The Global Digest


Non-payment of MNREGA wages for May, 2012 to 150 villagers in Amravati district

The community on NREGA

Shri Mohit S.Shah, The Hon’ble Chief Justice
The High Court of Bombay, Mumbai
December 31, 2012

Dear Sir

We, Social Jurist, are a group of lawyers and social workers, based in Delhi, committed mainly to the cause of right to education and healthcare. Our delegation visited Amravati district of Maharashtra between 21.12.2012 and 28.12.2012 on an invitation by Apeksha Homoeo Society, an NGO based in Maharashtra, to assess the state of implementation of the RTE Act, 2009, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREG Act), 2005, The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and the state of health facilities, among others in the tribal belt of the Vidarbha region. During out visit to Lakatu village in Dharni Tehsil of Amravati district, the villagers made a written complaint to us regarding non-payment of their dues under the MNREG Act, 2005. The said written complaint is enclosed herewith for your reference.

It is submitted that the complaint pertains to work executed by as many as 150 villagers under the MNREG Act from the period of 12.05.2012 to 18.05.2012. Thus more than 7 months have passed ever since but the poor tribals are yet to receive any payment for the same. It is worth mentioning that these farmers usually work on daily wages from hand to mouth and are not in a position to wait for such a long duration. Due to the impugned non-payment, 7 days of their toil have gone unrewarded, which amounts to begar, a violation of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 23 of the Constitution of India.

It is useful to point out here that that the poor tribals had undertaken the work under the assurance that they would be paid their dues within 15 days of making the claim, but under the present circumstances, they feel cheated and have lost faith in the scheme as a whole.

Thus, the inaction on the part of the government of Maharashtra is not just violative of the fundamental and statutory rights of the villagers but also a highly insensitive omission which has worsened the plight of the poor tribals who are on the brink of starvation.

You are requested to direct the state government to forthwith disburse the MNREGA claims of all the villagers of the said village and to take necessary stern action to ensure that the government does not sleep over the similar claims of the poor people in the future.

Yours sincerely

(Ashok Agarwal), Advocate
Advisor, Social Jurist

India: Dhule Riot

Special Contribution
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Jan 8, 2013

Fires were set up in Dhule

The Dhule riots which broke out on 6th Jan 2013 was very shocking and matter of deep concern in our society, where by four people are death and nearly 200 injured. The matter shows the fragility and sensitivity of the Dhule, as very trivial incident of nonpayment of food bill led to very sad disaster.

Though CM Prithviraj Chavan has ordered a magistrate inquiry into the case on 7th Jan, we demand the perpetrators of the crime must be shown zero-tolerance and brought to book immediately and also the report to be complete as soon as possible. The rumor mongers must also be checked in and harsh punishment must be meted-out to them. Those who are deceased and injured must be adequately compensated.

We also demand that a confidence building measure to restore the faith in the system must be revitalize by making genuine peace efforts among both the communities and groups, so as this shameful act of arson and violence doesn’t repeat and people respect and adhere to law-order.

We from our MPJ will try to make at most effort in restoring peace and confidence among all communities in the society. We appeal for peace and calm and abide law by every common citizenry through the media and administration.

Tamil Nadu protest calls for investigation on 3 UN officials for complicity in Tamil genocide


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former UN Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar and former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian affairs Sir John Holmes were in complicity in the genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils by Sri Lanka in 2009, declared a protest held by political activists and grassroot movements in Tamil Nadu on Sunday. May 17 Movement, the organisers of the protest, citing the recent report of the Internal Review Panel on UN Action in Sri Lanka led by Charles Petrie, accused the ‘axis of the UN trio’ for shielding the Sri Lankan government during the peak of its genocidal onslaught on the Eezham Tamil nation. The demonstrators, who blamed the UN for denying justice to the victims after the genocidal war, also accused the UN for having failed to provide a just political solution to the national question of Eezham Tamils.

Mr Vijay Nambiar, an Indian diplomat, who is alleged of responsibility in the white-flag surrender, is the brother of Lt. Gen. (Retd) Satish Nambiar, who was earlier invited by the SL government during the CFA to report on the military High Security Zones in the North and East.

According to the accounts of the late veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin, Mr Nambiar had an assurance from the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that LTTE's Political Head Mr Nadesan would be safe in surrendering to the Sri Lanka Army carrying a white flag. Although Mr Nambiar was supposed to witness to the surrender in person, he had concluded that it was not necessary for him to witness the episode as he had SL president's assurance.

Sir John Holmes, was the chief of UN's humanitarian operations in his role as Human Rights Co-ordinator when the UN pulled out of Vanni. He has also been visiting the island at the height of the war. The gathered activists in Chennai also raised slogans in solidarity with the protesting Eezham Tamil students in the island, demanding the immediate release the student leaders of the University of Jaffna and the students who have been detained by the occupying Sri Lankan military.

Prof Dheeran, the president of Thamizhaka Vaazhvurimaik Kadchi, Avadi Antharidoss from MDMK, Aruna Barathi from Thamizh Theasiya Pothuvudamaik Kadchi, Thapasi Kumaran from Dravidar Viduthalaik Kazhagam, Thiyagu from Thamizh Theasiya Viduthalai Iyakkam, film director Pugazhenthi Thangaraj, Umar and Thirumurugan Gandhi from May 17 Movement spoke at the demonstration. All speakers expressed shock and disappointment against UN glaring failure, with many terming it a wanton betrayal of its own principles.

Some of the speakers also recounted the message of Muthukumar, who had immolated himself in January 2009 for the cause of the Eezham Tamils and who is considered a youth icon by activists in Tamil Nadu, who had recorded in his final letter not to trust Ban Ki-moon. Speaking at the event, Aruna Barathi opined that the oppressed nations should unite and create a fourth world order as the current systems of establishments were incapable of giving justice.

Umar from the May 17 who spoke about Ban Ki-moon’s political background, also referred to Mr. Ki-moon’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee, who had served in the IPKF and who had consistently been writing political opinion pieces in the Indian media against the struggle of the Eezham Tamils. According to Mr. Umar, there was a vested political interest in the Ki-moon family itself.

Mr. Gandhi talked about pre-war, post-war role of UN, how it has been successfully preventing an independent international investigation till now. All the talk about giving time to the GoSL to find its own internal mechanism is only giving time for GoSL to erase all evidences of genocide, he argued. He further said that the denial and cover-up of the genocide by the UN officials was a strategy to prevent claims for a referendum by the Eezham Tamils.

May 17 Movement also appealed to the Tamil diaspora to protest outside UN offices in the countries they reside on the remembrance day of Murugathasan Varnakulasingham, an Eezham Tamil youth who had immolated in Geneva in February 2009 protesting the inaction of the UN.

Speaking to TamilNet, Mr. Gandhi said "UN had a mechanism for preventing genocide but this was systematically subverted by these three officials. Likewise, there is a scope for liberation of genocide-affected oppressed nations in the UN’s framework. Even this was sabotaged by these officials. Those who were meant to protect the international law have failed miserably and with intent.”

“The IC and UN should compensate for the losses incurred by the Tamils by providing a just political solution. And the global civil society should realize that bodies like UN, global establishments, corporates collaborated with genocidal Sri Lanka for vested interests and they are against the Eezham Tamils and their democratic demands.”

“After this leaked Petrie Report, we now urge the global civil society and media to understand and realize the hollowness behind the claims of organizations like UN, Western Governments, India, and NGOs that the Tamil Eelam struggle is the reason for the Tamils' suffering. This is only a hoodwink strategy to deny the demand of the Tamils."

DAY IV: Indefinite fast in support of demands of farmers-labourers

Lok Rajniti Manch

Lucknow, December 26 : The indefinite fast and demonstration in support of demands of farmers-labourers organized by Socialist Party jointly with National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Lok Rajniti Manch, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Rihai Manch, Special Teachers and Guardians Association, entered its fourth day today. Two social activists are on an indefinite fast: Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and Vice President of Socialist Party; and Anil Mishra, social activist.

The gap between the rich and the poor has widened even more, with salary scales of service sector increasing manifold and rising prices over the past years. We believe in the standard recommended by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia that the gap between the income of the rich and the poor should not be more than ten times. Also in a democracy everyone should be getting the same income. We demand that Wage Board should amend the minimum wage of labourers of unorganized sector to Rs 440 so that these labourers don't receive wage less than the minimum income given by the government. As we know trade union is demanding a minimum income of Rs 11,000 per month for contract workers.

Even the election manifesto of Samajwadi Party had a promise that Farmers' Commission will be formed to decide the minimum support price for farmers that should be no less than 1.5 times their investment. But the biggest question related to minimum support price is that how will it be implemented? Who will put a clamp on middlemen? The government should demonstrate political will and ban middlemen in matters related to farmers and extortion from the poor people. Be informed that illegal extortion done by three different segments from poor traditional artisans who take part in 'Kartik Poornima Mela' in Daliganj was brought to an end last week.

Yesterday former MP Iliyas Azmi said while addressing the indefinite fast and demonstration that Tariq Kazmi and Khalid Muzahid were arrested from Jaunpur and Azamgarh; and Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) is lying by falsely stating that they were arrested from Barabanki. We demand that RD Nimesh Inquiry Report should be made public so that there can be clarity on this matter. Representatives of Special Teachers and Guardians Association are participating every day in this indefinite fast and demonstration. Their President and social activist, Munnalal Shukla, ended his three days fast yesterday as his health was deteriorating.

This indefinite fast will continue till the time government doesn't respond regarding the demands raised by this movement. Although we have informed Rajendra Chaudhari, Spokesperson of Samajwadi Party, about our demands and this indefinite fast and demonstration, so far there is no proposition from the government to hold a dialogue.


1. Unorganized sector should get minimum wage of Rs 11,000 per month or Rs 440 per day. Minimum wages should be linked to Consumer Price Index. 2. It is a matter of grave concern that during the last wheat purchase very few farmers could get the minimum support price of Rs 1285 per Quintal because of dominance of middlemen. The same situation is now occurring in the paddy purchase. We demand a CBI probe in this Wheat-Paddy purchase scam. 3. Under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, the clause of 25% reservation for underprivileged children in all schools should be strictly implemented without delay. 4. Illegal extortion and bribes taken for appointments should be stopped. 5. Anti-farmer Maitreya Project in Kushinagar should be cancelled. 6. Innocent Muslim youth who are jailed in the name of terrorism should be released. We demand to make RD Nimesh Investigation Report' public. 7. Special teachers should be appointed for differently-abled children (handicapped children). 8. Doctors including Dental Surgeons should be appointed in all primary and community health centres. 9. There should be a complete ban on tobacco and alcohol.

Apart from these, effective measures should be taken to curb and control inflation and corruption. Kindly lend your support to the cause of protecting the rights of farmers, labourers, underprivileged children, by participating in this fast.

THAILAND: A call for procedural review and stop invoking Martial Law to impose DNA profiling: It infringes on fundamental human rights

Dec 17, 2012

Violence in Mai Kaen District

On 17 December 2012, human rights organizations submitted a letter of petition concerning the invoking of Martial Law to impose DNA profiling by military officers in the Southern Border Provinces to the Army Area Region 4 Commander, Secretary General of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC), the Prime Minister, Director of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). They demand a halt of DNA profiling being imposed on local people by the military citing Martial Law, as it is considered violation of fundamental human rights.

On 16 December 2012 in Mai Kaen District, from 8.00- 17.00, an unknown military unit from the Ingkhayuth Borihan Army Camp stopped and forced several men from the age of 16 to 35 years travelling in the area into military trucks to conduct DNA profiling on them at the District Office of Mai Kaen. In addition, combined forces of police and administrative officers raided three villages in Tambon Sai Thong and rounded up men from the age of 16 to 35 years claiming that these men had to undergo DNA profiling at the District Officer. The officers checked their names from the house registration papers. The villagers were too scared to resist the order. Reportedly, some of them were boys from the age of 14-18 years and more than one hundred men from the age of 18-35 years.

Officers set up a checkpoint inside the District Officer. Any persons entering the premises were forced to undergo an inquiry to disclose their personal information, their educational background, etc. They were also forced to get urine test and had their tissue samples from their oral cavity, their hands and their clothes collected by the officers and put into brown plastic bags. They had to do fingerprint of their ten fingers, had their photo taken from four sides, with name tags and had to sign to certify the personal information records despite their not being informed of the reasons for the personal information inquiry.

According to a villager (whose name is withheld), he travelled from his home in Tambon Sai Thong around 9.00 am. En route to Mai Kaen District, in Tambon Palu Kasema, he was stopped at a checkpoint and was asked to produce his ID card. Then, he was put on a military vehicle heading for DNA profiling at District Officer. Another passenger on his vehicle was also given a ride to get to the District Office. He was informed that everyone had to undergo the test. According to investigation, checkpoints for DNA profiling were set up in Mai Kaen, Sai Buri and Bajao Dsitricts, Narathiwat, in three villages.

Such an act of the officers is a breach of fundamental human rights. Setting up checkpoints is also violation of the right to mobility. The collection of fingerprints, personal information, and DNA samples from oral cavity, body and clothes is violation of the right to privacy. All of those being forced to undergo the treatment were simply suspects and were not accused of committing any offence. The invoking of Martial Law to carry out the measure is thus an arbitrary exercise of power and violation of fundamental human rights. We demand concerned agencies for procedural review and stop such an act immediately and develop measures to quell the unrest with the least impact on human rights.

