traffic accident at Mirsarai in Chittagong on July 11 that
took place while the driver was speaking on his mobile.
communications minister warned that the people who use cell phones while driving
would face punishment and their mobile phones would be confiscated.
anyone is found talking on his mobile phone while driving, the law enforcers
will not only fine them but also seize their sets,’ Abul Hossain told
reporters after the meeting.
also warned that legal measures would be taken against the drivers of private
cars, jeeps and microbuses for not fastening their seatbelts.
minister also said that directives have been issued to the authorities concerned
to take effective steps to ease the nagging traffic congestion in Dhaka and
major business centres elsewhere in the country before the holy month of
Ramadan, which will begin in the first week of August.
minister Shajahan Khan, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the
communications ministry Mujibur Rahman and representatives of road transport
owners and workers, along with others, attended the meeting.
decisions to ensure road safety, taken in the last meeting of the advisory
council on 21 September, 2010, have not been implemented so far, according to
driver of the ill-fated truck, which was carrying the schoolboys in Mirsarai,
was driving recklessly and talking over the cell phone when the tragic accident
took place on July 11, according to the police and onlookers.
Khan expressed concern over the non-enforcement of the road safety measures that
include ban on the movement of non-motorised and unauthorised vehicles like
Nasimon/Karimon on highways and removal of illegal structures and roadside
said it was very sad that the advisory council held the meeting after a gap of
almost one year though it was supposed to sit once every three months. The
communications minister assured the labour leader-turned shipping minister that
the advisory council would sit regularly from now on.
asked for effective measures to rein in the highway police personnel who
allegedly extort money from drivers.
a Cabinet committee meeting on law and order on July 13, home affairs minister
Sahara Khatun said that the government was seriously thinking of launching
mobile courts to ensure strict enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, with
a particular eye to checking the use of mobile phones by people while driving.
said that it is illegal to use mobile phones while driving.
cabinet committee asked the law enforcement agencies to ensure discipline in the
transport sector by strictly enforcing the relevant laws.
women take on forest ranger roles by Naimul Haq
Ipsnews - Dhaka - Jul 26, 2011
Nokrek loves nothing better than to range through the dense Modhupur forest, the
way her Garo tribal ancestors have always done.
these days there is grimmer work. She and her neighbours and friends have been
charged with keeping a vigil against illegal logging.
the women are members of a Forest Resource Management Group or FRMG formed to
protect the Modhupur forest, located some 150 km northwest of the capital in
Tangail district, from poachers and loggers.
a leader of one of 15 FRMGs working to protect demarcated areas extending about
45,000 acres of the reserve forest, explains that each group functions on a
self-help basis with its members drawn from different communities.
FRMGs are the creation of a number of national NGOs focused on establishing good
governance. Members meet once a month to discuss and record their work.
years ago the situation prevailing in Modhupur was different, with the Garo
tribals on the defensive in their own stomping grounds and living in fear of
armed poachers and dishonest forest officials.
assault and even murders forced the peaceful Garos to avoid interfering in the
large-scale felling of sal (shorea) forests for the high quality timber that
fetches good prices in the cities of Bangladesh.
forest officials were known to implicate the local inhabitants in cases of
illegal logging, trapping the Garos in long and costly legal battles and leaving
them incapable of resistance.
Garos, who live mainly on cultivating fruits and spices, were slowly but surely
being marginalised in their ancestral lands. Moreover, from the state’s point
of view they had no legal title or claim to the forests.
saved the Garos and the forests was an initiative launched some 18 months ago by
the Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) which supported efforts to
narrow gaps between the tribals and officialdom.
months of mediation involving NGO representatives, the local government and
forest office began recognising and respecting all FRMG initiatives towards
protecting the forest and environment.
relations with forest officials have never been so pleasant. We maintain full
cooperation with the forest department in conserving the natural forests,"
all private or government programmes in the forest must now have prior written
approval of the tribal leaders. As the tribal leaders asserted themselves a
project to wall off 27 acres of forest land in the name of building a so-called
eco-park was halted.
was a time when the forest department officials did not care to discuss with us
what the government planned to do with certain projects. They never even
recognised our rights to live in the forest," said Ajoy Mree, head of the
indigenous people’s forum in Modhupur forest.
the tribals began as early as in 2006 when a network of leading national NGOs
like BELA, Neejerakori, BLAST, Action Aid, and Ain-O-Shalish Kendra formed the
Association of Land Reform Development to help the tribal people.
NGOs, with specialisation in different areas, trained the local people in
matters related to land reform, judiciary matters, forest laws, human rights,
national policies on indigenous people and their habitation.
the other NGOs completed their missions and left, BELA continued to pursue its
advocacy and in June 2007 launched a special campaign to organise a series of
meetings, seminars, and workshops to build awareness on forest laws and
indigenous people’s rights.
chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan told IPS: "In order to restore the
forests, BELA thought of a process involving the forest dwellers and demanding
changes in the forest governance regime".
whole thrust, she said, was to make forest management inclusive, transparent,
accountable and anthropocentric. "It was necessary to involve people who
were affected most by the decisions."
BELA worked to form a strong network of social monitoring through increased
understanding, other people became more aware of their rights.
believed that knowing the laws and their rights was the main tool for the
tribals to fight off intruders and so we focused on empowering them, especially
the women," she said.
reason to involve the women was because many of the men had been labelled as
‘offenders’ with false cases registered against them for chopping
trees," said Samnath Lahiri, BELA’s senior research officer working with
the native leaders.
Mrong, 51, leader of another FRMG said, "We are the soldiers of the forest.
We have a strict monitoring and reporting system. No one can intrude and carry
out illegal logging anymore."
that we are better equipped with knowledge of forest laws and our rights
intruders can no longer fool us like they used to do before," Maria
Chirang, a member of an FRMG, said.
Atiowara, an FRMG leader said, "Because of our presence round-the-clock
intruders do not dare to enter our territory. We have constant links with the
forest officials to instantly report any intrusion."
advocacy programme on laws and rights of the native people has been so effective
that tribals and officialdom now coordinate with each other for strengthened
of illegal commercial logging have, however, reduced the Modhupur forests from
its original 60,000 acres of dense woods to less than 45,000 acres, forest
Bangladesh the forest cover has come down to an alarming six percent from 16
percent over the last 20 years. This is not surprising considering that
Bangladesh has 1,142 people per sq km making it one of the most densely
populated countries in the world.
with rapidly shrinking forest resources many wild animals have vanished as also
the natural habitat of many insect species, threatening ecosystems in the
Chakma, assistant conservator of forests in the Modhupur range, admits that
there are real benefits accruing from recognising the rights of the Garos, who
number some 30,000.
a matrilineal tribe, straddle the hilly border between Bangladesh and India’s
northeastern states and are estimated to number 2.5 million in all.
extend regular cooperation to the FRMGs in monitoring any offence and ever since
the groups became functional poachers have become scarce," Chakma said.
pass HSC, equivalent exams
Daily Sun - July 28, 2011
39759 students achieve GPA-5; pass rate better by 0.8pc points
A total of 75.08 percent students have passed in Higher Secondary Certificate
and equivalent examinations this year, which is 0.8 percentage points higher
than that of 2010.
number of students achieving GPA-5 has also risen by 10,765 from last year, with
39,759 students securing the highest grade point average.
total of 764,828 students of 7,179 educational institutions appeared in the
examinations under 10 education boards; of them, 574,261 students—310,849 male
and 263,412 female—came out successful.
Minister Nurul Islam Nahid disclosed the results of HSC and equivalent exams at
a press conference at his ministry.
told newsmen that the quality of education is gradually improving as the
percentage of pass and the number of GPA-5 achievers are increasing.
if there were any instructions to scrutinise exam papers liberally, Nahid said
there was no such instructions from the ministry.
in the morning, the education minister handed over the results to Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina in the presence of the chairmen of the eight general education
boards, and technical and madrasa boards.
announced the results through a video conference with the students of Chandpur
Government Women’s College.
total of 892 educational institutions have achieved 100 percent success rate;
714 institutions had full success last year.
institutions could not see any passing this year; the number last year was 23.
the general education boards, 72.36 percent students have passed; a total of
622,277 students—324,909 male and 297,368 female—appeared in the HSC
total of 89.57 percent students passed the Alim exams under the Madrasa Board
and 84.05 percent under the Technical Education Board, while 83.95 percent
students succeeded in Diploma in Business Studies (DIBS).
total of 34,385 students achieved GPA-5 under the general education boards,
4,226 students under the Madrasa Board, 728 under the Technical Education Board,
and 380 students under DIBS.
Board ranked top in pass rate with 79.01 percent students coming out successful.
A total of 5,588 students got GPA-5 while 77,681 appeared in the exams. Pabna
Cadet College got the top position in the board.
Dhaka Board, 76.89 percent of 208,112 students passed the examinations while
17,786 students got GPA-5. Rajuk Uttara Model College secured the first
Comilla Board, the pass percentage is 68.68 with 1,389 of 62,375 students
achieving GPA-5. Feni Girls’ Cadet College emerged as the top scorer.
Dinajpur Board, 66.18 percent of 73,568 students passed and 2,260 obtained
GPA-5. Rangpur Cadet College topped in the board.
Sylhet Board, the pass percentage is 75.68 with 30,894 students appearing in the
exams. A total of 887 students got GPA-5 and Sylhet Cadet College obtained the
Barisal Board, 71.12 percent of 35,803 students passed with 1,310 students
scoring GPA-5. Barisal Cadet College got the first position.
Jessore Board, 63.37 percent of 86,077 students passed this year. A total of
3,370 students got GPA-5 and Jenidah Cadet College achieved the top position.
Chittagong Board, 71.03 percent students passed among who 1,795 scored GPA-5.
Faujdarhat Cadet College held the first position.
Madrasa Board, 76,015 students appeared in the Alim examinations and of them
68,086 students passed. Last year, a total of 73,790 students sat for the exams.
the Technical Education Board, 52,662 out of 62,654 students passed the exams
this year. Last year, 63,671 students appeared under the board.
Diploma in Business Studies, a total of 3,882 students appeared this year and
the pass rate increased by 4.35 percentage points.
of 100000 students uncertain for seat crisis by Noman Chowdhury and Rafiul Islam
Daily Sun - July 28, 2011
100,000 students who have passed the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and
equivalent examinations this year would not be able to get admitted into the
country’s public and private universities due to lack of sufficient seats.
total of 574,261 students—310,849 male and 263,412 female—came out
successful in this year’s examination. A total of 764,828 students—413,675
male and 351,153 female—sat for the exam.
at the University Grants Commission (UGC) said as many as 473,000 seats are
available in public and private universities, and colleges. Of them, around
34,000 seats are available in 29 public universities while 65,312 in 51 private
universities and the rest in Bangladesh Open University and National
smiling faces of many successful students, even highest Grade Point Average
(GPA)-5 achievers, have started getting pale on the day of result publication
thinking over the admissions in renowned universities for higher education.
the successful students, 39,759 secured GPA-5 which is 10,765 more than that of
the previous year.
means over 5,500 GPA-5 holders will not get chance to get themselves admitted
into the public universities as those can accommodate only 34,000 students.
to UGC statistics, Dhaka University has 5,467 seats while Bangladesh University
of Engineering and Technology (Buet) 911, Jahangirnagar University 1,606 and
Rajshahi University has 3,075 seats for the first year honours students.
a result, the successful students will have to go through a tough competition to
get chances to get admitted into renowned the public universities.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid and UGC Chairman Prof AK Azad Chowdhury on
Wednesday said none of the successful students will be deprived of getting
education minister said the number of seats in universities and colleges is more
than that of the successful students.
students who passed the HSC examination will be able to get admitted into
universities and colleges as there are enough seats for them,” he said at a
press conference at his office.
UGC chairman said they will take steps to increase seats in public and private
universities if needed.
