The Global Digest


US Surgeon General, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize To Address AAPI Convention

(Orlando, Florida) June 9th, 2015 - One in seven patient encounters in the United States is with a physician of Indian origin. The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing over 60,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the United States. Over 2,000 physicians, health professionals, academicians and scientists of Indian origin from across the globe will gather at the Renaissance Sea World Hotel in Orlando, Florida for the 33rd Annual AAPI Convention and Scientific Assembly on June 17 - 21, 2015.

The five day summit also features ancillary events to be held at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Course and Universal Studios City Walk. Attendees will engage with an impressive lineup of notable speakers and cutting edge medical and scientific information blended within a rich cultural backdrop of authentic Indian cuisine, fashion, yoga and entertainment from top Indian performers. The event also includes the AAPI Golf Classic, AAPI’s Got Talent and the Be Fit Be Cool Walk in partnership with the Orlando Health Foundation as part of AAPI’s National Childhood Obesity program. Notable Speakers at the event include: US Surgeon General Vice Admiral (VADM) Vivek H. Murthy, Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate recognized for his works against child labor; Arun Kumar Singh, Ambassador of India to United States; Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a humanitarian leader and a spiritual teacher; Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and several top Indian performers including Mystic India, Jay Sean, Monali Thakur, Sonu Nigam and K J Yesudas.

The conference provides an enriching platform for members comprised of medical and dental physicians in American to engage with the latest in medical technology, research and advances in the world of all types of medicine and dental. The convention includes CME and DME accredited courses as well as variety of panel discussions, presentations and a research competition. There are forums for AAPI Young Physicians Group (AAPI YPS) and for AAPI MSRF for medical students, residents and fellows. A nearly sold out Exhibitor Hall includes medical and pharmaceutical products, devices and equipment and medical and dental, practice-related services. For more details, please visit: Ajay Ghosh Phone # (203) 583-6750


Abhay Sahoo

We the undersigned are extremely appalled and outraged by the arbitrary arrest of Comrade Abhay Sahoo at Bhubaneshwar airport by Odisha Police. This outright despicable patently illegal act was made to appease the Posco company’s blood sucking appetite to drain the life blood from Odisha, it's land, water, minerals, forests and culture. Millions of people are filled in false encounters, jailed, tortured and externed to suppress the peoples struggle to save their land, forests, mines and undemocratic aspirations to freedom and right to self-determination.

The men, women and children have been waging a heroic battle against Naveen Patnaik since 2005 to save their land, water, seashore, rivers, field, livelihood habitat and culture. The Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik the sick imperialist bootlicker has unleashed the most brutal form of repression against the struggling people led by Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samitee.

This comprador cobra Naveen Patnaik on behalf of his imperial masters bared his fangs again by arresting Comrade Abhay Sahoo. This favorite butler of Uncle Sam Naveen Patnaik from the day one of the heroic anti-POSCO struggle has created suffocating blockade around the anti-POSCO struggle villages turning them into virtual concentration camps. Hundreds of people were arbitrarily arressted, false criminal cases are imposed on almost 90% of the people in the area. Such is the repressive stranglehold that people of the area cannot go out for marketing, marriages or medical emergencies. This lackey of imperialism Naveen Patnaik is so eager to please his imperial masters that he has been overactive in brutally repressing the people’s resistance to save their lands, livelihoods, mines, forests, waters, culture and democratic aspirations. The trail of blood runs from Kashipur to Kalinganagar, Narayanpatna to POSCO, Nyamgiri to South Odisha.

In the neoliberal era the Indian ruling classes have bared their fangs to facilitate the imperial loot of the natural resources in this country. The caste, class, and patriarchal nature of the Indian state is bared every second in this country. On the orders of his bosses in Washington, it has unleashed the most cruellest form of white terror in POSCO, Nandigram, Lalgarh, Chattisgarh, Dandkarnya, Telangana, North East and Kashmir. Only for the super profits of national and International big business. In fact what we are witnessing today is obscene display of sadistic and ruthless twenty first century primitive accumulation. In this process of violent accumulation through dispossession millions of people are dispossessed from their land, livelihood, culture and commons to join the rank of the reserved army of labor who fill in the ranks of the urban underclass to be equally exploited by the urban elite. This sick clown of the imperial circus Manmohan Singh whose intellectual training was done in the Bretton Wood institutions, as soon as he became the prime minister to declare a war on the Indian people, to hand their lands, waters and mines for imperialist exploitation. He declared the poorest of the poor in this country the heroic adivasis who are resisting to defend their livelihoods as the biggest internal threat. Another henchman of the Wall Street Chidambaram unleashed a cruel war on the adivasis named as Operation Greenhunt. In the process they have killed, tortured, maimed and imprisoned thousands of adivasis and working people. During the combing operations women are molested and raped and their jewelry looted. All this to play into the super profits of the hungry finance capital and predatory industrialization!

However, the people of India have refused to cow down in front of the Indian state. There is a fierce resistance going on from Dandakarnya to Jangalamahal, from POSCO to Nagari, from Jehanabad to Ranchi. In fact we salute the heroic men women and children of the anti-Posco struggle villages, which have become an advanced outpost of the anti-imperialist resistance in this country. We condemn 1) the arrests of Comrade Abhay Sahoo and demand his immediate release 2) withdrawal of all false cases of the people of Antiposco struggle villages 3) crapping of the POSCO and all the MOUs in Orissa 4) resignation of Naveen Patnaik who has unleashed brutal repression on the struggling people of Orissa

Letter to China on Tianwan NPP

Apr 23, 2013

Earthquak in China

H. E. The Ambassador, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China,
50-D, Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110021

Your Excellency:

Greetings! We, the members of the Struggle Committee of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), are writing to you to send our heartfelt condolences for the recent earthquake disaster and the heavy loss of life in China.

We would also seek some pertinent information for the peaceful and nonviolent struggle that we have been waging for the past two years against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) near the southern tip of India. This mega nuclear power park is being built with Russian loan and technology against the will and wishes of the local people. The Indian authorities have not conducted any public hearing to seek our permission or consent for this project. They have not shared the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, the Site Evaluation Study, and the Safety Analysis Report with our people. After a long and hard struggle of more than 22 years, we obtained a copy of the EIA report only last year which is outdated and so full of inaccuracies and incomplete information.

Our expert team claims that there are serious hydrology, geology, oceanography and seismology issues involved in the Koodankulam nuclear project and hence we demand a complete and thorough probe into all these issues. After all, this area has been hit by the 2004 tsunami, and there have been several small to big earthquakes in the Indian Ocean rendering the Koodankulam site vulnerable. But the Indian authorities summarily reject our legitimate demand to study these concerns. Similarly, both the Indian and the Russian governments have signed a secret Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on liability and they refuse to share a copy of that with us. Our officials are silent about the amount and management of the nuclear waste from the Koodankulam project also.

There have been persistent reports that substandard equipment and parts have been used in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) from the controversial Russian companies, Zio-Podolsk and Informteck. It is proved that Zio-Podolsk used wrong type of steel (cheaper than the one originally required) to produce equipment for nuclear plants, such as steam generators. This company is said to have supplied several equipment and parts to the KKNPP.

Mr. R. S. Sundar, the site director of the KKNPP, has claimed that “the NPCIL [Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.] had placed orders for obtaining a range of components for KKNPP from LG Electronics, South Korea, Alstom and VA Tech, France and Siemens, Germany, apart from getting components from Russia” (P. Sudhakar, “Kudankulam plant Director denies allegation,” The Hindu, April 4, 2013). Although he lists all these foreign companies and their host countries, Mr. Sundar carefully avoids the names of Zio-Podolsk and Informteck. Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, the former head of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), has claimed: "Sub-standard materials have come to the Kudankulam plant and they are causing problems. …Chinese have now started examining the components from Russia" (“Inferior parts being used in Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant: Top scientist,” The Times of India, April 7, 2013).

We understand that Russians have built two nuclear power plants with VVER-1000 reactors at Tianwan in China. Would you confirm the following pieces of information please: [1] Did the Tianwan nuclear power plants also receive shoddy and substandard equipment from Zio-Podolsk and Informteck? [2] Did the Tianwan plants receive Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) from the Russia company, Izhorskiye Zavody? [3] Do the Russians offer China any liability for the Tianwan plants? [4] How much was the total cost for the first two reactors in Tianwan? [5] Do the Tianwan nuclear plants use equipment and parts from non-Russian companies and other countries? [6] What is the capacity factor of the first two reactors? How many MW power do the Tianwan 1 & 2 plants produce now? [7] What is the overall assessment of the quality, performance and safety of the first two reactors in Tianwan? Looking forward to receiving the above information, we send you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes.

Cordially, S. P. Udayakumar, M. Pushparayan, Fr. F. Jayakumar. Coordinator, M. P. Jesuraj, R. S. Muhilan, Peter Milton.

Building dreams for homeless

Special Contribution
By Jitendra

'Jan Satyagraha' protesters

Government promises land to the homeless in its draft Homestead Bill, but where’s the land? The government may soon be scrambling to search for millions of hectares (ha) that the UPA regime has promised to the rural homeless in what could be its biggest bait before the general elections. In the third week of March, a task force chaired by Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, circulated the draft National Rights to Homestead Bill in the ministry for approval. The bill intends to complete the abandoned land reforms and promises 10 cents, or 0.04 ha, to the rural homeless within 10 years of notification of the law. The land will come largely from surplus government land accumulated from land ceiling laws, Bhoodan land and wasteland.

In October 2012, landless people, led by P V Rajagopal of Delhi-based non-profit Ekta Parishad, had launched a big rally from Gwalior, demanding land rights and threatening to invade Delhi. The rally was called off in Agra after Ramesh promised a law on right to homestead. The draft bill stipulates that within a year of its enactment each state will prepare a plan to identify the homeless, and an inventory of the land available. If there is not enough, state governments will have to acquire land.

But given the state of land reforms in the country, the new law will end up being a mere land purchase scheme, says former Planning Commission member B N Yugandhar. “It is a joke to give 10 cents without regularising and legalising the present homesteads,” he says. S M Vijayanand, additional secretary in Union Rural Development Ministry, counters, “Right to homestead will be a landmark in poverty reduction. The cost of the programme—Rs 2 lakh crore—is not too difficult to meet.” On paper, government does not face land crunch. According to the Planning Commission, there are eight million people without a dwelling unit. To fulfil the 10 cents promise, the government will need 323,749 ha.

