The Global Digest

Press Release

Condemn the Brutal Police Violence on the Activists of VIBGYOR

R. K. Asha in hospital

On February 22, 2014, five activists of VIBGYOR International Film Festival were picked up by the police in Trichur and they were brutally beaten up inside the vehicle as well as inside the police station. Young woman cinematographer Neethu was attacked physically by male police and was subjected to sexual verbal abuse as well as physical violence. Five young activists were physically attacked and are detained by police at the Thrissur East Janamaitri Police station. Advocate R. K. Asha who came with her son and daughter to release the activists were also brutally beaten up and the male police kicked her with boots and she was dragged in front of her children. Her son and minor daughter were also subjected to physical violence. Advocate R.K. Asha, her minor daughter, Neethu, and Sruti were hospitalized in Thrissur later. The boys were detained in police custody, denied bail and were remanded for 14 days. They got interim bail next day evening and were released. We came to know that the boys were tortured inside the jail too. We unanimously condemn the brutal violence on women inside the police station and that also a practicing woman advocate and a young woman cinematographer as well as a minor girl. We also demand that the cases on five boys and Neethu, cinematographer be withdrawn immediately.

It is shocking that the police attacks on women activists of VIBGYOR took place soon after the completion of 9thVIBGYOR which focused on Gender Violence. When the work of internationally famous Eve Einsler, `Vagina Monologues’ was performed, the police tried to initiate physical violence on February15, 2014 right inside the festival ground. On February 13th, when the Sangh Parivar activists tried to stop the screening of the documentary on Kashmir `Ocean of Tears’, the police facilitated them to enter the campus and destroy the festival office. While the hooligans destroyed the office right in front of the police, no case was registered on any of these communal fascists. The activists of VIBGYOR courageously and resisted them in a united and non-violent manner and the fascists were forced to withdraw.

We are shocked at the growing state violence and communal violence on the cultural activists and we demand an immediate action on the guilty police officers. We demand that all the guilty police officers be suspended and legal actions undertaken on them immediately. We appeal to all women’s groups, human rights groups, activists and film personalities to strengthen this struggle against police violence on activists immediately. We appeal to all concerned sections to circulate this message immediately.

Friends of VIBGYOR: Endorsements: •BhupaliKusum Vitthal,Centre for Education andCommunication, New Delhi •Shri Prakash, Film Maker, Jharkhand •Sameera Jain, Film Maker •AnjaliMonteiro and K.P. Jayasankar, Film Makers, TISS, Mumbai •Sunita Prasad •KavitaBahl, Director, TopQuark Films, Delhi •Supriya Madangarli, Mangalore •Anuradha, Hyderabad •Juhi Jain, feminist activist and writer New Delhi •Seena Viovin •SuhasiniMulay, Film personality, New Delhi •Shampa Sengupta, Disability and Gender Rights Activist, Kolkata •Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal •Sanal Sasidharan •Teena Gill, Film maker, New Delhi •Subuhi Jiwani •Sudha K.F, Central English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. •Benny Kuruvilla, New Delhi •Deepa Dhanraj, Film Maker •Pushpa Achanta, Writer (Bangalore) •Vasanth Kannabiran •Kirity Roy, National Convenor (PACTI) •PT George, Intercultural Resources •Sujata Gothoskar, independent researcher and activist •AchinVanaik former Dean, School Of Social Sciences, Delhi University •IndianSocial Action Forum (INSAF) •SmitaVanniyar, School of Media and Culture Studies, TISS •SuklaSen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai •PrafulBidwai •Muhammadamen •AbhilashB, Communications Specialist, Delhi •KalpanaMehta, Indore •SomaMarik, School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University •Dyuti •SurabhiSharma •Dr.K.Lalita, Director Yugantar, a Hyderabad based NGO &Vice-president Anveshi research Centre for Women's Studies •SabaDewan, film maker, New Delhi •Vani Subramanian, Saheli Delhi •Kaveri R I, Hyderabad •Geeta Seshu, Consulting Editor, The Hoot, Free Speech Hub. •Elizabeth Philip, Sahaja, Kottayam •Anivar Aravind , Moving republic, Bangalore •Rohini Hensman (writer and activist) •Akhil Kumar, Sub-Editor, Youth Ki Awaaz •Akshay Pathak •Archana B, Bergen, Norway •Saba Prateeksha- Musician, and Director Hansadhwani Foundation •VIMOCHANA,Forum for Women's Rights, Bangalore •AllIndia Students' Associaion, Mumbai; •Jan Sanskriti Manch, Mumbai •Ram Puniyani, Writer •Civic Chandran, Pathabhedam •Sara Joseph, Writer •K.P. Sasi, Film Maker •P. Baburaj, Film Maker •Sreemith Shekhar, Film Maker •Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker •Magline Peter, Theeradesa Mahilavedi, Thiruvananthapuram •Meghnath, Akhra, Film Maker, Jharkhand •J. Devika, Research Scholar •K.E.K. Satish, Writer, Film Maker, •Wilfred D’Costa, INSAF, New Delhi •Kutti Revathi, Writer, Film Maker, Tamil Nadu •Amudhan RP, Film Maker, Chennai •Mark Achbar, Film Maker, Canada •Leena Patel, New Delhi •FTII Students’ Association, Pune •Asha G, Thiruvananthapuram •K. Saradamoni, Thiruvanthapuram •Shehna R Shora •All Indian Students’ Association •JNU Students’ Union, New Delhi •Irfan Engineer, Centre for Study of Society And Secularism •Rahul Roy, Film Maker •Marcello and Karina Bichara, Brazil •PN Gopi Krishnan, Poet •VG Thampi, Poet, Writer • I. Shanmukhadas, Film Critic •Priyanandan, Film Maker •Rekha Raj, Writer, Activist •Anvar Ali, Poet •Musthafa Deshamangalam, Film Maker •M. Jisha, Freelance journalist •MG Sasi, Film Maker •I. Gopinath, Freelance Journalist •Satya Sagar, Journalist •T. Peter, KSMTF •Jagdish Chandra, New Social Alternative, Bangalore •Deepu, Pedestrian Pictures, Bangalore •Ashok Mathew Philip, SICHREM, Bangalore •Dhirendra Pande, All India Secular Forum, Orissa •Vijaysingh Ronald David, National Adivasi Alliance, Karnataka •Vasanth Kannabiran, ASMITA Women’s Resource Centre, Hyderbad

