The Global Digest

Asia Pacific

Over a year of Military coup d'etat and Salai Tin Maung Oo Memorial

Jun 26, 2022
Today we are protesting in the front of Myanmar embassy, in memorial of our hero a student leader ‘Salai Tin Maung Oo’ who was deliberately killed by Myanmar military junta due to his democracy and freedom movement. This is the memorial of 45 anniversary of Salai Tin Maung Oo assassination, that Myanmar’s military junta murdered him on June 24, 1976. We “All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network” are strongly condemned for the Myanmar military government’s action for that.

Myanmar is remained conflict and uncertainty of future democracy in the country. The consequence of military rule for several decades, ethnic states have no chance to administering their own region properly, there are ongoing civil war, including pro-democracy and military regime clashes and ethnic wars. Therefore, we asked for democracy and our ethnic-civil rights. We demand Myanmar quasi-military government on policy issue as follow: The political issues: 1. Admit and apology for killing Salai Tin Maung Oo 2. Stop military coup and never interfering in civilian government. 3. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repression and opperising democracy activists and innocent villagers in the peripheral of the country.

And we ask South Korea government and International community to support on our course of democracy movement and effort to transform a genuine democracy system in Myanmar. A freedom Myanmar can help regional and international peace and prosperity. Also we ask to support and help-out the ethnic victims in inside the country and asylum seekers around the world.

Over a year of Military coup d'etat in Myanmar

April 3, 2022

It has been over a year military coup in Myanmar since February 1, 2021. The military coup d’├ętat and destroyed a democracy in Myanmar. There is nationwide revolution by local civic militias in each district. Military government continued conflict with ethnic minorities in peripheral areas and human rights violations. It is clear that the Myanmar military’s attitude has been shown to be deceitful with regards to its country’s people and before the international community. Therefore, we, the All-Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar ruler:

Stop the coup in Myanmar and restore a democracy system in Myanmar. Stop military interfering in civilian government. Remove 25 % quota seats in the parliament which are guaranteed by the constitution. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repression in the peripheral of the country. Since military coup, there are thousand of innocent people and religious leaders are persecuted, and churches are destroyed.

Relief the country from economic oppression. Economics should be a priority as similar to the security issue. Eliminate all restrictions for economic development. In this military coup, economic and development is dramatically declined, many infrastructures and building are destroyed by military troop, people are poorer in risky level. Open a room for international experts (policy analysis/researchers) for country development.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy in Myanmar. We also ask for greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence against Christian in Myanmar. Here in South Korea, Korean should show solidarity for our democracy movement.


9th Month of Military coup d'etat in Myanmar

Oct 8, 2021

On February 1, 2021, the military coup d'etat and destroyed a democracy in Myanmar. Military government continued conflict with ethnic minorities in peripheral areas and human rights violations. It is clear that the Myanmar military’s attitude has been shown to be deceitful with regards to its country’s people and before the international community. Therefore, we, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar ruler:

Stop the coup in Myanmar and restore a democracy system in Myanmar. Stop military interfering in civilian government. Remove 25 % quota seats in the parliament which are guaranteed by the constitution. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repressionin the peripheral of the country.

Relief the country from economic oppression. Economics should be a priority as similar to the security issue. Eliminate all restrictions for economic development. Open a room for international experts(policy analysis/researchers) for country development.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy in Myanmar. We also ask for greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar. Here in South Korea, Korean should show solidarity for our democracy movement.


India practices secularism, democracy and pluralism: RSS chief Bhagwat

Jul 22, 2021,

India does not only preach but practices secularism, democracy and pluralism as the great nation follows the concept of vasudhaiva kutumbakam (world is one). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat, while inaugurating a book titled ‘Citizenship Debate over NRC & CAA: Assam and the Politics of History’ in the city on Wednesday also stated that Indian citizens do not need to learn the concept of inclusiveness from other nations.

Sarsanghchalak Dr Bhagwat commented that since 1930, there have been attempts to increase the Muslim population in a planned manner to exercise dominance and slowly turn this nation into Pakistan. Hence the original habitants got threatened to maintain their language, culture and other social values when the systemic effort was made to change its demography.

Speaking about CAA and NRC, Dr Bhagwat asserted that both have nothing to do with the Muslim citizens in the country. But unfortunately, a section of intellectual has tried to make it a Hindu-Muslim issue for extracting political benefits out of the controversy. He asserted that India was divided by a group of leaders without the endorsement of millions of freedom fighters and common Indians.

They wanted a unified Bharat, but their dreams shattered when many of them found themselves as Pakistani nationals, commented Dr Bhagwat adding that after the partition, New Delhi addressed the concerns of minorities, but Pakistan did not and it compelled hundred thousands of persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Jain, etc. families to leave their ancestor villages and enter India.

Lately the country has witnessed the emergence of a large number of people who demand all constitutional rights but they do not like to perform duties defined by the same constitution, he opined adding that Indians are all relatives even though they pursue different languages, cultural activities, rituals and food-habits.

Thanking Professor Nani Gopal Mahanta for writing the book, Dr Bhagwat hoped that it would provide an insight with facts to the political turmoil that took place in recent past. Prof Mahanta expected an informed debate over the highlighted issues in the book, which is published by Sage International. The function was also addressed by Assam chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma and Gauhati University vice-chancellor Prof PJ Handique.

Stop coup d'etat in Myanmar

Feb 13, 2021

We are a group of ethnic people from Myanmar and a collection of other democracy activists. Today, we are holding a democracy and freedom rights demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy. This is the campaign against military coup in Myanmar. Eventually, our protests led against dictatorship and the policy of military interference in the country. This month is also a commemoration of Union Day, which started in Panglong Town, Shan State, Myanmar on February 12, 1947.

The “Union Day” is the birthday of the Myanmar nation, which formally formed a multi-nations state for the first time. On this day, 23 representatives from four territories, which comprised ofthe Shan state, the Kachin state, the Chin state and mainland Burma, signed an agreement in Panglong to form the Union of Myanmar. To honor this historical agreement, all Myanmar people celebrated the day as a “Union Day” across the nation on February 12th every year. This day is the most important day in modern Myanmar’s history.