According to the National Land Reforms Council (NLRC), created in 2008 to form the policy, state governments already have 0.4 million ha surplus land (see ‘Perfect on paper’). However, given little progress in land reforms since early 1970s, there is no certainty on the availability of the land and its possession status. Last year, Ramesh had admitted, “Two million ha have been pledged as part of the Bhoodan movement over the last 60 years. Only 50 per cent has actually been distributed…This is a land scam without any parallel.” State of affairs: When the bill is enacted, most state governments will have to dust off land records after decades. “Every state has a land use planning board chaired by its chief minister. But they are defunct,” says a member of Land Reforms Committee, under NLRC, who did not want to be named.

Except Karnataka, no state has a land use policy, crucial for implementing land reforms. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal are trying to implement land distribution programmes similar to the one proposed by the Centre. Their experience in finding surplus land has resulted in litigations and conflicts. According to NLRC report State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms, state governments have together declared 2.7 million ha surplus land under the ceiling laws. Of the total declared land, only 2.3 million ha is under possession of state governments. Of this, 1.9 million ha has been distributed. “We have plenty of land but taking possession of them is difficult,” says Yugandhar. According to a report by non-profit Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD), the Rajasthan government set aside 0.68 million ha wasteland for bio-fuel plantation. But only 41,120 ha could be physically identified. Of the total identified land, it could take possession of only 12,850 ha. “There is a huge difference in what is shown on paper and what is in government’s possession,” says Viren Lobo, director, SPWD. “Government should not fix the quantum of land at 10 cents as it will create administrative problems. Every state does not have surplus land consonant with the number of landless,” says Bina Agrawal, a non-official member of NLRC.

A few decades ago, state governments had enough surplus land besides the land bank which was created due to land reforms. But the bank is rapidly shrinking. There is an alarming demand for land for industrial-mining-infrastructure. A study by SPWD shows that by 2026, India would need 11.4 million ha additional land. “The proposed entitlement would be like yet another government scheme for purchasing land. Every year, the Centre would allocate budget for this programme,” says Siva Ramkrishna, director of Sakti, a Hyderabad-based non-profit working on conservation of natural resources.

Already on the job “Kerala implemented land reforms in early 1970s, so it will find implementing the new law difficult,” says T R Raghunandan, former joint secretary in the Central panchayati raj ministry. Former Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac of the opposition CPI (M), welcomes the bill but says, “Kerala is a land-scarce state. If the bill is implemented, people will have to move to other places.” Andhra Pradesh has been distributing land to the landless through self-help groups since 2010. The state’s housing minister refuses to comment on the draft, but urban development minister Mahadheer Reddy M says, “The state government is in a dilemma as we are already running a programme of providing land to the landless.” Odisha, too, has been providing land to the homeless under its Vasundhara scheme since 2006. State revenue minister Surya Narayan Patro is angry with the Centre for not consulting the states while drafting the bill. “Land is a state subject. States must have been consulted during the drafting process. It cannot be implemented without the support of the states,” he says.

The election-bound Karnataka proposes to give 12 cents to the landless under its My Land, My Garden Scheme on the basis of lists prepared by gram panchayats. “We are providing land as per availability. We were not consulted during the drafting of this bill. Centre seems to be interfering in a state subject,” says Karnataka housing minister V Somanna. The Bihar government has been giving three cents to Dalits for construction of dwellings since 2009. The scheme has now been extended to the extremely backward castes. State land revenue minister Ramai Ram says, “We would like to extend our homestead programme to other sections if the Centre supports us financially. But it should not put a cap on the number of homeless.”

US Congressional Hearing examines human rights and religious freedom violations against the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

Mr. Vo Van Ai presenting before US Congress

WASHINGTON D.C., 11 April 2013 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – Mr. Vo Van Ai, President of Paris-based Vietnam Committee for Human Rights and International Spokesman of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) called on the United States today to raise issues of religious repression against the UBCV at the coming U.S.-Vietnam human rights dialogue that takes place in Hanoi this week. The annual dialogue, which is held alternately in Washington D.C. and Hanoi, was scheduled for late 2012, but postponed by the U.S. due to lack of human rights progress in Vietnam.

Mr. Ai was speaking at a Hearing in the U.S. Congress on “Highlighting Vietnamese Government Human Rights Violations in Advance of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue” before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations chaired by Congressman Chris Smith. Other witnesses testified on issues of human trafficking and abuses against Christian Montagnards, Catholics and other religious communities in Vietnam. In his testimony, Mr. Ai expressed concern that the State Department underestimated the unabated harassments and intimidation suffered by UBCV Buddhists in all aspects of their daily lives. He described the cases of UBCV youth leader Le Cong Cau, Buddhist blogger Huynh Ngoc Tuan, and the plight of UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, who has spent decades under detention without justification or charge. Mr. Ai called on the U.S. to “look beyond Hanoi’s veneer of State-sponsored freedom of worship, and recognize the full extent of religious repression against the UBCV and other non-recognized religions in Vietnam”.

On the upcoming human rights dialogue, Mr. Ai noted that “dialogue is only relevant if it leads to substantive progress”. He urged the U.S. to set concrete benchmarks and a time-frame for implementation to ensure that Vietnam did not “use the human rights dialogue as shield to deflect international scrutiny from its egregious religious freedom and human rights abuses”. Specifically, at the dialogue in Hanoi, he called on the U.S. to press Vietnam to release Thich Quang Do and other UBCV prisoners of conscience and re-establish the UBCV’s legal status; bring religious legislation into line with international law; and set a date for the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, to which Vietnam has agreed in principle. In his recommendations, Mr. Ai urged President Obama to re-designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern for its violations of religious freedom and related human rights; mandate the U.S. Ambassador-at-large to visit Vietnam and meet with “a wide range of stakeholders, including religious dissidents and members of “non-recognized” religious bodies; and not support Vietnam’s candidacy of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 term unless substantial human rights progress is made. (see full text of the testimony below).

The State’s Policy of Repression against the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, VO VAN AI, President, Vietnam Committee on Human Rights & International Spokesman of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam Honourable Chairman,

Distinguished Members of Congress, Thank you for inviting me to testify on behalf of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), the largest and oldest religious organization in Vietnam. It is especially important to be able to testify in advance of the U.S.-Vietnam dialogue because, in the light of the latest Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, I am concerned that the State Department does not fully realize the gravity of Vietnam’s relentless repression of the UBCV. In August last year, when U.S. Ambassador David Shear visited UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery where he is under house arrest, Thich Quang Do expressed the same concern. He said: “Whilst appreciating the State Department’s reports 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”. The assessment of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has made several in-country visits to Vietnam, is much closer to the truth. Describing the UBCV as “Vietnam‘s largest religious organization with a history of peaceful social activism and moral reform”, the USCIRF reported “marked increases in arrests, detentions, and harassment of groups and individuals viewed as hostile to the Communist Party” in 2012, including the UBCV which, it stated, “has faced decades of harassment and repression for seeking independent status and for appealing to the government to respect religious freedom and related human rights”.

Vietnam’s deceptive religious policy, with its mixture of subtlety with sheer brutality, may at first seem hard to fathom. But I call upon Congress and the State Department to look behind Hanoi’s mask, beyond the veneer of State-sponsored freedom of worship, and recognize the full extent of religious repression against the UBCV and other non-recognized religions in Vietnam. These are the issues that the U.S. must raise loud and clear in tomorrow’s dialogue with Hanoi. Over the past year, violations of religious freedom and human rights have increased in Vietnam, at the USCIRF has observed. To avoid international outcry, Vietnam implements a policy of what I call “stealth repression”; instead of sentencing Buddhist leaders at public trials, the authorities detain them under house arrest, isolate them from their followers, cut off communications, place them under surveillance and deny them the right to travel and meet together. Foreign visitors to UBCV monasteries are assaulted and harassed. Police routinely disband religious gatherings and prevent UBCV pagodas from celebrating festivals such as the Vesak (Birth of Buddha) and the Lunar New Year.

The authorities even seek to strangle the UBCV’s economic survival by threatening to fire Buddhists from their jobs or have their children expelled from school if they support the UBCV. To avoid surveillance, UBCV followers often come at dawn to deposit food and offerings outside pagoda gates. Following the Chinese model, Vietnam deploys special agents and “Religious Security Police” (công an tôn giáo), some disguised as monks, to infiltrate, slander and divide the Buddhist community and undermine it from within. The aim is to slowly stifle and suppress the UBCV by creating a permanent climate of fear in which followers dare not express their beliefs. Today, as this Hearing takes place, new evidence from Vietnam indicates that the authorities are intensifying persecution and seeking by every means to intimidate, harass and silence members the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam: - Just last week, Buddhist blogger and writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan and his family were the victims of base intimidation.

At midnight on 3 April, two men on a motorbike threw buckets of water mixed with rotten fish and excrements into his home in Quang Nam. Huynh Ngoc Tuan, who has spent 10 years in prison (1992-2002) for his articles on religious freedom and human rights, was one of five Vietnamese bloggers awarded this year’s Hammel-Hammet award for persecuted writers, along with his daughter Huynh Thuc Vy. His son, Huynh Ngoc Tuan tried to travel to the US to receive the prize on their behalf, but was stopped at the airport and banned from boarding the plane; - In March 2013, Buddhist youth leader Le Cong Cau was interrogated intensively for three days by Security Police in Hue because he posted articles on the Internet calling for the legalization of the UBCV. Police said that by advocating for the UBCV rather than the State-sponsored Vietnam Buddhist Church (VBC), he was “sowing divisions between religious followers”, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Article 87 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code. Police also threatened to sentence him with up to 20 years in prison for “anti-State propaganda” (Article 88 of the Criminal Code). Le Cong Cau is head of the UBCV’s Buddhist Youth Movement (Gia đình Phật tử Việt Nam), an unofficial educational movement which has over 500,000 members in Vietnam. - During the interrogation, the Head of the Hue Provincial Security Police told Le Cong Cau that Vietnam would never accept to legalize the UBCV.

This reveals the cynical duplicity of Vietnam’s religious policies, which on the one hand claim internationally to be moving towards religious freedom, but on the other categorically reject all religious groups that refuse the political dictates of the Communist Party of Vietnam; - Monks, nuns and followers of over 20 UBCV provincial boards set up to bring spiritual and humanitarian aid to poor people in the provinces are harassed, interrogated and prevented from carrying out educational and charitable activities, notably in the provinces of Quang Nam-Danang, Thua Thien Hue, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai, Hau Giang and An Giang; - For the past three years, the People’s Committee in Danang has strictly prohibited Vesak celebrations at the Giac Minh 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, and prohibiting the monks from reading the traditional Vesak Message by UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang; In August 2012, Superior monk Venerable Thich Thanh Quang, head of the UBCV Youth Department, was brutally beaten by a gang of plain clothed security agents under the eyes of the Police, who made no attempt to intervene; - The most tragic victim of Vietnam’s repression is the UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, 85, currently under house arrest at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon and detained almost without interruption since 1982. Denied freedom of movement and citizenship rights, fforbidden even to preach in his Monastery and under constant Police surveillance, this revered dissident and Nobel Peace Prize nominee remains a symbol of the movement for democracy, and continues to challenge the government on religious freedom and human rights.