M.P. HC directs high level meet between Chief Secretary, MoEF Officials and NBA on ISP-OSP Canals

High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Indore Shri A.K. Khanvilkar

MoEF files Affidavit: Severe non-compliance concluded...Alleges non-co-operation by NVDA towards NCA. 18th February, 2014: The Hon’ble Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Indore Shri A.K. Khanvilkar, today directed the Government of M.P. to constitute a high level committee under the Chief Secretary to discuss and resolve issues pertaining to the Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar (OSP) Canals in the Narmada valley. The CJ directed that Medha Patkar and 4 other representatives of Narmada Bachao Andolan would be invited to a meeting of this Committee to be convened by the Chief Secretary at Bhopal in the 1st week of March, 2014 and attended by the Principal Secretary of Narmada Valley Development Department, Secretary, Agriculture and Water Resources, officials of MoEF from Bhopal and Delhi and the inputs / suggestions of NBA would be taken for compliance on various measures and resolution of issues raised by NBA in the PIL on the ISP and OSP Canals and the orders issued by the Hon’ble Court. Upon insistence to hear him, the CJ also permitted one representative of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh to be present in the meeting.

In its latest report filed on 17th February, in the ongoing PIL, the MoEF states that out of 36,000 ha in Phase – I, On-Farm Development (OFD) Works have been carried on just about 3700 hecatres and the same is abysmally disproportionate to the irrigation. Committee views this as a serious dereliction from consideration of irrigation and drainage management. The Expert Committee has also observed serious lapses due to deficient design and planning, inadequate attention to operation maintenance , CD works and link drains not concurrently constructed, no restoration, even after breaches in Aug, 2013 till January 14 (even to this date). The Committee reported, through the Ministry, poor quality canal work causing severe damage to farmers, should result in imposing penalty on the contract agency.On the issues of Narmada Banks irrigated tract issues (in those villages in close proximity to the river, where 70-80% irrigation exists), Committee has reiterated NVDA that all works in these areas be deferred, until Committee takes a final view.The NVDA itself has accepted that 40 villages in Phase – III of ISP, Badwani District have 100% irrigation, but overlap with the ISP command area. Similarly, dozens of villages in the proposed OSP command are already irrigated in the tehsils of Maheshwar, Manawar, Dharampuri and Kukshi. About 88 villages in OSP and 31 in ISP, i.e. 31, 570 hecatres command is being re-irrigated.