Human Rights Day Message - From CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development

Rev Dr Charles Irudayam

On Human Rights Day 2012, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights proffers to the international community the message of Inclusion and the right to participate in public life. The highlights of the message are: everybody has the right to have their voice heard and to have a role in making the decisions that shape their communities; fulfilment of the right to participate in public life is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society and an effective human rights protection system; participation and inclusion are critical in the development and implementation of durable, workable policy solutions.

As we observe Human Rights Day with the international community today, 10 December and emphasise the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives, we cannot miss or overlook the poignancy of the human rights situation in India. The people who non-violently oppose nuclear power plants and Uranium mines, are greeted with atrocious and brutal attacks by the police, dangerous fabricated cases like sedition, waging war on the state etc., imprisonment (even women have not been spared), curfew and prohibitory orders. When thousands of tribal villagers oppose Government’s move to dispossess them of their land and fields in favour of the POSCO mining project, they are brutally attacked by paid goons of the company. Instead of arresting those goons, the police slap false cases against protesters including women.

According to the recent Status Report 2012 by Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR), glaring violations of human rights include: starvation deaths (though officials refrain from acknowledging their occurrence); one farmer suicide every 43 minutes; wilful neglect of healthcare (India spends only 4.4% of its budget on health, which is far below the global median of 11.5%); criminal neglect of Children (constituting over 40% of the Indian population, children receive only 5.3% of the national budget); enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in conflict areas, reinforced by extraordinary powers of arrest, detention and immunity available to the security forces (The National Human Rights Commission has admitted that 191 fake encounter killings took place in the country in the last five years); custodial torture (on an average, 1.8 million people are victims of police torture and violence in India every year); high incidence of violence against women (every 60 minutes, two women are raped, and every six hours a young married woman is found beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide); discrimination and growing atrocities against dalits (one crime against dalits every 18 minutes; every day 3 rapes, 11 assaults and 13 murders etc.); acute discrimination and targeting of religious minorities (communal pogroms against minorities have been masterminded in complete impunity).

What do we, as rights-holders and as Christians, do in the face of these flagrant human violations, especially when the state – the duty-bearer neither respects nor protects the rights of its citizens?

In his Message to the UN on the 25th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Pope Paul VI said that we ought not to “remain indifferent in the face of the many grave and often systematic violations of human rights.” Affirming his predecessor’s view, Pope John Paul II, added: “Can we remain silent in the face of such grave crimes against humanity? No effort must be judged too great when it is a question of putting an end to such abuses, which are violations of human dignity.” The Church document, Justice in the World, admitted that Church’s “mission involves defending and promoting the dignity and fundamental rights of the human person.” In short, the Church‘s defence of human rights is an inescapable requirement of her mission of justice and love in the spirit of the Gospel message.

On this Human Rights Day, let us remind ourselves of Pope John Paul II’s message that “citizens have not only the right but also the responsibility to participate” and that “when they are prevented from exercising this responsibility, development of a sound democratic system then becomes practically impossible.” Affirming his teaching that respect for human rights is the secret of true peace, let us endeavour to make respect for human dignity the heritage of humanity and a culture of human rights the responsibility of all. Truly, the culture of human rights cannot fail to be a culture of peace.

Rev Dr Charles Irudayam, Secretary, CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development

Government Decree 92 tightens controls on religions in Vietnam

Nov 29, 2012

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung

PARIS, 29.11.2012 (IBIB) –The International Buddhist Information Bureau is deeply disturbed by a new government decree that increases state control of religions and further undermines religious freedom in Vietnam. Decree 92 (full reference 92/2012/ND-CP) on “Directives and measures for implementing the Ordinance on beliefs and religion”, issued by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on 8 November 2012 will come into force on 1 January 2013. It replaces Decree 22 issued in 2005 which was the first text to give instructions on implementing Vietnam’s key religious legislation, the Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion, adopted in 2004.

Decree 92, which has five chapters and 46 articles, takes up many of the most restrictive provisions of Decree 22, such as Article 2, which strictly prohibits any activities perceived to “abuse the right to freedom of belief or religion to undermine peace, independence and national unity... to disseminate information against the State's prevailing laws and policies; to sow division among the people, ethnic groups, and religions; to cause public disorder; to do harm to other people's lives, health, dignity and honour” . But it also adds a number of new obligations and vaguely-worded provisions that give the authorities greater leeway to saction and restrict religious activities.

Article 6 (1a) stipulates that religious organizations applying for full legal recognition must prove they have 20 years of stable operation “and have not violated the provisions of law”. It specifically refers to Article 15 of the “Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion” which states that religious activities shall be stopped if they “infringe upon national security”. This provision is grossly prohibitive, since the very act of carrying out religious activities without state recognition is a violation of national security under Vietnam’s broadly-worded Penal Code. Today, many members of non-recognized religious bodies such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), Hoa Hao, Cao Dai and Protestant house churches are in prison or under house arrest simply for practicing their religion outside State-sanctionned groups.

The two most important chapters of Decree 92, chapter III on “Religious Organizations” and Chapter IV on “Religious Activities”, which have 36 articles divided into 14 sections, reveal the intrusive controls of the government and the Communist Party in all aspects of religious life. Every religious activity, from the celebration of prayers and religious festivals, ordination of religious dignitaries, the curriculum of religious schools and training centres must be submitted in advance to the local authorities and obtain approval from the People’s Committees from the village, district and provincial levels, up to central government and the Prime Minister himself. At every level, the authorities are empowered to arbitrarily reject requests for religious activities simply by providing a written statement to justify their decision.

Even foreigners living in Vietnam must submit written applications to organise religious gatherings (Article 40), which was not stipulated in the previous decree.

Decree 92 outlines the predominant role of the Ministry of the Interior in overseeing religious activities (Article 42). In religious training schools, for example, the Ministry of Education and Training was previously in charge of the curriculum, which has obligatory studies in Vietnamese history and law. Under Decree 92, however, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice will work alongside the Ministry of Education and Training to determine the contents of the curriculum and oversee the teaching and inspection of these studies (Article 15). Vietnamese history and law are now elevated as “major subjects” of religious training, over and above religious studies (Article 14.2). The government’s priority is not to educate religious cadres in the philospohy and concerns of the religious communities, but to produce an army of political agents well-versed in Vietnam’s repressive religious policies and trained to apply religious legislation that is totally inconsistent with international standards and norms,

The only apparently positive element in the Decree is that, after an extremely long and arduous process of application for recognition that stretches out over several years, the final decision made by the Prime Minister is accelerated in comparison with Decree 22 (45 days instead of 90) and 30 days instead of 60 by People’s Committees at the provicvial level (Article 8.2). But the extreme scrutiny of the policital authorities, from the villages up to central government, and the lack of transparency and strict political controls over the whole process of registration shows clearly that Vietnam is not seeking to promote greater freedom of religion, but to implement the Vietnamese Communist Party’s directives to “increase state management of religious affairs”.

Indeed, Decree 92 simply adds to the framework of legislation used to give a “veneer of legality” to a policy of religious repression, planned at the highest levels of the Communist Party and state, and methodically implemented throughout the country, which aims to crush all independent movements and place religions under strict Communist Party control.

This policy is controlled and implemented by the Government Board of Religious Affairs (GBRA), the Vietnam Fatherland Front, the Communist Party’s Department of Prppaganda and Mobilization and the Ministry of the Interior. The GBRA is headed by Lt.-General Pham Dung, a former high-ranking official in the Ministry of Public Security. The network of religious officials and “religious police” (A41) under his command have absolutely no training or knowledge in religious affairs, yet they have full powers to control religious activities in all aspects of the people’s lives.

The International Buddhist Information Bureau strongly denounces Vietnam’s repressive religious policies which grossly contravene the right to freedom of religion guaranteed in the Vietnamese Constitution and in the United Nation’s International Convention on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is state party. It calls on the international community to press Vietnam to revise the 2004 “Ordinance on Beliefs and Religion” and repeal all religious legislation inconsistent with international standards and norms.

In its 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom, the US International Commission on Religious Freedom listed Vietnam amongst the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, and recommended that it be designated a “Country of Particular Concern”.

Hijacking Savita Halappanavar's Case with Dubious Motives?

Special Contribution
By Joseph Dias
Nov 26, 2012

Savita Halappanavar

The CSF takes a Secular Look at & the Indian Experience of what is being made a 'Catholic' issue

The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF), a Mumbai-based activist community NGO finds it shocking how the Savita Halappanavar’s case in Ireland, is being used to whip-up anti-Catholic sentiment, especially in India, where Christians are being discriminated and persecuted. The BJP, leftists like Brinda Karat and a UK MP of Indian origin have been most vociferous, when in reality it is the political class that keeps society medieval and under-developed, making abortion a necessary evil. A present case of the 'impossible' possibilities with stellar advancements in science and technology is that of a Jehovah's Witness, Meena Koli of Madh Island, Mumbai who refused blood, including her own, while undergoing a critical heart operation because she said it was against her religious beliefs. Dr. Bijoy Kutty of Mulund's Platinum Hospital successfully performed the same.

Abroad one can suspect the powerful pro-abortion lobby, to blow-up this single instance to justify across-the-counter abortion, but this country with archaic laws itself, joining the chorus to make Ireland abortion friendly is surprising. We ought to know well that social legislation is hardly an enough tool to combat such issues and those concerned should rather take note of our own dismal track record. According to CSF, the solution is not abortion, but rather better policies, education, information, healthcare and social infrastructure for women, children and senior citizens - which if available, abortion may not be necessary. Further, nowhere in the entire coverage is the Catholic viewpoint mentioned, while wide publicity is given to Savita's family and politicians, despite the investigations still pending and an authorized medical conclusion awaited.

Before we look at the Indian experience, The CSF would like to point to just a few facts from UK, with a view to expose the myths of the pro-abortion lobby:

* A study in the European Journal of Public Health reveals that women are six times more likely to commit suicide after having an abortion compared with those who carry their pregnancies to term.

* A report by Confidential Inquiry into Maternal and Child Health in 2008 found that 66 babies had survived in one year. These babies were killed, as per standard British medical policy.

* Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows that women who had abortions are 30% more likely to have serious mental health problems than other women.

The dark culture of pain and death - India needs to wake-up to.

Figures mention 2.5 crores unborn children have been officially aborted since the MTPA was amended (1972) and currently suggest 8 million are female foetuses of the 11 million annually aborted. The WHO report made public earlier this year states that despite abortion and female infanticide laws, majority Indians used unsafe routes for termination of pregnancy. The country recorded 6.5 million abortions in 2008 of which 66% or two-thirds were deemed unsafe. India also recorded the major chunk of the abortions that took place in the region (south and central Asia) - 6.5 million of the total 10.5 million. In this region, for every one lakh abortions, 200 women died of it. In Ireland there were only 3 maternal deaths.

According to The Center for Reproductive Rights, every five minutes a woman dies while delivering a child. Almost 20 per cent of such worldwide deaths occur in India. According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Health, most such deaths are avoidable. India in 2008 saw 6.41 lakh abortions across 12, 510 institutions, approved to carry out medical termination of pregnancy (MTP). According to the 2008 figures, leading with the highest MTPs was Uttar Pradesh (89,194) followed by Tamil Nadu (63,875), Odisha (59,945), Assam (58,409) and Maharashtra (54,545). Not only has there been an increase in abortion, but the proportion of all abortions that are unsafe has also increased. Female fetuses are being aborted at higher rates in India than ever before, new data from the national census (2011) have revealed, embarrassing a government with a nominal commitment to end discrimination against female children. In the critical demographic category of zero to six years, the ratio dropped to 914 girls from 927 for every 1,000 boys. It's the lowest figure recorded since India gained independence in 1947.

"It's very distressing," said N.B. Sarojini, a leading campaigner on the issue. Most who work in the field thought the figures might drop, she added - but not this much. The global norm of sex ratios at birth is 950 girls to 1,000 boys. Prof. Ranaja Kumari is on the national government's Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act Control Board - the body meant to supervise implementation of the law that bans sex-selection; But, she said, it has not met in more than three years and the Health Minister, who supervises the board, will not reply to calls or letters from board members.

Foetal sex determination is illegal but there have been instances where five Delhi doctors were convicted of offering the tests and abortions of female fetuses. It was reported that the courts gave them the choice of five years in prison or a 1,000-rupee fine! The ratio of girls to boys fell in 24 of India's 35 states and territories, with demographers noting that the skewed sex ratios and apparent son preference has spread to states that were once largely immune, including the Muslim-dominated Jammu and Kashmir, and states in the northeast with traditionally matrilineal societies such as Sikkim and Manipur.