In March, during a public debate on reforming the Vietnamese Constitution, Thich Quang Do urged the Communist Party to embark on a “Path of Peace” – a path of multi-party democracy which will lead our people to stability, development and happiness”. Alongside political repression, Vietnam also uses the law to restrict religious freedom. In January 2013, “Decree No. 92” on religious organizations and religious activities came into effect, replacing Decree No. 22, which was issued in 2005. Buddhist and Christian leaders alike have criticized the new Decree for its use of vague and ambiguous terminology, and for introducing new bureaucratic obstacles to the peaceful and lawful activities of religious believers. Although the new Decree reduces the timeframe in which the authorities must respond to applications for registration and introduces some measures to improve transparency, the Decree as a whole is aimed at increasing control and management rather than the protection of religious freedom.

At the same time, Vietnam invokes vaguely-worded “national security” provisions in the Criminal Code to criminalize the peaceful religious activities. Ordinance 44 authorizes the detention of religious and political dissidents under house arrest, in labour camps or in psychiatric hospitals without any due process of law.Mr. Chairman, Vietnam seeks to suppress the UBCV not only because it is a religious movement, but because it is one of the most vocal civil society movements in Vietnam. In this one-Party state, where there is no political opposition, no independent media, no free trade unions, the religious movements, in particular the UBCV, are the sole independent voices that the Party has failed to suppress. Religious freedom is thus the key to peaceful progress towards a pluralistic and vibrant society based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Recommendations for the Human Rights Dialogue - The U.S.-Vietnam human rights dialogue as a viable policy tool. But it must not become an end in itself. At its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations in 2009, Vietnam declared that its engagement in dialogue with the US, the EU and other countries “proved” that it respects human rights. This is surely not America’s view. The dialogue is only relevant if it leads to substantive progress. The United States should set benchmarks and a concrete time-frame for human rights improvements wherever possible, and ensure that Vietnam does not use the human rights dialogue as shield to deflect international scrutiny from its egregious violations of religious freedom and human rights.

For the upcoming dialogue, I urge you to press Vietnam to: - release prisoners of conscience in prison or under house arrest for their nonviolent religious activities or convictions; release UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do as a matter of urgent priority and restore his full freedoms and rights; - re-establish the legitimate status of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and all other non-recognized religions so they can contribute to the social and spiritual welfare of the Vietnamese people; - rescind or review all legislation that restricts the exercise of religious freedom in contravention of Article 18 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; - fix a date for the in-country visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to which Vietnam has agreed; allow a visit by the UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Human Rights Defenders, as well as a follow-up visit by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to monitor the situation of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.

Recommendations for U.S. Policy - the U.S. should heed the recommendation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to re-designate Vietnam as a Country of Particular Concern for its egregious violations of religious freedom and related human rights; - the US Ambassador-at-large on International Religious Freedom should make an in-country visit to Vietnam and meet with a wide range of stakeholders, including religious dissidents and members of non-recognized religious bodies as well as government and religious officials; in preparation for this trip, the Ambassador should consult widely with international experts and overseas-based civil society representatives of religious movements in Vietnam; - religious freedom should be mainstreamed into legislation regarding the US-Vietnam trade relationship.

In the absence of a “human rights clause” in bilateral trade agreements, the Vietnam Human Rights Act should be passed to link trade relations to the respect of religious freedoms and human rights; - Vietnam rejected many concrete recommendations made by the United States at its Universal Periodic Review in May 2009, and it has failed to uphold its binding commitments to respect UN standards and norms. Therefore, I urge the United States not to support Vietnam’s bid for membership of the UN Human Rights Council for 2014-2016 which will be voted at the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York in September 2013.


Around 1500 domestic workers attended the rally and submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister, Labour Ministry and the Lok Sabha Speaker

New Delhi, April 5 : Activists of the Matu Jan Sangathan, Domestic Workers Union, Delhi Mahila Shahri Kaamgar Sangathan, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Delhi Solidarity Group, SRUTI, Delhi Forum, Programme for Social Action and others today stormed the 'civil society consultation' on review and update of the World Bank's environmental and social safeguard policies organised by World Bank at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Terming these consultations as eyewash activists didn't allow the consultations to proceed since World Bank continues to hide behind thecentral and state governments in India or other government agencies in different countries and shriek responsibility for any environmental and social damage.

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan Sangathan – NAPM, said, “the way these consultations are organised are no different from what has been going on for decades. Many such reviews have been conducted, thousands of groups and individuals have participated with the intent of seeing genuine reform of the institution, and possibly its democratization, only to be utterly disappointed. The current exercise, therefore, is nothing but a charade to mask the true intentions of its major ‘shareholders’: France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, who are grappling with serious economic downturns and are conveniently using the Bank to force open global investment opportunities with scant regard to environmental and social impacts. Bank continues to own up to its responsibility for social and environmental damages it did in Narmada Valley, Singapur, East Parej Mines, Allain Duhangan, Rampur, Luhri and Vishungad Pipalkoti. On several occasions these have been brought to the notice of World Bank but they have refused to take notice of and continue to work with criminal companies like Tehri hydro Development Corporation and other consultants. If such is the case then why hold these stake holders consultations ?”

Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM, added that if indeed the World Bank was seriously concerned about the impacts of its investments, then the best test would have been the sensitivity demonstrated in the investments made by its various lending operations. In India, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector lending arm, is complicit in massive human rights and environmental violations that form the basis of the super-mega $4 billion Tata-Mundra 4000 MW power project in the ecologically sensitive Kutch region of Gujarat. The World Bank, in its wisdom, has further endorsed such environmental crimes by offering a $1 billion loan to the building of the Fifth Power System Development Project, which essentially is a transmission line for Tata-Mundra and three other large coastal power projects. Participating in such manner, the Bank conveniently escapes any blame for the disaster, and yet benefits from financing such ‘development projects’.”

Umesh Babu, Delhi Forum, said “the Bank’s Policy on piloting the use of borrower systems for Environmental and Social Safeguards has in the past decade been a mantra to pave the way for promoting investment at any cost. Over a decade ago the World Bank funded the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Environmental Management Capacity Building Project. The result was a massive dilution of India’s environmental and social safeguard norms. What’s worse, the processes that resulted lent voice to those within administration and industry who were crying hoarse that the carefully evolved rigour of “forest” and “environmental” clearance standards in India was thwarting economic growth.”

Lakshmi Premkumar, PSA, said, “it took the movement groups and people's organisations across the globe 30+ years to pressurise the World Bank Group to formulate, re-formulate and have in place mechanisms that would safeguard social-environmental-cultural-traditional interests of communities and people affected by the Group's financing of so called 'Development projects' across the World and in India. However, it took the Bank, in particular International Finance Corporation (IFC), only one stroke of destructive imagination to bring in the new model of 'Financial Intermediary Lending' that wiped out all mandatory requirements posed by environmental and social safeguard principles on lending, as they are not bound by such standards. At a time when the FI model of lending in India by IFC and the World Bank at large are expected to cross the halfway mark of their collective investments, it does not make any sense at all for the World Bank to be holding such reviews of their environmental and social safeguards; they simply do not matter at all to the actual practice of the World Bank and its agencies.”

Activists urged the members of the civil society who had come for the consultation to leave the meeting, if they really felt the pain of the people of this country. World Bank has pushed for policies which have undermined the sovereignty of India and its people, privatised services, opened up market for loot and plunder of natural resources by the private corporations and very fundamentally changed the policies of this country in favour of capitalists forces. Shouting slogans of “World Bank ! Quit India !”, “World Bank ! Down Down !” activists refused to budge from the venue until the World Bank Country Director Mr. Onno Ruhl, left the hall at 2 pm followed by Stephen F Lintner, Senior Advisor, Sanjay Srivastava, Regional Safeguards Advisor and other Bank officials along with few CSO members and Bank consultants who stayed till last.

Activists warned that these sham consultations will not be tolerated unless Bank owned upto damages, compensated communities and stopped funding the environmentally and socially destructive projects in name of 'development'. People's Movements have been struggling across the country against its own governments demanding justice and challenging their nefarious capitalist designs but that doesn't mean World Bank can hide behind them. They are part of the larger design of the global financial systems and we will continue to challenge it. The current ‘consultations’ are therefore a sham and must be denounced by anyone deeply concerned about the nature of democracy and are keen to ensure that all peoples of the world benefit from human activity that is based on deep appreciation and adherence to the Principle of Prior and Informed Consent and the Principle of Intergenerational Equity.

Rajendra Ravi, Anita Kapoor, Seela Manaswanee, Sanjeev Kumar, Satyam Srivastava, Sunita Rani, Anil Tharyath Varghese, Nishank, Manisha Lath, Gopal, Santosh Kumar. For details call : 9818905316 | 9718479517

We are writing to urge you to stand up for justice in Sri Lanka and act to end the climate of impunity perpetuated by its Government

Apr 1, 2013

Tamil war widows and children

To Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, New Delhi.

Dr. Manmohan Singh Ji, Namaskar!

We would like to draw your kind attention to the following matter of utmost importance to provide solace and succor to the suffering Tamils of North and Eastern Region in the island of Sri Lanka. The racist Sinhalese government is perpetrating large scale military operations against the Tamils and has launched genocidal attacks to strangulate the Tamil people in starvation.

Innocent 3, 50,000 Tamils were killed, 96,000 Women are widows maimed and mortally wounded by the ruthless attacks of Sri Lankan Armed Forces especially in 2009 in Mullivaikkal. Five hundred thousand Tamils(5,00,000) from Northern & Eastern states of Sri Lanka were uprooted from their traditional homes. The most gruesome, cruel massacre which shocked the hearts and minds of the international community was the dastardly bombing of the CHENCHOLAI Orphanage on 14th August 2006 in which 61 female children were brutally killed and about 170 children were grievously wounded.

The Panel formally commenced its work on 16th September 2010 and submitted its report on 12th April 2011, which was released by the secretary General on 25th April 2011. Three members of the U.N. Panel are highly reputed legal luminaries specialized in human Rights.