MoEF has also taken a categorical position that as per the clearance of 1987 to the ISP and the Narmada Water Scheme, 1987 Narmada Control Authority (NCA) is empowered to monitor all projects on the Narmada river, including the ISP. The Ministry has taken serious objection to the approach of NVDA with regard to non-cooperation with NCA, non-provision of necessary data and documents and has stated that this constitutes breach of the conditions on which the environment clearance was granted. It may be pertinent to note that the Hon’ble CJ issued a detailed order on 3rd January, 2014 and directed various state and central authorities including the Chief Secretary, Govt. of M.P., Principal Secretary, NVDD, Secretary, MoEF, Secretary, Expert Committee and Planning Commission to file point-wise replies to all issues highlighted in the Order. NBA submitted a detailed Action Plan and raised various issues such as environmental non-compliance, lack of land based rehabilitation, compensation to be granted for losses etc. which were taken on record by the Court and specific orders for compliance were issued. Medha Patkar, appearing in person, pointed out the huge scale of impacts that have already occurred and are bound to occur in the coming monsoon due to non-implementation of the on-farm development (OFD) and command area development (CAD). Lack of adequate drainage works in numerous villages from Phase – I to Phase – IV of the Project, has ccaused massive losses, while the affected farmers are neither counted nor compensated.

During the hearing today, the Court took cognizance of the voluminous ‘Action Taken Report’ filed by the state government and the Affidavit of the MoEF which exposed the gaps and inadequacies in the canal and command area planning and execution works by NVDA, which has led to severe impacts on agricultural land and crop losses. The Court questioned the senior counsel for the state for the non-serious manner in which it has been treating the entire issue, especially in the light of the clear conclusions of the Expert Committee, MoEF, not just in the latest report, after its filed visit in January, 2014, but in a series of earlier reports, recommendations and clearance letters of the MoEF. NBA appreciates the conciliatory approach adopted by the Hon’ble Chief Justice to resolve all the issues and hope that the meeting with the senior most officials of the state government and officials of the MoEF would lead to a fair, open and conclusive dialogue on various outstanding issues, so that the fruits of the project reach the actual beneficiaries, needy farmers in time and that there is no unnecessary losses to other farmers, whether through canal breaches or canal excavation in irrigated areas. The serious issues of rehabilitation with land and compensation for farmers losing less than 60% land would also be discussed in the upcoming meeting with the CS.

Hearing another application filed by Mr. Virendra Patidar challenging the diversion of Omkareshwar reservoir (Narmada) waters through the Narmada – Kshipra Link, the Hon’ble Court expressed his opinion that that the state government cannot change the command area or original plan, without approval from the central sanctioning authorities i.e. MoEF and Planning Commission. The applicant was directed to raise the issues before the Monitoring Committee of MoEF. The Hon’ble Court has listed the canals matter for further hearing on 24th March, by when parties must report back on the status of compliance. Dozens of affected farmers from different villages and Tehsils were present during the court proceedings, represented by Medha Patkar. Senior Counsel Shri Shekahr Bhargav appeared for the GoMP / NVDA. Mr. Vivek Sharan, appeared for the MoEF, Union of India.

What of Kind of Justice India has?

David Coleman Headley

“India won't invoke a law that provides for compulsory death penalty to the guilty in the case against the Italian marines accused of killing two local fishermen, a top home ministry official said Friday, as New Delhi thrashed out a solution hoping that it would help save strained ties with Rome.”. How can ministry say that Death Penalty is not applicable to the Italian Mariners as per SUA? What kind of Jurisprudence do we have? What kind of legal system do we have? It is a crime that we apply criminal law to different people differently. We have lost our sense justice. We are scared of the European Union and the MNCS. There is a limit to this.

On the other hand India was not even to correct the Indictment upon Deviyani after she went through such hardships in the USA in the name of fraud in Visa. We are still under Colonialism and MNCs. Our ruling class will never learn to stand on our feet. David Coleman Headley, the main man behind Mumbai Blast was not even handed over India. If the USA was on the side of India, they would have picked him up from anywhere and would have murdered him. There is one Justice for the USA and European Union another Justice for India. When Union Carbide killed thousands of people in Bhopal Gas tragedy of 1984, destroyed environment and thousands are still victims of the tragedy the MNCs escaped from any liability. So MNCs have one Justice and the Victims have another Justice.

In 1986 Chernobyl accident took place and 20 million children were borne deformed and the 97% plant has been alive and radiation affected 26 European Countries India entered into an agreement with the Russian MNCs to start Koodankulam Nuclear Plant in 1988 inspite of the opposition. There is no safety for the Indian people, no liability to the Russian MNC. Our ruling class has no value for the Indian People. They are used by the MNCCs and the Rich Countries to make profits through corruption David Coleman Headley,. We the victims should rise up and fight for Justice, Human Rights and True Democracy in the World.