Protest in-front of Myanmar Embassy in Seoul

These four territories are also representative of almost the entire territory of the current Myanmar region as drawn in the country’s map. Not only did the Panglong agreement pave the way for theformation of the Myanmar nation, it also enabled the country to gain independence from the British emperor. Significantly, the Panglong agreement guaranteed the people freedom in both the ethnic minority territories and mainland Burma, and included such things as equalityand justice, unityand sharing togetherresourcesforthe country’s prosperity. The core issue of the Panglong agreement was to set up “a multi-nations state” to be a peaceful and prosperous country.

However, the country’s successive rulers, Myanmar military governments, have never implemented the Panglong agreement and have not respected the “Union Day” since 1962, when the country fell under the military government’s rule completely. From that time, the military abolished the Panglong agreement and abolished the Constitution. The “Union Day” has never been honored in its original spirit since then. Instead,the military government wrongly represents “Union Day” and misleads the people from the real essence of its goal.

Protest in-front of Myanmar Embassy in Seoul

Again, on February 1, 2021, the military coup d'etat and destroyed a democracy. In 2008, the military government deliberately drafted a constitution in order to keep military control over the country, which is against the principle of the Panglong agreement, such as a 25% quota on seats for the military in parliament. Several ethnic groups requested that the draft constitution be a genuine one ahead of its creation. However, the military government flatly rejected this proposal.

Military government continued conflict with ethnic minorities in peripheral areas and human rights violations. It is clear that the Myanmar military’s attitude has been shown to be deceitful with regards to its country’s people and before the international community. Therefore, we, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar ruler:

Korean supporters at the Protest

The political issues: Stop the coup in Myanmar and restore a democracy system in Myanmar. Stop military interfering in civilian government. Remove 25 % quota seats in the parliament which are guaranteed by the constitution. Immediately cease its human rights violations and religious repressionin the peripheral of the country.

The economic issues: Relief the country from economic oppression. Economics should be a priority as similar to the security issue. Eliminate all restrictions for economic development. Open a room for international experts(policy analysis/researchers) for country development.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy in Myanmar. We also ask for greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar. Here in South Korea, Korean should show solidarity for our democracy movement instead of discrimination. Further contact:John S Thang, Executive Director, All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network Telephone: 010-9991-7801

NAPM Condemns 200 Days of Unjust Arrest! Withdraw All Fake Charges

June 29, 2020,

Akhil Gogoi

Free Akhil Gogoi, Bittu Sonowal, Dhaijya Konwar and Manas Konwar
Uphold Right to Democratic Protest against Communal & Extractive Agenda of BJP!

As we mark 200 days of the absolutely unjust arrest of the mass leader of KMSS-Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Akhil Gogoi on draconian charges, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) demands his immediate release and withdrawal of all ill-conceived charges foisted against him. We also demand the release of young leaders Bittu Sonowal, Dhaijya Konwar and Manas Konwar associated with KMSS and its sister organizations. We salute the spirit of these young people of Assam who are fearlessly fighting a communal and fascist regime, and its divisive laws, in the face of intense repression.

As is well-known, Akhil Gogoi was arrested on 12th Dec 2019, from Jorhat, sent to NIA custody for 10 days in Delhi, and taken back and lodged in Guwahati Central Jail since 26th Dec. KMSS Secretary Dhaijya Konwar and Bittu Sonowal, President of Chatra Mukti Sangram Samiti, a popular democratic student org in Assam, were arrested on 13th Dec and lodged in Guwahati Central Jail. On 7th Jan, both of them were tagged in the same fake UAPA case with Akhil Gogoi and are currently in NIA custody in Kamrup district. Manas Konwar was arrested on 13th Dec, released later and re-arrested from NIA Court, Guwahati towards the end of January, 2020 being slapped with similar charges under UAPA. Earlier, the NIA failed to file a charge sheet within the mandatory 90 days, which warranted Akhil's release but he was immediately arrested for other cases.

Akhil had secured bail in three other cases under Sivasagar PS, Dibrugarh PS and Guwahati Crime Branch, but to maintain his custody, frivolous charges are being pressed again, a recent one of 28th May where Akhil is charged of ‘torching a Circle office, a post office and a Bank in Chabua’ on 12th December. Such tactics have been going on, throughout these six months of incarceration, when the farce of ‘trial’ itself becomes the punishment! The gross abuse of the legal process and travesty of justice is all too obvious in these cases, as it is, in the state hounding of muslims and students in the ‘Delhi Riots investigation’ case or the Bhima Koregaon case, where 11 activists, some of them between 60-80 years are jailed, even in Covid-times ! The Government of Assam in cohorts with the Centre, has also tried its best to establish that Akhil and KMSS/SMSS leaders have had ‘Maoist links’ and were operating in Assam, ‘planning to wage a war against the nation’! The Govt and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has so far not been able to produce any substantive evidence or prove any of the charges against the arrested leaders. Akhil now has 5 cases under NIA and the three other persons are yet to secure bail for cases under different police stations.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, jail safety conditions have worsened and minimum liberties of prisoners are being sabotaged. Even with a prisoner in Guwahati Central Jail testing Covid positive, not much is being done by authorities, which looks like a deliberate attempt to severe the punishment of political prisoners. Akhil’s health has also been deteriorating. On 25th June, inmates of Guwahati prison staged a protest against the deplorable jail conditions during a pandemic and demanding release of Akhil Gogoi and his associates. The Government, which was taken aback with the mass social dimension of the popular uprising against the blatantly communal Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam started targeting genuine voices and organisations who work on cross community lines, raise questions of federalism, state resources and against state repression, along with asking the State to address the migration question in a just and democratic manner.

The arrests of these activists is a brazen attack of the State on the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, Chah Shramik Mukti Sangram Samiti, Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti and all democratic organizations that question the State’s failures and genuinely seek to address complex questions of inequities. It is shameful that despite wide-spread protests and even international condemnation from the United Nations, the Government continues to jail these activists. Akhil and KMSS have been a strong and popular voice against incautious and destructive large dams, extraction of resources and development projects which can foster damage to local population and ecology, opening of the many unlawful toll-gates to harass citizens and thereby are potential targets of a fascist Govt, especially when Assembly elections are approaching and all failures and loopholes of Government are in light for everyone to see.

KMSS has also been at the fore-front of many struggles, effectively using RTI and in defending rights of landless peasants, rural and urban poor with its grassroot activists, mobilizing masses against Governments who have given in to their own and corporate profits over the lives of indigenous and tribal people. Even during the Congress regime, Akhil was involved in exposing many scams and launched anti-corruption mass movements in Assam. NIA while conducting raids at his home, was looking for many of such files which name political leaders and business tycoons. NAPM demands the immediate release of all Akhil Gogoi, Bittu Sonowal, Dhaijya Konwar and Manas Konwar and withdrawal of all false charges level against them. We call upon the Full Bench of the Guwahati High Court to immediately intervene in this case of gross delay and abuse of the legal process and free all the activists, unconditionally.