TOP 20 consequences of aborting or allowing abortion:

Abortions give rise to a number of issues - humanitarian, psychological, religious, cultural, medical, ethical, social, legal, moral... The secular reasons against abortion in India, which holds good elsewhere in the world are many. Here are some reasons why one should think many times before aborting or advocating abortion:

1. The unborn child is a human life and entitled to equal rights as the mother. The right to life is the most basic and especially since the unborn cannot even express or defend itself, it must be protected. 2. Abortion laws are practiced more in breach than in practice, as the required facilities / personnel are not available or there are loopholes in the legislation, which renders them ineffective. 3. Despite legislation to protect the girl child, experience shows that the law is as redundant as that for Sati, Dowry, Child-Marriage, etc. Besides why discriminate against the male child? 4. There is very little choice afforded and doubtful consent taken, especially in case of minors or rape. Neither is it compulsory or expected to inform the law enforcing authorities about it. 5. Glamorized as a woman's right, just as smoking or drinking is, it could result in luring females with a false sense of feminism, ushering a licentious lifestyle and break-up of the family. 6. Women are not warned of the consequences of abortion and no advisories / education given, as is done for tobacco or alcohol products, rather it is promoted as a quick-fix solution. 7. Abortion with whatever restrictions is loaded against the unborn with several medical ethics involved, as the child is also patient entitled to equal, if not more attention. 8. It has an inherent danger of being anti-family, anti-culture and creating a societal turbulence and divide with irresponsible, anti-social, immoral and selfish citizenry. 9. It presently seems to be used as a family planning, population control or contraception means, which proves the inefficacy of these government health measures. 10. Every individual, has a right to conscience and one should not either directly or indirectly pressurize him / her to either abort or even sell products that harm life. 11. AIDS / HIV spread is likely as the law is implemented not strictly on this score, calling for testing and reporting of such cases to the concerned legal authorities 12. The practice is full of abuses, being open to franchising operations / crime syndicates and without adequate checks, bio-waste disposal, STD prevention... 13. Safety, high-risk, post-abortion neglect, long term complications are other concerns that result in death, infertility and other gynecological problems. 14. The freedom to abort, even with strict restrictions has resulted in an increasing number of foetuses losing their lives for no fault of theirs. 15. Among the physical dangers are cancers, handicapped newborns later, risk in multiple abortions, increased hazards for teenagers.... 16. In India, unsafe abortion without approved facilities and/or persons is performed 15-20 times more often than safe legal abortions. 17. This leads to a skewed child sex ratio - Female:Male - which is rapidly decreasing and its proved that the girl child is being aborted. 18. Low cost abortion centers are well advertised, while counseling centers for women contemplating abortion are few to find. 19. There is no social security / infrastructure available for a woman, who would want to continue with the pregnancy. 20. There are many instances of the unborn surviving even after abortion and are killed thereafter or left to die.

Finally, The CSF points out that Catholics treat life as a precious creation of God, which we are duty-bound to nurture at every stage – from womb to tomb. Hence, Catholics have serious and legitimate concerns, not only just on abortion, but also euthanasia, contraception, death penalty, fertility practices, sexual lifestyles, medical ethics, etc. The pro life stand of the Catholic does not discriminate against the mother and is all inclusive - not stopping at birth. The Catholic’s stand continues in all life situations and aspects – physical, mental and spiritual. The Church is therefore foremost in its world campaigns for not just the unborn, but also for the sick, orphans, dying, hungry, elderly, handicapped, terminally ill, unwed mothers, human rights activists…

For more info, contact: Joseph Dias, General Secretary, The CSF, +91 9769555657

Vietnam Committee joins civil society in rejecting flawed ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

ASEAN summit underway in Cambodia

PARIS, 19 November 2012 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is one of 55 civil society organizations endorsing a statement to reject the flawed ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) adopted on 18 November by 10 ASEAN nations at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (see full text below).

Whilst paying lip-service to the principles of universality enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the AHRD effectively discards these principles by subjecting the realization of human rights to “regional and national context[s]” and “different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds” (Paragraph 7), and emphasizing the “non-confrontation and avoidance of double standards and politicization” of human rights (Par. 9).

"The AHRD gives ASEAN governments a veritable “license to repress”, a justification to pursue human rights violations against their citizens”, said Vietnam Committee President Vo Van Ai. “It also turns back the clock. AHDR revives the spectre of “Asian values” invoked in the 1990s to justify Asia’s exception from universal human rights principles”. Mr Ai recalled that Vietnam and other ASEAN countries signed the “Bangkok Declaration” which called for an “Asian exception” to universality on the grounds of “national and regional particularities” and demanded the "non-interference in the internal affairs of States, and the non-use of human rights as an instrument of political pressure". “The “Asian values” premise was roundly rejected by UN member states at Vienna World Conference on Human Rights in 1993” he said. “Now it has been resuscitated in the AHRD”.

Mr. Ai stressed that AHRD will have a particularly serious impact in Vietnam, since many of its clauses subject the enjoyment of human rights to national laws rather than requiring that national laws conform to rights. Vietnam is pursuing a fierce crack-down on bloggers, human rights defenders, political and religious dissidents under vaguely-defined “national security” laws which are grossly inconsistent with international human rights law. This would be justified under the AHRD.

Mr. Ai also noted that a leaked version of a draft of the AHRD obtained by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights showed that most of its restrictive provisions were proposed by Vietnam and its Communist ally Laos. These include the clauses on national, regional and cultural specificities, the “balance” between rights and responsibilities, and the powers of governments to restrict rights on grounds of “public morality” and “national security”. Vietnam had also expressed reservations on the right to free expression and the right to freely participate in government. “Vietnam’s bad influence overshadows the AHRD” said Vo Van Ai. He also expressed concern that ASEAN’s next Secretary-General is Vietnamese diplomat Le Luong Minh. Confirmed at the ASEAN Summit this week-end, he will take up his functions in January 2013. “This bodes ill for the ASEAN region”, said Vo Van Ai.

Civil Society Denounces Adoption of Flawed ASEAN Human Rights Declaration: AHRD falls far below international standards

Disregarding the deep concerns expressed by senior United Nations officials, human rights experts and hundreds of civil society and grassroots organisations at the national, regional and international levels, ASEAN leaders nonetheless adopted yesterday an “ASEAN Human Rights Declaration” that undermines, rather than affirms, international human rights law and standards. The document is a declaration of government powers disguised as a declaration of human rights.

It is deplorable that the governments of ASEAN have insisted on making a Declaration that implies that their people are less deserving of human rights than the people of Europe, Africa or the Americas. The people of ASEAN should never accept a lower level of protection of their human rights than the rest of the world.

The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration should have reflected the universally held conviction that respecting human rights necessarily means imposing limitations on the powers of government. Instead, the Declaration that was adopted, through some of its deeply flawed “General Principles”, will serve to provide ready-made justifications for human rights violations of people within the jurisdiction of ASEAN governments. These include balancing the enjoyment of fundamental rights with government-imposed duties on individuals, subjecting the realisation of human rights to regional and national contexts, and broad and all-encompassing limitations on rights in the Declaration, including rights that should never be restricted. In many of its articles, the enjoyment of rights is made subject to national laws, instead of requiring that the laws be consistent with the rights.

The Declaration fails to include several key basic rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of association and the right to be free from enforced disappearance.

The last-minute addition made to the leaders’ statement upon adopting the declaration, reaffirming ASEAN member governments’ commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments in the implementation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, does little to address the fundamental problem. As long as the Declaration’s General Principles and the loopholes they provide remain, a wrong signal will be sent to governments that international human rights obligations may be circumvented.

It is highly regrettable that governments in the ASEAN who are more democratic and open to human rights succumbed to the pressure of human rights-hostile governments into adopting a deeply flawed instrument.

We again raise our objections to the ASEAN’s “consultation and consensus” decision-making system, which has failed its people again. This reveals that the ASEAN human rights agenda is dictated by its Member States with little meaningful consultation with the vast array of civil society and grassroots organizations that are working each day for the human rights of the people of the ASEAN region.

This Declaration is not worthy of its name. We therefore reject it. We will not use it in our work as groups engaged in the protection of human rights in the region. We will not invoke it in addressing ASEAN or ASEAN member states, except to condemn it as an anti-human rights instrument. We will continue to rely on international human rights law and standards, which, unlike the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, provide all individuals, groups and peoples in ASEAN with the freedoms and protections to which they are entitled. We remind ASEAN member states that their obligations under international law supersede any conflicting provisions in this Declaration. This Declaration should never be the basis to excuse the failure of a state to meet its international human rights obligations.

Endorsed by: 1. Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara 2. ALTSEAN Burma 3. Amnesty International 4. Arus Pelangi 5. ASEAN Watch Thailand 6. Asian Center for the Progress of the Peoples (ACPP) 7. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) 8. ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus 9. ARTICLE 19 10. Boat People SOS 11. Burma Partnership 12. Cambodian Food and Service Workers' Federation (CFSWF) 13. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) 14. Cambodian Independent of Civil-Servant Association (CICA) 15. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) 16. Cambodian Workers Center for Development (CWCD) 17. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) 18. Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) 19. Forum for Democracy in Burma 20. Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia 21. Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP) 22. Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) 23. Human Rights Watch 24. IMPARSIAL (The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor) 25. Independent Democratic of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) 26. Indonesia for Human’s 27. Informal Service Center (INSEC) 28. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) 29. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) 30. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) 31. Justice for Sisters, Malaysia 32. Knowledge and Rights with Young People Through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) 33. Lao Movement for Human Rights 34. Lawyers For Liberty (Malaysia) 35. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada 36. Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) 37. Myanmar Youth Empowerment Program 38. Myanmar Youth Forum 39. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD), Thailand 40. People's Action for Change, Cambodia 41. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) 42. People's Watch (India) 43. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) 44. Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PHILRIGHTS) 45. Philippine NGO Coalition on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 46. Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam 47. Sayoni, Singapore 48. Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia 49. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA) 50. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) 51. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) 52. Thai Volunteer Service (TVS) 53. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) 54. Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA) 55. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

Urgent human rights alert: Provocateur calls for murder of Kevin Annett on public radio program

Nov 8, 2012

Kevin Annett

On the eve of the release of Common Law court evidence detailing crimes by church and state against indigenous people and children, a call for the murder of the prime mover of that court, Kevin Annett, has been issued by the son of Lydia White Calf, a white woman who has led a misinformation and character assassination campaign against Kevin over the internet for some months under the label "pagan media bites".

The call for Kevin Annett's killing was made on the Wolf Den's blog talk radio program, and was accompanied by a similar call to kill close associates of Kevin in the aboriginal world. The call has been displayed on the face book site of Heather Martin in Canada, who has circulated defamatory and untrue statements against Kevin and is associated with the White Calfs.

"This kind of incitement to murder is a classic FBI method of bad jacketing activists and destroying organizations. It's no accident that it's happened on the verge of our release of new, damning evidence about genocide in North America by the governments and Catholic and protestant churches" said Kevin Annett today.

The evidence in the first case presented by the International Common Law Court of Justice will be issued tomorrow, by Kevin Annett and court officers. A statement from ITCCS Central concerning the death threat against Kevin Annett and the others is forthcoming, along with details of the death threat.

Medha Patkar and Activists Detained in Chindwada, Start Satyagraha - Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Intensifies Agitation; Support Pours in From Across Country

Medha Patkar

Chindwada, November 4 : The situation in Chindwada continues to remain tense with heavy police presence deployed to intimidate the farmers, labourers and adivasis protesting illegal commencement of work on the Pench Water Diversion Project.

Medha Patkar, National Convener, NAPM who travelled from Indore and Chindwada and reached in the wee hours today was stopped and checked at virtually every station by the police and also surrounded by 50 police men at the Chindwada station, where the Tehsildar and other officials tried to restrain her from proceeding further, insisting that she must go to the Circuit House.

She was told that Sec 144 has been imposed in Chindwada and the entry of people in three tehsils of Chhindwada, Amarwada and Chouri has been prohibited from October 30th - orders have been issued. When asked for the copy of the same she was denied that. This is baseless and illegal, since on Novembr 3rd, Shri Sartaj Singh, Forest Minister, GoMP held a public programme distributing tendu patta bonus, same day BJP Kisan Morcha also held a convention in Chourai. At the same time Deen Dayal Antyodaya Mela was organised as well as adventure sports programme was organised too in Tamiya. “Is the Section 144 for only for activists going to Bamanwara?” asked Medha Patkar.

A huge police force has gheraoed the house of Adv. Aradhana Bhargava, leader of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, who was arrested on false charges under Sec 151 IPC on November 3rd itself and has been sent to judicial custody. Today police also arrested Brajkishore Chaurasia, Yuva Kranti Dal and Dr. Rajkumar Sanodia of KSS.

The farmers and people are not being allowed to meet Medha Patkar and others by the police. Protesting the high handedness of the district administration Medha Patkar along with Mukesh Bagoria, Rahul Yadav of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Advocate Sushma Prajapati, Akhil Bhartiya Gondwana Kisan Mahapanchayat, National Vice President; Devaki Marawi and Rajesh Tiwari of Bargi and Bheemgarh Bandh Visthapit Sangh; Jameel Khan of KSS and other representatives of the Pench Project and Adani Power Project affected families have sat on Satyagraha, until they are allowed to proceed to the villages.

It needs to be noted that for past few days police has been spreading canards and terrorizing them too. Even then villagers have been protesting at Vamanwada, 3 kms away from Machagora and have been on a peaceful sit in. More than a thousand police men are surrounding the dharna site. The agitation will continue until the forceful and illegal eviction and acquisition of land is stopped.

NAPM has decided to extend complete support to the struggle and in absence of Dr. Sunilam and Aradhana Bhargava, (both are NAPM Conveners) Medha Patkar and others will lead the struggle in Chindwara and Multai and fight for the rights of farmers and farm workers.

Support has been pouring in from different movements across the country. Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat, State Advocate D K Prajapati, Madhya Pradesh Pensioners Association, State Secretary T M R Naidu, Samta Party State President Suresh Sharma, Akhil Bhartiya Gondwana Kisan Mahapanchayat President Shri Chand Chauriya, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Chindwara J L Mishra, Ashok Choudhary and Roma from NFFPFW, Anurag Modi of Jan Sangharsh Morcha, Madhya Pradesh and others have condemned the incidence and lent their support to the movement.