Thomas Kocherry,, 10-2-2014

Cancel Environmental Clearance for POSCO Project

The beautiful Khandadhar mountain

New Delhi, January 15: A protest was organised by 14 groups under the banner of Delhi Solidarity Group at Paryavaran Bhavan today to protest the Environmental Clearance given to POSCO project in Odisha in violation of the Honorable National Green Tribunal’s decision and the Meena Gupta Committee findings. The groups demanded cancellation of the clearance until recommendations of the NGT and Meena Gupta Committee are fulfilled as well as a complete halt on forceful land acquisition and destruction of forest and beetel vines. The action was organised in solidarity with POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) as part of observing January 15th as National Protest Day against POSCO.

In the ongoing case the NGT had decided to stay the earlier clearance given to the project even while the question of forest clearance has not been settled. Despite this, the MoEF has cleared the project just before the arrival of the South Korean President, Ms. Park Geun Hye. On 30th March, 2012, in the matter of Prafulla Samantra v/s Union of India, the National Green Tribunal suspended the clearance given to the project by the ministry untill a full review by a committee consisted of judicial and expert members of the committee. The tribunal in its order even reduced the total capacity of the project from 12 MTP to 4 MTP. But the ministry has again given clearance to the project without following these conditions and more specifically without an MoU of the Project proponent i.e. POSCO with the state of Odisha. To note, the MoU had lapsed in June, 2010.

The Meena Gupta Committee in 2010 too reported the Environmental Clearance and the Forest Clearance as illegal and it recommended for additional study and due compliance of all the conditions. But, the Environment Ministry which is incharge of ensuring environment policy for the country overlooked all the conditions, violations by the project proponent, state and more importantly the ongoing struggle against the project by the people for their right to life and livelihood for last seven years now.

Delinking of Port Project is not enough, the clearance should ensure of no mining which is already proposed as the project will include iron ore mining for over 30 years (total 600 million tones) at captive mines located in Keonjhar and Sundergarh district of Odisha, destroying the beautiful Khandadhar mountain and disturbing the tribal culture of the area. When none of these conditions were looked into and recommendations ignored then how can the Ministry go ahead and clear the controversial POSCO Project at the cost of life and livelihood of such a large population?

Delhi Solidarity Groups demanded: 1. The Environmental and Forest Clearance should be canceled until the recommendations of the NGT and Meena Gupta Committee are fulfilled 2. Forceful land acquisition and destruction of forest and beetel vines should be stopped 3. Construction of boundary walls for the project should be stopped immediately, since there is no MoU and any construction is completely illegal

AISA, Delhi Solidarity Group, INSAF (Indian Social Action Forum), JNUSU, NAPM, NBA, NCDHR, Peace, PSAARC India, RSA, Toxics Watch Alliance


Justice Kurian Joseph

The long pending Tehri HEP case was again heard in Supreme Court by Justice H.L. Ghokhle and Justice Kurian Joseph bench. It must be remembered that on 29th July 2005, all the divergent tunnels were closed and tehri dam reservoir started filling to its capacity but till now rehabilitation had not been completed. Environmental conditions were not kept in mind while constructing the dam infrastructure. Bridges that used to connect villages on two sides of the river have not yet been constructed which have increased distances to a large extent resulting in extreme problems of commutation for villagers. Corruption on rehabilitation issues have grown higher and higher with time. Grievance redressal mechanism has not been allowed to function properly due to various technical reasons.

Till now, land rights not been given to old oustees who were rehabilitated due to Tehri HEP and situation of the provision of civic amenities is also in bad conditions. N.D. Juyal and Shekhar Singh challenged the Nainital High Court verdict dated 29th July 2005 which had allowed Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) to close the tunnel to fill the reservoir. Battle is going on in the Supreme Court and it has proved that rehabilitation of this project has not yet been completed. So the order of 29th July 2005 High Court was proven wrong. Supreme Court looked in to the matter with deep concern and did not allow THDC to fill the reservoir fully. Even state government did not give clearance to THDC to fill the reservoir. The new problem that has arose is the issue of 80 villages in the vicinity of Tehri dam which are now on the risk of subversion and landslides. Life of these villagers have become miserable and they deserve rehabilitation because their villages are not anymore in the condition to live. For them THDC and government has planned to come up with a new collateral policy. The tussle between the THDC and state government is going on because State Government wants to rehabilitate new oustees in Haridwar and Dehradun district. On the other hand THDC is putting pressure to rehabilitate around the reservoir itself.