We stand in solidarity with the autonomous and democratic organizations and activists in Assam who protest against the communal & extractive agenda of BJP and other exploitative political entities, with a strong belief in constitutional values, peace and human rights. We call upon the Government to put an end to this vicious episode of clamp-down and instead engage in a serious and meaningful dialogue with the people of the state to address some of the long-standing issues in an amicable way, upholding the rights of all sections, in particular the marginalized and disenfranchised communities.


Special Contribution
By Roland Watson
Jan 17, 2020

Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma is having a general election later this year, its first since 2015 and in many ways more important. The National League for Democracy, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, won the last election, but it has done nothing. The Parliament did not confront the ruling generals, to force through a new constitution, to pressure them to end their war against the country’s ethnic nationalities, and to halt their unbelievable persecution of the Rohingya people.

Instead, Suu Kyi personally cheered the generals on, and in what for the last quickly became a genocide. Most horrifyingly, Burma Army soldiers, regime police, and mobs of frenzied local men perpetrated gang rape against Rohingya women and girls. In many cases they literally raped them to death; in others, they murdered them after the rapes by burning them alive in their houses. For women who had babies and young children, they threw them in the fires as well.

That these crimes against humanity had been committed was irrefutably documented from the stories, scars, and pregnancies, of the survivors who made it to Bangladesh, leading to international outrage. Suu Kyi, in response, loudly declared that the stories were FAKE RAPE. What type of person would ridicule the rape and murder of women and young girls, and the murder of their children and babies? Suu Kyi is a monster. She is a genocidal racist, and not only against the Rohingya and other Muslim communities. She is bigoted against anyone who is not from her own group, the ethnic Bamar.

In 2014, Burma conducted its first national census in decades, with the assistance of the United Nations, and which covered the entire country except areas where the Burma Army was attacking local populations. The census included questions about ethnic identity, but Suu Kyi, through her Minister of Population, refused to release the results. The data would have resolved the issue: How many Bamar are there in Burma, and Mon, and Karen, and Karenni, and Shan, and Ta’ang, and PaO, and Wa, and Kokang, and Kachin, and Naga, and Chin, and Arakan, and for many other smaller groups. The count would have been short, though, for the people in the Northeast, in the areas of Burma Army aggression, and with the Rohingya, too - they weren’t counted at all. But it still would have answered the basic question: who lives in the country.

The reason Suu Kyi did not release the results is obvious. The Bamar are not the majority they have always claimed to be. Instead, the ethnic nationalities, taken together, constitute the majority. This simple fact would destroy the Bamar national myth, that Burma is THEIR country. They believe: Bamar Uber Alles! (Bamar above all.) They would be forced, for the first time in history, to accept the rights, and even potentially the leadership, of the other groups. Suu Kyi, a Bamar Supremacist, could not countenance this. Hence her censoring the results.

This is why this year’s election is so important. In 2015, many ethnic nationality people voted for the NLD to show their support for her, in accordance with her own personal myth as national savior (and because of the shortage of ethnic parties). But in the years since she has never, not once, in Parliament or in speeches, truly backed ethnic interests. Her racism has become clear, and many ethnic people now disdain if not despise her. If the ethnic nationalities vote for their own candidates this year, they - as a group - will win the election. They will be able to appoint the President. They will be able to take up any issue they want in Parliament, including all those that Suu Kyi has blocked. For the very first time, the people will be able to confront, in a democratic system - not only through rebellion, the Bamar military dictators.

To this end, the different parties for particular groups, e.g., Shan, Karen, Kachin, should put aside their differences and unite. They will be stronger if their vote totals are not split. Similarly, and as is being discussed, the two ethnic party alliances, the United Nationalities Alliance and the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation, should combine as well The best thing that could happen is for the NLD to be defeated - to secure only minimal representation. Then Suu Kyi would disappear from the scene and die. New democratic leaders, including Bamar leaders, would finally be able to take their rightful place on the national stage.

In a democracy, you would ordinarily not want to reflexively support your own group. Instead, you should try to choose the best overall candidates. But Burma is not a democracy. Therefore, this year, not a single ethnic nationality person should vote for anyone from what is now Suu Kyi’s National League for Dictatorship. Enlightened Bamar shouldn't vote for the NLD either. For all the good-hearted Bamar in the country, it is time to take a stand. Yes, life is a little bit easier for you, because the regime is directing its repression against the other groups. But are you really willing to settle for this? Suu Kyi has done her best to kill the goal of freedom. If you turn against her, and join with the ethnic nationalities, Burma can be free. Centuries of repression once and for all can be stopped.

PUCL Statement on Kashmir: A Coup Against the Constitution and the Kashmiris

Aug 5, 2019

Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah

The PUCL condemns the abrogation of key portions of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the bifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and taking away its statehood. While the deed by itself is deceitful, the manner in which it was done is even more so. All the constitutional provisions, procedures, safeguards and values have been disregarded. What pains us most is that this change of status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, was carried out with stealth, completely unilaterally, without even talking or consulting the people of Jammu and Kashmir, even as part of Government tokenism.

PUCL, in particular, strongly condemns the planned and sinister manner by which the Government of India has gone about arresting at midnight of Sunday, 4-5th August, 2019 important leaders of political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others, soon after airlifting over 35,000 troops and suddenly and abruptly asking all Amarnath Yatris and holiday visitors to leave the state creating acute sense of fear and panic. Simultaneously, the Government in a concerted manner, also shut down all communication and telecom services to and from the valley, effectively ghettoizing the entire state into a state of forced silence, while also imposing curfew in the state preventing movement of people, thereby creating chaos, distress and disruption of normal life. Students from other states were asked to leave Kashmir while Kashmiris outside the state continue to live in panic unable to communicate with their families in the Valley.

The ulterior plan behind such unprecedented action became apparent on Monday, 5th August, 2019, with the Government quickly pushing through legislations to abrogate major portion of Art. 370thereby discontinuing Special Status to J&K and bifurcating the State into two Union territories: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

It is pertinent to point out that Article 370 of the Constitution of India is a self contained Article. It determined how the Constitution of India would apply to J&K and also specifically provided for the procedure for the abrogation of Article 370 itself.. The President can pass an order under Article 370 (3), removing article 370 only if the Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir recommended the same.