Beijing pontificates against Vatican "threats"
- Rome - July 25, 2011
State Administration for Religious Affairs defends the integrity of the two
excommunicated bishops (Leshan and Shantou) and mimics the Vatican saying that
the Holy See’s gesture inflicts "wounds" and "sadness"
among Catholics in China. It reaffirms the decision to go ahead with the
ordinations without papal mandate, but the "resistance" to their
dominance of the faithful, priests and bishops is growing. Hu Jintao and Wen
Jiabao should tackle the violation of the "harmonious society" and
corruption of representatives responsible for religious politics.
the Vatican’s "unreasonable" and "brutal"
"threats", an (unnamed) government spokesman says that Beijing will
continue on its path to ordain bishops without papal mandate.
the contents of a summary statement published by the State Administration for
Religious Affairs (Asar, the old Office of Religious Affairs), published today
in XinhuaThe declaration targets "the Vatican's accusations against the
ordination of bishops of the Catholic Church in China" and in particular
the ordinations of Leshan (06/29/2011) and Shantou (07/14/2011).
is well-known, Fr. Lei Shiyin was ordained bishop in Leshan, a candidate that
the Holy See had long rejected for "serious reasons" (see 29/06/2011
Leshan: seven legitimate bishops take part in Episcopal ordination that had no
papal mandate) in Shantou Fr Huang Bingzhang, was ordained who had also been
advised by the Holy See to step aside, because, there is already a bishop in
Shantou, but one who is not recognized by the government (07/14/2011 Eight
bishops in communion with the pope forced to take part in illegitimate
ordination in Shantou) .
both cases, once the ordinations had taken place, the Holy See published a
statement in which it rendered public the excommunication of the two newly
ordained (see: 04/07/2011 The Holy See condemns Leshan ordination and 16 /
07/2011 Holy See condemns illegal Bishop of Shantou, appreciates
"resistance" of bishops and faithful).
should be noted that the excommunication is "latae sententiae", ie,
automatic, for the fact that an act of disobedience to the faith was carried
out. In this case there was not even the problem of verifying the intent of the
two, because both had been repeatedly been advised not to candidate themselves
for the episcopate.
Asar has come out against the excommunication, describing it as an
"unreasonable" "threat", a "brutal means" that
" deeply wounds" Chinese Catholics and "causes great
sadness" to priests and laity. And it is curious that Beijing uses the same
terms ("deep wounds" and "cause of great sadness") that the
Vatican statements attributed to the universal Church and the pope!
is traditional practice in the Communist Party, they are using the other
party’s charges against them, so that while the Vatican talks of wounds to
religious freedom, China paints itself as a victim of the Holy See.
aping of the Pope and the Holy See, arrives at the climax when the declaration
pontificates that "the two newly ordained bishops are devout in their
faith, their integrity and competence, they are supported by their priests and
lay faithful"; it is somewhat curious that two of the priests of Catholic
Church should need a license in orthodoxy from an association composed of
atheist secretaries, led by an atheist Party!
need to play the victim even results in its delving into the past, the 1950s, to
when it claims the Vatican "threatened" bishops and priests with
excommunication, and because of this "priests and laity of the Catholic
Church in China have suffered a great historical trauma "!
from the historic falsity of the statement - in the past, no bishop or priest
has ever been officially excommunicated, and only John XXIII spoke of possible
secret schism in the Church in China - the Asar completely overlooks the
"sufferings" and "major trauma" of the tens of hundreds of
bishops and priests who have faced prison (up to 20-30 years), lagers, torture,
mockery within the people's courts precisely because they remained faithful to
the Pope as the religious leader of the Catholic Church. If the Vatican were to
canonize all the martyrs under Chinese communism, undoubtedly we would have the
largest canonization in history!
Vatican "threats" the Asar responds with another threat: "The
majority of priests and believers will more resolutely choose the path of
independently selecting and ordaining its bishops, and the government will
continue to support and encourage such practice".
a threat - to continue the illicit ordinations without papal mandate - was
repeated days ago by the illegitimate bishop Guo Jincai who, speaking to China
Daily on July 22, said that "at least seven dioceses in China will ordain
their bishops elected." He added: "When the conditions are good."
point is that "the conditions" hoped for by the Asar are far from
being good. More and more faithful, priests and bishops are distancing
themselves from the illicit ordinations: in Shenyang, Mgr. Pei Junmin resisted
being deported to the Shantou ordination (for which he had been designated as
the main celebrant), thanks to the defence of the priests and faithful his
diocese, and another bishop, Msgr. Cai Bingrui in Xiamen, enlisted for Shantou,
managed to hide and is now wanted by the authorities of the government.
short, throughout China the "resistance" of the Church towards the
undue interference of government on religious matters is growing (see 18/07/2011
Chinese Church "resists" excessive power of Government and Patriotic
Association). In addition, in recent days, many bishops who were deported and
forced to participate in the illicit ordinations, have written to the Holy See
communicating their being forced to take part in the act and receiving
reinstatement in communion with the Pope.
Asar declaration speaks of " support and encouragement" to those who
want an "independent" and "self-organized" church. In fact,
until now there has been deportations, kidnapping and abduction of the bishops
to force their participation in illicit ordinations: instead of leaving bishops
and priests free to decide on their own, the Asar has preferred to "support
and encourage" them by dint of coercion.
a taste for paradox, the Asar statement concludes with an invitation to
dialogue: "The principles and the position of the Chinese government to
improve relations with the Vatican are solid and clear. We hope to begin a
constructive dialogue with the Vatican and we hope to explore ways and means to
improve relations. "
declaration then calls for the "removal of the excommunication" as a
condition to continue "the right path of dialogue".
from the grossness of attempting to be "the Pope’s pope", ordering
the Pope about in matters of faith, this note on dialogue and diplomatic
relations is important. It is a sign that there are still those in leadership
who want to modernize China providing real religious freedom and opening to
relations with the Vatican. And these figures are within the entourage of
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. For this - with fear and dread, and
completely inconsistent with the rest of the statement - Asar is attempting to
align itself with the supreme leadership.
fact, however, Asar policies against the Catholic Church are completely
counterproductive to Hu Jintao’s proclamation on the "harmonious
society" and "fighting corruption". The members of the
government's Religious Affairs Bureaux and the Patriotic Association are
dividing communities and creating not harmony, but new tensions in Chinese
society. In addition, the way they prey on the goods and property of the Church
opens an entirely new chapter on the stinking corruption inside the party.
Hu Jintao succeed in healing this most recent front of concern in Chinese
society? Only days ago Cardinal Zen, in an appeal published in the Hong Kong
Apple Daily, asked the two leaders to "dedicate a little of their time to
Catholics" in China (see 13/07/2011 Urgent appeals by Card. Zen and Bishop
Tong against illicit Shantou ordination). We too join in this appeal.
crackdown on Catholics, priests who challenge illegal ordinations denied entry
Kong - July 27, 2011
canceled visa of Fr. Mella, a PIME priest, is not an isolated incident. AsiaNews
sources report "several similar cases” in recent weeks. The crackdown the
result of tensions between China and the Vatican over illicit ordinations. It
could "go on for some time" and is a source of regret to the faithful
who desire "unity with the Pope."
denial of a visa to China for Fr. Franco Mella "is not an isolated
incident," because in recent weeks "there have been some similar
cases." Beijing "has tightened entry controls" after increasing
tensions with the Vatican over the illicit ordinations of some bishops. A priest
based in Hong Kong, who requested anonymity for security reasons, confirmed as
much to AsiaNews. He adds that "the crackdown on Catholics could go on for
some time" and is a source of "deep regret and sadness" among the
faithful, who desire "unity with the pope and the Church."
week, immigration officials in Shenzhen, in Guangdong province in southern
China, denied entry visas to Fr. Franco Mella, an Italian priest of the
Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). For the first time in 20
years, a missionary based in Hong Kong has been blocked by border authorities.
Behind the gesture is their adherence to recent protests over illicit
ordinations decided by the Patriotic Association (PA), strongly criticized by
the Vatican. Yesterday card. Zen, archbishop emeritus of Hing Kong also spoke on
out on the issue (see 26/07/2011 AsiaNews, Cardinal Zen: the absurdity of an
atheist government that wants to lead the Catholic Church).
kept me for over an hour in a room," says the 62 year old PIME priest,
"asking me to watch TV. Then they came back and told me that my Chinese
visa was canceled. " "They gave me no explanation," then three
officials "escorted me to the Hong Kong border crossing." He wanted to
visit the province of Henan and had obtained clearance a month ago.
case of Fr Mella "is not an isolated incident," said a Catholic source
for AsiaNews in Hong Kong, because "in recent weeks there have been some
similar cases." One priest’s entry visa to China was cancelled, others
were "blocked at the airport and sent back on board the first available
flight." The increasing control on entry "affects only some cases in
particular," because others "were able to regularly enter China."
"Beijing - the source adds – targeted some personalities" and the
choice is motivated by their recent support for protests against the illicit
ordinations of bishops.
Catholic community is concerned that "the restrictions will continue for
the foreseeable future" and much will depend on the evolution of relations
between Beijing and the Holy See, and if there are "new illicit
ordinations" by the PA. Certainly, says the source, among the faithful
there is a climate of "deep regret and sadness" about what is
happening. "The desire for unity with the pope and the Church is strong,
but there are formidable obstacles are." (DS)
The chaos in ruling military council helping Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis
- Cairo - July 26, 2011
clashes in Cairo on Sunday that left 298 people injured, the situation appears
to be slipping out of control from the military. Ranking officer denies any
rumours the Council wants to set up another authoritarian regime. For Fr
Greiche, Egypt is in chaos and badly run. Many Christians and Muslims fear the
country is sliding towards extremism.
clashes between young supporters of the revolution and security forces are
undermining the Egyptian military’s hold over the country as critics from all
directions accuse the ruling Supreme Council of failing to manage the situation
ahead of next November’s elections.
Major General Mohamed al-Assar, Egypt’s assistant defence minister and a
top-ranking member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, met important
international figures at a meeting in Washington. He reassured his interlocutors
that the Egyptian military was not planning to set up another dictatorship.
to Fr Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, the military is facing
internal chaos and is incapable of running the country after the fall of
between demonstrators and police on Sunday in Abbasseya, in Cairo, left 298
people injured. Pro-democracy groups were outraged; they accuse the police of
using knife and stick-wielding thugs to provoke the clashes in order to arrest
the clergyman, the military is losing control of the situation. “The Supreme
Council includes 17 top generals with different opinions and ideas what to do.
This is leading to chaos,” he said. This has eroded the military’s
the army has accused members of the 6 April Movement of trying to destabilise
the country. The latter have countered by blaming soldiers for the violent
attacks against demonstrators.
in downtown Cairo are tired of the never-ending strikes and protests that block
the city, with serious consequences for the economy, especially for bars and
restaurants, Fr Greiche said. “Residents often call on the police to move
latest case, the military did nothing to spark the violence, the priest said.
They just guarded the Defence Ministry, where the demonstration was taking
place. Instead, the police force, which is linked to the old regime, provoked
attacks against the demonstrators, by sending in criminals and thugs to create
panic and spark clashes.
situation of insecurity and especially the total lack of credible interlocutors
for the government are allowing extremist groups, above all the Muslim
Brotherhood and Salafis, to expand without hindrance, launching their
proclamations and threatening opponents of Sharia and an Islamic state.
the Board of State Commission on Monday withdrew a cultural award from the
Egyptian researcher Sayyid al-Qemny after he was convicted of contempt of
June 2009, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture had awarded him almost US$ 30,000
for his achievements in social sciences.
for the Commission, “The State Merit Award in Social Sciences is granted from
taxpayers’ money, not from businessmen, and thus should not be squandered be
squandered on renegades from God and his teachings.”
poor are also increasingly afraid of extremists, Fr Greiche said, since the
latter now are free to operate as they please. Increasingly, poor people realise
what the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis stand for.
because of the military’s indifference, discrimination and crime are up,
raising the fear level among both Christians and Muslims.” (S.C.)
Germany arms Saudis against Iran
by Julio Godoy
Ipsnews - Berlin - July 25, 2011
delivery of armoured tanks to Saudi Arabia is not aimed at repressing local or
regional popular uprisings, but to improve Saudi military capabilities in a
likely war against Iran, diplomatic and military experts say.
German government’s decision to deliver 200 state-of-the-art Leopard 2
armoured tanks to the Saudi monarchy - a deal estimated at 1.8 billion euros -
has triggered a wave of criticism by opposition leaders, commentators, the
church and human rights groups.
this criticism, the German government has defended the delivery of the tanks to
Saudi Arabia, arguing that the Saudi monarchy, albeit a despotic regime, is
"a pillar of stability" in the Middle East.
German government also cites lack of U.S. or Israeli opposition, as
justification for the deal with Saudi Arabia.
to the apprehension expressed by opposition leaders, commentators, and human
rights groups, diplomatic and military experts believe that the Saudi regime
will not use the German tanks to repress local popular uprisings demanding
democratic reforms, but to eventually wage a war against Iran.
repress domestic enemies, the Saudis can use better suited equipment, including
some 2,000 armoured troops transport vehicles," said Josef Joffe, publisher
of the weekly newspaper ‘Die Zeit’.
is considered one of the most outspoken defenders among German media of the
U.S.-Western European military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
(NATO). He also has links to the U.S. and to the Israeli governments.
delivering the Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia, Joffe added, "Germany,
together with the U.S.A. and Israel, is sending a message to the region,
specifically to Iran: Here is more [military] deterrence. This argument should
not be sneezed at."
recalled that Germany recently delivered similar military equipment to other
Arab governments. "In 2009, Germany delivered 36 Leopard 2 tanks to
Qatar," he said.
the German army, the Bundeswehr, has admitted to carrying out military exercises
in the United Arab Emirates to test the Leopard 2 tanks capabilities in the
desert. The tests were apparently satisfactory.