1. Mr. MarzukiDurusman , former Attorney General of Indonesia, 2. Mr.Steven Ratner, former Deputy Attorney General of United States of America. 3. Madam YasminSooka, a leading lawyer and human rights activist of South Africa.

The Sri Lankan Government did not permit the three member panel to the enter the island of Sri Lanka, but ultimately had to allow the panel to visit that island due to the Pressure Mounted on them by the International Community. ( Please kindly see the paragraph at page 28 of three person panel report : Page 30,paragraph 103, Page 134, paragraph 110, Page 31,Paragraph 105,Page-35 paragraph 118, Para 122, page 149).

The present conditions of Native Tamils in Sri Lanka are that of Refugees who have been denied and displaced from their Lands, Housing and Livelihoods. Further, the Tamil People’s Lands, Housing and villages are being taken over by the Sri Lankan Army which is trying to settle Sinhalese in those areas. The worst affected are the Women being raped en mass by the Sri Lankan Army. The Non Buddhist places of worship are being systematically attacked by Sri Lankan Army. Also, the Indian Tamil fishermen have been attacked for the last 3 decades by Sri Lankan Navy leading to loss of hundreds of lives. Hence we appeal to Government of India and the United Nations to support Resolutions for:

1. Independent investigation in to allegations of Genocide & war crimes under International law committed by the government of Sri Lanka & President of Sri Lanka. 2. UN-Led Committee to monitor the current human rights situation in Sri Lanka, exclude the Asian countries from membership of that committee and Native Tamils must be represented in the committee. 3. Armed forces of Government of Sri Lanka should be withdrawn from Tamil Areas, to ensure that there is no Sinhala colonization to Tamil areas. 4. Restoration of Lands, Homes and settlements to the Native Tamils who have been forcibly displaced and kept in Camps. The welfare helps directly give to the Tamil people by international committee. 5. Sri Lankan Constitution must be changed to ensure Equal Rights for Tamil people or otherwise Referendum should be held to determine Tamil people’s opinion regarding an independent Tamil Nation. 6. Sri Lankan Navy must stop its attacks on Indian Tamil fishermen. We seek justice, we expect justice. Thanking You,

Sincerely Yours,

Medha Patkar Gabriele Deitrich Geetha Ramakrishnan Arul Doss Sutanthi Maj. Gen. (retd.) Sudhir Vombetekere Prafulla Samantaray Suhas Kolhekar Suniti S R Saraswati Kavula P Chennaiah Ramakrishna Raju Vimal Bhai . Contact:- 09442511292, 09841233098

Fact finding Team raises issue of Police Complicity in murder of crusader against corruption in Muzaffarpur

Mar 24, 2013

Death body of Ram Kumar Thakur

A six member fact finding team of the NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movements) today visited Ratnauli village of Muzaffarpur district in Bihar, where Ram Kumar Thakur, a lawyer and RTI activist was shot dead yesterday evening, 23rd March. Ram Kumar was returning by cycle from the courts with his nephew early yesterday evening. On reaching Purshottampur village, Jamarua panchayat, at around 4:30 pm they were surrounded by six men who came on two motorcycles. The men who have been identified by the nephew are Raj Kumar Sahni, Brahmanand Sahni, Parmanand Sahni, Rajesh Kumar Sahni, Mahesh Sahni, Sukhdev Sahni. According to nephew, Sujit Kumar, It was Rajesh Kumar Sahni, the son of the Mukhiya who gave instructions to surround them and shoot. Ram Kumar was being rushed to the nearby hospital in a tempo when they were met by the police who transferred ram kumar to a bolero with a missing number plate and told the accompanying people to reach Prashant Hospital, but instead of taking Ram Kumar to Prashant Hospital the police took him to Ma Janaki hospital. Those accompanying Ram Kumar have said that the police caused a delay of two hours as a result of which Ram Kumar was brought dead to the hospital. An FIR stating the above has been filed in Manihari thaana this afternoon.

Ram Kumar Thakur had been actively raising the issue of corruption in his village, Ratnauli, for the last few years. He had filed a number of RTI applications on the implementation of the MNREGA and IAY. In a social audit conducted by the Department of Rural Development in September 2011, Ram Kumar Thakur, among others had raised objections to the inclusion of ‘ghost’ names in the muster roll that were read out during the public hearing. This resulted in an uproar where the Mukhiya and his supporters vociferously opposed these claims as false. The social audit could not be completed because of the disruption which then erupted into a fight where those who had objected to the fudged muster roll were beaten. Ram Kumar Thakur was also beaten by the Mukhiya’s men during this incident. After this incident an FIR was filed against the perpetrators by the district administration, however action is yet to be taken.

Most recently Ram Kumar had filed a case with the State Vigilance Commission on the installation of solar lights under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. The case which was filed along with Sundeshwar Sahni of Lok Jagran Manch, an NGO based in Muzaffarpur raised questions on the allocation of money under the project and alleged mis-management of funds by the Mukhiya, Raj Kumar Sahni. The issues raised by them were even investigated by the Sub-Divisional Officer. The findings of this investigation are not yet available. Following this, in the month of December, Ram Kumar Thakur and his family had received death threats from the Mukhiya’s son, Rajesh Sahni. A letter asking for protection was even sent to the DIG of police by Ram Kumar Thakur asking for protection.

Over three months since Ram Kumar received threats at his home, over three months since the letter asking for protection was sent to the police, and well over a year since the fight that broke out during the social audit in which he was beaten, Ram Kumar was killed by the perpetrators of previous incidents of violence who were well known to the police and district administration. Had the police and administration taken notice of Ram Kumar’s appeal for protection, Ram Kumar Thakur would still be alive. Ram Kumar is succeeded by his wife, two daughters and a son. Based on the facts that have come to light the NAPM demands that:

1.Those named in the FIR be arrested immediately 2.Speedy trial is undertaken. 3.Immediate compensation of Rs. 20 lakhs be given to the victim’s family 4.Police complicity is investigated. 5.A complete investigation into the corruption issues raised by Ram Kumar in Ratnauli Panchayat should be done by the Rural Development Department, Government of Bihar. 6.This is the fifth case of murder of a RTI activist/ whistleblower in Bihar, making a serious note of this the Government should work towards a comprehensive law for the protection of such persons.

Ram Kumar was also an associate of the Bihar MNREGA Watch, which has been spear heading an unprecedented mobilization of workers in Ratnauli panchayat, and has in the past years spread to other blocks of Muzaffarpur. Sanjay Sahni and others of Bihar MNREGA Watch have been actively raising their voices for securing entitlements under MNREGA and the national and state pension schemes for close to two years through public meetings, demonstrations and application filing.

Members of the NAPM fact finding team included Shahid Kamal (NAPM), Ashish Ranjan (NAPM), Mahendra Yadav(NAPM), Ranjit Paswan (JJSS), Sanjay Sahni (Bihar MNREGA Watch) and Arvind Kumar (JJSS). Contact Numbers : 9973363664/ 9973936658

Three international NGOs protest legal harassment of Buddhist Youth leader Le Cong Cau

Mar 22, 2013

Truong Tan Sang

Attn: President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong... Paris-Geneva, March 22, 2013 Re: Concerns over risks of prosecution of Buddhist Youth leader and human rights defender Le Cong Cau in Vietnam... Excellencies, The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) call for the end of the judicial harassment of Buddhist Youth leader and human rights defender Le Cong Cau, Head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam’s (UBCV) Buddhist Youth Movement Commission and an active coordinator of UBCV activities, including on human rights issues, in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

Mr. Le Cong Cau has been threatened with prosecution by the police after his articles criticising the policies of the State authorities for violations of freedom of religion, its management of territorial disputes with China were posted on the Internet. He is accused of violating Article 87 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code on “undermining the unity policy” and Article 88 on “circulating anti-state propaganda”. These offences carry prison sentences of up to fifteen and twenty years.

On March 12, 2013, Mr. Le Cong Cau was summoned by the Security Police to come for a “working session” at the Truong An district police station at 8.00 am the following day. For the next two and a half days (March 13 to 15, 2013) he was subjected to intensive interrogations. Before releasing him on March 15, the police declared that they had obtained “sufficient evidence” to prosecute him under Articles 87 and 88 of the Criminal Code. Unusually, the police interrogation was not conducted by local police, but by an official from the Provincial Security Police, Mr. Nguyen Huu Chung, and two members of the Hue municipal Security Police.

They began by showing Le Cong Cau several articles downloaded from the Internet, which, they said, “slandered the regime and spread propaganda about an illegal organization named the UBCV”. Specifically, the police accused Le Cong Cau of criticising the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) and calling for political change; advocating on behalf of the UBCV; and denouncing the State-sponsored Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) as a political tool of the regime. Whilst admitting he had written on all these subjects, Le Cong Cau declared that he was expressing legitimate peaceful opinions in accordance with the Vietnamese Constitution and with international law, and thereby had committed no crime.

On the last day of the interrogation, on March 15, Officer Chung made Le Cong Cau write a statement admitting that he had written articles accusing the VCP of selling off Vietnamese waters and lands; being submissive to China and repressive towards the Vietnamese people; persecuting religions and repressing pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders; advocating political pluralism; predicting the imminent demise of the Communist regime; and accusing the State-sponsored VBS of being a political tool of the VCP. Le Cong Cau wrote the statement, but refused to recognise these acts as crimes. He tried to add the words: “I stand by my convictions and ideals.

Everything I have done is in line with the rights enshrined in the Vietnamese Constitution. All those who try to prevent me are violating our Constitution. I refuse to collaborate with those who trample on the Vietnamese Constitution”. However, the Security Police struck these words off the statement. FIDH, OMCT and VCHR recall the right of Le Cong Cau to freely express his peaceful opinions, as guaranteed in Article 69 of the Vietnamese Constitution and Article 19 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam acceded in 1982, which enshrines the right of all people to “receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers”.