Background : It needs to be noted that agitation against these two project Pench Water Diversion Project (PWDP) and Adani Pench Power Project (APPP), Chindwara has been ongoing in a peaceful manner since 2004. PWDP involves construction of a 51 meter dam on Pench river, submerging 5600 Hectares of land of 31 villages. The project planned in 80s got a one page clearance from Department of Environment in 1984 (MoEF was not there then) for irrigation purposes. The clearance is no longer valid and requires a fresh clearance under Environment Protection Act 1986 and also under EIA notifications. Acquisition process was started back then, some farmers were given throw away compensation but acquisition process was never completed since the work didn't start. Till today farmers continue to cultivate and grow 2-3 crops in a year from the fertile land.

After the agitation, the compensation was increased to nearly a lakh rupee an acre but 90 percent of the farmers have refused to accept it and are not willing to part their land. In 2011, May Dr,. Sunilam and Adv Aradhana Bhargava were attacked by the goons which they survived but the administration failed to take any action. Many of the farmers in fact along with Aradhana Bhargava spent more than a week in jail on false charges of arson, loot and obstructing public officials.

PWDP today is to be constructed for supplying water to the APPP, diverting water meant for the farmers. Last year KSS along with NAPM met Environment Minister, Ms. Jayanti Natarajan , who informed the delegation that no clearance has been granted to the PWDP and under the law they are supposed to have prior Environment Clearance. The PWDP is going to threaten the forests of Pench National Park and Tiger Project too. So, in all senses it makes no sense to be constructing this but even then MoEF has not taken any action. Mr. Kamal Nath, MP and Union Minister from Chindwara has been personally involved in ensuring that the project goes on and been supporting the APPP as well. Madhya Pradesh Government on the other hand has been in complete hand in glove with Mr. Kamal Nath. It is no wonder that Dr. Sunilam and other activists of KSS got life sentence in a case where 24 farmers were killed by police on January 12, 1998. None of the police officers have been punished till date, not a single FIR has been filed in that case. It is a clear case of conspiracy and collusion between BJP and Congress in the interest of Adani.

For details call NAPM : 9818905316 or 9179617513

World Fisheries Day celebrates: looking for a Nuclear Free World

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
Oct 26, 2012

Child with swollen legs from radiation exposure at Chernobyl

It has been proved on 13th March 2011, through the Fukushima Disaster in Japan, that there is no safety against Nuclear Plants in the World. Nobody knows how to handle the situation in and around Japan, the coast and the sea.

The radiation has reached American waters. What is going to happen in the future nobody knows. The Chernobyl accident in Russia in 1986, it has created such havoc there, and the consequence of it still continues. Within a radius of 150kms of the plant, atomic radiation still exists. 97 % of the plant is still alive. They do not know how to close it. About 9 million children have been born deformed with all kinds of problems. Since the Three Mile Accident in the USA, there has not been any new plant erected there. Nobody knows how to dispose of nuclear waste except, to use it to make atomic bombs.

The Marine Life has been the worst hit. A study done by the Fisheries Department clearly shows this. “Fifty nine out of 103 nuclear plants in the US rely on what are known as ‘once through cooling systems’ to remove waste heat. Nuclear plant authorities have always claimed that their intake and discharge of billions of litres of water a day, does very little harm to the surrounding marine life.

Some years ago, a major report, LICENCED TO KILL: HOW THE NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY DESTROY ENDANGERED MARINE WILD LIFE AND OCEAN HABITAT TO SAVE MONEY, released by the well - respected Nuclear Information and Resource Service on February 22, 2001.” These cooling systems suck in and discharge as much as four million litres of water per minute. This water is sucked in at such a high velocity that along with the water, marine life is also sucked in as it is unable to resist velocity. These are dumped back as dead. The high nuclear destruction rates can over take recovery rates, resulting in extensive depletion of the affected species. In this way, entire marine life communities can lose their capacity to sustain themselves.”

“ While millions of litres of hot water is being discharged into the sea every minute, the total heat dumped into the waterway every minute, and tremendous. Roger Witherspoon, the well - known US journalist, author and editor, in a recent article has given some figures. Citing company records, he points out that the nuclear power plants at Salem, New Jersey, USA, dump about 30 billion BTUs of heat hourly into Delaware Bay. That is equivalent of the heat which would be generated by exploding a nuclear bomb, the size of the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima, in the waters of Delaware Bay every two hours, all day, every day.” Roger Witherspoon, ‘Ravishing the waterways, DEP vs the power Plants’ Dec 13,2010.

As a result the Marine Life and its Bio-Diversity is total danger. It is in this context that Japan has decided to close down all its Nuclear Plants. Germany too has decided to close down all their Nuclear Plants. So many countries in the World are following their suit.

However the MNCs who are promoting the technology in making Nuclear Plants are trying their best to push India, Russia, China, and Pakistan etc. to go ahead with their Nuclear Plant Construction programme. WFFP oppose this as the biggest threat to Marine life and the people depend on them. We cannot accept this anymore.

There are many alternate ways of making electricity. Wind Energy, Solar Energy, and Bio-Mass Energy can be used to produce electricity. They are all renewable resource energy as well. Though Australia has the biggest resource of Uranium, they do not have Nuclear Plant, but mainly wind energy is been used.

All over the world people have been fighting for a nuclear free world. In Japan, Germany, France, India etc. people are against Nuclear Plants. They are looking for a Nuclear Free World. Let us all join hands with them to create a Nuclear Free World. WFFP is very much active with these movements.

Sharad Pawar should Follow Ajit Pawar and Must Resign

Sharad Pawar

New Delhi, October 19 : Lavasa is in the air again. Corruption of one politician after another in nexus with the builders and corporations are getting exposed. The scandals which were already investigated and prosecution initiated also are to be re-viewed in the renewed context and taken to a conclusion. Illegalities and corruption in Adarsh Housing Society, Lavasa Hill City project, Hiranandani Garden, Shivalik Devlopers Golibar project, etc are some of those excavated by the National Alliance of People’s Movements after years of persistent struggle, digging out of documents, analyzing those, challenging them in ministries, Courts and mobilizing the people directly affected on the ground.

In case of Lavasa, politician of the stature of Sharad Pawar and his family members, Supriya Sule and her husband Sadanand Sule have invested crores of rupees and erected more than 250 buildings in the Mosey River Valley without the legally mandatory clearance from the center in close collaboration with the Lavasa City Corporation. 22% of the shares of Lavasa Corporation Ltd, were owned by Supriya Sule and her husband when these illegalities and irregularities occurred. They can claim their innocence since they sold their shares, but the fact remains that they benefitted from this illegality and equally share responsibility when the corrupt and illegal land diversions took place. They used their political influence to benefit LCC and accord all clearances.

The deal involves large scale transfer of 3,300 acres of land, in violation of ceiling laws, EIA notification and other laws by government of Maharashtra to Lavassa Corporation. The land includes Krishna Valley Dev. Corporation (141 hectares), ceiling land supposed to be allotted to the landless (607 hectares), and an additional ceiling land acquired for Lavassa (273 hectares), illgeally acquired from adivasis and OBC communities, in complete violation of law. The claim made by Mr. Sharad Pawar that some of the land was under water, in response to the allegations by Mr. Y.P. Singh, the advocate in the case filed by the National Alliance of People’s Movements and other voluntary organizations, is half truth. He conceals the fact that diversion of the land once acquired for the reservoir and already submerged could not be done to a Corporation for reclamation or any other use. The land on the bank of the reservoir with water partially reserved for the Pune City, was also allotted to Lavasa Corporation. A number of cases where farmers lands were obtained by a number of dealers / agents, for meager amounts, and many other fictitious land deals took place, but ultimately mutated in favour of Lavasa.

In addition, illegally cutting off hills and rocks, building river bunds in the back waters exhibiting a political expediency and the interference lead to gross violations of lawm which was ultimately proved and accepted by MoEF. None else, but Mr. Sharad Pawar the Union Agricultural Minister, then and now, as well as Late Sri Vilasrao Deshmukh, former chief Minister of Maharashtra, were responsible for by passing the objections raised by certain middle level officials as the documents indicate. Mr Pawar has often termed this as his 'dream project' and which has also been hailed by many as the way to build private cities and hill stations. A town built violating all the norms, is that the way to build future cities ?

A People’s Commission of enquiry into the Lavasa scandal was appointed by NAPM, with Senior Advocate Sri. Y.P. Singh, Sri. Arvind Kejriwal, Advocate N.D. Suryavanshi, and Sri S.M. Mushrif (Telgi Scam Fame – Former IG of Mumbai) as members. NAPM unearthed the documents and also collected the Primary data; however, following the report brought out by the Commission, NAPM took up the baton and filed a case in the Mumbai High Court with Sri. Y.P. Singh as its advocate and questioned the clearance granted to Lavasa by the State authorities rather than Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, as required under the Environmental guidelines.

It was a result of various orders of the Mumbai High Court that the MOEF had to investigate into the environmental sanctions and actions at Lavassa and finally order a stay on the project. As also, give a hearing to the NAPM team and the Lavasa representatives at the Ministry on various environmental aspects. What followed was the complete stay on Lavasa by the Ministry. The High Court put a stamp on the same through more than one order in 2010 itself. However it was after Sri. Sharad Pawar met Smt. Sonia Gandhi that the MoEF gave a conditional clearance to Lavasa not for any further area to be covered but only 2000 hectares i.e. 5000 acres out of the total initial plan of 25,000 acres in 18 villages.

In an eco-sensitive zone of western ghats recently studied by Madhav Gadgil, recommending, no ecologically destructive activities, the Lavasa tourism project in the name of a Hill City, is therefore, not only misappropriation of crores of rupees worth land but also irreversible damage to the ecosystem of the Mose River Valley in Western Ghats.

Mr. Y.P.Singh who pleaded the Lavasa case in the High Court on behalf of NAPM and other environmental NGOs has rightly pointed out that Lavasa is of the Major scams, which any anti-corruption campaign should take up demanding resignation from the Union Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar. We also support his position that Criminal cases need to be filed against all those responsible including the politicians. However, it is not NAPM’s intention to blame anyone for not raising this issue as the matter is before the High Court. The Maharashtra Govt. has taken some action such as filing a criminal case against the 15 office bearers of Lavasa, but it has failed to act against the politicians including Mr. Ajit Pawar who is already implicated in the irrigation scam recently exposed.

What is most condemnable is that the Lavasa Corporation has been advertising its real estate properties to be sold out and pooh-poohing its environmental protective measures and whole of its plan as being legal which in fact is in contempt of the High Court Orders and exhibits non-compliance of conditions laid down by MoEF which too is subject to the High Courts Permission to the Project. NAPM once again asserts that the State Govt. of Maharashtra, its department of Environment as well as Revenue and the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests must immediately take cognizance of the same and compel Lavasa to Suspend its work, Stop harassment of the adivasis and other farmers, and investigate the fraudulent land transfers and return the land to the original lawful owners and punish all those guilty of Squandering crores of rupees from the state exchequer as well as invaluable public property.

Decision not to raise the height of SSP welcome

Sardar Sarovar Dam

Madhya Pradesh sacrifices Narmada, oustees and own interests to Gujarat : Maharashtra takes a legal and justifiable position

A tripartite conflict over the Sardar Sarovar continues even today but not without political expediency and resultant fraudulent claims. Amidst much controversy and arguments with counters over whether rehabilitation of all Sardar Sarovar project affected families is complete or not, the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group of the Narmada Control Authority, we learn authentically, has decided not to permit raising of the dam height beyond the present 122 mts to the final 138.68 mts. No construction towards erection of 17 mts gates was permitted since that too would increase further submergence, even when Gujarat, under Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi was pressing for raising it to 128 mts.

Fraudulent Consent by M.P: Shockingly, the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP), we have learnt, placed the contestable opinion of the ‘Former’ Chairperson Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), as a basis for raising the dam height, without actually considering the stand of the present GRA. It may be noted that GRA’s consent is a pre-condition for any raise in the dam height, as per the Supreme Court’s Judgement of 2000. Madhya Pradesh, under Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan has been denying the existence of 1.5 lakh people in the submergence area, a large number of them being un-rehabilitated adivasis and other small and marginal farmers, fish workers, landless, potters etc. The people, however, are fighting every inch of battle and the proceedings before the Jst (Retd.) Shravan Shankar Jha Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Corruption in Rehabilitation, appointed by the M.P. High Court in 2008 as well as the GRA, which has been handling various issues, clearly expose the false claims of ‘rehabilitation’. The Govt. of M.P. is, no doubt, playing a serious and reprehensible political game, supporting Gujarat, with the same political party in power at the cost of its own natural-resource based communities and its lifeline, Narmada.

Maharashtra, on the other hand, has categorically conveyed that without completing rehabilitation of the remaining, not less than 1,000 dam-affected adivasi families, raising the height of the dam cannot be permitted. The GRA of Maharashtra has also written a strong letter to the Government, conveying no consent for further raise in the dam height. The R&R Sub Group of NCA having taken a fair and legal position, must bring out the truth and take a firm legal stand i.e. no further dam construction without full and faithful compliance on all rehabilitation and environmental measures as per the Narmada Tribunal, statutory clearances, state Rehabilitation Polices and Judgements of the Supreme Court.

The ground level situation, open to verification by anyone, is that out of 51,000 families, not less than 40,000 are still residing in the submergence zone and the largest number of these are in Madhya Pradesh alone. A massive scam running to the tune of at least Rs. 1,000 crores in the rehabilitation process has been exposed by NBA and the High Court appointed Judicial Commission has been investigating all the aspects including about 3,000 fake land purchase registries, corruption and irregularities in the declaration of oustees, benefits extended to ineligible persons and compensation of ineligible properties, corruption and irregularities in the construction of civic structures at the resettlement sites, allotment of house plots and disbursement of livelihood grants. No criminal cases are filed as yet, but the Supreme Court has directed no further disbursement by cash or cheque, without the scrutiny of Justice Jha Commission of Inquiry. In Maharashtra too, about 3 crore rupees misappropriation in land purchase for rehabilitation was exposed by NBA and 5 officials have been suspended.