Western governments - especially the U.S., Britain, and France - have for
decades helped the Saudis to improve their arsenals.
Primor, former Israeli ambassador to Berlin, and current president of the
Israeli Foreign Affairs Association, agreed with Joffe. "Saudi Arabia uses
other military equipment better suited to combat domestic popular
uprisings," Primor said.
their recent intervention in Bahrain to help the repress the popular protests
against the al-Khalifa family regime, the Saudis used light AMX armoured tanks
and not the heavier M1A2 Abrams tanks, of U.S. manufacture, Primor explained.
Leopard 2 tanks are addressed to Iran specifically, Primor said.
recalled that officially, Saudi Arabia is still at war with Israel. "But
Israel and Saudi Arabia have a common enemy, Iran," he said. "The
Saudis consider Iran the most dangerous threat."
he added, "Israel has an urgent interest to strengthen the Saudi military
capabilities, as a fortification against the Iranian danger, and as a stable
power in the now unsecure Arab world."
Primor said that the critique of human rights groups against the delivery of
military equipment to Saudi Arabia is "understandable". "The
Saudi regime is quite archaic," he said.
such arguments, criticism of the tank exports is not going to end soon. Reinhold
Robbe, until last year parliamentary commissioner for the German army, said that
Saudi Arabia "is surely not a country that can stand up to the western
standards of democracy and human rights."
standards should be the guideline of German foreign policy, including military
aid, Robbe said.
Catholic Church also criticised the deal. "Germany should not deliver
weapons in regions in military crisis, or to regimes that violate human
rights," said Bishop Stephan Ackerman, head of the church commission
‘Justitia et Pax’.
Rights Watch (HRW) called the Saudi human rights record "dismal", and
emphasised that the regime is one of very few countries in the Arab region whose
government has offered no human rights reforms in the wake of the popular
uprisings spreading through neighbouring countries since the beginning of the
sight of Saudi tanks rolling into Bahrain signalled the start of Bahrain’s
crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protesters there," said Christoph
Wilcke, senior Saudi Arabia researcher at HRW. "Saudi reformers may well
interpret selling tanks to Saudi Arabia at this time as German support for
the German government is turning a deaf ear to such criticism. Instead, it has
been offering military equipment to other regimes with similar human rights
a recent trip to Angola in mid-July, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered the
government of Jose Eduardo Dos Santos patrol boats and other military equipment.
is not clear as yet, whether the boats will be delivered to Angola, but
commentators are aghast that Merkel ignored the wave of criticism caused by the
delivery of the Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia and instead acted as "a
sales manager for the military industry", said Claudia Roth, president of
the opposition Green party here.
Thorsten Denkler, foreign policy analyst for the daily newspaper ‘Die
Sueddeutsche Zeitung’, "Merkel’s sensors seem to be failing."
Angola, Denkler added, "is one of the most corrupt regimes of the world,
where even the constitution cements the one party system."
also recalled that Amnesty International repeatedly condemns the human rights
violations in the South West African country.
complained that Merkel’s appeals for a real political understanding of
military exports ignores the basic moral prerequisites of foreign policy.
"It is not that Germany should not export weapons," Denkler said.
"But such exports should only occur towards states where democracy and the
rule of law are guaranteed."
India's Leading Export: CEOs
- August 01, 2011
on earth did the Banga brothers' mother feed them for breakfast? Whatever it
was, it worked: Vindi Banga grew up to become a top executive at the food and
personal-care giant Unilever, then a partner at the private-equity firm Clayton,
Dubilier & Rice. His younger brother Ajay, after heading Citigroup's Asian
operations, was last year named CEO of MasterCard — all without a degree from
a Western business school and without abandoning his Sikh turban. When Ajay took
over at the credit-card company's suburban — New York City headquarters, the
Times of India crowed that he was the first "entirely India-minted
executive" at a multinational's helm.
brothers laugh when asked for their mother's breakfast menu, deflecting
suggestions that they were raised by a Bengal-tiger mom. Instead, they cite an
itinerant childhood as a key ingredient in their success. The sons of a
lieutenant general in the Indian army, they moved to a new posting every couple
of years — perfect training, it turns out, for global executives facing new
markets and uncertain conditions. "You had to adapt to new friends, new
places," recalls Vindi. "You had to create your ecosystem wherever you
Banga brothers are two of a growing roster of global Indian business leaders, a
roster that includes CEOs such as Citigroup's Vikram Pandit and PepsiCo's Indra
Nooyi as well as the deans of both Harvard Business School and INSEAD. Yes,
ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal had the advantage of growing up in the family
business, but now the family business has grown into a global powerhouse under
factors account for the rise and rise of India-trained business minds? "Our
colleagues in our Asian offices are asking the same question," laughs Jill
Ader, head of CEO succession at the executive-search firm Egon Zehnder
International. "Their clients in China and Southeast Asia are saying, 'How
come it's the Indians getting all the top jobs?'" It could be because
today's generation of Indian managers grew up in a country that provided them
with the experience so critical for today's global boss. Multiculturalism?
Check. Complex competitive environment? Check. Resource-constrained developing
economy? You got that right. And they grew up speaking English, the global
risky to generalize about India, a subcontinent of 1.2 billion people, just as
it's simplistic to stereotype the Western executive or the Chinese business
leader. Motorola's Sanjay Jha or Berkshire Hathaway's Ajit Jain, one of those
tipped as Warren Buffett's successor, succeed due to talent and drive, not
because they're Indian. And bosses like Nooyi spend most of their formative
career years outside the country. Is it that they may just happen to be Indian?
As Ajay Banga notes, "You are who you are because of what you do, not the
color of your skin."
data suggest Indians are scaling corporate heights. In a study of S&P 500
companies, Egon Zehnder found more Indian CEOs than any other nationality except
American. Indians lead seven companies; Canadians, four. Among the C-suite
executives in the 2009 FORTUNE 500 were two mainland Chinese, two North American
Chinese and 13 Indians, according to a study by two professors from Wharton and
China Europe International Business School.
multinationals, it makes good sense to have leaders experienced in working with
expanding Asian markets. And India is already the location of many of their
operations. "If you look at companies like Pepsi or Hewlett-Packard or IBM,
a huge chunk of their global workforce is sitting out in India," says
Anshuman Das, a co-founder of CareerNet, a Bangalore executive-search company.
"India and China are also the countries of future profits for the
multinationals, so they may want their global leaders to come out of them."
and complex, India has evolved from a poorly run, centrally controlled economy
into the perfect petri dish in which to grow a 21st century CEO. "The
Indians are the friendly and familiar faces of Asia," says Ader. "They
think in English, they're used to multinationals in their country, they're very
adaptive, and they're supremely confident." The subcontinent has been
global for centuries, having endured, and absorbed, waves of foreign colonizers,
from the Mughals to the British. Practiced traders and migrants, Indians have
impressive transnational networks. "The earth is full of Indians,"
wrote Salman Rushdie. "We get everywhere." Unlike, say, a Swede or a
German, an Indian executive is raised in a multiethnic, multifaith, multilingual
society, one nearly as diverse as the modern global marketplace.
Americans, they're well versed in negotiating India's byzantine bureaucracy, a
key skill to have in emerging markets. And unlike the Chinese, they can handle
the messiness of a litigious democracy. "In China, you want something done,
you talk to a bureaucrat and a politician — it gets done," observes Ajay.
"In India, if you talk to a bureaucrat or a politician, there are going to
be 600 other people with their own points of view." There's an old saw
about Asian business cultures: "The Chinese roll out the red carpet;
Indians roll out the red tape."
that's why Indian managers are good at managing it. They have cut their teeth in
a country ranked 134th by the World Bank for ease of doing business. To be fair,
it's also the reason some of them left home. They're practiced in the
exasperating culture of local, state and national permits. "To build a
factory in China, a CEO will have to get two or three different permissions from
various departments," observes Signe Spencer, a co-author of The Indian
CEO, a 2007 study from the HayGroup consultancy. "An Indian CEO may have to
get 80 different permissions from 80 different places." No wonder Indian
executives spend much of their time networking and lobbying — tasks Western
CEOs leave to their corporate public-affairs departments.
economic liberalization, which began in 1991, was another blessing for this
generation of executives. It gave them exposure to a young and fast-growing
consumer market. "Liberalization unleashed a level of competition that
makes you stand on your toes," recalls Vindi. "We had to learn to
compete with international players but also with very good, extremely fast local
ones." In 1987, when Vindi was CEO of Hindustan Unilever, the company's
leading detergent, Surf, faced off against Nirma, a locally produced brand.
"It didn't cost 5% less, or 10% less," says Vindi, shaking his head.
"It cost a third of our product. We had to make a product that was better,
for the same price." Within 12 months, they had.
starts early in India, as students vie for admission to the state-funded Indian
Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management. The system
produces a self-selecting and highly disciplined elite; there are tales of
children starting to study at age 7 for the exam they take a decade later. When
the current crop of CEOs came of age, it was typical for 300,000 applicants to
vie for 2,000 places. "People in India think Harvard and MIT are second
choices and an IIT is their first," says Spencer. (Ajay Banga, an IIM alum,
just like his brother, disagrees: "I'd have given my right arm to go to a
Harvard or MIT!")
a spartan quality to these institutions, including shabby buildings and tiny
dorm rooms. Two years ago, 1,500 IIT faculty members went on a Gandhian fast to
protest their low pay. But what the institutions lack in glamour they make up in
prestige and a tight-knit global network. "They all still know each other's
test scores and class rank when they're 60 years old!" says Spencer.
they leave and begin climbing the ranks, Indian managers tend to look abroad —
or to multinationals within their country — more than their Chinese peers do.
"In China a lot of the senior executives are political appointees,"
says Ader. "You get much more credibility leading a Chinese organization.
If I call a Chinese candidate and say, 'Do you want to go on a board in the U.K.
or U.S.?' they say, 'Why would I?' If you call an Indian, they will." The
HayGroup study on the Indian CEO found Indian leaders' networking to be
particularly "bold and focused," with the intent of obtaining useful
of Indian managers' great advantages is their native disadvantage: they have
learned their skills in a country with huge aspirations but an often faulty
infrastructure. Ajay remembers his first day at Citibank in Chennai, when he
wondered what the banks of machines "big enough to power jet engines"
did — preserve data in case of power cuts — and then found out that this was
only the first line of defense. "I learned that not only do you need a
backup, you need a backup to the backup to the backup," he says.
"That's not a bad way to think about management. You've got to have a Plan
B and a Plan C, and they have to be somewhat robust."
managers suit tough times, accustomed as they are to making complex systems
work, even with finite resources. For Indians, "navigating uncertainties is
an art, not a source of complaint," says INSEAD's dean, Dipak Jain.
"We have the training to deal with complexities." Growing up in a
nation where resources are often tight "forces you to blow through the
constraints and find the answer," agrees Nikesh Arora, Google's senior vice
president and chief business officer. "You tend to take a look at the
problem, argue about the constraints, argue about the boundaries and see how to
solve it within those boundaries."
in the 1980s, when Ajay Banga was first working at Nestlé, he had the job of
selling chocolate in India, where temperatures can hover above 38°C for months.
Try selling Kit Kats in towns that don't have electricity, let alone
refrigeration. Banga ended up having to create a refrigerated supply chain —
with specially designed carts for cooling the chocolate en route to villages —
then installing generators to run the air conditioners to keep shop storage
spaces cool. "And we were doing it having been schooled in the fact that
'You will not compromise on the Nestlé products or value,'" recalls Banga.
"Think about that. Think about trying to live that dichotomy!"
Hindi, such adaptability using finite resources has a name: jugaad. Jugaad is
the spirit behind Indian products like the $2,500 Nano car, designed to be
assembled using chemical glues rather than expensive factory-based welding. It's
also what Vindi Banga employed when trying to figure out how to sell Unilever
products to rural Indian women. Instead of spending on advertising, the company
established the women as small-business operators, providing loans to buy
Unilever products and resell them in their communities. The women got jobs, and
Unilever got a new distribution channel, notes Banga. "These ladies became
brand ambassadors, brand teachers and brand distributors — all in one."
is not surprising that Indian executives tend to pay particular attention to the
lower-middle-class consumer and the so-called bottom billion, the poorest
customers. After all, more Indians live on $2 or less a day than don't. But
attention to value pays dividends when profit margins — and pocketbooks —
are shrinking. "In emerging markets, companies work very hard to get the
value equation right," Vindi observes. That's an ever more valuable skill
in a climate where even wealthy consumers are looking for value.
reason Indian executives are thriving in a world traumatized by the global
meltdown: a sense that businesses need to do more than just make money.