Accordingly, we demand the immediate and unconditional end of judicial and other acts of harassment against Mr. Le Cong Cau, and the guarantee, in all circumstances, of his physical and psychological integrity. In the hope that you will take these elements into account, We remain, Souhayr BelhassenPresidentInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Gerald StaberockSecretary GeneralWorld Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) Vo Van AiPresidentVietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR)

THAILAND: Angkhana Neelapaijit urges Prime Minister to not allow the culture of impunity in Thailand regarding Disappearance lawyer Somchai 9 years anniversary

Mar 12, 2013

DSI Director General, Mr. Tharit Pengdit

Her Excellency, the Prime Minister, Ms. Yingluck Shnawatra

Dear Madam Prime Minister,

My name is Angkhana Neelapaijit, wife of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit, a human rights lawyer who had given legal aid to alleged offenders in security related cases in Thailand's Southern Border Provinces. Mr. Somchai was abducted by police officers on 12 March 2004, after he lodged his complaints regarding the alleged abuse of alleged offenders by the police. After the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai, the Former Prime Minister, Pol Lt Col Thaksin Shinawatra admitted that he might have died. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) accepted to work on the case of Mr. Somchai as a special case since 19 July 2005. Pol Gen Sombat Amonrwiwat, former DSI Director General, was the person in charge of the investigation. Eight years past, the case now falls under the charge of the current DSI Director General, Mr. Tharit Pengdit and you, as the PM is the Chairperson of the Committee on Special Cases ex officio. Yet, the investigation has so far born no fruit.

Previously, I have written to inquire the Minister of Justice, Pol Gen Pracha Promnok regarding progress in the investigation of Mr. Somchai's case. Then, he gave me a one pager summary prepared by DSI indicating that there has been no progress as to the investigation in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. This happens so despite that the case has been handled by DSI for eight years.

Your Excellency, you may not be aware, but the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai was the first case of its kind in Thailand that affected parties have been able to get the case prosecuted and indicted. In addition, his case is not just known in Thailand, but all over the world. It is a public case that has massively compromised trust in Thailand's justice process and the upholding of human rights and the rule of law in Thailand. It has elicited salient attention from national and international rights organizations all along, including the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since it was a crime of enforced disappearance committed by law enforcement officers. And apart from the five police officers who are the accused in this case, it is believed that a number of high ranking police officers were involved and have not been brought to justice.

Nevertheless, I would like to commend your government for signing a landmark international instrument, the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 9 January 2012. The ascension to the treaty indicates a very important determination to uphold human rights in Thailand through the prevention of enforced disappearance. In addition, in September 2012, the cabinet agreed to provide the amount of 7.5 millions baht as remedies to the family of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit. In the same occasion, the amount of 500,000 – 7.5 millions baht were provided for 30 families of those disappeared in Southern Border Provinces. It is believed that they were made disappeared by government officers.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation that your government has decided to provide remedies to people whose human rights have been affected by governmental officers including the enforced disappearance cases in the Southern Border Provinces. Remedies are an indispensible right of the victims. But apart from upholding the right to access truth, it is equally important to uphold justice and ensure that there shall be no recurrence of human rights violation. And monetary remedies alone are not enough to erase the trauma and wound in the hearts of the survivors. I fervently believe that only through access to truth and justice that dignity of the survivors shall be restored and it would lead to lasting forgiveness and reconciliation.

I am writing this letter to you as you are the highest leadership of the country and as you are in charge of DSI. I want to bring to your attention the ineffectiveness and unwillingness of the government and DSI to solve the case of Mr. Somchai. It is too obvious that in recent time, DSI has simply been concentrating on political cases, particularly cases against the opposition party, but at the same time, has been neglecting and giving no proper attention to cases that affect ordinary people, even though they are victims of human rights abuse perpetuated by government officers who take side with the government.

Last but not least, I really hope that you as the PM are willing to listen to voice of people who have been abused by governmental officers. The abuses took place during the tenure of those leaderships from the same political party as yours. I sincerely hope that you shall be responsible for what happened and shall not be discriminating in the enforcement of law and will not allow the culture of impunity to perpetuate in Thailand.

Yours sincerely, Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit

A Life of unorganized serene women

Special Contribution
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Mar 8, 2013


‘Gangubai’ the name she is famous with and called among all the building contractors and labourers, who is from Karnataka, Nallur. Gangubai’s husband who is farm labourer hardly helped her and their children, due to his obnoxious behavior she migrated to Mumbai 25years ago leaving husband and children for better pay and work. She works as contract labour doing the job of filling cement between gaps of tiles, marbles etc, she is an expert of doing this job with dutifully and keenly.

This is my first interview with unorganized women labour who comes to about 93% of workforce in India and are rising, the data released(Dec.2012) by the country's apex policy making body National Development Council (NDC) non-manufacturing sector(unorganized and self employed) increased from 20.84 million in 1999-2000 to 29.96 million and 48.28 million in 2004-05 and 2009-10 respectively.

Gangubai is one of the unorganized labourer who is now 48 years and working in this field from last 23 years in continuation, she gets daily wage of Rs.300/a day now. This job is very hard; whereby one has to sit and bend continuously for 6hours, hardly one can do. With 6 children to fed she has done her job to raise them, among two daughters whom she got married and among four son three are married and settled .The last son whom she wants to study; for which she has taken a loan of Rs.50,000/- and he is pursuing a computer diploma in his village. Gangubai who is like a strong pillar to their family is hard working and courageous women but till date her husband has remained stoics to the achievements and the great difference she has made to their family. Inspite all the hate and hard work her allegiance to husband is immense, I do hope her husband realize the achievement and his act of despotism which lead to her suffering.

I asked her did she got any welfare benefits from government, she replied in negative. The very first thing she is not aware that any handouts are made into her kitty. I asked did any of her kids got welfare benefits; she said her last son got some scholarship grants. Today on International women’s day let’s salute to all such great women who has altruistic and tenacious qualities to keep their family alive, who want their children to get higher education and lead a good quality of life, retrospecting her life she just stays ahead to future. This was just an attempt to feel one and everyone how women in India lives and completes her life cycle.

Taking this opportunity I also accentuate GOI and the civil society to make social security network a must for all unorganized labourers and special care to given to women. There are millions of ‘Gangubai’ leads a miserable lives she deserves a change and needs all protection and social security to secure her future. Let’s pledge we respect the dignity of women with her serenity to live with dignified work.

Soheb Lokhandwala who works as social activist and also as a Representative to SC(on Right to Food.Mah)

Enough is enough! Daring Delhi ! Raise your voice against theft of public lands-Protest Against illegal, Brutal & Anti People Eviction

Mar 4, 2013

Evicted and displaced people in India

Join Action / Protest against brutal illegal anti poor eviction ! rally around the fight against the EWS land grab at Bangalore ! 4th March- Mass protest at Jantar –Mantar Delhi, 5th March Public hearing at Gandhi peace Centre by eminent Juries. 6th Consultation at Indian Social Institute , on Way Forward.

The forum against het EWS Land Grab - Bangalore, along with the Civil society organisation in Delhi Like the Delhi Forum, National Movement for Land, Labour and justice-NMLLJ, INSAF, NAPM, PUCL, HLRN have come together to demonstrate their protest against the inhuman eviction in Bangalore that happened between 18-21th Jan,2013.

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bangalore's local government along with the police demolished around 1200 tin-sheds , evicting 5000 slum dwellers mostly Dalits, minorities & MBCs communities at the economically weaker sections (EWS) quarters in Ejipura from 18-21 January, 2013. About 1200 women and 2000 children were affected by this action. The four-day demolition drive razed around 900 tin-sheds that were erected at the quarters more than 11 years ago. No written notice was served to the residents. The demolition was accompanied by violent police action which included pulling people out of their homes when they pleaded for the house not to be destroyed ; lathi-charge of women and elders who resisted the demolition and the arrest of twenty one women [1].

Since the night of 18th January, hundreds of families have been living out in the open, braving the cold. Toilets in the area have been demolished, water supply has been cut and there is absolutely no shelter provided. Senior citizens, children and pregnant women in the area have been living in the open with serious risk to their health. Now hundreds of child stop going to school and students are not in position to appear in the final examinations. They already lost all books and other study related belongings during the brutal eviction.

This is to appeal to all democratic organisations, parties and individuals to join the mass protest demonstration against the disastrous eviction and call the attention of the country to the barbaric land grab by the joint government – corporate agencies pushing 1200 families from Dalit –minority communities by the ruling BJP government in Karnataka. The scattered families who are living on pavements of this IT city are crying for Justice and Dignity. Leaders from this broken community are coming to Delhi to seek your support and solidarity in their continued struggle against the government that is playing in to the hands of corporate encroachers who had thrashed them away from of the land they were living for 20 years and more. Continuously snubbed by the bureaucrats , cheated by their own political representatives, now they still believe their consistent struggle supported by the voice of their fellow country women and men, they can get back their land to ensure a life with dignity.

Once again we appeal to you to mobilise all possible strength and resources at your disposal to demonstrate strength and solidarity with the struggling community and participate actively to reclaim the EWS land from the Corporate land grabbers and the govt agencies that allowed the same. Yes ! Your voice, solidarity, support at any form and action in can bring a difference in their lives .

M R Prabhakar, ARUN KHOTE, forum Against EWS Land grab, National Movement for land, Lobour & Justice(NMLLJ)

Police enters our village, beat women and children, arrested villagers and cut trees

Indian police blocks villagers

Dear Friends,

In the wee hours today (at around 4 am) the police has entered into our villages and beaten up women and children, arrested some of our villagers (number is yet to be known).

As we have intimated you earlier that the police force has been gradually swelling in our area amidst our continuing human chain and Dharana in the Balitikira-the boarder of Govindpur and Dhinkia villages of Jagatsingpur district, the police has deceptively entered to the villages with full force at 4 a.m. today. Our people sensed their possible move at around 2 o clock night and alerted the villagers by ringing bells. Gradually women, children, male members started getting accumulated at the Dharana place. At 4 a.m. the police entered and attacked the women and children first. The male police have ruthlessly beaten our women who were lying on a human chain. Some women have been severely inured. The Police have thrown our children like flowers, some of whom are injured. Some villagers have been arrested by the police and been taken to custody. At the moment we do not have exact numbers as the situation is too tensed on the spot. The police have started breaking our betel vines and cutting the trees forcefully. More and more numbers of our villagers have come to the spot and a war like situation has arisen. Our committed villagers are facing a mighty 12 platoons of police force.

We fail to understand the decision of the state to acquire land when the National Green Tribunal has already suspended the environment clearance to the proposed POSCO project in our area. Naveen Patnaik is behaving like an agent of the POSCO company. As the situation is too alarming, we appeal all our friends to protest against the barbarism and call/write/fax to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Odisha and Chief Secretary of Odisha, Home Minsitry, Odisha appealing to immediately stop the police brutality and withdrawal of the force from our area. Please call to your respective MPs and MLAs and raise your protest against them urging them to oppose the illegal move. Write to NHRC also.

We request our media friends to rush to our villages and see the situation in their own eyes and report. We will intimate further developments soon.