The adivasis from Satpuda and Vindhya mountain ranges in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and those in Gujarat who have lost land since years but are yet to get alternative land are up in the hills, refusing to move without the right to land granted. While a few thousand farmers, including these adivasis, who have only been offered rocky and encroached land or have been given meagre cash compensation packages are asserting their right to cultivable and irrigable land as per the orders of the Supreme Court, thousands of landless, fish workers, potters etc. are awaiting livelihood-based rehabilitation promised by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA), in its Action Plan of 1993 submitted to the Apex Court. The people’s struggle has led to attainment of land based R&R for 11,000 families in Maharashtra and Gujarat, while the challenge to obtain good land continues in M.P, although the state government has had to establish 88 resettlement sites for the sake of thousands of PAFs.

In this background, there is absolutely no legal basis for filling of waters and flooding 248 villages in the three states, with 193 villages including a densely populated township in M.P. The M.P. Govt. has, however, given its sanction to Gujarat’s proposal which itself is a legal fraud and gross contempt of the Apex Court’s judgement – not once, but many times. The worst of its gimmicks is to confuse the authorities and push the dam ahead by fraudulent data and false reports of ‘compliance’

On the environmental front, the Expert Committee appointed by the MoEF in 2008 after NBA raised numerous concerns has concluded that all the three governments, especially M.P. are severely lagging far behind in the implementation of various environmental measures, including catchment area treatment, compensatory afforestation, command area development, fisheries, downstream impacts, archeological impacts, seismicity etc. These reports have proved that CAD works in the vast command area is yet to be undertaken. Gujarat has shown little progress on canal building, not beyond 25% and not less than 20% water has been used, while the water ponded by submerging lands of adivasis is being largely diverted to cities and industries, changing the original plan !!

In the case of SSP, the Satyagraha of facing waters occurred since 1994 to 2002 and every time the government had to concede to implement the law and uphold the rights of the oustees. The oustees have now moved ahead and have been asserting their right to land, by occupying and actually cultivating 50 acres of government farm land at Jobat for the past 10 months and are on the verge of reaping the second harvest, even as legal and political action on the ground continues. This very year, however, not less than 1500 acres of land and 300 houses have illegally submerged in M.P. and Maharashtra, twice in the months of August and September, due to release of water from the upstream dams, especially Omkareshwar. The struggle for compensation for the losses also continues.

It is, therefore, time now not to merely expose the political nexus between M.P. and Gujarat, but also the serious violations of law and large scale social and environmental impacts of the SSP, with ten times increase in the overall costs and less than one-tenth of the promised benefits attained. It is also time for serious review of the entire Project from all angles, coupled with expeditious lawful rehabilitation, before any further work can be permitted. The Narmada Control Authority and the Planning Commission are legally bound to undertake this and we demand the same, as the nation and political leaders pay homage to Gandhiji.

Medha Patkar, Kailash Awasya, Devram Kanera, Surbhan Bhilala, Yogini Khanolkar, Siyaram Padvi. Contact: 09179148973 / 07290-291464

Bloggers Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan condemned to harsh prison sentences by a Kangaroo court in Vietnam

Supporters of the Club of Free Journalists prepare to attend the trial

PARIS, 24 September 2012 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is outraged by the inhumane sentences imposed on three peaceful bloggers at a closed trial at the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) which lasted only a few hours and grossly violated all standards of international and domestic law. Charged under article 88 of the Criminal Code on “circulating propaganda against the Socialist republic of Vietnam” Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 5 years probationary detention (house arrest); Ta Phong Tan (Truth and Justice) to 10 years in prison and 5 years house arrest, and Phan Thanh Hai (Anh Ba Saigon) to 4 years in prison and 3 years house arrest.

The trial began at 8.00am and was over by 1.00pm. Since the early hours of this morning, hundreds of Security Police have blocked streets and systematically arrested all dissidents and bloggers attempting to attend the trial of the three bloggers, members of the Club of Free Journalists. Since dawn, some 400 secret police disguised as traffic police, youth volunteer brigades, tourist officials were posted around the court. Two vans containing phone-jamming equipment were parked near the City Opera House and behind the US Embassy on Mac Dinh Chi street, preventing cell phone access in the court’s vicinity. Prominent blog Dan Lam Bao (Citizen’s Journalism), which has been giving hour-by-hour reports on the run-up to the trial, was firewalled.

Dieu Cay’s family were prevented from attending the trial. His ex-wife Duong Thi Tan and his son, Nguyen tri Dung, were arrested on their way to the trial, and his youngest daughter was prevented from leaving her home by secret police. Supporters of the Club of Free Journalists seeking to attend the trial were systematically intercepted, beaten and arrested by Police. At least 12 bloggers, including poet Bui Chat, Bui Thi Minh Hang, Trinh Kiem Tien, Nguyen Ho Nhat, Nguyen Thi Phuong, Nguyen Hoang Vi, Nguyen Tien Nam, Nguyen Van Dung, Pham Quoc Tuan, law student Trinh Anh Tuan, Huynh Cong Thuan and Chau Van Thi, Le Quoc Quyet, Lu Thi Thu Trang were taken into custody. The Catholic Redemptorix Church in Ho Chi Minh City was surrounded by Police since the early hours. A group of demonstrators carrying banners were intercepted as they set out from the Church, and Catholic priest Father Le Ngoc Thanh was stopped in his car and forcibly turned back.

“Freedom of expression stood trial in Vietnam today”, said Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights. “Both inside and outside the court, it was a travesty of justice. These bloggers are simply patriots who have expressed their peaceful views. Vietnam has taken off its mask. The regime’s vain claims to respect human rights are a farce. The whole world can see that Hanoi’s leaders are impervious to international opinion and will stop at nothing to stifle the voices of freedom and democracy in Vietnam”.

The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights is also very concerned for health and security of Dieu Cay, who has suffered harsh treatment during his 23 months in detention. Ha Huy Son, Dieu Cay’s lawyer, said that Dieu Cay looked thin and pale when he visited him on Friday. Lt-Colonel Hoang Van Dung reportedly told Dieu Cay: “We will destroy your health and make sure you die here in prison".

In memorial of "September uprising - Burmese anti-dictator government protests in 2007"

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Sep 23, 2012

We are a group of ethnic people from Myanmar based in South Korea. Our organization’s name is the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network. Today we are holding a pro-democracy and ethnic-rights demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy, in memory of “September uprising” against military government in 2007.

Today marks the 5 anniversary of the “September uprising” which started in 2007. Where many of innocent people were were killed by Myanmar military junta. We, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network strongly condemn the Myanmar military junta for crime against humanity and human rights violation. At the moment, military government troop is conducting war against ethnic minority has caused thousands of people displaced and hundreds of people deaths in Kachin state.

Although current new government promised to promote democracy, but the ethnic minorities of Myanmar, in particular Christian and Muslim, are threatened more than other sectors of the population. There has been a permanent state of conflict between ethnic groups and the military junta along the border areas of the ethnic regions. Subsequently the military junta has systematically ignored the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the population living in the particular ethnic regions of Myanmar.

Therefore, we, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar military junta:

(1) Immediately cease conflict in Kachin state and its human rights violations and repression upon the ethnic people. (2) Make amendment of the constitution, for example, Buddhism position above other religions. (3) Immediately relieve ethnic people from other forms of political and economic repression.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy and the end of ethnic repression in Myanmar. We also ask for a greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar.

Note: “All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network” is promoting democracy and human rights for Myanmar.

Caste Discrimination is rampant in Vardhman Mahavir Medical College: NCSC

Special Contribution
By Neel Kranti Media
Sep 21, 2012

Vardhman Mahavir Medical College

On 6 September 2012, the National Commission of Scheduled Castes held a press conference at its office at Khan Market, New Delhi, regarding the complaints of rampant caste discrimination in Vardhman Medical College, New Delhi.

It is to be noted that the Dalit and Adivasi students of this medical college have been raising their voices and fighting against their harassment since last three years and have even filed court cases against the college administration but to no avail. However now it appears that their fight for justice is finally bearing some fruits.

Speaking to the press, Mr. PL Punia, Chairperson, NCSC, informed about the inquiry committee that was constituted, one year ago, to look into this matter, under the chairmanship of Prof. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) who is also former Vice-Chancellor of Mumbai University and member of Planning Commission.

Presenting the report of the enquiry committee, Prof Mungekar said, "Dalit and Adivasi students are being harassed by the faculties of Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and many of them are being failed repeatedly in the Physiology subject. Due to the casteist environment 8 Dalit students have left their studies in between in last few years."

Prof. Mungekar further claimed that the discrimination practiced by the college is so strong that even the coding of answer sheets are done on the basis of caste.

He recommended strong actions against the following faculty members whom the inquiry committee held guilty of harassing Dalit and Adivasi students:

• Dr. VK Das, former Principal, Vardhman Mahavir Medical College • Dr. Shobha Das, Head & Director of Physiology Department • Dr. Raj Kapoor, Prof., Physiology Department • Dr Jayshree Bhattacharjee, Principal, Vardhman Medical College

The inquiry committee has also demanded a compensation of Rs 10 Lakh to be paid by the college to victim students towards their expenses incurred in court cases.

Mr Punia added that the National Commission for Scheduled castes has taken notice of such discrimination prevalent in other premier educational institutions and is going to initiate strong actions against such practice.

Vietnam Committee on Human Rights denounces multiple forms of repression against civil society in Vietnam

At the XXI Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

GENEVA, 14 September 2012 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – Speaking today on behalf of Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme and the Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), Mr. Vo Van Ai (VCHR President) informed the United Nations Human Rights Council of the multiple forms of repression implemented by the Vietnamese government to stifle civil society voices. He submitted a list of 180 political and religious prisoners in Vietnam, many of whom are serving extremely harsh sentences simply for the peaceful expression of their opinions and beliefs.

Mr. Ai particularly condemned the “subtle but relentless” repression against the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), which is targeted by the Communist Party because of its long-established presence and wide support in Vietnam. To escape international scrutiny, the authorities use low-profile tactics of intimidation, administrative harassments, or arbitrary detention without trial (“pagoda arrest”), such as that of the UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, who has spent almost 30 years in prison or house arrest, and is currently held under house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) without any justification or charge.

Bloggers and journalists are imprisoned under an arsenal of vaguely-defined anti-human rights laws which have been roundly denounced by the United Nations and international organizations worldwide, he said, adding that trials are routinely unfair and the principle of presumption of innocence is denied. He noted the case of journalist Hoang Khuong, a reporter on the official paper Tuoi Tre (Youth) who was sentenced last week at an unfair trial to 4 years in prison (7 September) for “corruption”, whereas in fact he had written articles exposing Police corruption which led to the conviction of a policeman. Mr. Ai also expressed concern for the upcoming trial of bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay), Phan Van Hai and Ta Phong Tan, members of the Club of Free Journalists, which has been repeatedly postponed as a result of international outcry, including appeals for their release by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (3 August 2012) and US President Barack Obama (on International Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2012).


Madam Chairman,

Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme and its partner organization, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, wish to express their deep concern about the multiple forms of repression deployed by the authorities against civil society in Vietnam.

Indeed, far from the eyes of the international community, Vietnam subjects the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) to a subtle but relentless repression. UBCV followers and members of 20 UBCV Provincial Committees set up to aid the poor and needy suffer daily harassments and intimidation. UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, who has spent almost 30 years in detention, is still under house arrest without charge at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Ho Chi Minh City. He is not allowed to practice his religious activities. Each Sunday, when anti-China demonstrations are held in the city, he is held strictly incommunicado at the Monastery.

In Danang, the authorities have banned UBCV monks, nuns and followers from celebrating Buddhist festivals on the grounds that the UBCV is “reactionary, unlawful and against the government”. In August 2012, UBCV monk Thich Thanh Quang and Le Cong Cau, leaders of the UBCV provincial committee and Buddhist Youth Movement, were brutally beaten by thugs whilst the Police looked passively on. Not only did the Police make no attempt to intervene, but they summoned Le Cong Cau for interrogations at the Police station.

At the same time, Vietnam represses bloggers and journalists beneath a veneer of legality that is totally incompatible with international law. Using “catch-all” provisions in Vietnam’s legislation, the government stifles all discordant and dissenting voices.

Anti-corruption journalist Hoang Khuong, a reporter for the official press, was sentenced to four years in prison on 7 September 2012 on charges of “corruption”, whereas, on the contrary, his articles exposed corruption in the ranks of the Police.

Bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (blog name Dieu Cay), Phan Thanh Hai (AnhBaSaigon) and Ta Phong Tan (Truth and Justice) are awaiting trial on charges of “disseminating propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (Article 88 of the Penal Code). In fact, they simply wrote articles calling for the respect of human rights and democracy. Their trial, which was to be held in April 2012, was delayed three times because of international pressure and has since been postponed sine die.

These cases, which are just the tip of the iceberg, show that the rule of law is not yet a reality in Vietnam. Citizens can be accused of phantasmagoric crimes or be condemned in advance before they are brought to trial if it suits the authorities, and have no other choice but to remain silent. We take this opportunity to present the Council with a list of 180 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.