"When you talk to these top CEOs, there's a sense that the corporation is
embedded in society," says Harbir Singh, a Wharton professor and a
co-author of The India Way. "Most of the executives we surveyed said, 'You
cannot succeed if you don't help society around you to have a better
on top executives shows South Asians tend to be guided less by the bottom line
than by a bigger goal. "They think about what will not only benefit them
but the greater good," says Spencer. "When they make business
decisions, they take that seriously into account. You interview an American CEO
and it's classic McKinsey strategic thinking: How do we make money in this
market? But the Indians are showing us a level of business ethics that we don't
see in the West."
ethics may get tested as Indians wrestle with the demands of institutional
shareholders in the large corporations they are now running. But the HayGroup's
leadership survey includes an inner-strength category, examining how morals and
values affect leadership. The only groups that scored as high on inner strength
as Indian CEOs did? Catholic nuns and monks.
Killings, Torture at Bangladeshi Border
www.hrw.org - July 24, 2011
Instructions from Delhi Not Stamping Out Abuses
orders from New Delhi to end killings and abuse and to exercise restraint in
dealing with people crossing the border, new deaths and other serious abuses are
Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch
York) - The government of India should undertake a speedy, fair, and
transparent criminal investigation into fresh allegations of killings, torture,
and other abuses by the Border Security Force (BSF) at the border with
Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch said today. Those against whom there is credible
evidence of culpability should be prosecuted as part of an effort to end
longstanding impunity for abuses along the border.
December 2010, Human Rights Watch released a report, "Trigger Happy,"
documenting extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, and
ill-treatment by the BSF. In the past decade, the BSF has killed Indian and
Bangladeshi nationals. After the release of the report, Indian authorities
assured Bangladeshi officials that these killings would be stopped. The
government announced that it would order restraint and encourage the use of
rubber bullets instead of more lethal ammunition, steps welcomed by Human Rights
the number of deaths due to shooting has substantially decreased in 2011, the
Bangladeshi non-governmental organization Odhikar has documented at least 17
alleged killings of Bangladeshis by the border force and other instances of
severe abuse since January. Local groups have documented several cases of deaths
as a result of severe beatings by the BSF.
orders from New Delhi to end killings and abuse and to exercise restraint in
dealing with people crossing the border, new deaths and other serious abuses are
being reported," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human
Rights Watch. "The government has issued some positive new directives, but
it needs to prosecute those who commit abuses so the soldiers will understand
they can't act with impunity."
a Kolkatta-based non-governmental organization that conducts fact-finding in the
border areas, reports that while the number of shootings at the border has
significantly reduced, BSF soldiers have been brutally beating and torturing
suspects. Indian residents in the border area, while expressing relief that the
indiscriminate shootings have stopped, have complained about aggressive
intimidation and beatings.
one recent example, MASUM reported to the National Human Rights Commission of
India that on July 13, a group of soldiers from the 91st battalion of the border
force threatened a local human rights worker, Kanai Mondal, in the village of
Char Rajanagar, holding a gun to his head to demand that he take down posters
calling for an end to torture. The soldiers also threatened other activists and
confiscated posters, MASUM said.
June 30, BSF forces killed Mizanur Rahman, 25. According to Odhikar, he had
slipped into India along with four other cattle rustlers, when border guards
intercepted them. The others escaped, but the soldiers allegedly beat Rahman to
death and dumped his body into the Saniyazan River.
June 2, Odhikar documented two cases where BSF soldiers intercepted groups of
cattle smugglers. According to Odhikar, Rafiqul Islam, 35, from Satkhira, was
badly beaten and then dumped inside Bangladeshi territory, where Bangladesh
Border Guards found him and took him to a hospital. In a separate incident,
Indian soldiers caught Fazlur Rahman and his accomplices near the
Panitor-Gazipur border. While the others escaped, Fazlur was badly beaten and
left unconscious inside Bangladesh.
April 18, 2011, border force soldiers killed Rekatul Islam, 17, as he and his
accomplice, Mohammad Shahdat Hossain Odhikar, tried to smuggle cattle across the
border. Shahdat said they were stopped by BSF soldiers as they tried to cross
the border with 10 cows. Shahdat was injured, but escaped.
April 9, MASUM reported that Biswanath Soren, an elderly Indian man, was beaten
by border force troopers he believes were intoxicated. They brandished their
firearms to intimidate him and finally released him, he said. Soren sent a
written complaint to the police, but no action has been taken.
excessive use of force and the arbitrary beating of people along the border are
unjustifiable," Ganguly said. "These abuses call into question India's
stated commitments to the rule of law."
people routinely move back and forth across India's frontier with Bangladesh to
visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs. Others engage in petty and
serious cross-border crime. The border force is mandated to address illegal
activities, especially narcotics smuggling, human trafficking for sex work, and
transporting fake currency and explosives. It also works to stop militants
planning violent attacks in India's restive northeast.
many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, however, the victims were
cattle rustlers, farmers, or laborers who said they were hoping to supplement
their meager livelihoods by working as couriers in the lucrative but illegal
cattle trade that is rampant at the West Bengal border.
police forces rarely register complaints against border security and sometimes
encourage the victims to drop their cases, telling them that nothing will come
of it. One victim told Human Rights Watch that the police informed him that the
border forces had committed no crime since they were there "to beat the
Indian government needs to do more to ensure accountability for violations
committed by the border force soldiers and to ensure compliance with the United
Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement
Officials, Human Rights Watch said.
the Indian authorities vigorously protest attacks on fishermen who enter Sri
Lankan waters, they seem unwilling to act against their own border forces when
they commit crimes against Bangladeshis," Ganguly said. "As a regional
power, India should lead by example in South Asia to end the culture of impunity
for security forces."
strike for the rights of Christian and Muslim Dalits by Nirmala Carvalho
AsiaNews - Mumbai - July 26, 2011
Mgr Vincent Concessao, archbishop of New Delhi, the mass hunger strike (25-27
July) is “a warning” because “History has seen the downfall of many
apparently powerful governments when justice was denied.” The strike will on
28 July with march on parliament.
than a thousand people have gone on a hunger strike to convince the Indian
government to extend the Scheduled Caste status to Christian and Muslim Dalits.
The three-day protest action (25-27 July) will end in a march on parliament on
Thursday, which will be joined by bishops, other religious leaders, as well as
Christian and Muslim faithful and human rights activists.
is our clarion call for constitutional justice for the weakest of the society,
our Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are being discriminated on the basis of
their faith,” Mgr Vincent Concessao, archbishop of New Delhi, told AsiaNews.
fight for equal rights for Christian and Muslim Dalits has been going on since
1950 when parliament adopted Article 3 of the constitution, which recognises
Scheduled Castes. Based on such constitutional principle, the government has
granted specific economic, educational and social rights for Hindu Dalits. In
1956 and 1990, the same rights were granted to Buddhist and Sikh Dalits.
Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government is solely responsible
for the denial of rights and equality for Christian and Muslim Dalits,” the
archbishop said. “This hunger strike is a warning to our politicians. History
has seen the downfall of many apparently powerful governments when justice was
a reminder, on 27 December 2006, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, called
untouchability a “blot on humanity”, Mgr Concessao said. “Regrettably,
Christian Dalits are crushed by double discrimination, purely on the basis of
and Pakistan summit meeting to open a dialogue
- Delhi - July 27, 2011
in Delhi the foreign ministers resume talks, broken off after the Mumbai
bombings in 2008, which India believes Pakistan responsible. "We want a
common border, free from terror," says Krishna. "We should not be
hostage to the past," says Hina Khar, the 34 year old woman appointed
Islamabad Minister of Foreign Affairs a week ago.
Foreign ministers of Pakistan and India are meeting today for the first time
since dialogue between the two countries was stalled in 2008 as a result of the
Mumbai attack’s that caused about 170 victims. India believes Pakistani
elements behind the massacre. The Pakistani delegation is led by a 34 year old
woman, Hina Rabbani Khar, called a few days ago to lead the Pakistani foreign
ministry. The Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna said before the meeting that
his country wants to see "a stable, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan".
Rabbani Khar, who comes from a family deeply rooted in Pakistani politics, said
the two countries "should not be hostage to the past. It is in Pakistan’s
interest that dialogue is oriented towards concrete results. We must be positive
in our commitment, and we are ". Indian and Pakistani officials resumed
contact in February on a wide range of topics to find a way to restore
confidence between Delhi and Islamabad. India is said to "be ready to
discuss all issues with an open mind," and insist that justice is done to
the victims of Mumbai. The Pakistan will definitely open with the theme of
Kashmir autonomy. Hina Rabbani Khar yesterday met separatist leaders of Kashmir
in Delhi. The Himalaya region is claimed by both India and Pakistan, but split
in 1948. It has the cause of three wars between the two countries. Analysts do
not expect concrete results from this first large-scale meeting, but bears
witness to the will of both to stabilize relations. Krishna said: "We want
a common border, free from terror, and a stable, peaceful and reliable
'recycled' school teaches green lessons by Shilpa Jamkhandikar
SouthAsia - 22 July 2011
from recycled material, Aman Setu School of Pune is inculcating environment
awareness among its students.Children sit in a room with mud plastered walls,
re-use text books and grow their own vegetables
student entering the classroom through a small door at the Aman Setu School/
Photo credit: Reuters
India: On a regular school day, four-year-old Kush Bhattacharya can leave his
mathematics class to run barefoot on grass, hide from his friends in a cave made
of cow dung and return to recite nursery rhymes in a red bus that doubles up as
is a student at the Aman Setu school in Pune, an educational and technological
hub three hours drive from Mumbai.
every part of the school premises is made out of recycled material, including
roofs made out of old hoardings, walls built from plastic bottles and
hand-stitched uniforms made out of eco-friendly 'khadi', or handspun, cloth.
isn't a marketing thing, it's what we believe and how we live," says
Madhavi Kapur, who started the school in 2008 with just four students. The
school now has more than 140 students studying up to grade five.
didn't have too much money to begin with, and one of my (former) students, who
is an architect came up with the idea of using recycled materials to build the
school on a piece of land leased to me by my brother," she said.
off with a modest 600,000 rupees ($13,500) Kapur and architect Saurabh Phadke
devised ways to build walls from mud and old cement bags. They were then tamped
down and plastered with mud.
don't mind students walking out of a maths class, feeding their favourite fish,
taking a barefoot walk in the grass and then coming back in. We want them to be
one with the surroundings"
Bhagwat, teacher at Aman Setu School
of just two one-storeyed structures which house four classrooms, students at
Aman Setu, which means bridge of peace, sit on rattan mats on a cow
dung-plastered floor, use text books handed down from other students and grow
their own vegetables in a small garden.
get to feed fish in a tank, watch a robin's egg hatch and travel to school by
community transport - all in an effort to make them more environmentally
also acquired an old bus from the government transport authority, stripped it
down, and refurbished it as a classroom.
don't mind them walking out of a maths class, feeding their favourite fish,
taking a barefoot walk in the grass and then coming back in. We want them to be
one with the surroundings," says teacher Bano Bhagwat, as she teaches a
gaggle of excited kids how to make lemonade.
might sound like a school straight out of a fairy tale, but it wasn't all smooth
weren't willing to send their kids to a school which had an old bus doubling up
as a classroom. We started off with just four students, and I've had a hard time
convincing parents that it was a safe environment" Kapur said.
that the school has grown she has an entirely different problem persuading
parents that they should not tear down the concrete building down the road --
into which they have already moved some classes -- for a more environmentally
have moved to a bigger structure down the road. But that is a concrete building,
and parents don't want their kids to move there. They want me to stay
here." says Kapur.
they are giving me lessons in the environment. But for me, tearing down a
concrete structure is also not ecologically sound."
now, Kapur hopes to replicate her eco-friendly teaching methods at the concrete
school as well, with plans for a rain water harvesting facility, a vegetable
garden, and of course, a fence made of old plastic bottles.'
is a way of life, we plan to continue it no matter where we go," she says.
"Food stores are hit, but with what right?" Complains Mgr.
Fides - Tripoli - July 26, 2011
are hitting civilian targets such as food stores" denounces His Exc. Mgr.
Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli to Fides. "A few
days ago, NATO warplanes hit a food store just outside Tripoli, which contained
oil, pasta, tomato sauce. A river of oil came out of the warehouse which was
destroyed. I know they have also hit a social center. By what right does one hit
a food center? "Asks the Bishop.
addition, but I found out about the news in an indirect way and I have not
personally verified, there seems to be demonstrations in the mountains near
Tripoli in favor of Gaddafi. Again even in this case there were bombings. I have
no news about casualties, and I do not think there are any, but it is clear that
all of this is aimed at frightening people by bombing near their demonstrations
", said Mgr. Martinelli, who also refers to the psychological pressure
which is affecting the population, because " NATO aircraft continue to fly
, especially at night".
Libyans, however, show gratitude to the Church. Two days ago a group of women
came to thank us for our the prayers in favor of peace. Yesterday I received
another sign, simple but touching, the gratitude of the Libyans to the Church: a
gentleman gave us a basket of figs, saying “these figs are for you because you
are a sign of friendship ", concluded Mgr. Martinelli . (LM)
Seven million young people are easy prey for criminal organizations
Fides - Mexico City - July 26, 2011
million young people do not study and are unable to find a job, and risk being
sucked into the criminal organizations that perfection their networks to recruit
more and more young people who live in this desperate situation. The alarm comes
from the weekly "Desde la Fe" of the archdiocese of Mexico, a copy of
which was sent to Fides. The magazine notes that, according to official reports,
in Latin America there are nearly 40 million young people between 15 and 29
years of age with an uncertain future, because they do not study or work (they
are called “Ninis”): This figure represents the fourth part of the
population of that age.
Mexico, that number reaches seven million young people and is made up of the
most vulnerable young population. The archdiocese observes that "while the
network of organized crime improves and expands its potential to attract
millions of young people without opportunities, the public policies to assist
them ‘ Sleep the sleep of the right ’. The text of the archdiocese continues
: “This is the most vulnerable young population, because it does not have a
job or a profession, it falls in bad habits, or lives in the desperate search of
a job opportunity that does not come, so they are tempted to accept the
proposals from organized crime who offer lots of money, even knowing that there
is a risk of losing their lives or freedom”. The figures are alarming: 80
percent of the jails are occupied by young people between 20 and 35 years of
age, victims of vioent crimes 9 times out of 10 are young people.
is not enough to help the young who study in order not to drop out of school,
but we must provide opportunities for those who are not even part of the school
system, and of course much less have the opportunity to join the economically
active population. The magazine also recognizes that the work of the Catholic
Church in this area has decreased enormously, because young people are
increasingly alienated from the environment of faith and by a lack of
evangelization for them. (CE)
Families Cry Out for Palestinian Prisoners
by Eva Bartlett
Ipsnews - Gaza City - July 25, 2011
could enter the Guinness book of records for the longest running weekly sit- ins
in the world," Nasser Farrah, from the Palestinian Prisoners' Association,
jokes dryly. Since 1995, Palestinian women from Beit Hanoun to Rafah have met
every Monday outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office
in Gaza City, holding photos and posters of their imprisoned loved ones, calling
on the ICRC to ensure the human rights of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel's 24
prisons and detention centres.
2007, the sit-ins have taken on greater significance: Gaza families want Israel
to re-grant them the right – under international humanitarian law – to visit
their imprisoned family members. This right was taken from Gaza's families in
2007, after the Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit was taken by Palestinian
resistance from alongside the Gaza border where he was on active duty.
sit-ins have grown, with over 200 women and men showing up weekly. On Jul. 11,
ICRC and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) helped facilitate a
demonstration from the ICRC office to the unknown soldier park, Jundi, to
protest the ban on Palestinians from Gaza visiting their imprisoned loved ones.
can't send letters, we can't see him, we can't talk to him," says Umm Ahmed
of her 32-year-old son. Ahmed Abu Ghazi was imprisoned four years ago and
sentenced to 16 years in Israeli prison.
we have no connection with him, every Monday we go to the Red Cross. But nothing
changes. Last week we slept outside the Red Cross, waiting for them to help us
talk to our sons and daughters," Umm Ahmed says.
our sons are in prison, their parents might die without seeing them again."
Palestinian prisoner Bilal Adyani, from Deir al-Balah, such was the case. On
Jul. 11, Adayni's father died, after waiting for years to see his son again. The
ICRC reports that over 30 relatives of Palestinian prisoners have died since the
prison visits were cut.
Bilal, an elderly woman in a simple white headscarf, walks among the
demonstrators, holding a plastic-framed photo of her son when he was 16. The
teen wears a black dress shirt, has combed and gelled hair, and smiles easily to
years, ten months, he's been in prison. I haven't been allowed to visit him in
eight years," says Umm Bilal.
prison canteen should sell phone cards, clothes, or food, but Israel is making
it difficult now. He wanted to study but in prison but he hasn't been
December 2009, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled with the Israeli government to
deny families from Gaza visitation rights to prisoners in Israeli prisons. Among
the stated reasons for the Court's decision were that "family visits are
not a basic humanitarian need for Gaza residents" and that there was no
need for family visits since prisoners could obtain basic supplies through the
June, 2011, Israeli Prison Service is reported to have taken away various rights
of prisoners, including that allowing prisoners to enroll in universities, and
blocked cell phone use.
world is calling for Shalit to be released. But he is just one man, a
soldier," says Umm Bilal. "Many Palestinian prisoners were taken from
their homes. Shalit was in his tank when he was taken. Those tanks shoot on
Gaza, kill our people, destroy our land. Take Shalit, but release our
to Nasser Farrah, "there are over 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons,
including nearly 40 women and over 300 children. Seven hundred prisoners are
from the Gaza Strip."
estimates range from 7,500 to 11,000 Palestinian prisoners. "The ‘over
7000’ does not include the thousands of Palestinians who are regularly taken
by the Israelis in the occupied West Bank, and even from Gaza, as well as those
held in administrative detention for varying periods," Farrah notes.
administrative detention, Palestinians, including minors, are denied trial and
imprisoned for renewable periods, with many imprisoned between six months to six
to B'Tselem, as of February 2011, Israel is holding 214 Palestinians under
49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prevents forcible transfers of people from
occupied territory. But Israel has been doing just that since 1967, and has
imprisoned over 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children according to the UN.
from denial of family visits, higher education, and canteen supplies, roughly
1,500 Palestinian prisoners are believed to be seriously ill, and are denied
Komeh's mother has many years of Monday demonstrations ahead of her. Her son, 34
years old, was given a 19-year sentence, of which he has served six years.
the last four years I haven't heard from him," Umm Majed says. "He has
developed stomach and back problems in prison, but he's not getting the medicine
Farrah says this is a serious problem. "Many have cancer and critical
illnesses. Many need around-the-clock hospital care, not simply headache
2010-2011 report from the Palestinian Prisoners Society said that 20 prisoners
have been diagnosed with cancer, 88 with diabetes and 25 have had kidney
failures. "Over 200 prisoners have died from lack of proper medical care in
prisons," the report says.
of the ways ill Palestinians end up in prison is by abduction when passing
through the Erez crossing for medical treatment outside of Gaza.
Israelis give them permits to exit Gaza for treatment in Israel or the West
bank, but after they cross through the border Israel imprisons many of
them," says Farrah.
are a people under occupation. We have no other options to secure our prisoners'
rights but to demonstrate in front of the ICRC. It's their job to ensure
prisoners are receiving their rights under international humanitarian law."
and the others, who recognizes South Sudan?
- July 26, 2011
a sign,” replied Petrus de Kock, an analyst at the South African Institute for
International Affairs, when MISNA asked why Israel has done it so soon. So far,
the states that have officially recognized South Sudan are 88, though some have
done so sooner than others.
July 7, two days before the proclamation of independence from Khartoum, Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised “cooperation and friendship” and
referred to the 8000 South Sudanese who fled to Israel during the civil war
fought between 1983 and 2005. Israel, in fact, has ties to what is now the 54th
state and newest UN member state. “Israel has provided military assistance and
intelligence for decades, so far as to send its own officers to official
Sudanese territory” says Hani Raslan, an expert of the Center for Strategic
and Political Studies University of Cairo Al-Ahram.
in the past and future, has been the contest for the Nile. According to De Kock,
for decades Israel has exercised a “powerful influence” in Uganda and South
Sudan and now wants “to condition even more options in the management of the
river.” The main objective would be Egypt, a key country in any solution to
the Palestinian issue and, which, on the basis of a treaty from the colonial era
is entitled to 55% of the Nile. Last year seven governments in the region have
signed an agreement that calls into question this arrangement and now in Cairo
they await the decision of the new state.
second goal would be to reduce the ability to maneuver the “enemies” of
Khartoum. The government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir is suspected of favoring the
passage of weapons to the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian Territories
bypassing the embargo in Tel Aviv. In early April, the Israeli air force has
been accused of having led a raid against a car carrying two missiles abaord
which were alleged members of the Palestinian movement Hamas, apparently in
charge of delivering a load of weapons.
to Tom Wheeler, a former South African ambassador with 40 years of diplomatic
career, the timing of the recognition of the independence of South Sudan might
have been influenced by the “bureaucracy” or other factors unrelated to
politics. “To better understand – says Wheeler to MISNA – we must look at
how many countries at the General Assembly will vote in favor of the new
State’s membership in the United Nations system”.
however, Tel Aviv has clear ideas. “Israeli companies to explore South
Sudan,” read a headline of the weekend edition of “Yedioth Ahronoth”. The
newspaper traces the beginning of the special reports about an alleged Israeli
hospitalization experienced by guerrilla hero John Garang, who was wounded in
one eye during a gun battle, adding that there are new opportunities.
the front row to take advantage of these opportunities are Solel Boneh Overseas,
Sarel and Fujicom Israel, a pioneer in construction of infrastructure, provision
of medical supplies, computer science and electronics. Then there is the past
returning. “Experts have already contacted the South Sudanese Defense system
to offer training programs for police and the army – writes ‘Yedioth
Ahronoth’ – and a company based in Ramat Hasharon was responsible for
drafting a plan for the safety of President Salva Kiir and his bodyguards “.
UN appreciates “constructive” meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and
- Yangon - July 26, 2011
opposition leader and the Labour minister meet for more than an hour. Few
details are release about what they discussed, but the focus remains the rule of
law. More meetings are expected in the future. The UN’s Ban Ki-moon is
encouraging the dialogue and has renewed his appeal for the release of the
country’s 2,000 political prisoners.
sides said the meeting was satisfactory and constructive. United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his appreciation for the meeting between
Aung San Suu Kyi and a representative of the new military-backed Myanmar
government that took office in April. It is the first tentative dialogue between
the pro-democracy opposition and the country’s rulers, and it is expected that
more will follow.
meeting was held yesterday in a state guesthouse in Yangon. The Nobel Prize
laureate met Aung Kyi, minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Relief and
Resettlement, for about 70 minutes.
Aung Kyi was an official in the former military government and is a minister in
the current civilian government, set up following last November’s phony
was charged by the regime’s strongman, Senior General Than Shwe, to handle
relations with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It is their ninth meeting
the end of meeting, the head of the National league for Democracy (NLD) said,
“[w]hatever we do or whoever we talk with, our main hope is for the benefit of
the country and the people”.
to her, Aung Kyi added, “[w]e can say this is the first step towards
cooperation and with regards to future work”.
of what was discussed have however been kept vague, although both sides are
believed to have talked about rule of law in Myanmar, where corruption and
political oppression are rife.
Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the meeting between Aung San Suu
Kyi and the Myanmar minister.
statement from his office said, “The Secretary-General encourages such
contacts and dialogue."
the same time, the Un chief appealed to the Myanmar government to release the
over 2,000 political prisoners held in the nation’s prisons.
and energy fuelling war between Burmese military and ethnic minorities by Yaung
-July 27, 2011
and environmentalists blame infrastructural and natural resource development.
The latter enriches the country’s leadership at the expense of the people. In
Karen State, thousands of families are homeless because of a road. Mytisone
(Kachin) dam will cause serious damages; the Chinese company that is building it
wants seven more.
interests worth billions of dollars in infrastructural (for example, dams) and
natural resource development are behind the virtual civil war between government
forces and ethnic minorities in Kachin State (northern Myanmar), this according
to Burmese environmentalists and activists. In their opinion, dozens of projects
promoted or funded by foreign interests, especially Chinese groups and
companies, are fuelling tensions between armed groups and the military. Caught
in the middle, the civilian population is the victim of forced confiscations,
murders and rapes, whilst the natural environment is at risk for serious and
Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed winged of a local ethnic
minority in the eastern part of the country on the Thai border, has successfully
blocked the construction of a road link to the US$ 8 billion Dawei port and
industrial estate mega-project.
building of the 160-kilometre road has already affected the local population,
displacing at least 2,000 families who have had to abandon their homes without
in April, the Burmese government that emerged from the November 2010 phony
election apparently sold the land along the road to investors and businessmen
with connections to the country’s political-military leadership.
economic reforms and privatisations promised by the government have been a
pretext to favour acolytes and businessmen loyal to the military junta. In
general, property laws in Myanmar are vague and interpreted in favour of the
the construction of the Myitsone dam on the Irrawaddy River in the northern
state of Kachin on the Chinese border (pictured) continues to be controversial.