Since the Constituent Assembly of J&K ceased functioning in 1957, the Supreme Court in its judgement in `SBI vs Santosh Gupta’, (2017)’, held that the Article 370 has become permanent unless another Constituent Assembly of J&K was constituted. In order to get over this constitutional roadblock, the present BJP Government adopted a rather devious and unconstitutional route.

Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution empowers the President, from time to time, to issue notifications modifying the manner in which the constitutional provisions can be made applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 367 of the Constitution of India explains how phrases in the Constitution are to be interpreted. The issue, in case of abrogation of Art. 370, was the need for recommendation of `Constituent Assembly of the State’.

What the BJP Government did was very insidious and cunning. On 5th August, 2019, they introduced a 3-stepAmendment process. In the first step a Presidential Notification under Article 370 (1)(d) was issued amending Article 367 by introducing a new Sub-clause (4) which stated that the expression “Constituent Assembly” in Article 370(3) shall be read as “Legislative Assembly of the State”. The effect was that after this change, Article 370 of the Constitution could be amended removing the necessity to obtain the recommendation of the ‘Constituent Assembly’.

Now, since J&K has been under President’s Rule since December, 2018, it means that the powers of the `State Legislature are being exercised by the President of India. This, in effect, results in a farcical situation in which the President of India has consented to permit himself (as Head of the State Government of J&K) to recommend abrogation of Art. 370 of the Constitution! In other words, what could not be done directly was done indirectly and the constitutional provisions have been undermined. This is a clear subversion of the constitutional provisions by the BJP Government.

What is shocking is the utter contempt that the current dispensation has been exhibiting for constitutional procedures and democratic processes, which actually is a consistent pattern we have witnessed in the recent past with the passing of a slew of legislations which have serious ramifications, as a Money Bill. The change in the status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir from a State to a Union Territory is an unethical and undemocratic act. It robs the people of Kashmir the little democratic space they have and will only further alienate the people of Kashmir from the Indian State.

The argument that Article 370 is a clause which obstructed the complete integration of Kashmir with the rest of India and prevented development is a totally flawed logic. The unamended Article 370, was put in place to recognise in principle, the distinct identity and autonomy of the Kashmiri people. This was necessitated by the history and the context of accession of Kashmir with India. It is most troubling that political leaders of Kashmir who never disputed the accession of Kashmir with India and who participated in the Indian democratic process have been placed under preventive detention and were kept completely in the dark when decisions which impacts the state were taken. In this entire exercise the lives, rights, aspirations and hopes of the people of Kashmir are the biggest casualties.

PUCL apprehends that there is another insidious dimension in taking away the statehood of the Jammu and Kashmir. It is a ploy to take control of their natural resources, their water, mountains, the hills and fields and forests. It is yet another act to aggrandise and deprive the common Kashmiri and convert the valley into a real estate venture. In the three speeches in the Rajya Sabha made by the Home Minister, he continuously spoke of how the state was in the dark ages and needed to be brought into the main stream with hotels and other people of India having an opportunity to buy land, build houses and live there.

Lastly the actions of the BJP government not to have provided with at least two days notice to the MPs to study the `Reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir Bill or the President’s resolution to repeal Article 370, shows that the BJP not only does not want scrutiny and deliberation, which is the key to any democratic process but also just wants to convert the Parliament to a rubber stamp, which is what the first session of Parliament of the 17th Lok Sabha has become. The passage of 32 bills, in haste, without pre-legislative consultation with public or discussions with those to be impacted by the concerned bills or denying the right to send bills to the select committee, not only confirms this but also indicates what await us in the near future.

The PUCL would urge the people of India to see yesterday’s process in Parliament as one more effort to repress and subjugate the people of Kashmir and should oppose this decision of the Government peacefully. We would also like our sisters and brothers in Kashmir to know that we are with them and share their loss and grief against this latest attack by the GOI on them.

PUCL demands: (1) That the clampdown on telecom services and communication and restrictions on movement be immediately lifted; (2) All Political / Opposition leaders be released, (3) Normalcy be restored in the Valley. (4) All the troops be withdrawn. (5) The three legislation introduced on 5th August, 2019, viz., the (i) The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019 - Presidential order CO 272, (ii) Statutory Resolution introduced in the Rajya Sabha and (iii) The Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill be rolled back; and (6) Undertake any action wrt to Kashmir only after consulting the Kashmiri people.

Mr. Ravi Kiran Jain, National President, PUCL; Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL

Largest elections on Earth get underway

Special Contribution
By Nava Thakuria

Indian election

Often termed as the largest democracy on Earth, India has gone for national elections since 11 April 2019 and the biggest electoral exercise through electronic voting machines (EVM) will continue till 19 May. Over 900 million voters will participate in the seven-phase general elections to elect 543 representatives to 17th Lok Sabha, the powerful lower house of Indian Parliament in New Delhi.

Conducted by the Election Commission of India (ECI), world’s most powerful electoral institution, the unique experience for the human race will unveil the winner on 23 May counting day who would rule the one billion-plus nation for next five years.

After completion of its term in office, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking fresh mandate from the electorate. The NDA nominees in the polls are primarily facing candidates belonged to the opposition Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The third front, a loose coalition of some regional political parties across the country, named Maha Gatbandhan, is also expected to put challenges to both NDA and UPA candidates in selective Parliamentary constituencies.

In the last general elections, projected Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi did almost a magic that helped the nationalist party to win absolute majority with 282 seats in the Lok Sabha (LS). NDA’s total tally increased up to 336 (out of the 545, where two members are nominated) in the 2014 national polls. On the other hand, the oldest party (Congress) shrank to 44 seats in the house of people’s representatives.

BJP’s aggression to once disturbed northeastern region of the country simply routed the Congress from any government in eight provinces (commonly known as State). Till 2014, the Congress used to have province governments in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Now all the States including Tripura and Nagaland are ruled by ether BJP or its allies.

The region, surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China), Myanmar and Bangladesh, sends 25 members to the LS , but this time BJP leadership has taken the share very seriously. BJP president Amit Shah claims that his saffron party along with allies will win over 20 seats from the region. The Congress has not made any claim but maintained their candidates will do fairly well in the forthcoming polls.