In Solidarity,

Prashant Paikary, Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Mobile no-09437571547, E-Mail -

Parliament House attack case convict Afzal Guru was hanged

Afzal Guru

Shri Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Dear Comrade,

Afzal Guru was hanged yesterday in utter secrecy, denied in his last moments the right to meet his wife and children one final time. Denied to him also was the ultimate judicial resort, due to every condemned convict after his/her mercy petition has been rejected.

The entire legal proceedings against Afzal were shot through with contradictions, fabrications and travesties of legal procedure. The Supreme Court bench that finally sentenced him to death did so to ‘appease the national conscience’ despite inadequate evidence of his role in the Parliament attack case.

And yet this is what your colleague in the Polit Bureau Sitaram Yechury had to say to the media on this issue, “I think, the law of the land with all its provisions has finally been completed as far as the Afzal Guru case and the attack on the Indian Parliament is concerned. The issue which had been lingering for the past 11 years has finally completed its due course.” ‘Law of the land’ has ‘completed its due course’? Is this the official stand of the CPI(M) on the Afzal Guru case? Or is it just Com. Yechury trying to ‘appease the national conscience’ and joining the UPA in harnessing the ‘Hindu vote’?

Surely you and your colleagues in the Polit Bureau have heard that Afzal was unrepresented from the time of his arrest till he made his alleged 'confession? You may have also perhaps heard of the letter that Afzal wrote to the Judge pleading he had no faith in the lawyer appointed for him by the Court, asking to be represented by any from a list of four lawyers he named. The Court records show that two of these lawyers refused to represent him but there is no information whether the other two on the list were even ever asked.

A lawyer, who had never met Afzal, admitted documents in court incriminating him. Or has your Polit Bureau been watching too many telecasts of his 'confession' - considered inadmissible in any court of law - as damning evidence of his guilt? But never mind. Lack of legal representation for your Party does not seem too major an obstacle in implementing the ‘due course of law’. When elections are looming on the horizon, and your Party’s mass base is dwindling, a little injustice – like the murder of an innocent man- does not matter of course.

If the Congress is fast becoming the B Team of the communal Hindutva brigade should the CPI (M) try to become the C Team? Has your Party learnt nothing from the defeats it has suffered due to similar unprincipled stands it has taken in the past? Are we being completely delusional in expecting a Party named with grand terms like ‘Communist’ and ‘Marxist’ to take a stand different from that of political formations taking the nation fast forward towards all out Fascism?


Satya Sivaraman, Manisha Sethi

Bloggers and Netizens Behind Bars: Restrictions on Internet Freedom in Vietnam

Điếu Cày, a Vietnamese blogger

PARIS, Tuesday 13 Feb 2013 - In a new joint report released today, FIDH and its member organization, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, call on the Vietnamese government to end its escalating assault on freedom of expression and its criminalization of bloggers and netizens.

The 42-page report, entitled “Bloggers and Netizens Behind Bars: Restrictions on Internet Freedom in Vietnam”, highlighted the Internet as an increasingly popular source of independent news and a platform for civic activism in Vietnam, home to the region’s fastest growing population of Internet users. Bloggers and human rights defenders increasingly resort to the Internet to voice their political opinions, expose corruption, and draw attention to land-grabbing and other official abuses of power. At the same time, Internet users in Vietnam also face long-standing draconian restrictive legislation, policies and practices, while the government has intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression, both online and offline, since 2010.

The FIDH and the VCHR have documented 32 bloggers and netizens currently detained, charged, and/or sentenced to prison terms in Vietnam for their peaceful online dissent or criticisms of government policies. Their prison terms range from two to 16 years. In a series of unfair trials over the past 12 months alone (January 2012 - January 2013), 22 bloggers and netizens were sentenced to a total of 133 years in prison and 65 years probationary detention for their peaceful online activism. 17 of those currently behind bars, including three women, were sentenced under the draconian Article 88 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for the ill-defined offense of “anti-State propaganda.” In one recent trial on 9 January 2013 alone, 13 people were sentenced to a total of over 100 years in prison solely for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression.

“Article 88 and other ‘national security’ provisions of the Criminal Code fly in the face of Vietnam’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “Instead of engaging in the futile exercise of gagging the Internet, it should immediately end the practice of making speech a crime and overhaul its repressive legal framework to ensure respect and protection of the right to freedom of expression, regardless of medium.”

The Vietnamese authorities at all levels routinely subject bloggers and netizens who dare to criticise them to arbitrary detention, harassment, intimidation, assaults and violations of fair trial rights. The report also profiles nine bloggers and their peaceful writings on the Internet. Prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and members of the Club of Free Journalists, whose online writings criticised Article 88 of the Criminal Code, were ironically detained under the same article and sentenced harshly on 24 September 2012 to prison terms of up to 12 years. Although they protested their innocence, the conviction of Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan was upheld on appeal on 28 December 2012.

In September 2012, the assault on Internet freedom was taken to a new height when the Vietnamese prime minister himself issued an order to punish criticisms of the Communist Party and the government, targeting by name three dissident blogs, including the prominent Danlambao (Citizens’ Journalism) blog, which publishes a wide range of news, including those focused on politics and human rights.

The new draft Internet Decree currently under consideration is fatally flawed and inconsistent with international human rights law and standards. If adopted in its current form the Decree would oblige Internet companies and other providers of information to Internet users in Vietnam to cooperate with the government in enforcing the prohibition of a range of vaguely-defined acts of expression. Article 5 of the Decree prohibits vague acts as such as “abusing the provisions and use of the internet and information on the web” to “oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”; “undermining the grand unity of the people” and “undermining the fine customs and traditions of the nation”. Article 25 requires the filtering of any information on the Internet based on the interpretation that such information is amongst the “prohibited acts” outlined in Article 5.

“As Vietnam steps up censorship by new laws and regulations, it is also intensifying Police repression, imprisonment, intimidation and even sexual assaults on young bloggers to frighten them into silence and self-censorship”, said VCHR President Vo Van Ai. “But it is too late. Through the Internet, a culture of protest is emerging in Vietnam. These bloggers and netizens are not “hostile forces” seeking to overthrow the regime by “peaceful evolution” as Hanoi claims. They are Vietnamese patriots who are using new technologies to call for their people’s legitimate freedoms and rights. Vietnam cannot suppress this movement simply by locking bloggers and netizens behind bars”.

Media contacts: FIDH, Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 72 28 42 94 (in Paris). FIDH, Audrey Couprie (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 1 43 55 14 12 (in Paris). VCHR, Vo Van Ai and Penelope Faulkner (Vietnamese, English, French) - Tel: +33 1 45 98 30 85 (Paris).

UN office siege protest world wide on FEB 12th- MAY 17 MOVEMENT

Special Contribution
By Muthamizh Vendhan
Feb 10, 2013

Rally protest poster at UN

In November 2012, three-member UN Internal Review Panel headed by Charles petrie submitted its report on the response of United Nations to the Genocidal war in Sri Lanka. The report which spans over 120 pages lays bare the stance and actions of some of the top officials of UN in relation to srilanka and records that directly and indirectly those officials supported srilanka. We consider that report has disclosed the proof for the reason of UN expert panel’s emphasis on War crimes and its dialogues that discarded political solution to the problem. The report reveals that top UN officials have either collaborated or submitted to pressure of the Srilankan government and have not just issues statements, reported and hidden information’s in favor of Srilanka but also have manipulated and liquidated the ground reports, discarded the information and hindered the duties of the officials who have been working under them. We would like to bring some of the important information in the review report to notice.

We categorize the functions of the UN during war in any region into two categories. One, Humanitarian operations in those regions. Two, Human rights and ensuring that the international laws on human rights are not violated and bring to the notice of the world in case of any violations. The world nations have agreed to the above to functions by signing the agreements and articles of UN and thereby have accepted the investigations and punishments by international law on the state in case of any violations by the respective nation.

We can classify the UNs help to the srilankan government as a two step process. First was during of war, when Srilankan government was allowed to carry on war without any intervention, discarding international requests in favor of the Tamils and pressure to stop the war and at the same time have helped Srilanka to carry on with the war crimes. Secondly aftermath of the war, UNs aid to srilanka falls under two categories. One, preventing a international investigation on srilanka after war and thereby stopping the chance for a referendum, providing enough time to Srilanka to erase all the evidences of genocide, so that in the future no international debate on genocide and demands can again rise in the future. Two, UN has effectively narrowed down the demand for international investigation to internal investigation and shifting from the political demand of independent Tamil Eezham to humanitarian Operations, Re-habilitation, welfare schemes, Reconciliation and creating Opinion among the Tamils and among the world nations in favor of these. Few points to be noted in Petrie’s internal report:

UNs order to its officials to leave Srilanka was a big setback to the Tamils, who came to UN office and secure areas surrounding them in search of safety and forced into the Genocidal trap. Food and medicines of 18 metric tons had to be sent every 8-10 days as humanitarian aid. But after Jan 15 UN not only did not send anything but also did not take any measure to send.

After the permission from Srilankan Government, 11th iteration of aid was sent to war torn places. The Srilankan Government intensified the attack when the vehicles which carried the things were guaranteed to be returned on 16th which held them back in Mullaithivu for more than 2 weeks. The report records that they sent information about the number of causalities during that period from the offensive launched by the Srilankan Government unmindful of the Human rights (hospitals, places where civilians and UN workers have gathered were attacked). Out of those who sent this information, 6 were UNs international workers and 5 were locals.

The quantity of food in UNs aid sent to the Tamil regions was much less that the actual need. The Srilankan Government projected the information that the regions under siege had cultivatable farm lands, and enough food was available and also deliberately reduced the population count in those regions. Even after Amnesty International proved the incorrectness of this information, UN did not take any steps to bring about an international criticism on Srilanka.

In addition the aid contained cricket bats, balls and anti LTTE propaganda material produced by the Srilankan Government. Two of the UN workers escaped from war fields to Columbu and shared the field information in the UN office. The task of populating information about the number Tamil casualties that was hitherto not done was taken up and was done based on the information given by these two UN workers on the 2nd week of Feburary 2009. At the end of 3rd week, the number of Tamil Causalities has risen to shocking heights.

In the first week of March 2009, when the UN headquarters was informed about this they immediately sent a higher official from its political wing. After analyzing the information in Colombo, he stated "We will be co-accused if we do not take any action based on this information and stop the war". He went to UN headquarters with the compiled information on March 9th.