Madam Chairman,

Vietnam must cease these blatant violations of freedom of expression and religion, and guarantee the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence (article 9 of Vietnam’s Criminal Procedures Code).

We therefore call upon the Human Rights Council to urge Vietnam to cease repression against the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and immediately release its leader, Thich Quang Do. In accordance with the Concil’s 2012 resolution on freedom of expression on the Internet, bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay), Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan should be immediately released.

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Contact : - Vo Tran Nhat : +33 6 11 89 86 81 – (Comité Vietnam pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme) - Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme, 16 avenue Berthelot - 69007 Lyon - France - Tel : +33 (0)4 37 37 10 11

NAPM extends full solidarity with Jal Satyagraha of OSP and ISP Dam Oustees

Jal Satyagraha of OSP and ISP Dam Oustees

Demand immediate intervention and justice to thousands of Oustee, Narmada Control Authority Must Intervene and Ensure R & R

New Delhi, September 1 : The National Alliance of People’s Movements and all its associates express deep concern at the gross violation of the right to life and livelihood of thousands of nature – based communities across various dam and canal projects in Narmada valley, especially the serious situation of the oustees – farmers, adivasis and landless facing threat of illegal submergence prior to lawful rehabilitation, due to construction of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Dams. We salute the non-violent, inevitable struggle undertaken by the oustees and activists, braving the rising reservoir waters for the past 8 days, despite the wholly insensitive attitude of the State.

Seeking the immediate and direct intervention of Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister for Water Resources (MoWR) to ensure legal and human justice to the Satyagrahais and the thousands of oustees, represented by them, Medha Patkar, Sanjay Parikh, Advocate, Supreme Court, along with a delegation of activists including Madhuresh and Seela Manaswinee met the Minister on 28th August and expressed deep anguish and protest at the brutal approach and attempts of the State Government and the NHDC in filling the reservoir of both these dams, without complying with the directions of the High Court and the Supreme Court as also the binding provisions of the Rehabilitation Policy and statutory clearances to the Projects, regarding land and livelihood based rehabilitation.

It was categorically pointed out to the Minister that the Narmada Control Authority, directly under the MoWR is fully empowered as per the Narmada Water Scheme, 1980 and 1987 issued under the Inter State Water Disputes Act, 1956 to ensure the faithful compliance with all terms and conditions for lawful rehabilitation of the oustees given at the time of clearance of all the projects in the Narmada Valley i.e. the 30 large dams, 135 medium dams and 3000 small dams. It may be noted that the only basis for the Courts to permit construction of these dams in ‘national interest’, was on the guarantee that prior lawful rehabilitation would be ensured to all the oustees and that they would be ‘better-off’ after rehabilitation. The acts of the State would clearly worsen the situation of the oustees and pauperize them by snatching away their self-reliant livelihoods and causing unjust submergence of lands and houses of thousands in each reservoir. Submergence of a few hundred acres of land and houses, has also already occurred in an illegal manner and we condemn the same. The same villages which the State Government claimed in the Supreme Court would not be even temporarily affected, are now facing the severe impact, proving the facts stated and position taken by the oustees and their organization, as true.

We also warn the Madhya Pradesh Government that the experience of illegal and unilateral cash – disbursements leading to no actual rehabilitation and only corruption worth crores of rupees in the case of Sardar Sarovar should be an eye – opener for the rehabilitation oustees in other projects. Cash cannot and should not be a substitute for actual R&R entitlements, especially in the case of adivasis, dalits, small and marginal farmers, we assert. Likewise, imposing the fraudulent land bank with completely uncultivable, un-irrigable and encroached land in lieu of legally mandatory cultivable, un-encroached land shall also be challenged by the oustees and all of us.

We await immediate intervention at the highest level, including by the MoWR, as promised to us. We warn the authorities that people’s movements across the country shall not remain silent to the injustice being inflicted upon the oustees in the Narmada Valley and shall stand by the struggling masses for their rights.

Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Sandeep Pandey,Gabriele Dietrich, Arundhati Dhuru, Roma, Gautam bandopadhyay, Sister Celia, Maj Gen (Retd.) S G Vombatkere, Vimal Bhai, Dr. Sunilam, Suniti S R, Akhil Gogoi, Ramakrishnan Raju, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Anand mazgaonkar, Geo Jose, Rajendra Ravi, Shrikanth, Devram kanera, Kamla Yadav, Shrikanth, Surbhan Bhilala, Madhuresh Kumar

THAILAND: Next steps to end impunity for state violence in Thailand

Former Thai's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

On 30 July 2012, the Criminal Court in Bangkok convicted five police officers for the murder of a teenager during the "war on drugs" in 2004 in Thailand. This is the first case of which the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) is aware in which police responsible for killings during the "war on drugs" under the government of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been held to account for their crimes. In a country in which impunity for state violence is long-standing, institutionalized, and a public fact, the decision in this case is a significant victory for the family of the victim and serves as a cautious signal of the possibility of accountability to others. The ALRC brings this case to the attention of the Human Rights Council in order to highlight a significant success by human rights defenders to secure justice after a protracted struggle as well as to suggest how the decision in this case may be used to encourage the end of impunity in other outstanding cases of state violence.

In February 2003, ousted Prime Minister Thaksin announced the beginning of the "war on drugs" with an unequivocal message to police and other state officials--that any and all necessary actions should be taken to free the country of the drug menace, including killing. Over the next three months, it became apparent that the message served as a carte blanche for the use of murderous violence against citizens, rather than using the provisions of the Criminal Code to investigate and prosecute. By May 2003, an estimated number of over 2500 people had been killed. Kalasin Province was the first province in the country that the government declared had "won" the war. This alleged victory was achieved at the cost of many lives taken illegally, at the hands or bidding of state agents. In addition, and particularly evident in Kalasin province, the "war on drugs" did not end in May 2003, but instead extrajudicial violence became a typical tactic used by the police.

This context of routinized state violence is the one in which Kiettisak Thitboonkrong was arrested for a minor crime and then murdered. On 16 July 2004, the police arrested him for allegedly stealing a motorcycle. When his family heard this news, they went to the police station and attempted to talk to him. After returning multiple times, his grandmother was allowed to witness his interrogation on 22 July 2004 and told to wait for him to be bailed out later that day. But Kiettisak never came home and the next day his mutilated body was found in a neighbouring province.

Following his death, his family launched a campaign to campaign to investigate and hold the police in Kalasin accountable for his murder and the murders or enforced disappearances of 27 other individuals by police of the same station during and following the so-called "war on drugs". In 2005, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in the Ministry of Justice began investigating the case. Under the Special Investigation Act (SIA), the DSI is the state agency tasked with investigating cases in which state officials have committed violent crimes against citizens. The DSI took three years to conduct the investigation. On 18 May 2009, the public prosecutor charged six police officers with premeditated murder and with concealing Kiettisak's corpse to hide the cause of death. Because this case was investigated under the SIA it was sent to the Criminal Court in Bangkok. The public prosecutor conducted the case and Kittisapt Thitboonkrong, father of Kiettisak, successfully sought and obtained permission from the court to act as a joint plaintiff, represented by lawyers from the Lawyers' Council of Thailand working pro bono. The hearings took another three years.

In the decision in Black Case No. 3252/2552, 3466/2552, read on 30 July 2012, the Criminal Court found five out of the six police officers accused guilty of murdering Kiettisak Thitboonkrong. The Criminal Court found Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Angkarn Kammoonna, Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Sutthinant Noenthing, and Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Phansin Uppanan guilty of premeditated murder and hiding a corpse. It sentenced them to death. Pol. Lt. Col. Sumitr Nanthasathit it found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Pol. Col. Montree Sriboonloue it found guilty of abusing his authority to aid in protecting his subordinates from criminal prosecution and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. The five policemen were released on bail while they appeal the decision.

The case of Kiettisak Thitboonkrong is the first of 28 total cases in which police from the Kalasin police station have been accused of murdering or forcibly disappearing citizens during or following the "war on drugs". Given that this is also the first case in which a court decision has been reached, the ALRC welcomes the guilty verdict as a clear sign that the judiciary is willing to hold police to account for their use of extrajudicial violence against citizens. At the same time, the ALRC would like to note two significant reservations.

The first is that the ALRC would like to express grave concern that the convicted officers have obtained bail pending appeal. The convictions for these sentences are of such gravity that good reason exists to expect that the convicted police will attempt to evade punishment by absconding or other means. They may also seek to obtain revenge against one or more persons who testified against them. Consequently, the ALRC urges that the granting of bail be revoked and the five convicted officers be imprisoned while awaiting appeal outcomes. The ALRC further urges the relevant Thai authorities to ensure that witnesses and human rights defenders in this case continue to receive witness protection, as the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC's sister organization, has informed the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders about in a separate appeal.

The second is that the ALRC, as a matter of human rights principle, opposes the death penalty under all circumstances, and calls for the sentences in this case to be reviewed, such that the convicted police officers instead receive appropriate prison terms.

Notwithstanding these reservations, this case stands out among other cases of extrajudicial killing in Thailand over the last ten years, in which courts have been unwilling to hold state officials to account. In the worst cases, perpetrators of extrajudicial violence against citizens have been rewarded. In most cases they have been tacitly and conveniently ignored. One of the long-term effects of this approach has been the further consolidation of impunity for state violence in Thailand. The ALRC would therefore like to urge the Thai government to take the example set by the court in the case of Kiettisak Thitboonkrong as a precedent and catalyst to take action to end impunity. This suggestion is aimed at the criminal justice system writ large as well as relevant independent bodies with responsibility for documenting violence and securing accountability. The cases for which recommendations are noted below are both urgently in need of redress and are exemplary of the broader problem of impunity in Thailand.

On 12 March 2004, police officers abducted Somchai Neelaphaijit, a lawyer and human rights defender, from his car in Bangkok. At the time of his disappearance, Somchai was representing clients whom police had tortured as part of their counterinsurgency campaigns in southern Thailand. Concerted action by his family and allied human activists, and interventions by the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, led to the prosecution of five police officers in connection with his disappearance and murder. However, due to a combination of consistent obfuscation by the involved police officers as well as inability to account for the crime of disappearance within existing Thai legal categories, all but one of the police officers was acquitted. The one officer convicted of relatively minor offences also disappeared and was subsequently acquitted on appeal. The body of Somchai Neelaphaijit has not been recovered and his case remains unsolved.

The ALRC urges the Government of Thailand to amend the Criminal Code to account for the crime of disappearance, and, more importantly, to foster a culture within which the state security forces actively work against, rather than encourage, the casual use of extrajudicial violence.

On 25 October 2004, 85 people died during and following protests in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province. Over 1500 people had massed in front of the district police station to protest the arrest of six villagers on charges of allegedly stealing guns from the local defence forces. Under the terms of martial law, this protest was an illegal gathering and the protestors were arrested. They were then transported to an army base six hours away. During the transport, the protestors were stacked in horizontal layers in the trucks, as a result of which 78 people died during the transport, in addition to seven people who were killed during the protest. Under Thai law, when there is a death in custody, a postmortem inquest must be conducted. In May 2009, the inquest ruling noted that, "The causes and circumstances related to the deaths were that they died of suffocation while in custody of officials who were deemed to have performed their duties according to their assigned responsibilities." In other words, the court recognized that the protestors died while under the protection of state officials, but classified this not as murder but as "duty". Families of the victims filed a court case arguing that this recourse to "duty" was unconstitutional; both the Criminal Court and the Court of Appeals have refused to accept this case. The recourse to "duty" is far too frequently echoed in postmortem inquest rulings involving deaths in custody in Thailand and the refusal of the courts to accept the case of the families of the victims powerfully illustrates how entrenched and unquestionable this idea is within the security and judicial apparatus.

The ALRC urges the courts to accept this case for review, and calls on the Government of Thailand to carefully examine the practices and policies extant inside the security forces to ensure that "duty" does not stand as justification for inhumane treatment, torture, or murder.

During the clashes and the subsequent government crackdown on the protests by the red-shirted members of the United Democratic Front Against Dictatorship (UDD) in April and May 2010, 94 persons were killed and more than 2000 were injured. A series of investigations have been carried out by different kinds of actors, including a state agency, two state-appointed independent bodies, and a citizen group. With the exception of the citizen group, the People’s Information Centre (PIC), which released its report in late August 2012, the operations and results of the investigations have not yet been made available to the public.

The ALRC calls on the state agency, the DSI, and the two state-appointed independent bodies, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Thailand and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, to complete their investigations and share the information with the public. The ALRC welcomes the report of the PIC as an important action by citizens in the service of protecting human rights and ending impunity. At the same time, the ALRC would like to highlight the fact that the securing of accountability is not only the responsibility of citizens, but the state must actively work to achieve this end as well. The public release of the reports by the DSI and other agencies is an important component of this work, as is the subsequent prosecution of state officials who used extrajudicial violence during the April-May 2010 crackdown.

US Ambassador David Shear visits detained Buddhist Patriarch Thich Quang Do – Police in Danang beat UBCV monks and followers

Security Police watch as the youths assault Thich Thanh Quang and Le Cong Cau

PARIS, Aug 20, 2012 (IBIB) – The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, H.E. David B. Shear paid a visit to Patriarch Thich Quang Do, leader of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Ho Chi Minh City, along with Mr. Nicholas J.C. Snyder, Head of the Political Department and Ms. Kathleen Peoples, Political Outreach Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.