Prime Minister Modi, the star poll-campaigner of BJP, keeps seeking votes for his developmental activities along with non-corrupt governance and security to the nation. Besides pledging for more roads, airports, and other infrastructures, he promised more jobs for the youths. At the same time, Modi maintained that they would continue various welfare programs like providing toilets, houses, cooking gas, crop insurance, loans for small businesses and also electricity connections. On the other hand, the leadership of Congress party that ruled the populous south Asian country for over five decades since 1947 promised to make India a poverty free nation by 2030 with provisions of minimum income guarantee scheme, waving of peasant’s bank loan and creation of sustainable jobs. He continues targeting PM Modi for failure in various aspects including in realizing the saffron leader’s earlier promise to create 10 million jobs every year for Indian nationals.

The young party president Rahul Gandhi has drawn attentions from the citizens with his promise that if voted to power they would provide a minimum guaranteed income of Indian rupees 72,000 per year to every poor family. Asian Human Rights Commission also issued as a statement praising Gandhi for his proposed initiative that would enhance the international mission for sustainable development goals by 2030.

In eastern region, the Congress is expecting electoral benefits out of the ruling party’s much debated citizenship amendment bill (CAB), which sparked massive reactions among northeastern ethnic groups. Most of the people in northeast India opposed the saffron plan to welcome persecuted religious asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who had already entered the country before 31 December 2014.

CAB was successfully passed in the LS on 8 January and was soon scheduled for Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament so that it could be sent to the President of India for necessary endorsements. But it was not pushed forward by the Union (federal) government as the ruling party had no majority in the Council of States. Thus the initiative to amend the law was lapsed with an embarrassment to the Hindu nationalist party.

Socio-political scenario of the country had changed dramatically with the 14 February Pulwama terror attack, where over 40 paramilitary soldiers lost their lives. Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the assault, which sent a massive wave of pain & anger among millions of patriotic Indians.

Public sentiments against JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his promoter the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were fully materialized by Modi and the hardliner Prime Minister launched a verbal war over Islamabad. His assertion was followed by sudden aerial attacks in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province (PKP) locality on 26 February, where the Indian air-forces claimed to hit many JeM terror bases.

Need not to mention that any major elections in northeast India was synonymous to violence perpetrated by insurgents, who had been fighting the Centre (New Delhi) for decades demanding self-rule to sovereignty. The separatist militant outfits even earlier dictated the people to avoid the electoral process as they asserted it as being a symbol of suppression by the colonial Indian forces. But the northeastern electorate valiantly defied their diktat.

Influential and dreaded armed groups like United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) made it a habit to issue press statements threatening the electorate of dire consequences if they prefer to cast their votes and later the same militants secretly supported poll-candidates of their choices. This time two Manipur based insurgent groups namely Zomi Re-unification Organization and Kuki National Organization came out with covert supports to saffron candidates.

However, both factions of Ulfa have shown reluctance in intervening over the polls. When the pro-talk faction led by Arabindra Rajkhowa recently made it clear that they would not be a part of the electoral process, the other faction led by Paresh Barua maintained silence over their involvement. Rather Barua, while talking to local media from his secret shelter somewhere in Myanmar-China border, disclosed that they did a pre-poll survey where he saw BJP as a probable gainer. The author is a journalist based in northeast India

Justice for 13 year old Rajalakshmi, sexually harassed and beheaded by an upper caste man in Tamil Nadu

Rajalakshmi's parent

We, the undersigned feminist groups and individuals strongly condemn the sexual harassment and brutal murder of 13 year old Rajalakshmi who was beheaded on October 22 by her neighbour Dinesh Kumar, an older man belonging to an upper caste The dastardly act took place in a village on the outskirts of Salem, near Aathur, fourteen kilometres away from Thalavaipatti. Rajalakshmi was studying in Class 8 in a nearby government school. She had reportedly told her mother about Dinesh’s continuous sexual advances, which she repeatedly turned down. That fateful night, she and her mother, Chinnaponnu were alone at home when the crime took place. Her father, a daily wage labourer works in a graveyard because of which he often stayed away from home at night.

According to A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a movement that works on human rights among Dalits, Rajalakshmi and her mother Chinnaponnu were stringing flowers together when Dinesh Kumar arrived with a sickle. He abused them by targeting their caste, and beheaded Rajalakshmi, in spite of Chinnaponnu’s intervention. Thereafter, he took Rajalakshmi’s head and went home, where his wife Sarada advised him to discard it elsewhere. Subsequently, they went to the police station together where Sarada claimed that her husband was mentally ill. However, the police have dismissed claims that Dinesh was suffering from mental health problems when he slaughtered the minor and maintain that he is physically and mentally sound.

Rajalakshmi was beheaded for speaking about her # MeToo incident. She was killed because she had the audacity to reject the sexual advances of an upper caste man and for speaking out. It is deeply shocking that a heinous crime such as this has evoked so little media attention even while the # MeToo Movement in India has captured the nation’s imagination and is garnering so much support. Given this context, the stoic silence from a large section of civil society, political class, child rights organizations, local and national media to the gruesome killing of a minor dalit girl is extremely disturbing. It is tragic that the sexual harassment faced by the minor and her brutal beheading by an upper caste man has not shaken the conscience of the country.

Rajalakshmi’s killing brings to the fore the heightened vulnerability that Dalit girls and women face on a routine basis. Vulnerably positioned at the bottom of caste, class and gender hierarchies, Dalit women and girls continue to experience endemic gender-and-caste discrimination and violence including sexual violence as the outcome of severely imbalanced social, economic and political power equations. Their socio-economic vulnerability and lack of political voice, combined with the dominant risk factors of being Dalit and female, increase their exposure to potentially violent situations. Moreover, attempts by Dalit women/girls to protest or resist sexual harassment and assault by upper caste men have often led to brutal outcomes as witnessed in Rajalakshmi’s case.

We join hands with human rights organizations, women’s organizations, the Dalit movement, Dalit women’s movement, child rights organization and concerned citizens in condemning the brutal murder of 13 year old Rajalakshmi and the silence surrounding it. We call upon the government and the media to address, and not reinforce, the casteism and sexism in the society which operate to create a climate of impunity for perpetrators of sexual and physical violence against the most vulnerable women and girls, i.e. Dalits We demand that

1. The Government of Tamil Nadu provides the victim’s family protection in the wake of caste tensions and hostilities that may arise as a fall out of the brutal murder. Without proper protection, the family may flee the village in the face of threats and harassment from the accused and others in the village as is often the case.