On March 12 2009, after a UN high level meeting, a mail was sent to the UN Human rights council by the then chief of staff Vijay Nambiar. He has requested the Human rights council not to disclose information regarding the number of causalities in the Srilankan case as the information cannot be validated. He went further to recommend the UNHRC to liquidate the information in case UNHRC decides to release the information. He also emphasizes that charging the Srilankan government with war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be done at that point of time, doing which they will have to face the wrath of the Srilankan government which is not recommendable. He also mentions that the Srilankan State and the LTTE have been weighed on equal grounds in case of accusing them with war crimes. Later mails on similar lines from various UN offices, especially form John Holmes who was United nations Under-Secretary-general for Humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator were sent to UNHRC and on March12-13 the report from UNHRC were released severely criticizing and accusing LTTE.

This was the last in the line of the reports that came in relation to the killing of Tamils. The report which accused the LTTE has been rejected by the UNs workers who were in war torn areas of Srilanka. As a result of the actions of Vijay Nambiar, Petrie records in his report, for more than 45 days the civilians did not receive food or medicine which cause of thousands of causalities.

The world nations did not receive proper and complete information regarding the number of casualties as a result of Vijay Nambiars belayed the reports. Further by accusing the LTTE he created a international opinion in favor of Srilanka by projecting LTTE as a terrorist organization that has to be dealt with and the war as a “war against terror” thereby facilitating the killing of Tamils by the Srilankan government.

The UN considers using Medicine and food as weapons in war as a War Crime. But Vijay Nambiar and John Holmes claimed that if they do not cooperate with the Srilankan government they may face trouble in carrying out the humanitarian operations in Srilanka. Contrary to their claim, after Jan 15 2009 till the end of war UN did not deliver either food or medicine to the civilians in the war zone and the world nations never warned about this.

The email also brings to light another important fact. The UNHRC has concluded that actions of Srilankan Government are to be accounted as war crimes and crimes against humanity on March 12 2009. It did so after analyzing all the facts that it has got from the UN workers who were present in the war torn areas of Srilanka. But Vijay Nambiar and John Holmes consider this first hand information as unreliable. Charles Petrie’s report has revealed all these information. But important sections of the report were blackened and then released by the UN. The above facts have been compiled after comrades of the May 17 Movement unveiled those hidden blackened information.

In April 2009, based on the satellite report which revealed huge losses suffered by the Tamils and the attacks on hospitals, UN issued a statement condemning Srilanka. Though the report also laid accusations on LTTE the Srilankan government summoned John Holmes and forced him to acknowledge that the statement was based on unreliable and false information. John Holmes sends an email as demanded and this email were used by the Srilankan government refute UNs claim. Instead of criticizing such an act by one of its officials in one of the press conference Ban-ki-Moon PRO answering the questions on civilian casualties in Srilanka said that “counting the dead is not our Job”. UNHRC, one of the most important organizations of UN was thus silenced. Yukio Takasu’s (who was a President of the United Nations Security Council) position in favor of Srilanka, and the report against LTTE made a debate on the Humanitarian Issues on Srilanka impossible in UN Security Council. Through the silent consent of Ban-Ki-Moon, till the end of war the UN general Assembly or Security Council was never convened to discuss the issue. Other UN Bodies were also silenced by the efforts of John Holmes and Vijay Nambiar.

Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide should have passed on information to UN Secretary general Ban-Ki-Moon and prevented the genocide from happening. He also holds the power to implement and reaffirm the Humanitarian and Human rights laws in case of any violation. On May 15 2009, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has sent information to Ban-Ki-Moon that there is every possibility for genocide to happen in Srilanka. Charles Petrie has reported that, Ban-ki-Moon instead of acting on this information decides to take the line of co-operation with Srilanka which was proposed by Vijay Nambiar and John Holmes. Srilanka was thus given the complete liberty to carry on the Tamil Genocide.

The Office of special representative of secretary general of children and armed conflict, submitted his report on Srilanka only weeks after the war. But their first report in Feburary 2009 mentions that the number of child casualties has been relatively high. These top 3 officials through their efforts have either silenced the various UN organizations turned them to work in favor of Srilanka.

Vijay Nambiar was sent to Colombo to handle the crisis in Srilanka. Arriving in Srilanka on May 14, his prime task was to oversee and ensure that the civilians who were trapped in Mullivaikal and the LTTE leaders who have surrendered to the Srilankan Army were treated by International Laws. But the Srilankan government turns down his request to visit Mullivaikal and promises him that the Srilankan Government will protect the LTTE leaders who surrender. Vijay Nambiar did not press his demand to visit Mullivaikaal. When he was asked regarding this in a press conference he replied that the “Weather outside Colombo is not suitable”.

Satish Nambiar, Brother of Vijay Nambiar has been the adviser of Srilankan Army during the War. It has been a common practice in UN, not to pick its representative to the Crisis zone from a neighboring nation. But in Case of Srilanka and Burma UN has not adhered to this practice.

Ban-Ki-Moon did not visit Srilanka during the days of Genocide. He did not visit Srilanka when the International media brought to light the Mass killings of Civilians and the execution of the Surrendering LTTE leaders and their families. The UN workers themselves accuse him of visiting Srilanka to take part in the Victory Celebrations of Srilanka. Right from the beginning to the end of the War UN has been accusing only the LTTE for various violations, and not the Srilankan Government inspite of the numerous evidences of crimes by the Srilankan Government, like Preventing UNs Humanitarian Operations by Bombing.

After the War, the UN legal counsel proposed to start International Investigation on the Srilanka based on Section 99 in Law. In July 2009, Ban-ki-moon proposed to give Srilanka a little time and also recommended an internal investigation substituting a international Investigation. Srilankan Government denied even for an Internal Investigation until January 2010. So in March 2010 UN sets up a panel to investigate the Srilankan War. The Panel was not allowed to even enter Srilanka and it submitted its report. The UN did not even condemn the act of Srilanka’s denial for the panel to enter the Island.

The Charles Petrie Internal Review Report has numerous such evidences about various UN Officials. No action has been taken on this report so far. Instead attempts have been made to brush aside and cover up the truths reveled by the report.

BBC in an attempt to muddle the report called upon John Holmes himself and reported his views on the report. Not much debate was initiated in the Media on this report. The Indian Media has maintained utter silence on this report. The UN officials are now concentrating on pushing back the demand for Independent Tamil Eezham and only lay demands for Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, Welfare schemes. On Aug 1,2012 John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), after finishing a three-day visit to the country, said “The scale of what Sri Lanka has accomplished over the past three years – the pace of resettlement and the development of infrastructure – is remarkable and very clearly visible”. It has to be noted that various important UN officials have been praising and acknowledging Srilankan Government.

One more information to be noted here is that Siddharth Chatterjee, a former Indian Army personnel was the part of the IPKF force and took part in the Infamous Jaffna University Helidrop. He was one of the very few army men who live through that operation. From that point of time till now he has been writing against LTTE, Tamil Eezham and the Tamils in general. He is not working with the UN but also he is the son-in-law of Ban-Ki-Moon. It’s no surprise that Ban-ki-Moon with close relatives like Satish Nambiar and Siddharth Chatterje took part in Genocide.

These three officers and the force that operated them, India and its officials have to be investigated. Charges have to be filed against them and investigations have to be carried out. It is this deadly coalition that has carrying out actions against Independent Tamil Eezham on the International stage. The various UN organizations have failed to stop the Genocide and collaborated with the Srilankan State.

Ban-ki-Moon by stopping International Investigation has prevented referendum for independent Eezham. It is the responsibility of the Tamils to fight for the denied justice. For international Justice to prevail the three officials along and the Indian officials who were behind them have to be investigated and punished. It’s the responsibility of the Tamils to make this happen failing which the UN will bury the demand and prevent a International debate for Independent Tamil Eezham.

Let us lay siege on the UN offices all over the world on the day Murugadasan self-immolated himself!! Let us bring to light the corrupt UN officials and the Indian State Operating Behind them!! Let us bring demand for a International investigation and a referendum for Independent Eezham!! Let us win out Freedom!!

Citizens Groups Protest at Orissa Bhawan Against Brutal Police Violence on Anti POSCO Protesters

Protest at Orissa Bhawan Delhi

Support to PPSS pour in from Across the Country... February 4, New Delhi : Reacting to the inhuman attack on women and children by Orissa Police at the crack of the dawn on February 3rd, citizens groups across political spectrum today staged a dharna at Orissa Bhawan, New Delhi. Protesters joined by All India Students Association, National Alliance of People's Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group, Inqulabi Mazdoor Kendra, Socialist Front and others barged inside the Orissa Bhawan and forced the officials to come out and talk to them. At the intervention of the Delhi police protesters moved out of the premises but continued the protest outside. Speaking at the protest, Vijay Pratap said that there is only 'company raj' in Orissa and there is no legitimacy to it, before 2014 elections movements across the country need to come together and expose them. Sandeep Singh, AISA said it is completely inhuman to beat up children, whose right to protest has been accepted by National Commission of Child Rights Protection.

Surya Das, activist – film maker, said that current round of acquisition is completely illegal since there is no MoU, National Green Tribunal has suspended its environmental clearance even then they are carrying the land acquisition, for what ? Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM, added that UPA government is complicit in this too, since they are standing for a company which has been fined Rs 10 Crore by Department of Revenue Intelligence for tax evasion. They should be blacklisted from carrying out any business rather than rolling out red carpet for them. Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group, brought to fact hundreds of false cases filed against the activists by Orissa state, many of who are living in constant fear of arrest or have already been arrested and then secured bail. Protesters submitted a memorandum to the Joint Commissioner of the Orissa Bhawan, who assured conveying the concerns to the government.

Support to the Posco Pratoridh Sangram Samiti also poured in from all across the country. In a letter Medha Patkar, Maj General Sudhir Vombatkere & Sister Celia (Karnataka), Sandeep Pandey, Arundhati Dhuru (Uttar Pradesh), P Chennaiah & Ramaksrishnan Raju (Andhra Pradesh), C R Neelakandan (Kerala) and others of National Alliance of People's Movements wrote to the Chief Minister condemning the police violence and brought out all the illegalities with the project. They demanded immediate withdrawal of the police force, false cases against activists and also no further land acquisition, since the project has no legal sanction and is against the wishes of the people.

National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, People's Union for Civil Liberties, People's Union for Democratic Rights, Housing and Land Rights Network, Praja Rajya Vedike, BIRSA Jharkhand, All India Forum of Forest Movements and many other organisations from across the country condemned the brutal attack on peacefully protesting women and children. It is extremely inhuman and against all the laws that Police presence in the area has been increased and used to increase the tension and instill fear in the people. People's Movements stand in solidarity with the Posco Pratoridh Sangram Samiti and struggling people of Orissa and will continue to oppose any plan for furthering interests of POSCO in the area against people's wishes.