The groups of Security Police who keep round-the-clock surveillance on Thanh Minh Zen Monastery stepped back as the diplomatic car bearing US flags pulled up outside. The meeting took place on Friday afternoon (17 August) and lasted for over an hour (from 3.30pm – 4.45pm). In a phone conversation this morning with IBIB Director Vo Van Ai, Venerable Thich Quang Do said the meeting was very open and cordial. He asked IBIB not to reveal all the details of the discussion, but said he had expressed his concerns to the US Ambassador about a range of issues, from religious freedom violations against the outlawed UBCV to issues of Chinese encroachment on Vietnamese territorial waters and lands The UBCV Patriarch, 83, who is a 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, briefly reviewed the history of Vietnamese Buddhism, from its entry into Vietnam in the 1st century AD through the period of French colonialism and the rule of Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem, when Buddhism was reduced to the status of a mere association under Colonial Decree No. 10.

After Vietnam was unified under Communist rule in 1975, the authorities initially tried to suppress Buddhism by force as it had done in the North, but after failing to do this, they decided to maintain it under strict political control. In 1981 the State-sponsored Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) was created, under control of the Communist Party’s Fatherland Front. The VBS is a tool of the Communist Party, said Thich Quang Do, and several of its monks even serve as Members of Vietnam’s National Assembly, in blatant contradiction of monastic vows. Since then, the UBCV has been effectively (although never formally) banned. “The Communist regime took everything. They seized all our pagodas, our schools, hospitals, orphanages and charitable organisations. They forbid all our activities, not only religious but also social, humanitarian and educational. But we are keeping up the struggle to preserve our name, our legitimacy, our existence”.

Thich Quang Do described the government’s relentless repression against the UBCV over the past 37 years. UBCV monks, nuns and followers, including members of 20 UBCV provincial representative boards set up to help poor people in the Central and Southern provinces are subjected to systematic harassments, intimidation, assaults and surveillance. In a “Memorandum on the Situation of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam” which he handed to the U.S. Ambassador, Thich Quang Do also said that he feared the U.S. underestimated Vietnam’s repression against the UBCV. Citing the State Department’s recent Report on International Religious Freedom, he wrote: “Whilst appreciating the 2011 State Department’s report of abuses against the UBCV, we are concerned that they portray but a pale picture of the systematic Police pressures, harassment and intimidation faced by UBCV Buddhists in every aspect of their daily lives”.

He grabs Thich Thanh Quang’s neck and presses him against the railings

The memorandum cited the case of the Giac Minh Pagoda in Danang, in which the State Department reported that “the Danang People’s Committee advised [the UBCV] to refrain from hanging religious banners or images and from reading messages from one of their monks on Vesak, the commemoration of the Buddha’s birthday” in May 2011. In fact, the Danang People’s Committee strictly prohibited Vesak celebrations at the Pagoda, deploying hundreds of Police and security officials to block all entries to the building, forcibly obstructing and assaulting Buddhists who tried to take part. The reading of the traditional Vesak Message by Patriarch Thich Quang Do was also strictly prohibited. Moreover, whereas the State Department’s report stated that Thich Quang Do “can meet with others inside and outside the Pagoda” he told the U.S. Ambassador he is held under effective house arrest without any justification or charge, and forbidden even to preach in the Monastery.

Security Police are posted outside the building and keep watch on all his movements. They follow him when he goes out for check-ups at the hospital each month. Every Sunday since anti-China demonstrations broke out in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, he is held incommunicado the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, denied the right to go outside or receive visits even from UBCV monks or disciples, because Police fear he will try and join the demonstrations along with other UBCV members. The UBCV Patriarch said that he had also spoken with Ambassador Shear about the grave implications of Chinese encroachment on Vietnamese waters and lands. He stressed that it was in the interests of the U.S., as well as all countries that use the sea lanes in the South China seas, to support Vietnam in its claims to sovereignty. At the same time, he urged the Vietnamese Communist Party to look upon the U.S. as a friend. “If you live next to a very powerful neighbour who spends its time double-crossing you, it is important to know who your friends are”.

Otherwise Vietnam could become a vassal of China as before. But to win the support of the United States and the international community, said Thich Quang Do, Vietnam must embark on a process of democratization. “Whether they like it or not, Vietnam will become a democracy some day. But the Party is afraid. They are more afraid of losing the Party than losing the country. This is the tragedy of the Vietnamese people today”. BUDDHISTS IN DANANG ARE BEATEN BY POLICE: On Friday 17 August, as the US Ambassador visited Thich Quang Do, Security Police in Danang beat and harassed UBCV monk Thich Thanh Quang and Le Cong Cau, a leader of the UBCV Buddhist Youth Movement at the Giac Minh Pagoda. Giac Hoa Pagoda is the Headquarters of the UBCV’s provincial board for Quang Nam-Danang and also of UBCV’s Buddhist Youth Movement, an unofficial educational movement with over 500,000 members nationwide. For the past three years, the local People’s Committee has forbidden all public celebrations at Giac Minh and harassed and intimidated Buddhist followers on the grounds that the UBCV is “reactionary”, “illegal” and “against the State”.

Events began on Friday morning when Le Cong Cau came to visit Giac Minh Pagoda to pay his respects to Thich Thanh Quang for the Vu Lan festival and also to commemorate the death of UBCV Buddhist Ho Tan Quang, who immolated himself in 2001 in Danang to pray for religious freedom. As he approached the Pagoda’s gates, Mr. Cau was intercepted by a group of plain-clothed youths (probably civil defence agents - dân phòng) who pushed him into a lane beside the Pagoda and pressed him against the wall until he could not breathe. They said he must not go to the Pagoda. When Mr. Cau asked why, they said they had no need to explain. He cried out to Thich Thanh Quang, who came running out of the Pagoda with two UBCV nuns, Thich Nu Dong Tam and Thich Nu Dong Hieu. When Thich Thanh Quang tried to free Mr. Cau, the youths set on him, beating the elderly monk and twisting his arm. A crowd of Buddhist followers gathered, and two uniformed Security Police arrived on the scene, but they made no attempt to intervene. On the contrary, they ordered Mr. Cau to go to the Police Station for interrogation. When he refused, the Police accused him of “resisting officials in the performance of their duty” – a crime punishable by seven years in prison in Vietnam.

Eventually, Le Cong Cau managed to slip out of the youth’s grip and ran across the road to the Pagoda’s gates. He immediately sat down in the lotus position in protest and staged a demonstration, joined by Thich Thanh Quang and the two nuns. They sat for two hours in the hot sun. The Police and civil defence agents gradually moved away. Thich Thanh Quang, 75, refused to move, but was eventually persuaded to stop the protest because of his weak health. He has been suffering from malnutrition and other illnesses since the authorities prohibited Buddhists coming to the Pagoda and bringing offerings and medicine. Le Cong Cau told IBIB that he was concerned that renewed Police violence would be used to suppress the upcoming Vu Lan (Wandering Souls) ceremony which will take place on August 30th. ---

Korea-Dokdo-Love member’s live and work

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Aug 8, 2012

Park Sookja, Ham Tae-dong(C) and Sunggon Oh(R)

Korea-Dokdo-Love Jeongwangdong Branch manager and PR team leader, Ham Tae-dong and his wife Park Sook-ja at their fruits shop in Ansan city, they are selling Peach fruit. These fruits were brought from Gyeongsan city, where the best and famous peach can found in this whole South Korea country. The couple are fruits sellers; they used to sell fruits according to seasonal available.

In South Korea, peach is available nowadays, and next month there will be the season of Apple and Pear, Mr. Suggon Oh said. The couple is a good seller; they have at least 10 years experience of selling fruits around this area, where they are resident, as well.

Apart from fruits selling, the couple support and advocate for Korea’s Dokdo islets. The islets are critical issue between South Korea and Japan. They work together with Mr. Suggon Oh under the name of Korea-Dokdo-Love. This group has several memberships and want to campaign across the world. The couple have a son and a daughter.

NAPM Urges Anna Hazare and his Team to Call of Fast. Broaden Struggle. Collectively Develop an Alternative Political Culture

Anna Hazare

New Delhi, Aug 2: It is a matter of deep indignation that inspite of several movements and groups demanding a strong Lokpal, all the Central Governments have contemptuously ignored it. The present Government is no exception. We fully appreciate the dedication and hard work of Anna and his companions for this campaign against corruption which has again highlighted this movement across the country, and condemn the cynical silence of the Central Government which is refusing to give assurance that a strong Lokpal Bill will be brought in the following Parliamentary session and will also immediately initiate talks with all groups and parties in this matter.

We are concerned at the failing health of the activists on fast. It is unfortunate that the government has been ignoring decisions after many talks and negotiations on the legislation. We urge upon Anna Hazare and his colleagues to withdraw their fast in the larger interest of the struggle. The people, we have no doubt will certainly give a fitting reply to this contemptuous attitude of the Government towards the people's demand.

The withdrawal of the fast now should lead us to broadening of the struggle with other social movements in the country and fight everyday forms of corruption ranging from massive economic corruption in various government programmes to utilisation and exploitation of natural resources by private and public corporations through laws like Land Acquisition Act, SEZ Act and so many other government policies. The effort should be to collectively develop an alternative political culture in which power will be vested with the Gram Sabhas and Basti Sabhas thus achieving the motto of power to the people.

Medha Patkar, Justice (Retd.) Rajindar Sachar, Advocate Sanjay Parikh, Maj. Gen (Retd.) Sudhir Vombatkere, Gabriele Dietrich, Arundhati Dhuru, Suhas Kolhekar, Vimal Bhai, Faisal Khan, Madhuresh Kumar

THAILAND: Please attend court to hear order on War on Drugs killing

Jul 27, 2012

Bangkok Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road

The death in custody of Mr. Kiattisak Thitboonkhrong as a result of police’s detention at Muang Kalasin Police Station... 30 July 2012, 09.00 am, at Courtroom no. 913, Bangkok Criminal Court

On 30 July 2012, 09.00 am, at Courtroom no. 913, Bangkok Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Rd., the Court shall issue an order in the Black Case no. O3252/2552 between the public prosecutor v. Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Angkhan Khammoonna, defendant no. 1 and other five defendants. The defendants in this case have been accused of committing premeditated murder and moving the body to conceal the cause of death. They were also accused of being competent officers in criminal investigation who have abused their power to help prevent another person from being brought to justice. The case stems from the death of Mr. Kiattisak Thitboonkhrong, 17 years, a student from Kalasin province, who was found dead by hanging in a makeshift in a paddy rice field in Roi Et province. Prior to that, he had just been released from the Muang Kalasin Police Station on 22 July 2004. Please attend the court session on the date announced above.

During 2001-2006, the government implemented a policy to suppress drug trafficking causing more than 2,500 deaths as a result of extrajudicial killings. A number of people in Kalasin province have lost have lives and gone disappeared. One of the deceased was Mr. Kiattisak Thitboonkhrong. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has conducted an inquiry into the case and reported its findings on human rights abuse in 2006. One NHRC’s recommendations was for the government to provide the surviving family of Mr. Kiattisak Thitboonkhrong remedies as he had died in custody of police officers from the Muang Kalasin Police Station.

In 2005, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) accepted to admit the case of Mr. Kiattisak Thitboonkhrong’s death as a special case and on 9 September2009, the public prosecutor of the Office of Special Litigation 1 decided to prosecute Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Angkhan Khammoonna, as defendant no. 1, Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Sutthinan Nonthing, defendant no. 2, Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Phansin Uppanan, defendant no. 3, Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Samphao Indee, defendant no. 4, Pol. Col. Montri Boonlue, defendant no. 5 and Pol. Lt. Col. Sumit Nunsathit, as defendant no. 6. It took more than eight years to compile all evidence and prove the facts in the court hearings before the delivery of the verdict soon.

For more information, please contact:

Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) (66) 2-6930682, Mr. Manu Manuratsada, Attorney (66) 81-4394938, Ms. Waraporn Uthairangsi, Attorney (66) 84-8091997

Decisive state action key to end torture and ill-treatment

AHRC's members at the meeting

(Hong Kong, July 25, 2012) Parliamentarians from eight Asian states and civil society representatives, who met at Hong Kong for the first Asian parliamentarians' meeting organised by the Asian Alliance against Torture and Illtreatment (AAATI), demanded firm actions from Asian states to end torture and ill-treatment in the region.

Along with civil society representatives, dignitaries that attended the historic meeting include, Honourable: Mr. Eran Wickramaratne (Sri Lanka), Mr. V. T. Balram (India), Mr. Mohammad Fazlul Azim (Bangladesh), Ms. Pushpa Bhusal (Nepal), Ms. Abbasi Nusrat Bano and Mr. Saeed Ghani (Pakistan), Mr. Sayed Muhammad Muliady (Indonesia), and Mr. Raymond Palatino (Philippines). Also in attendance were human rights activists from Burma, Thailand and Denmark.

The four-day meeting concluded on 24 July. Parliamentarians and civil society representatives called for similar initiatives and consultations in every country in the region to tackle the prevailing widespread practice of torture.

The human right against torture and illtreatment is absolute and non-derogable, affirmed the participants. In states where laws criminalising torture exist, these laws must be effectively put to use, and in states where such laws are yet to be legislated, or remain under consideration, initiatives must be fast-tracked, demanded participants.

The parliamentarians affirmed that they would take-up this issue with their respective governments as a priority concern. Participants urged Asian governments to ensure the creation of effective criminal justice framework in all jurisdictions, realised through adequate institutional reforms, without which combating entrenched torture and illtreatment would be impossible in the region.

The participants unequivocally affirmed that key to this is the allocation of adequate monetary, infrastructural, and human resources to local policing. This is essential so that policing can evolve into a service-oriented and modern agency, able to meet the needs of the time, rather than an institution forced to be just a uniformed organ of the state that enforces legitimate and illegitimate state writs. Essential, radical, reforms in policing would contribute substantially to end the culture of corruption and impunity opined the participants.