After years of truce, the civil war between the Burmese military and the armed
rebels of the Karen Independence Army (Kia) started again in June. Already
dozens of people have been killed or wounded.
rights activists and environmentalists note that foreign investments contribute
to the violent escalation, in particular Chinese companies that are pouring
billions of dollars in the coffers of the military, thus disrupting the life of
people and the environment.
Myitsone hydroelectric dam is also very dangerous, at least according to an
internal report by the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI), the Chinese
multinational in charge of the project, which says that the dam would cause
serious problems for the area as well as the country as a whole.
its own studies, the CPI plans to go ahead with seven more mega-dams on the
some 48 hydropower projects are planned or under construction, 25 of which are
mega-dams similar to Myitsone. They will cost an estimated US $35 billion,
generate 40,000Mw of electricity, and earn the Burmese government an estimated
US$ 4 billion in annual revenue.
condemn India's arm deal with Burma by Nava Thakuria
Weeklyblitz - July 28, 2011
Burmese exiles living in India and their sympathizers had recently came to the
street of India's national capital to lodge a stronger protest against the
government for supplying arms and ammunitions to the semi-military Burmese
government at Naypyidaw.
resentment at New Delhi's continued military relationship with Naypyidaw,
hundreds of pro-democracy activists and various Indian civil society groups
demonstrated in New Delhi on July 22, 2011 arguing that 'supplying arms to the
most brutal military dictatorship may have grave consequences to millions of
innocent lives'. It may be mentioned that the Indian government had recently
supplied 52 military trucks load of arms and ammunition to the Burmese
government. India maintained its strategic and military relationship with the
Burmese regime even after receiving brickbats from the international
is hurting and awful that the Government of India has breached its democratic
principles by supplying arms and ammunitions to the Burmese military rulers,
which are identified as the world's most notorious military regime. The
consequence will be the victimization of innocent Burmese citizens who have been
yearning for justice, peace and democracy for many decades," said M Kim, a
young Burmese exile living in India.
human rights abuses and criminal hostilities against the ethnic groups,
political activists, journalists and civilians have been committed without a
halt by Burma's Army even after the installation of a so-called civilian type
government. It is a fact that over 2,200 political prisoners in Burma are still
demonstrators also sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
urging him to renew New Delhi's support the Burmese people's movement for
restoration of peace and democracy in Burma. Till the early nineties, Indian
government supported the democratic movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But
later it changed the course and started engaging the then military regime named
State Peace and Development Council for various bi-lateral relationships.
believe that India is a nation founded on sound democratic principles and time
and again India has proven to uphold the principles of constitutionally elected
governments. Further as a nation committed to playing an important, if not
pivotal role in maintaining peace in the region, it is unbecoming of a
responsible nation to supply arms to countries known for abusing military
power," states the memorandum, which was signed by nearly hundred Indian
civil society groups and individuals with many Burmese organizations.
other big neighbours (of Burma) are silently urging for negotiation between the
authorities and ethnic groups, New Delhi has continued its arm supply to the
infamous regime," said Dr Tint Swe, the chairman of Burma Centre Delhi, a
pro-democracy forum. Speaking to the author from New Delhi, Dr Swe asserted that
"democracy and human rights activists in Burma have been imprisoned,
intimidated, tortured and many of them are put to death and it is observed by
the United Nations and the international community that the advocators for
democracy, justice, peace and human rights in Burma have been regularly
castigated". So we are apprehensive that those arms will only be used
against the pro-democracy activities and ethnic minorities like Kachin, Shan and
Karen in eastern Burma, added Dr Swe. In a separate memorandum to the Indian
Premier, the Burmese pro-democracy groups urged New Delhi 'to immediately halt
military aids to Burma's dictatorship' and 'to review India's foreign policy on
Burma by focusing on long-term interests, development and stability, prosperity
and peace in the region'.
human rights abuses and criminal hostilities against ethnic groups, political
activists, journalists and civilians have been committed by Burmese Army even
after the installation of a so-called civilian government at Naypyidaw,' the
memorandum pointed out.
national interest will be served only if a real democratic regime is established
in its eastern neighbour,' argued the memorandum which was endorsed by the Women
League of Burma, All Burma Students Democratic Front, Arakan Liberation Party,
All Burma Democratic Lusei Women Organization, Chin Human Rights Organization,
Chin Student Union, Kuki Women Human Rights Organization, Kachin National
Organization, Matu Youth Organization, Zomi Women Union and others,
that 'supporting the democratic movement in Burma will thus be beneficial for
the largest democracy in the globe as well.'
US open to Pyongyang over nuclear disarmament
AsiaNews - Seoul - July 25, 2011
a two-year deadlock, US Secretary of State Clinton invites North Korea’s
deputy foreign minister to New York for talks on restarting stalled
denuclearisation talks. However, “we do not intend to reward the North just
for returning to the table” or “give them anything new for actions they have
agreed to take,” she said. A ruined Communist regime must accept.
two years of a diplomatic freeze, Seoul and Washington appear ready to renew
nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea. Following banned nuclear tests,
Pyongyang was kept away from six-party talks (North and South Korea, United
States, Russia, China and Japan) and placed under heavy economic sanctions.
Today, even though it is unwilling to make any concessions, the United States
wants to overcome the current impasse.
behalf of the US government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited North
Korean Foreign Minister Kim Kae-gwan to New York later this week for discussions
on the next steps needed to restart the stalled denuclearisation talks.
on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum, Clinton said however that whilst
the US was open to talks with Pyongyang, "we do not intend to reward the
North just for returning to the table." In addition, "We will not give
them anything new for actions they have already agreed to take," she added.
a joint statement released Saturday, the United States, South Korea and Japan
also said Pyongyang must "address" its secretive uranium enrichment
program before the talks could restart.
its part, Seoul has decided to separate the nuclear issue from the North’s
deadly attacks on a South Korean ship and a South Korean-controlled island,
which killed a number of civilians.
is a step forward, albeit due to opposite pushes. The North Korean regime is
close to ruin, with the latest economic sanctions further undermining its
already fragile economy. Almost the entire population leaves below the poverty
line and there are no prospects for change in the near future.
the same time, the United States, South Korea and Japan have realised that North
Korea’s main ally, China, is not going to be tough on its protégé. Thus,
diplomacy is the only step other than force.
Taliban backs off from attacking civilians
by Ashfaq Yusufzai
Ipsnews - Peshawar - July 24, 2011
series of Taliban attacks selectively targeting Pakistani security forces is
being seen as an attempt to shore up the flagging popularity of the
fundamentalist Islamic scholars.
long as the Taliban targeted security forces alone, the local people supported
them as they believed it to be part of the jihad against the United
States," said Maulana Abdul Wahid, a prayer leader in this city, capital of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of Pakistan’s four provinces.
towards the end of 2005, as the Taliban launched a terror campaign against the
general public, targeting mosques, marketplaces, schools and government
buildings, public sympathy turned to anger," Wahid said.
had once helped raise funds for the Taliban to shelter them as they fled
neighbouring Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of that country in
the Taliban leaders who crossed over the border to find sanctuary in the
Pashtun-dominated areas of Pakistan is Afghanistan’s former head of state
Mullah Mohammed Omar, wanted by the U.S. government for harbouring Osama bin
stopped supporting the Taliban after they began killing and injuring innocent
and non-combatant people," Wahid said. "The people here repent the
goodwill they had shown towards Taliban."
goodwill stemmed from the fact that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of Balochistan province are dominated
by Pashtuns who form the backbone of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.
account for about 16 percent of Pakistan's 174 million population and make up 42
percent of Afghanistan’s 30 million people.
Khan, a retired army major, who took part in Pakistani military operations
against the Taliban in FATA, told IPS that the Taliban has now gone back to
targeting security forces exclusively in the hope of winning back the hearts and
minds of the local people rather than intimidate them.
new strategy, said Khan, was apparent in the pattern of attacks mounted in
revenge for the killing of bin Laden by U.S. forces in the Pakistani garrison
city of Abbottabad on May 2.
Taliban struck at the Frontier Constabulary in Shabqadar Charsadda district on
May 13 in a twin suicide attack that killed 80 soldiers," said Khan,
pointing to one example of the Taliban’s new tack.
May 18, Taliban militants attacked a security post on the outskirts of Peshawar,
triggering a four-hour gun battle in which 17 people, 15 of them civilians, were
killed, but the Taliban denied involvement because of the deaths of so many
ordinary people," said Maulana Zaheerul Haq, who runs a religious school.
contrast, the Taliban took care to claim responsibility for the May 22 storming
of the naval base in Karachi, leaving 10 military personnel dead and destroying
two U.S.-supplied surveillance aircraft.
May 28, Taliban militants drove a car packed with explosives into a police
station in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 11 people and
wounding 39. With most of the victims being policemen, the Taliban were quick to
to pattern, the Taliban denied having a hand in the twin midnight bomb blasts at
the crowded Khyber Super Market in Peshawar on Jun. 12, which killed 45 people
and injured as many.
are desperate to wash their tainted image among the public," said Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa’s information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, reacting to the
the victims happened to be civilians and the people know that the Taliban are
behind these attacks," Hussain said. "The people are well aware that
the so-called Taliban militias are doing terrorism all over the country."
spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan was quoted in the media as saying that 'foreign
agencies' were trying to malign the scholars by carrying out attacks on
civilians. He even vowed that the Taliban would avenge the killing of innocent
the religious-political parties that once wholeheartedly supported the Taliban
are now distancing themselves from the movement.
have seen that during the past three years, the Taliban have killed hundreds of
innocent people, including women, children and the elderly, bringing a bad name
to Islam," the leader of a religious party told IPS, asking not to be named
for fear of reprisals.
religious leader said attacks on the chief of the Jamiat Ulema Islam political
party, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a former supporter of the Taliban, were carried
out by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan, which is sworn to fighting
NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
to Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik, some 30,000 Pakistani civilians
have lost their lives in Taliban attacks in the last few years. Also, he said,
more than 5,000 Pakistani security personnel have died in operations against the
al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
new strategy of targeting security forces and sparing civilians will not work as
the public has become sick of the Taliban, who continue destroying schools and
music shops," Maulana Kifayatullah, leader of a local mosque in Peshawar
U.S. has not been harmed by the Taliban, only the poor Pakistanis are at the
receiving end," Kifayatullah said. "Supporting the Taliban means
supporting aggressors, and those supporting aggressors will face the wrath of
almighty God on the Day of Judgment."
Aquino speaks to the nation but disappoints Filipinos
AsiaNews - Manila - July 25, 2011
his State of the Nation address, the president highlighted the good results of
his administration’s fight against corruption. He also stressed his
willingness to defend islands in the South China Sea against Chinese claims. He
did not however touch hot issues like employment and agriculture. Sources that
spoke to AsiaNews say he is a vassal to big agro- and industrial business
interests and international organisations. Thousands take to the streets in
Quezon City to protest against his policies.
Benigno Aquino III's second State of the Nation address has failed to convince
ordinary Filipinos. For many, it was “utopian” and “without concrete
contents and proposals”, especially for the poor. This morning, 10,000 people,
especially farmers, fishermen and blue-collar workers took to the streets of
Quezon City to protest, calling on the president to “quit the world of
utopias” and treat citizens “as real and not imaginary people”.
his speech, Aquino highlighted the start of change in the country. He spoke
about fighting corruption, increasing military and police wages and reducing
unemployment. Speaking about the dispute with China over islands in the South
China Sea, the president asserted his administration’s willingness to defend
Filipino sovereignty over the area.
speaking to AsiaNews, a source noted that his speech lacked details and
examples, that it failed to deal with hot issues like employment and land
year after his election, the president has not set a single goal. So far, he has
only made proclamations about changing the country,” the source said. “The
only good thing in his speech is his desire to fight corruption by removing
government officials accused of embezzlement.”
few days ago, the president appointed Conchita Carpio-Morales, a former Supreme
Court justice, as the new ombudsman, replacing Merceditas Gutierrez, who was
tied to the previous Arroyo administration and is suspected of involvement in
corruption and embezzlement.
in May 2010, Benigno Aquino was seen by both voters and media as the man for the
his campaign, he offered a radical change for the country, pledging to free it
from the six years of corruption under Arroyo.
since then, his popularity has declined. Many of those who thought he was the
man for the job have become disappointed. Others accuse him of using his success
in fighting corruption to hide his difficulty in modernising the country and
breaking the stranglehold of large landowners and industrialists.
president is still in the hands of powerful groups that have dominated the
political and economic scene in the Philippines for decades,” the source said.
money for the military and the police and the lack of agricultural policies are
symptomatic of his administration’s security fears and that it is beholden to
president is also a vassal of the United Nations and multinationals, which for
years have pushed for the controversial birth control bill opposed by the Church
and Filipino Catholics.
is not moving against or in favour of the law because he is afraid of losing
Catholic support, which is the basis of Filipino society, and the funds provided
by international organisations,” the source said. “Still, today he
reiterated his closeness to the country’s bishops, praising them for their
work in favour of the population.”
on the words and some of the results by the Aquino administration, some small
changes are observable compared to previous administration, the source said.