2. The Government of Tamil Nadu provide the family the legal and financial support to fight the case till the cause of justice is served.

3. The Government of Tamil Nadu arranges for necessary counselling and psychosocial services for the family to deal with their deep personal loss and trauma.

4. The case should be tried under the POCSO Act in addition to other relevant Acts and IPC provisions as Rajalakshmi was a minor.

5. The Government of Tamil Nadu provide Rajalakshmi’s family immediate compensation under the ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes-2018’

6. The Central and State Government must walk the talk with regards to their commitment to uphold the safety, dignity and integrity of women and girls, especially those from marginalized backgrounds such as Dalits, Adivasis and minorities by immediately setting up mechanisms/projects for the safety and security of women and girls through the Nirbhaya Fund, administered by Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.

7. The Central Government develops a nationwide scheme for witness protection outside the courtrooms. Lack of victim and witness protection acts as a significant barrier to obtain justice. It deters victims from cooperating with investigations and testifying in court, and makes it more likely they will turn “hostile” and retract earlier statements, contributing to unwarranted acquittals. Girls and women who report sexual violence are often even more vulnerable and face extreme pressure or direct threats from the accused.

People’s Convention Vows to Challenge Undemocratic & Destructive Global Finance

Press Statement

At the Convention

Resolves to Build Political and Economic Alternatives...
Mumbai, June 23: “The international financial institutions like AIIB (Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank) must function in a deeply democratic manner respectful of national sovereignty, or else be shut down for they constitute a threat to the nation’s economic and political security. These financial institutions are harbingers and promoters of the neo-liberal reforms responsible for the hijacking of the democracy itself; regressive changes to environmental, labour, land, accountability laws; promoting privatisation and cartelisation; and burdening every citizen with huge debt, and destruction of minimal welfare measures.”

This was unanimously conveyed by over 1000 delegates from 200 organisations who gathered from all over India at the three day Peoples’ Convention on Infrastructure Financing, organised in the backdrop of the forthcoming AIIB Annual General Body meeting hosted by India in Mumbai. The Convention debated, discussed and challenged in 20 parallel workshops, the functioning of the international financial institutions and complicity of the Indian ruling and political class in pushing big and unnecessary hyper inflated infrastructure projects like industrial corridors, bharatmala, sagarmala, bullet trains, smart cities and others.

In the political resolution adopted at the end of the Convention delegates resolved to challenge the undemocratic and economically unsound functioning of IFIs including AIIB, World Bank, IFC and others. The Convention also resolved to push for people-centered alternatives in all sectors of the economy, and to advance an inclusive model of development in which finance and infrastructure support the vulnerable and the poor communities, instead of supporting primitive accumulation of natural resources and maximising the profits of the multinational corporations and global elite further contributing to the increased inequality in the society.

Delegates vowed to return to their communities to build massive resistance to the ongoing destruction of the environment and livelihoods of the poor and the working classes, and to work to create decent jobs, promote sustainable farming, equitable access to public services, advancement of the entrepreneurial skills of artisanal and natural resource dependent communities, and of labour-intensive small and medium enterprises. The Convention reasserted its belief in democratic decision-making and the advancement of cooperative federalism as a method of resisting the prevailing hegemony of undemocratic and unaccountable financial institutions such as the AIIB. Speaking to the media, prominent activist and Goldman Environment Awardee Prafulla Samantra said,“The Peoples’ Convention is further strengthening our strategies and vision to oppose and reject international finance which does not confine to the democratic principles and causing immense and irreversible damage to people, depriving of their livelihood and snatching away their resources and causing damage to environment, accelerating climate change”.

The three-day convention was attended by different trade unions, networks of hawkers, fishworkers, slum dwellers, adivasis, dalits, farmers organisations and peoples movements. The convention was attended by senior activists, academics and financial analysists including Medha Patkar, economist Prof. Arun Kumar, financial analyst Sucheta Dalal, activists Ulka Mahajan, Com. Roma, Shaktiman Ghosh, Leo Colaco, T Peter, Dr Sunilam, Ram Wangkheirakpam, Leo Saldanha, Rajendra Ravi, Gabriele Dietrich, Surekha Dalvi, Sanjay M G, Ashok Chaudhary, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Bharat Patel, Jesu Rethinam, Seshagiri Rao, Meera Sanghamitra, Maglin Philomin, Soumya Dutta, Awadhesh Kumar, Umesh Nazir, Raju Bhise, Prof H.M. Deserda and many others. “Financial institutions have declared a war on people, land, water and coasts. Workers rights are sacrificed at the altar of development. We are left with no option than to reject and oppose this onslaught by the financial institutions, both national and international” said Jesu Rethinam of National Fishworkers Forum.


Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the two-year-old multilateral bank, is investing in all major sectors, including energy, without robust policies on environmental-social safeguards, transparent public disclosure and an accountability/complaint handling mechanism. Out of the total 24 projects, it has financed, USD 4.4 billion has already been approved. India is the biggest recipient from AIIB with more than 1.2 billion USD supporting about six projects including Transmission lines, Capital City Development at Amravati, rural roads etc. with another 1 billion USD in proposed projects.

About Us: WGonIFIs, a network of movements, organisations and individuals to critically look at and evaluate the policies, programmes and investments of various International Finance Institutions (IFIs), and joining the celebration of the people and communities across the world in resisting them. A list of the network is available here. Last year, when the Asian Development Bank completed 50 years, the WGonIFIs observed it by holding actions of protests in over 140 locations spread in over 21 states in India against the investment policies of ADB and other International Financial Institutions.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan against the Assault on Cattle Economy and Lynching of Dalits and Minorities.

By Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

In Memory of Pehlu Khan

|New Delhi| April 3rd 2018 marks one entire year since Pehlu Khan’s death, a dairy farmer from Nooh district of Haryana who was attacked by a group of 200 cow vigilantes affiliated with right-wing Hindutva groups in Alwar, Rajasthan. It is shameful to see that the Rajasthan govt. has still not made the case a priority - to deliver justice to the victims or address the increasing cases of cow vigilantism. There is a growing threat to the power of democratically elected state-government and courts from quasi militant groups such as the gau-rakshaks, who have undermined the Right to Life of individuals and communities, especially in the rural agrarian belt.