The participants visited Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and also spent time speaking with senior members of the Hong Kong Bar Association. Out of the numerous insights gained from these visits, the necessity of an independent and corruption free judiciary, as it exists in Hong Kong, was iterated by participants.

Threats to state security are real in the region, just as they are in the rest of the world. However, dehumanising and demonising political opponents, and reducing spaces for public discourse on concerns of personal liberties, augmented by arbitrary and state-sponsored violence, is not the way ahead affirmed the participants. This tendency – to disregard the absolute nature of human rights in the ruse of national security – is not only dangerous but could reduce the notion of democracy, stated participants in the course of the four-day discussion. The rule of law, and uncompromising adherence to democratic practices and norms, is the best instrument to fight security threats, was the all-round affirmation.

Fundamental to open public consultations is the guarantee of freedom of expression and opinion. Parliamentarians and civil society representatives urged governments in the region to promote media freedoms and end circumscribing the same by law and practice.

The legislators in Asia, together with the civil society, can generate enough momentum to give rise to requisite popular debate against torture, was another consensus from the historic meeting. Participants agreed that similar gatherings should be organised again and that they would hold such sessions in their constituencies and countries to end torture and illtreatment.

In the mean-time, similar discussion forums in the countries and constituencies, in consultation with the AHRC, the RCT, and most importantly local human rights organisations, would be organised, stated the participants.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Hong Kong, and the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT), Denmark constituted the AAATI in July 2011. This four-day historic meeting of Parliamentarians, marking the one-year anniversary of the AAATI initiative, is another step towards the final goal of ending torture and illtreatment in Asia.

For further information please contact: In Hong Kong, Mr. Basil Fernando, Director - Policies & Programmes (AHRC), Telephone + 852 26986339

Why not ‘lower caste’? An alternative​e to the derogatory

Special Contribution
By Suraj Yengde
Jul 20, 2012

The picture of lower caste

During these days, there is a huge furor among the so called Dalit class on the notion of lower caste being labelled against former untouchable community. Although the number of castes labelled as lower, amount to couple of hundreds have now after the implementation of Constitution of India which has officially abolished the lower caste nomenclature and affixed them in the Schedule of the Constitution safeguarding their rights.

Before entering the argument, the question arises as to how did these castes become lower. The answer can be found in the sacred Hindu texts such as Vedas and Manusmriti which has a vertical system of hierarchy with topmost position of Priests class labelled as Upper caste, second the Warriors, then Business class and the final as the Lower castes. However, apart from these lower castes there lies one of division of caste which is underneath the lower castes, the untouchables. This system was prevalent and widely recognised in India according to the religious social norms justified under the legal system since 3000 years of civilisation.

The lower castes, today are officially known as the Other Backward Classes and the former Untouchables as the Scheduled Castes. During the reform movement of India’s independent struggle since 19th century many social reformers that shaped the Indian social movement cope with modern artifacts came from the Lower castes and the Untouchable castes. These reformers gave a vision to the world to think upon about the principles of humanity and equality. Felicitating the struggle started by modern thinkers of 19th Century, Gandhi continued to preach the abolition of social discrimination especially the untouchability and hence denying the term lower castes, he re-introduced a new term which was not derogatory as lower castes calling them as, Harijans which literally means, Son of the God. And hence continued his independence struggle taking the favours of the lower caste communities self-recognising as the only leader of the unprivileged community. In order to prove his intention he even started three publications devoted to the Harijans, Harijan in English (from 1933 to 1948), Harijan Bandu in Gujarati, and Harijan Sevak in Hindi.[1] Although the term Harijan was used first in the 12th Century by the female Bhakti writer Gangasati that pose a challenge to the existing caste system.[2]

During the same period of Gandhi, there was one more figure that was fighting for the rights of these lower caste and as well as the untouchable community. Educated in US and the UK coming from the same untouchable community Dr Ambedkar had a vision for his people, he always had a bitter truth fight with Gandhi who claimed to be the only leader of Untouchability in the first Round Table conference in London and to subscribe his plans for the untouchables of India he affirmed the abolition of derogatory terms of Shudras and Ati shudras but introducing new word calling them as the, Son of the God (Harijan). The time of Gandhi’s and his position recognised him as the National leader of India and his occurrence against untouchability attracted many untouchable leaders including M C Rajah from Madras[3] and communities that considered him as the only iconic figure who was still a popular idol.[4]

Moreover there was formation of Harijan Sevak Sangh which was dominated by Upper Caste Hindus who diverted the aim as Gandhi wanted to make it ‘an organisation of penitent sinners.’[5] Hence, with the futile efforts of Gandhi to abolish the untouchability was just to rename their identity which would he thought create a positive wave among the untouchables and not the upper castes.

Dr Ambedkar rejected the term Harijans labelled to the untouchables because of its condescending connotations. Ambedkar and other elected member of his party left the Bombay Legislative Assembly when congress registered the name, Hairjan under the Local Boards Act.[6] He rather preferred the term, Dalits (broken, oppressed people) because the term Harijan sowed doubts about the ancestry of the Untouchables as if their unbridled sexual customs were such that one no longer had any idea who was the child of whom. In fact the term was often used to designate the children of women dedicated to the gods called as Devadasi[7] in temples who were sometimes abused by priests and who progeny were exiled from society.[8] Contemporary Dalit activist consider the then term as Harijan to be extreme abuse and recite the action of Gandhi as the greatest betrayal they ever faced. Hence, the terminology of Dalits was widely accepted especially on the international sphere as it became a matter of currency to pool the funds for the depressed community. However, there were some activist who even denied the usage of ‘Dalit’ as it was for the lower castes of the Hindu religion, but after the conversion to the Buddhism they are no more part of the Hindu lineage and hence do not subscribe to the word. They considered their life as a supreme human kind after Immolation of Hindu religion and they are no more the broken people either but the new generation trying to find their identity in the world development.

Many international and national academicians in their study on the Caste discriminated communities refer them as the lower castes and have mentioned in their several publications which is so far accepted by the international media and public but in the recent developments of Dalit activists in the national and international plane have challenged the use of the term lower caste and appealed the academicians and media not to intervene themselves in the nomenclature of calling someone lower to the human existence. They say it is a bully to themselves, an indirect conspiracy to shun their struggle and an existing doubt on the international principles of human rights. It was a hard struggle for the leaders like Dr Ambedkar who in their lifetime movement rejected the terminologies that can stop the psychological development of human being to think as a deserving human being.

Similarly, to stop the usage of derogatory terms in the Civil rights movement in the United States Malcolm X objected the usage of word ‘Negro’ which he claimed has a long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse. [9] long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse. Then there was an emergence of ‘black is beautiful’ cultural movement that strengthened the blacks and help regain their status away from the Prejudice. Moreover, the human rights movements adopted various slogans to strengthen their cause and fight against the bias which is widespread due to lack of knowledge and intelligence such as, ‘Gay is Good’, “I am a rare species, not a stereotype’ and so on. Hence, with regard to the Dalit Human Rights struggle their lies a far ahead seriousness of the issue which needs to be addressed with more diligent and careful manner and lowering their high status.

Even a tree dies if abused in derogatory terms, what about the 300 million humans?

Vietnam deploys hundreds of Security Police to prevent Thich Quang Do and UBCV Buddhists from demonstrating in Hue and Saigon

“If you won’t let me demonstrate in the streets, I will demonstrate at home” – on 1st July 2012, young Vietnamese echo Thich Quang Do’s call for civil disobedience to protest Chinese expansionism

PARIS, 1st July 2012 (IBIB) – From the early hours of this morning, hundreds of Security Police and people’s defence brigades surrounded key UBCV Pagodas in Hue and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), harassing and assaulting Buddhist monks, nuns and lay-followers attempting to join demonstrations called for by UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do to protest Chinese threats against Vietnam’s territorial integrity.

l In Hue, late on Saturday evening (30th June), Police broke into the private quarters of Venerable Thich Thien Hanh, head of the UBCV Provincial Committee in Hue at the Bao Quoc Pagoda and ordered him to call of the demonstration at the Buddhist Martyrs Memorial on Sunday morning (1st July). They threatened to take “firm measures” to prevent Buddhists from taking part. Venerable Thich Thien Hanh refused to call off th e demonstration.

This morning, Police surrounded Bao Quoc Pagoda and prevented Thich Thien Hanh from leaving the premises. He immediately staged a sit-in in the Pagoda courtyard, carrying a placard marked “the Paracel and Spratly islands belong to Vietnam”, and gave an impromptu sermon to the scores of Security Police on the responsibility of Vietnamese citizens to protect the security of their homeland in face of foreign aggression.

At the same time, Police set up road-blocks around the Buddhist Martyrs Memorial, prohibiting all pedestrians and traffic from circulating in the area, and systematically intercepted all monks, nuns and Buddhists attempting to join the demonstration. The city of Hue has the largest concentration of UBCV Pagodas in Vietnam, and Hue Buddhists are strong supporters of the movement for religious freedom and democracy lead by UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do. This explains the extraordinary deployment of Security Police this morning, as revealed by the following reports from Hue.

At the Long Quang Pagoda, senior UBCV dignitary Venerable Thich Nhu Dat was intercepted by crowds of Police. Police vans blocked the road to his Pagoda, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the building.

At the Bao Quang Pagoda, Venerable Thich Chon Niem, Head of the Hue UBCV’s Commission on Lay Buddhists was stopped by crowds of Police and people’s defence agents at Quang Te Hill as he set off with a delegation of Buddhist monks and followers. Police roughly assaulted the Buddhists and forced them to turn back.

Venerable Thich Tanh Nhon of the Tu Hang Pagoda in Tuan village in the mountains near Hue, was intercepted after he boarded a ferry boat to cross the Perfume River along with fifty Buddhist followers to join the demonstration. Security Police forced the ferryman to turn the boat in the opposite direction and not let the Buddhists alight in Hue. Thich Tanh Nhon and his followers jumped into the river to try and swim to Hue to join the demonstration.

Venerable Thich Chi Thang from Phuoc Tanh Pagoda reached the An Cuu bridge with a group of followers before the People’s Committee’s Chairman ordered Security Police to forcibly escort them back to their Pagoda. Police attacked the group with electric truncheons, wounding one of the monks on the head and causing profuse bleeding.

At the Tho Duc Pagoda, Security Police locked Venerable Thich Chan Phuong and Buddhist followers inside the Pagoda for several hours to prevent them attending the demonstration. Venerable Thien Thien Tanh from An Tinh Pagoda was also intercepted by Police, as well as a number of monks, nuns and followers from Kim Quang Pagoda, which has recently left the State-sponsored Buddhist Church to join the UBCV.

Le Cong Cau, leader of the UBCV-affiliated Buddhist Youth Movement (Gia Đình Phật tử) was prohibited from joining the demonstrations and subjected to ”working sessions” with the Police for seven hours from 3.30pm–10.30pm on June 30. Police surrounded his home throughout the night. Le Cong Cau nevertheless set off this morning to join the demonstration. Police stopped him as he reached the Ben Ngu Bridge and forcibly escorted him home. Other members of the Buddhist Youth Movement, an unofficial educational movement which has some 500,000 members in Vietnam, were also prevented from leaving their homes.

l In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), from 5.00am this morning, Security Police blocked the entrance to Giac Hoa Pagoda, secretariat of the outlawed UBCV. At 6.00am, five Security Police formally read out an order prohibiting the monks from joining the demonstrations.

At 7.30am, despite the Police ban, Venerable Thich Vien Dinh, Deputy leader of the UBCV along with Thich Nhu Tan, Thich Dong Minh, Thich Vien Hy and a delegation of UBCV monks and followers tried to go to the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery to escort Thich Quang Do to the demonstrations. Over a hundred Security Police and plain clothed people’s defence agents forcibly pushed the monks back.

Police told the monks they were forbidden to demonstrate because the UBCV is an “illegal” organization, and demonstrations are “political acts which violate the law”. Thich Vien Dinh replied that Vietnam has signed the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. He added: “Are you Security Police paid by China or Vietnam to come here and stop us from demonstrating to express our love for our country?”

A Security Policeman named Tot pulled out of his pocket a copy of Thich Quang Do’s call for a nationwide demonstration to protest Chinese expansionism. “This appeal to demonstrate is political! You are not allowed to engage in politics”, he said angrily, “Get back inside your pagoda, you aren’t going anywhere. No way will we let you join the demonstrations”. Venerable Thich Vien Hy, a young UBCV monk at Giac Hoa Pagoda, protested: “You can threaten children like that, but we are not afraid of you”. His remark enraged the Security official. He ordered the Police to use force to silence the monks. Police pushed them all back inside the Pagoda and blocked all the doors. No one was allowed to enter or leave the building for several hours. Even Buddhists who came to ask monks to perform funeral rites for deceased parents were roughly turned away.

At Lien Tri Pagoda in Thu Duc, Police surrounded the Pagoda from early morning and prevented Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, the UBCV’s Commissioner for Social and Humanitarian Affairs and members of his congregation from attending the demonstration.

The Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, where UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do is under house arrest, was surrounded by Police throughout the night. Early this morning, Security officials brought an official summons for Thich Quang Do to come for a “working session” at the Phu Nhuan Police Station. Thich Quang Do refused. He told the Police: “I am too old to come for interrogation, and anyway, you local Police have no authority for this. If you really want to interrogate me, then arrest me now. You can interrogate me in prison!” ---

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