“The Philippines’ rebirth will occur one day, but it will be long and hard
to do,” the source added.
a truck can become a classroom
Agenzia Fides - Manila - July 26, 2011
truck has been turned into a classroom so that it can accommodate up to 25
students at once and will offer lessons from Monday to Friday for four hours a
day for children and street children left to themselves who live in the area of
Laguna, in the South of Manila. The first courses that will begin are
Electronics and Motorcycle repair. The first will teach techniques regarding the
repair of electrical appliances such as fans, TV, electrical outlets, circuits
and wiring, and mobile phones. At the end of the course participants will
receive a National Certificate (NC2) issued by the Authority for Technical
Education and Skills Development. The second course is aimed at the utility in a
social community that uses the motorcycle as a common means of transport. The
idea of a mobile classroom was thought by a volunteer lay person involved in the
village for street children in Tuloy, as a response to the growing number of
pupils leaving schools in the country. The most common causes, according to the
children themselves, is the lack of money for public transport and the need to
work. The area where the truck will move is included in the diocese of San
Pablo, a suffragan of the archdiocese of Manila. (PA)
Famine in Somalia: When does the world decide to use the ‘F' word?
- July 22, 2011
word ‘famine' may be a familiar one, but it is not thrown around lightly by
the people who decide when there is one. The fact that most of us today probably
associate the term with the 1984 crisis in Ethiopia is testament to its
exceedingly careful dispensation; to use it too often would dilute its power to
command the attention of the press and governments around the world. Famines
don't happen overnight, but when the United Nations declares one, those
governments are expected to pay attention – and help pay to get the situation
Wednesday, the U.N. declared two regions in southern Somalia as being in the
midst of a famine. It's the first time the word has been used in that country in
nearly 20 years and the first time it's been employed anywhere in the 21st
century. The famine comes after months of the worst drought in East Africa in
more than half a century, and is affecting about 3.5 million people around the
country, most of whom are in the south. Over 165,000 Somalis have already fled
to Kenya to get access to food and water; every day, over 1000 refugees are
arriving in Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, pushing conditions there
to the limit.
when did an emergency morph into a full-blown famine? For the U.N., there is a
precise and technical set of criteria used to determine when a famine is
occurring. At least 20% of the population must be consuming less than 2100
kilocalories a day, 30% of children must be suffering from acute malnutrition,
and two adults or four children out of every 10,000 people must be dying of
hunger each day.
numbers are gathered from field assessments that several UN groups and NGOs
jointly evaluate before establishing the world has a famine on their hands.
“It has such a huge connotation,” says Arif Husain, deputy chief of the
World Food Program's Food Security Analysis Service. “It's basically saying a
government failed to provide food for its people to the extent that people are
dying. If you're going to say that you have to be very careful you're
true even in Somalia, widely regarded as a failed state in which the current
government controls little of the country, including the capital. This vacuum
had no small part the widespread hunger that we have seen splashed across our
computer and television screens this week. The drought, of course, played its
role, too, destroying back-to-back crop seasons, and food prices are, once
again, soaring. But in the absence of a functional government, the militant
Islamist group al-Shabab has routinely hampered aid operations in recent years,
prompting groups like WFP to stop its food aid in Somalia last year after
delivery became too fraught with questionable conditions and too dangerous.
is a different animal. There is no government. There is nobody responsible,”
Husain says. The famine has been caused by an environmental catastrophe, but an
intact state could at least try deal with it. No government means there are no
officials or institutions to try to do anything. “In cases where those things
don't exist, it just becomes the responsibility of the international community
if you don't want to see people dying.”
governance — or rather lack of it — has been the tipping point before in
turning a food shortage into a famine. As Jeffrey Sachs wrote in this magazine
in 1998, Nobel prizewinner Amartya Sen concluded that the Bengal famine of 1943,
in which millions of rural workers starved in the midst of an economic boom,
came to pass because India's British rulers were not concerned with monitoring
the condition of the colony's working poor. Sachs writes: "This political
observation gave rise to what might be called Sen's Law: shortfalls in food
supply do not cause widespread deaths in a democracy because vote-seeking
politicians will undertake relief efforts; but even modest food shortfalls can
create deadly famines in authoritarian societies" — or, in the case of
Somalia, in societies where there is scarcely a government at all. Hence another
nation where residents suffer chronic bouts of hunger and malnutrition: North
far, the attention the international community has paid to the simmering problem
in Somalia has been pretty unimpressive; sending millions of dollars to a
lawless state more or less run by insurgents is an unsavory prospect to the
committees that determine where aid flows. But aid groups argue cutting off help
is shortsighted. When hundreds of thousands of people are going hungry in one
place, their suffering will not remain isolated. “Without an urgent infusion
of emergency funds, the famine is likely to spread to other regions in Somalia
leading to more starvation, disease and displacement,” Nora Love of the
International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in a statement released on July 20.
U.N. estimates that at least $300 million will be needed to address the famine
in the next two months. The U.S. has responded with an extra $28 million in
emergency funds, in addition to the $431 million in aid already sent to the Horn
of Africa this year. Others have yet to follow. “It's not enough as we speak
right now… [but] we do expect a good response,” says Husain. “If not, this
is a very bad situation." If the sudden crop of images of kids with IVs in
their arm are any indication, we're already there.
Mahr is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kristamahr. You can also
continue the discussion on TIME's Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
Mass graves discovered in South Kordofan
- July 23, 2011
on an analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery and eyewitness reports obtained
by the Satellite Sentinel Project, SSP has identified a site consistent with
mass graves in Kadugli.
Sentinel Project (SSP) has found evidence consistent with allegations that the
Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Government of Sudan-aligned (GoS) militias have
apparently engaged in a campaign of systematic mass killing of civilians in
Kadugli, South Kordofan. Under the Rome Statute and other international
humanitarian law, the systematic killing of civilians in peace or war by their
own government can constitute crimes against humanity.
on an analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery and eyewitness reports obtained
by the Satellite Sentinel Project, SSP has identified a site consistent with
mass graves in Kadugli. SSP has found evidence corroborating at least four,
independent eyewitness accounts that SAF, GoS-aligned militias and other
GoS-aligned forces are present in Kadugli and are alleged to be methodically
searching houses for civilians. The four eyewitnesses claim that the SAF and
GoS-aligned militias are systematically killing those suspected of supporting
the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and others.
has also found evidence consistent with a possible pile of people in body bags
or white plastic tarps in Kadugli. This imagery corroborates an eyewitness
account of bodies being placed in body bags or some form of white plastic tarp
by SAF and GoS-aligned militia forces.
situation reports from UN agencies and other aid providers are severely limited
due to the lack of free and unfettered access to Kadugli town. In the absence of
on-the-ground reports from humanitarian actors and journalists, eyewitness
reports from those who were in Kadugli town within the past month, combined with
satellite imagery analysis, are the only available means of assessing the
situation there at present.
Sudan should not reinvent the wheel
- July 21, 2011
nearly fifty decades of armed struggle, the Southern Sudanese have finally
gained their independence from the oppressive Khartoum regime. However, the
independence celebrations witnessed on July 9 and the pomp and colour that
marked them could be short lived if the discontent currently brewing in the new
nation is anything to go by.
gone to the bush to fight marginalization, it is unfortunate that the Republic
of South Sudan is now facing the same accusation from the minority groups and
those who fought alongside the SPLA but have since decamped after being locked
out of key government and military positions. If peace is to prevail in the new
nation-state, President Salva Kiir Myardit must bring back these discontented
groups to the mainstream political arena. The Dinka and the Nuer ethnic
communities should not be left to dominate public positions as if they are the
only ones who fought for independence.
issue of disarmament must also be taken seriously. It is dangerous for a country
to usher in independence with so many dangerous weapons in the hands of the
militia. It is equally dangerous for a country to gain independence with a
controversial constitution that only favours the ruling party.
South Sudan is to succeed in its reconstruction efforts, it must stem the rising
xenophobia that has seen a number of foreign investors, especially Kenyans being
killed in mysterious circumstances. Kenya offered refuge to thousands of
Southern Sudanese at the height of the civil war, with the top SPLM command
still having plush homes in Nairobi. It is therefore unfortunate that Kenyans
should receive donkey thanks.
above all, President Kiir’s government must address the runaway corruption
that is threatening to tear the very fabric of the nation. Despite having
neighbours that are known to be corrupt, the Republic of South Sudan should not
copy and perfect the art of corruption. Africa’s 54th nation must prove to the
world that its independence was well deserved and that it can govern itself.
In Sri Lanka Democracy Rides on Wheels
by Amantha Perera
Ipsnews - Thunukkai - July 25, 2011
voters in this remote village, deep inside Sri Lanka’s former war zone, turned
out in strength for the historical Jul. 23 local body elections, it had to do
with the availability of buses to ferry them to the nearest polling station 20
monitors feared that the villagers of Thunukkai would not take the trouble to
travel 40 km to cast their votes, even if local body elections were being held
after a gap of 25 years.
was a big concern, that people were going to be disenfranchised because there
were no buses," Keerthi Tennakoon, executive director of the national
election monitoring body Campaign For Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), told IPS.
other election monitoring bodies and political parties had raised the issue of
transport with election commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya two days before the
polls, but failed to get a commitment.
were not the only issue. An offer from CaFFE to bear the costs of providing free
transport in the former conflict zone, popularly known as the Vanni, and
elsewhere was shot down by election officials.
some areas in the Tamil-dominated north were provided with buses, but not
to Tennakoon, the effects of the availability of transport were clear in
Thunukkai where over 65 percent of the 5,227 registered voters made it to the
one big factor why so many voted - buses," said Tennakoon one of the
activists who had lobbied hard to ensure that transport was provided in the
Vanni on election day. "They may have been without a vote for 25 years, but
It was the provision of buses that did the job."
villagers were allowed three buses to travel to and from the booth, situated on
the A9 highway. The villagers had to pay a fare for the bus rides, but that was
far better than riding 40 km on bicycles to exercise their franchise.
people don’t have private means of transport other than bicycles, so almost
all of us used the buses to get to the polling station," Rathna Raja, a
Thunukkai resident, told IPS.
road that connects Thunukkai with the all important A9 highway is best described
as a stretch of gravel and gaping potholes. It has not seen a lick of tar in
almost 15 years and the chief means of transportation is the bicycle.
[the bicycle] is the most reliable means of transport here," Chandradasa
Chandaran, a villager, told IPS.
Kurukularaja, who lives in the Kilinochchi town area, said that on election day
voters were seen using public transport, where available, to get to the booths.
is very unreliable here, especially on interior roads. More people came to vote
where there were buses," she said.
where transport was an issue reported a low turnout. In the nearby
Pachchilaipalli division only 46 percent of the 7,116 registered voters turned
up to vote.
was a big problem there," Tennakoon said, adding that wherever transport
was available voting was up to expectations or better.
election was not the first held in the Vanni after the defeat of the separatist
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by government forces in May 2009. The
region had voted at the 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections.
Saturday’s poll covering 23 administrative divisions in the Vanni and Jaffna -
out of the island-wide 65 - had added significance. It was considered as a test
of approval for the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in the former war zone.
people of the north had the chance to signal their opinion on what is taking
place in the north," Soosaipillai Keethaponcalan, the head of the
department of political science at the University of Colombo, told IPS.
Vanni was devastated by the civil war and over 300,000 people were left homeless
or displaced by it. They began returning to their villages or to live with host
families by end 2009. By the end of June some 12,000 still remained in camps.
government has launched rapid development work in some parts of the Vanni,
especially along the A9 highway. It has repaved over 100 km of the highway that
bisects the region and power lines have also been drawn in most areas.