Various militant and political outfits such as RSS and VHP have regularly attacked cattle traders under the guise of “gauraksha” (cow protection). Pehlu Khan’s family is still struggling to come to terms with their loss and live a normal life. The delay in this case clearly shows not a lack of evidence, but a lack of will to bring the killers to justice. The role of the local police officials in the subduing and diluting of the cases, including threatening families and friends of the victims of filing false cases, destroying evidence and adopting a strategy of false encounters must also be looked into.

Com. Hannan Mollah stated that since Pehlu Khan’s lynching, over 300 more cases have been reported, the victims were dairy farmers, dalit and Muslim cattle traders, and none of them have received justice even now. It is time for the nation to agitate against such politically motivated murders; as a democracy, India cannot standby as innocent farmers, traders and other social minorities are murdered in broad daylight.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan continues its demand for justice for these victims, for immediate relief to be provided to the families of the victims of these attacks and strives to provide support to the families of the victims. It also condemns the protection given to these gau-rakshaks who have run havoc across the country, and are visibly operating with the patronage of local and state administration and political groups who have vested interests. Com NK Shukla stated that these repeated attacks on cattle traders and dairy farmers are part of a bigger design to undermine the dairy sector of the country. He further added that these attacks are creating havoc on the lives of the farmers who are already distressed because they are not getting a fair MSP, they are burdened by debts and being pushed to commit suicides.

Maulana Hanif also said that the repeated attacks on the Muslim community in Mewat is a result of a larger political propaganda, he stated that the need of the hour is for all the communities in Mewat to unite and stand as a strong front against such communal forces. At the protest organized on 3rd April, 2018 at Parliament Street in Delhi, leaders of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan called for nation-wide struggle against increasing cases of violence meted by right-wing groups in the name of cow-protection and of vendetta against all progressive movements and of continued attacks on dalits and minorities.

It is mentionable that Bhumi Adhikar Andolan had also organised a two day National Convention and Photo Feature on the same issues in March, it was attended by farmers, political leaders, social activists and academicians from all over the country. Bhumi Adhikar Andolan also announced its support to the call for a countrywide protest called by Jan Ekta, Jan Adhikar Andolan on the completion of 4 years of the Modi Government with the slogan “Pol Khol, Halla Bol!” The protest was addressed by: N. K Shukla (Joint. Sec AIKS), Phul Singh (State Sec. Haryana AIKS), Com. Hannan Mollah (Gen. Secy. AIKS), Jiten Chaudhary (MP, Lok Sabha, CPIM), KK Ragesh (MP, RS. Kerala, CPIM), Pehlu Khan’s Family, Com. Bharat Singh (State Secy. Uttar Pradesh, AIKS), Maulana Hanif, Shifat Manager (Alwar), Com. Ramesh (AIKMS). Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajay Bhawan), All India Kisan Sabha (36, Canning Lane), Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Jan Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti, Chhatisgarh Bachao Aandolan, All India Kisan Maha Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers Union, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Sanyukt Kisan Sangharsh Samilti, INSAF, Delhi Solidarity Group, Kisan Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Union Arajnitik Asli, Mines Minerals and Peoples, Jan Adhikar Jan Ekta Andolan and Others.

Vietnam: Annus horribilis ends with more arrests and imprisonment

Detained activists

PARIS, 5 January 2018 (FIDH & VCHR): Vietnam’s unprecedented repression of dissent during 2017 calls for the international community’s renewed engagement with Hanoi on human rights, FIDH and its member organization Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) said today. “The fact that the EU and the US are more interested in signing business deals than talking about human rights has emboldened Hanoi to harden its attacks on basic civil and political rights. It’s time for the international community to vigorously re-engage with Hanoi on human rights,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

In 2017, Vietnamese authorities arbitrarily detained or imprisoned at least 46 activists and human rights defenders, including 7 women, for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly. The crackdown accelerated in late December 2017, when 15 activists were sentenced to prison terms. “Vietnam’s accelerated repression at the end of December was strategically timed to coincide with the distractions provided by the end-of-year holidays. The EU and the US should open their eyes and raise their voices to demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and the speedy implementation of much-needed institutional and legislative reforms in Vietnam,” said VCHR President Vo Van Ai. On 20 December 2017, police and security forces in Ho Chi Minh City beat at least 20 people and detained five of them for participating in a peaceful protest against the Taiwanese-owned company Formosa, which was responsible for a massive environmental catastrophe in Vietnam’s three coastal provinces in 2016.

On 21 December 2017, a court in An Giang Province sentenced five people under Article 88 of the Criminal Code (‘spreading propaganda against the state’) for hanging 26 flags emblazoned with three red stripes (the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam, also known as South Vietnam before 1975) in the province’s Chau Doc Township on 25 April 2017. Nguyen Tan An was sentenced to five years in prison; Huynh Thi Kim Quyen and Nguyen Ngoc Qui received four-year sentences; and Pham Van Trong and Nguyen Thanh Binh were jailed for three years. On 22 December 2017, a court in Ha Nam Province rejected an appeal by prominent human rights defender Tran Thi Nga against her conviction and nine-year prison sentence under Article 88 of the Criminal Code. The court upheld the lower court’s decision in a hearing from which authorities barred Nga’s family members and supporters. Outside the court, police and security forces took into custody nine activists who had gathered to show support for Tran Thi Nga. At least one of them was beaten by thugs before being arrested.

On 24 December 2017, authorities arrested former political prisoner Doan Van Dien at his home in Lam Dong Province and detained him in the B5 detention center in Dong Nai Province. The reason for his arrest was not immediately known. On 28 December 2017, a court in Binh Dinh Province sentenced nine people to prison terms ranging from three to 14 years for printing and distributing leaflets. Pham Long Dai, Doan Thi Bich Thuy, Truong Thi Thu Hang, and Tran Thi Bich Ngoc were convicted Under Article 88 of the Criminal Code. Ta Tan Loc, Nguyen Quang Thanh, Huynh Huu Dat, Nguyen Van Nghia, and Nguyen Van Tuan were convicted under Article 79 of the Criminal Code (‘conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration’). In addition, all nine were sentenced to three years of house arrest to be served upon the completion of their prison terms.

FIDH and VCHR are also troubled by the Vietnamese government’s latest move to tighten monitoring of internet content. On 25 December 2017, Deputy Head of the People’s Army Political Department Lt Gen Nguyen Trong Nghia announced that a new 10,000-strong military cyber unit, named ‘Force 47’, had begun operating “to fight proactively against the wrong views.” FIDH and VCHR reiterate their calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Vietnam and for the repeal of all provisions of the Criminal Code that are inconsistent with the country’s obligations under international law. At least 130 political prisoners remain behind bars in jails across the country. Nearly all of those arbitrarily detained or imprisoned in 2017 were arrested and charged under Articles 79, 88, or 258 (‘abusing democratic freedoms to harm the interests of the state’) of the Criminal Code.