For details contact :9958797409 | 9868033425

Vietnamese Blogger Le Anh Hung arrested and interned in a mental institution in Hanoi

Le Anh Hung(C, white shirt) at an anti-China demonstration in Hanoi

PARIS, 26 January 2013 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights strongly denounces the virtual kidnapping of Vietnamese blogger Lê Anh Hung and his internment in a mental institution in Hanoi.

At 10.15am on Thursday 24 January, six secret security agents came to the company in Hung Yen where Hung was working and told his boss they needed to see him about “matters concerning temporary residence papers”. They then forced him into their car and took him away without any explanation. He was later found to be interned in the “Social Support Centre No 2” in Ung Hoa, Hanoi, a centre for mentally ill. When friends tried to visit him on Friday, the head of the centre confirmed that he was there, but refused to let them meet him. He said that Hung’s mother had demanded his internment, and specifically told them that no one should be allowed to see him other than herself. Le Anh Hung’s mother denies ever making such a demand.

Le Anh Hung, born in 1973, is known for his translations and blogs on political issues, especially for denouncing corruption and power abuse amongst top-level Communist Party and government officials. He has filed 70 complaints against leading figures such as Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and former Communist Party Secretary-general Nong Duc Manh, accusing them of corruption, drug dealing, arms trafficking and other serious crimes. In one Complaint filed on 6 June 2012, he accused Nong Duc Manh of conniving to secure the post of Deputy Prime Minister for Hoang Trung Hai, who he described as “a number one drug dealer, Mafia chieftain, murderer and traitor”. Le Anh Hung also participated in anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi. As a result, he has been subjected to repeated interrogations, threats and harassments by the Police.

“Detaining critics and dissidents in mental hospitals is a despicable tactic reminiscent of the Soviet Union era” said Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights. “Vietnam will clearly stop at nothing to stifle the voices of this young generation. The international community should condemn his kidnapping and detention and call on Vietnam to immediately set him free”.

Le Anh Hung may be detained under Ordinance 44 on “Handling of Administrative Violations” which empowers local Security Police and People’s Committee officials from the commune level upwards to arrest and detain citizens under “administrative detention” from 6 months to two years without any due process of law. Under Ordinance 44 (2002), people who “commit acts of violating legislation on security, public order and safety, but not to the extent of penal liability” (Article 1.3) may be detained without trial under house arrest (“probationary detention”), in “reformatories”, educational institutions, rehabilitation centres or “medical treatment establishments” (i.e. psychiatric hospitals).

The United Nations has repeatedly called on Vietnam to abrogate Ordinance 44 on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the provisions of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a state party. However, Vietnam has ignored these recommendations, and continues to implement it to detain peaceful activists. Blogger Bui Thi Minh Hang was detained for five months in an “education centre” in Thanh Hoa last year under extremely harsh conditions. Pro-democracy activist Nguyen Trung Linh is interned in the Central Psychiatric Hospital in Hanoi.

THAILAND: Arbitrary detention of a human rights defender and continued removal of constitutional protections

Jan 22, 2013

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

On December 19, 2012, the Criminal Court in Bangkok was scheduled to deliver the verdict in the case of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who has been charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code. The reading of the decision was rescheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at 9 am at the Criminal Court in Bangkok. The Asian Human Rights Commission urges all individuals concerned with freedom of expression, and human rights broadly, to attend the reading of the verdict if possible, and if not, to follow developments in this case closely.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender in Thailand. Since 2007, he has been the editor of Voice of Taksin magazine. He was arrested and taken into custody on April 30, 2011, and shortly thereafter charged with two violations of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which states that "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years." In Somyot's case, the charges were for allegedly allowing two articles with anti-monarchy content to be published in Voice of Taksin magazine. Somyot was held for six months of pre-trial detention; the hearings in his trial began on November 12, 2011 and continued until May 3, 2012. Similar to the majority of individuals who have been charged under Article 112, his repeated requests for bail were denied on the basis of the gravity of the charges against him. In August 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that Somyot's detention was arbitrary because "he has been detained for his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression provided for" in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Read the full opinion of the Working Group here).

The reason given by the Criminal Court for the deferral of the reading of the decision on December 19, 2012, and therefore the extension of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk's arbitrary detention, was the need to read a comment by the Constitutional Court in relation to Article 112 of the Criminal Code. The comment, dated October 2012, addressed a petition submitted by Somyot as well as a petition submitted by Ekachai Hongkangwan, who is being prosecuted in a separate case for alleged violations of Article 112. The comment addressed whether or not Article 112 was in contravention to Article 3 (2), Article 29, and Article 45 (1, 2) of the Constitution (The full comment can be read in Thai here). In response to concerns about each of these provisions of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court ruled that Article 112 did not stand in contravention and was therefore constitutional.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is gravely concerned by the stance taken by the Constitutional Court in their comment and their cavalier dismissal of the significant concerns presented. With regard to each of the three articles of the Constitution raised as contravened by Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the Court's explanation is at best, vague, and at worst, ideological. What makes this comment significant is both the potential impact it may have on the judgment rendered in Somyot Prueksakasemsuk's case, as well as other lese majeste cases and the broad frame of freedom of expression and human rights in Thailand.

The Constitutional Court frames their comment by citing Articles 2 and 8 of the Constitution. Article 2 states that "Thailand adopts a democratic form of government with the King as Head of the State." Article 8 states that "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action." The Court then notes that Thailand has had a king as head of state "for a long time, since the Sukhothai era, even though there was a transformation in 1932 to be a democratic regime with the king as head of the state under a constitution." The Court continues, noting that "Up until the current constitution of the kingdom, the form of regime remains one with the king as head of the state." The Court then comments on what this means, offering the interpretation that "This demonstrates the great respect, esteem, and admiration held by the people for the institution of the monarchy. The place of the Thai king as the respected and beloved center of the Thai people has been continuous, as shown in age-old royal traditions and legal conventions. The king has administered with virtue and taken action with the intention of the well-being of the people. In particular, King Bhumipol Adulyadej, the current monarch, greatly contributes to the nation and gives royal grace to the Thai people. He visits the people and bestows royally-conceived projects in different areas in order to alleviate the suffering and solve the problems and troubles of the people. He teaches the people to subsist in line with the principles of the sufficiency economy, by living in line with the middle way, having enough, and being prepared to face changes which may arise. Ordinary people are aware of the king’s conduct and his generosity. They therefore have deep-seated respect, trust, and loyalty for the king and the institution of the monarchy. The long-standing patronage of the Thai king has made the Thai people to continually respect, love, and admire the king. This is a unique characteristic of Thailand held by no other country." For this reason, the Constitutional Court explains that the state provides protection because the king is the head of state and a primary institution of the country. The Court then notes that Article 112 of the Criminal Code is a complimentary provision to Article 8 of the Constitution.

In addition, the Constitutional Court also frames the comment by noting that the purpose of Article 112 of the Criminal Code is to "control the behavior of individuals in society, protect safety, and safeguard public peace for members of society, including strengthening the security in society." The reason why it is appropriate to do so is because speech deemed to insult, defame, or threaten the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent, "may be action that destroys the hearts of Thai people who have respect, love, and are loyal to the king and the institution of the monarchy, and may cause resentment among the people."

After this introduction, which foreshadows the Constitutional Court's dismissal of the two petitions at hand, and any future petitions, the Court turns to specifically address Article 112 of the Criminal Code in relation to Article 3 (2), Article 29, and Article 45 (1, 2) of the Constitution.

Article 3 (2) of the Constitution states that "The National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Courts, other Constitutional organizations and State agencies shall perform duties of office by the rule of law." The petition noted that the classification of Article 112 of the Criminal Code as a crime of national security, and the corresponding harsh punishment, was not in line with the rule of law. In response, the Constitutional Court notes that Thailand is a democratic regime with the king as head of state. The Court further argues that the monarchy is in a special position, and therefore a special law is just because the monarchy is a primary pillar of the nation, owing to history, royal tradition, and legal convention. Rather than addressing the question of national security, and how an alleged violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code might affect it, the Constitutional Court instead attempts to redefine the rule of law to include special protection for particular individuals within the polity. i.e., the king, queen, heir-apparent, and regent.

The Constitutional Court examined Article 29 and Article 45 (1, 2) together. Article 29 is in the section of the Constitution which addresses rights, liberties, and human dignity in a broad sense, and states that "(1) The restriction of such rights and liberties as recognized by the Constitution shall not be imposed on a person except by virtue of provisions of the law specifically enacted for the purpose determined by this Constitution and only to the extent of necessity and provided that it shall not affect the essential substance of such rights and liberties. (2) The law under paragraph one shall be of general application and shall not be intended to apply to any particular case or person provided that the provision of the Constitution authorizing its enactment shall also be mentioned therein. (3) The provisions of paragraph one and paragraph two shall apply mutatis mutandis to rules or regulations issued by virtue of the provisions of the law." Article 45 states "(1) A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his or her opinion, make speeches, write, print, publicize, and make expression by other means. (2) The restriction on liberty under paragraph one shall not be imposed except by virtue of the provisions of law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, safeguarding the rights, liberties, dignity, reputation, family or privacy rights of other persons, maintaining public order or good morals of preventing the deterioration of the mind or health of the public." In response, the Constitutional Court argues that Article 112 of the Criminal Code does not have any effects on freedom of expression. The Court further notes that freedom of expression must be in line with the Constitution, and speech which defames, insults, or threatens the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent is not, and so Article 112 of the Criminal Code does not limit freedom of expression.

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to note one line in the Constitution not mentioned by the Court in their comment. The first sentence of Article 3 notes that "The Sovereign power belongs to the Thai people." Throughout this comment, rather than specifying how the Constitution might be used to uphold the rights and liberties of the people, the Constitutional Court has instead specified the conditions under which the people do not have rights, or recourse to demand their rights. Combined with a comment issued in 2011 in response to a petition filed by Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul (See AHRC-FAT-038-2011), the Constitutional Court seems to have taken up the task of systematically stripping rights and liberties out of the Constitution.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is concerned about what this comment may mean for the specific case of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years if convicted, as well as what it means broadly. The AHRC urges all concerned parties to observe the Criminal Court decision in the case of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk tomorrow and to closely follow related developments in other cases and Thai state actions and comments in relations to Article 112 of the Criminal Code.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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