490 sq km have been de-mined and over 80 percent of the paddy land is back under
cultivation in the Vanni, according to UN situation reports.
the overbearing presence of the military in the region and the lack of civil
administration are, according to critics, signs that normalcy is yet to be
population in the north tends to give more importance to political issues than
development," Keethaponcalan told IPS.
may well have been the case. Of the 23 administrative bodies up for election in
the former conflict zone, the opposition Tamil National Alliance won 18 while
another Tamil party won two.
left Rajapaksa’s ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) with just
three in the Tamil areas. Contrastingly, in the Sinhalese-dominated south all
the 45 bodies contested were overwhelmingly won by the UPFA.
is a clear signal from the north that it is not in favour of what has been
taking place," Tennakoon said.
said in a statement that "the dominant presence of the military and the
lack of civil administration did not aid the transparency and accountability of
the first post-war local authority election".
CaFFE’s head Tennakoon was quick to add that the conduct of the election,
however flawed, was a signal that democracy was taking root in the region where,
not so long ago, bullets rather than ballots ruled the day.
Lankan prisons inhumane for women by Ranmali Bandarage
South Asia - July 21, 2011
prison in Colombo is a tell-tale of the inhumane living conditions of its female
inmates. In a complete departure from the UN rules for treatment of prisoners,
the overstuffed female wards are devoid of sanitation and other basic amenities.
‘visiting hours’ at the female ward of Sri Lanka’s notorious Welikada
Prison are as traumatic for the inmates as they are for their family and
friends. A tiny room, measuring 10 feet by seven feet, is divided in half by a
mesh counter. On one side, mothers, fathers, children and relatives jostle for
standing room. On the other the inmates, in white prison clothes, shout to be
heard over the din.
monthly ordeal is emblematic of the prison system itself – chaotic,
overcrowded and inhumane.
are treated as far less than human," one of the female prisoners, speaking
under strict condition of anonymity, told IPS.
150 of us sleep in a cell designed for 75 people," she added. "An open
drain infested with rats runs the perimeter of the room. Recently, one of the
inmates was bitten and had to be rushed to the hospital for an anti-rabies
the past several weeks the plight of prisoners in Welikada, Sri Lanka’s
largest incarceration facility, has resurfaced in state and independent media,
with reports of overcrowding nudging their way back onto newspapers.
to the ministry of rehabilitation and prison reforms, A. Dissanayake, told the
leading English language ‘Daily Mirror’, last week, Welikada currently
houses 4,500 inmates in a facility intended for 2,000, admitting to 220%
are 650 of us in the female ward though it was built for 150 people"A
to Cristina Albertin, a representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC) in the New Delhi-based regional office for South Asia, Sri Lanka
has the second most overcrowded prison system in the region after Bangladesh,
which has an occupancy level of 302.4%.
Sri Lankan prisons were built over a 100 years ago by the British, at a time
when the country’s population was about three million," Albertin told
the ministry says that though the "institutional capacity is 11,000
prisoners, the current total prison population is over 30,933," Albertin
than 50% of these are remand prisoners and 50% are incarcerated due to non-
payment of fines," Albertin said, adding that petty criminals and sexual
offenders are incarcerated with perpetrators of heinous crimes.
receives the same abuse," the female prisoner told IPS, "whether we
have murdered someone or simply failed to pay back a loan."
described the female ward of the Welikada prison as "hell" –
including maggots in the food, a complete absence of beds, mats or pillows and
no fans despite the 33 degrees Celsius heat.
are 650 of us in the female ward though it was built for 150 people," she
added, suggesting that, in the women’s ward in particular, actual numbers
outstrip the conservatively estimated occupancy rates of 200%.
eat, bathe, sleep, wake up and begin all over again," she told IPS.
"There are no attempts at rehabilitation. Women here just waste away."
few of the inmates know is that the Sri Lankan prison system is actually defined
as "correctional," indicating that, officially, reintegration into
society is a priority.
are sent to prison for a specific purpose – to correct themselves,"
Albertin told IPS. "It is, therefore, important to assess whether the
prevailing prison conditions are conducive to such a task, or whether they are
designed to project the idea that prisoners are a condemned lot, not deserving
of respect or attention."
fact, there is a disregard for prisoners’ human rights that extends beyond the
walls of the jails themselves.
large corporations do not consider this a community service project at
all"Tahini De Andrado, a senior member of Interact District 3220
De Andrado, a senior member of Interact District 3220, the largest local
coalition of Sri Lankan schools under Rotary International, is confronting these
biases at Welikada.
we weren’t allowed access to the entire prison, we saw enough to know the
situation was bad," De Andrado told IPS.
75 female inmates are forced to share two bathrooms. Of the ten bathrooms
available for the prisoners, most are in shocking states of disrepair.
worse is that women are locked into their cells at 5.30 every evening, and not
let out to use the bathroom until five o’clock the following morning," De
Andrado told IPS.
sleep with buckets beside them, which they use as toilets during the night. This
is not a complicated issue – I think it’s a simple matter of looking at
sanitation as a basic human right," she added.
District 3220 is currently embarked on a project to build 10 new bathrooms for
the women, at a cost of 2,000,000 Sri Lankan rupees (18,263 US dollars).
funding for the project has not been easy.
large corporations do not consider this a community service project at
all," De Andrado told IPS. "Even managing directors of leading local
companies told us this was a waste of time and money on ‘people who can help
added that a partner organisation that had attempted a similar prison sanitation
project in 2010 had failed to secure any funding from the corporations.
my experience, if you approach complete strangers on the subject of prisoners’
rights and appeal to their human instincts you will find they don’t have
any," De Andrado said.
some of these women have done wrong – but they don’t deserve to be treated
like cattle once they’re inside," she concluded.
to Albertin, the government is slated to review the existing Prison Ordinance of
1867, and bring fresh legislation to parliament this year.
is both scope and need for expanding prison-based intervention to address issues
of overcrowding, services for female prisoners and awareness of the problem of
vulnerable groups like women in prisons," Albertin told IPS.
national policies and rules in prisons need to be in closer conformity with the
U.N. rules for the treatment of prisoners in terms of hygiene, food, access to
services like health and information and complaint mechanisms," she added.
by history, the women of Welikada have little to hope for.
Crisis in the relationship between Erdogan and Europe
by NAT da Polis
- Istanbul - July 26, 2011
and international factors are behind the Turkish leader’s decision to suspend
cooperation with the European Union during the Cypriot presidency. Ankara wants
to use its role as a powerful played in an energy-rich region.
long relationship between Erdogan and the European Union is in crisis. The cause
is the land of Aphrodite, the island of Cyprus. On a visit last week to mark the
37th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the republic of
Cyprus, which led to the division of the country, Erdogan said it would be
impossible for Turkey to cooperate with the future presidency of the European
Union when it is led by Cyprus.
though the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union, it is not
recognised by Turkey. The prime minister said he would to suspend relations with
the European Union irrespective of what Brussels might think. For him, the
European Union was wrong to admit Cyprus. In fact, two states exist on the
island that should be joined in a loose confederation that would preserve the
identity and independence of each.
European Union reacted promptly to Erdogan’s statement, calling his remarks
offensive and arrogant because they attack the dignity of an EU member state.
Sources in Brussels noted that, when Erdogan opened talks with the Union in
order for Turkey to become a member, he accepted to respect and recognise the
integrity of all EU member states.
Erdogan’s unfortunate statement, diplomatic sources said the prime
minister’s own party, the AKP, was able to rout the old Turkish establishment
because of its openness to negotiations with the European Union.
words touch a number of issues. Whilst what he said is nothing new, they did
cause strong reactions.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminded Foreign Minister Davutoglu that
United Nations decisions on Cyprus must be respected.
the same, many prominent Turkish Cypriot figures have said Erdogan, or whoever
is in power in Ankara, does speak on their behalf.
fact, many Turkish Cypriots, who have become a minority in northern Cyprus
because of large-scale immigration from Anatolia, are increasingly expressing
their opposition to Ankara.
to the northern third of the island, they accuse Ankara of being insensitive
towards them and their cultural and social heritage, as the island is being
turned into a big casino for Islamic banking.
any observer of Turkish affairs cannot fail to see, Turkish foreign policy has
been shaped by a common theme, namely ‘pazarlik’, or deal making.
the initial impetus, negotiations with the European Union have become bogged
down because of reform fatigue (in diplomatic parlance). A lack of civil
consciousness in Turkish society has also contributed to the problem. In view of
this, Ankara has turned to ‘pazarlik’.
that the European Union needs energy from a region in which Turkey constitutes a
natural point of transit, Ankara is trying to present itself as the main bearer
of European values to the nations of that region. At the same time, it is
boosting relations with other regional powers like Russia and Iran.
though Ankara is trying to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which are crucial for
EU membership, it has accused the European Union of applying a double standard
at its expense. and Cyprus is the right excuse.
many analysts, Turkey is looking for new partners outside of Europe. This, at
least, is what Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu is saying. As the architect of
Turkey’s foreign policy, he has dismissed arguments such as cultural
differences or the clash of civilisation, stressing instead different interests.
factors also play a role. Despite winning half of the popular vote in the last
election, Erdogan does not have the necessary majority in parliament to change
the constitution outright. For that purpose, he organised a referendum last
September (which he had easily won) and called the 12 June elections.
stroking national price, he hopes to get enough votes in parliament to push
through his reforms. He also hopes to set the stage to become the next president
once the mandate of President Gul ends. This way he can become the new Father of
a nation with an enhanced status as a regional power.
the first signs of trouble are lurking on the horizon. The International
Monetary Fund has in fact reported that Turkey’s trade deficit in the first
five months of 2011 topped US$ 38 billion. Concurrently, its growth rate,
forecast to be 11 per cent this year, has been revised downward at 8.7. Next
year, it should drop even further.
the end, as the saying goes, if you want to grasp all, you run the risk of
by Joe Klein
- July 23, 2011
awful week for the Republic–and some interesting decisions by the President.
He chose to compromise in his deficit reduction negotiations with the
Republicans…and got nowhere. He chose to compromise by not appointing
Elizabeth Warren the director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau…and
expecting me to rail against compromising with Republicans, right? Wrong.
Friday, there were two interesting, but conflicting, columns in the New York
Times about the deficit ceiling negotiations, by Paul Krugman and David Brooks.
I agreed with both of them. Krugman argued that any deficit reduction compromise
would be a bad deal because, given the sluggish jobs and growth numbers, the
government should be trying to pump more money into the economy via stimulus.
Brooks argued that the psychological effects of a big budget deal might give
everyone, especially the business sector, the confidence necessary to start
hiring again and expanding again.
I said, I agree with both…but a little more so with Brooks. The country really
needs the lift that would come with a budget deal. Everyone could exhale. And
the sort of deal that Obama and Boehner were working on–especially if it
contained prudent, long-term entitlement reforms (like changing the way cost of
living increases are computed for Social Security recipients and asking
wealthier Medicare recipients to pay a little more)–would give the country
some long-term benefits. Some Democrats howled over the President’s
compromises, and they had a political point. The vast majority of Americans
don’t want entitlement reforms. But Obama was thinking about policy as well as
politics (a deal would certainly help him politically). I also think that a
budget deal would make it possible to do some short-term spending, of the sort
Krugman wants, in the near future.
the argument is moot. Because the House Republicans won’t compromise at all.
Let me repeat that: the House Republicans won’t compromise at all. And they
are leading their party off a political cliff, as no less an expert than the
wall-to-wall cynical Mitch McConnell has pointed out. Obama’s willingness to
make prudent compromises has been the right thing to do. He seems strong,
willing to defy his liberal base, and Boehner seems weak.
the other hand, Obama’s unwillingness to appoint Elizabeth Warren as head of
the Consumer Finance Protection Board was a silly compromise. The Republicans,
as Joe Nocera points out in the column I linked to above, are going to block
Obama’s fallback appointee, Richard Cordray, and anyone else the President
cares to name. This is as clear-cut a fight as you can get. The Republicans are
in favor of usurious payday lenders, credit card issuers and crooked
mortgage-mongers. Their position is embarrassing, but it’s based in the most
base of currencies–cash. One would think the President would want to draw
attention to the crass Republican/banker alliance by making this as high profile
a fight as possible. That would have meant appointing Elizabeth Warren, shooting
off rockets and other assorted neon displays…and making clear which party
wants you to pay higher interest rates and which doesn’t. But he didn’t, and
I simply don’t understand it.
his argument is that he wants to avoid lesser fights to achieve victory on the
bigger issues, that doesn’t seem to be working. He is rightfully seen as the
primary licensed grownup in the debt negotiations. This should give him the
leverage to step it up on other fights, especially those involving the folks who
trashed the economy in 2008. In other words, compromising on the debt
negotiations should give him the power to not compromise on financial reform.