Press contacts: FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris) FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok) VCHR: Ms. Penelope Faulkner (Vietnamese, English, French) - Tel: +33611898681 (Paris)

Why Propaganda passes as News in (Indian) Media

Special Contribution By Pushkar Raj

Social media in India

It is a common refrain in the country that news has declined in content and quality. Social media is full of debate on the issue since innovations like the paid news and scandals like Radia tape. A common thread of concern is that the media is scandalizing, preaching and serving the masses a low comedy in the name of news than informing which is its primary task.

How has this de-generation come about?

In a democracy News opens up a reality to people on which they can act. The journalist’s task is to inform about that reality by presenting facts from more than one perspective so that people can form an opinion and choose their rulers. However, lately the news is being prevented from reaching the masses. This is done by stopping the journalist from gathering and presenting the news.

The data compiled by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) suggest that since 1992, 71 media persons have been killed in the country with hardly any punishment. A report by media watch website the hoot suggests that in 2010-16, 23 journalists have been murdered. There has been only one conviction in which an appeal is pending. Apparently, central and state governments are not protecting journalists and once harmed they government does not take interest in ensuring justice thus encouraging their purge. Ironically, journalist is merely a messenger going about his duty. Shooting the messenger was never so true than now.

Furthermore, governments do not want news to reach the masses therefore using defamation laws against journalists. For example, during 2001-6 Jayalalitha government filed about 120 defamation cases against media. The DMK government that followed her was no less better filing over hundred defamation cases against the media and the present government recently arrested a cartoonist for highlighting plight of poor at the hands of money lenders in rural Tamil Nadu. Big business is another enemy of news and the journalist. Pranjoy Guha Thakurta had to resign from the editorship of the Economic and Political Weekly , under the threat of a legal suit. He has also received defamation notices from lawyers of Mukesh and Anil Ambani led Reliance industries after he self published Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis.

Corporatization of news

Corporate treat news as a commodity that can be made packaged and sold defining news upside down. On the contrary, news cannot be manufactured; news happens. The major task of corporate media is to suppress the news as it happens and replace it with manufactured commodity in that proportion and serve it to its audience that buy their other products too. Corporate control and regulate the flow of the news in the country now. Mukesh Ambani led Reliance group has taken over network eighteen group of companies and has invested about $ 6 billion in media sector. BCCL that runs Times group is already nearly 1.5 billion conglomerates thriving on its innovation of the paid news.

Star news is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s century fox that is fourth largest media house of the world and primary source of news for Donald Trump, who some suspect, is the ‘liar in chief’ of the modern times. With NDTV and Living Media, that broadcasts Aaj Tak and publish popular weekly India Today in several languages, also receiving significant corporate investments news gets sanitized off purity and sensitivity when it reaches television studios. It turns into a propaganda with an agenda.

Thus, with radio news and Doordarshan (public television network reaching 596 million of 1.3 billion) under government and rest under corporate control, 16000 times rise in fortune of the son of the ruling party chief in a year is not a news. Instead, for private major TV news channels the exploits and wisdom of convicted and current babas, Karva Chauth, Shakahari Gurugram is the news. This media when tasked to cover social issue such as infants’ death in hospitals, or farmer’s suicide in rural India present a spectacle similar as shown in popular Hindi movie Peepli Live.

Another disturbing trend in India is tendency to defame and fracture the media as an institution by its own ilk. This is borne out from the headlines like, ‘Amit Shah’s son to file 100 crore defamation suit against website’ in a prominent newspaper. The headline is disingenuous as it imputes that the news portal’s report is ambiguous and deserves a suit. This is a case of corporate media demeaning independent media.

Reasons for optimism

Journalism will live as long as passion to bring out truth remains and journalists will create new ways to survive. This optimism stems from testimony of a soldier like passion and courage of the journalist Rohini Singh who broke Jay Shah story. She was trolled and threatened by the paid social media mob not withstanding that she had previously reported on Robert Vadra’s accumulation of wealth under the congress regime. She wrote back , “My primary job is to speak truth to power. To question the government of the day”, adding, “I don't do the sort of stories I do because I am ' brave’. I do them because that's journalism”. So long the above spirit remains news will shine in debris of propaganda.

Boat capsize kills 60 Rohingya and other stories in JUST ASIA, Episode 191

Boat people

This week Just Asia begins with the death of 60 Rohingya in a boat capsize off Bangladesh on September 28, as they were fleeing violence in Burma. A UN spokesman said 23 people were confirmed dead and 40 more were "missing and presumed drowned". Dozens of Rohingya have already died trying to cross into Bangladesh amid a military crackdown in Burma’s Rakhine state. Violence erupted in Rakhine on August 25 when Rohingya militants attacked security posts. More than half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since then. Just Asia speaks to Adhilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar, regarding the situation of refugees in Bangladesh.

Next, the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia said the government must do more to protect democratic freedoms in the run-up to 2018 national elections. In a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Rhona Smith said, “deterioration of the democratic space and freedom of expression in Cambodia is a primary concern, with many NGOs and human rights defenders subject to threats, harassment, arrest”. Opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested without a warrant in Phnom Penh on September 3 and accused of trying to topple the government with backing from Washington. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

In preparation for the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Asian Human Rights Charter, rights groups and activists are discussing how to move forward and ensure the genuine realization of people’s rights in Asia. The 1998 Charter was aimed at changing how human rights work was conducted in developing countries. In particular, the aim was to understand and improve the defective institutions and systems of justice required for human rights implementation. Just Asia speaks to Basil Fernando, AHRC’s Director for Policy and Programme Development for details.

Moving to Indonesia, the country is seeing a rise in anti-Communist phobia and rhetoric, with a massive protest in Jakarta on September 29. Held by anti-Communist groups and opposition supporters against the Communist ideology, the protest was termed 29-9. The protest followed the brutal attack on the offices of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and Jakarta Legal Aid between 16 and 17 September 2017. These circumstances are weakening the efforts of victims and families of the 1965-1966 massacre to seek justice. They now face increased difficulties and obstacles to voice their hopes and desires. Finally, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features three cases from Nepal and Sri Lanka.

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