The petitioner, represented by Advocate Sanjay Parikh pleaded that there is no need of any collateral policy because these people are also affected due to the same Tehri dam so these oustees should get rehabilitation under the same policy as for the earlier ones. And they should be rehabilitated in Haridwar, Dehradun area with full civic amenities, land rights and cultivable land which were promised to the old oustees as their rights but were never fulfilled. Advocate Sanjay Parikh pleaded that this is our main focus and we’ve filed other issues like bridges, command area plan, catchment area treatment plan etc. that should be heard by the court. The point that this area is environmentally fragile also needs to be understood. This shall allow formulation of better rehabilitation policies for the people. Justice Ghokhle very humanely, said that our first motto is to give land to the people who were displaced.

He further gave reference of the Supreme Court order dated 1 Sept 2003, “It is made clear that the condition of pari-passu implementation of conditions prior to the commissioning of the project shall be closely monitored under the existing mechanism set up by MoEF and the project authorities will ensure that prior to closing of diversion tunnels T1/T2 for impoundment of the reservoir, evacuation, resettlement and rehabilitation are completed in all respects.” Which was not done. In Narmada and other cases, dam got constructed but rehabilitation promises and schemes were never implemented. There were many cases regarding that in SC which puts burden on the court too apart from all the miseries that the people have to face at the cost of pseudo development of our country. Advocate Parikh said that question is not only below 830 mts (the height of the reservoir from the sea level) but also about villages around the reservoir which are sinking as they are also directly affected.

Senior council Mr. Gonsalves supporte the arguments. Ms. Rachana Shrivastava, learned counsel appearing for the State of Uttarakhand submits that the State is of the view that the affected families should be rehabilitated downstream because the upper-region is fragile. According to the State Government the number of such families is 414. The State Government has identified the land in Khanpur area of District Haridwar and it is also proposing to find out appropriate land in District Dehradun. Mr. Raval, learned senior counsel appearing for the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation on the other hand submits that rehabilitation should be upstream and not downstream. Ms. Shrivastava submits that a proposal has been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forest and it is awaiting clearance from them. Mr. H.P. Rawal also said that we should also be allowed to file our issues to Ministry of Environment and Forest Ministry otherwise the issue will not be dealt with effectively.

The Supreme Court expects the Central Government to take a decision thereon as expeditiously as possible and if possible, report further development to this Court by the next date of hearing that is scheduled to be on 4th March, 2014. So tussle is going on and oustees are waiting for mere rehabilitation, at the very least. NO DAM SUPPORTERS ARE SAYING ANY THING ON THIS ISSUE AS THEY ARE BUSY LOBBYING FOR NEW DAMS PROJECTS. Vimalbhai and Puran Singh Rana

ASIA: A new publication - : "The Law, Patriarchy and Religious Fundamentalism: Women's Rights in Pakistan"

Jan 16, 2014

Pakistani Women

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and its sister organisation the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are pleased to announce the online edition of a new publication: "The Law, Patriarchy and Religious Fundamentalism: Women's Rights in Pakistan". The publication counts a total of 254 pages, which included the research conducted on the topic, a selection of 30 cases covered by the AHRC in the past few years and four appendixes. It may be found here.

While referring to a number of actual cases in order to document the numerous violations of basic human rights which the women of Pakistan suffer, the publication also explores the recent historical background and the cultural patterns of the country in the attempt to define the main reasons behind the gross forms of abuses and discrimination taking place. A deeply patriarchal mentality and gender-biased interpretation of the religious texts are presented as twining components, impacting both society and institutions.

The book also discusses the prevailing poor and weak criminal justice system and the absence of the rule of law with regard to women. It also mentions the patriarchal mindset of the judges and courts, particularly those of the lower judiciary, which through its working provides impunity to the perpetrators. It is a major flaw in the working of the courts that decide cases on the basis of state versus accused persons but never considers the victim's point of view.

The main purpose of this publication is to offer an overview of the most common and merciless forms of inequalities experienced by half of the population in Pakistan and which affect not only victims and survivors, by society in its entirety. Throughout the book, several reflections are shared as possible measures to raise awareness and bring about improvements and change.

The book is written in accessible and clear language and may be seen as a possible working tool for human rights organisations focusing on women, as well as an explanatory reading for people interested in gender issues, such as staff of governmental and nongovernmental organisations, students, activists and so on. Copies of the book may be obtained by request from the Asian Legal Resource Centre at the contact details given above.

Celebrate Humanity by Donation of Organs-Year 2005

Kamala Hassan(Bollywood star)

My tribute to Mr. Vijay Singh Nakoti who died in ICU-Himlayan Medical Institute Jolly Grand,Dehradun due to doctors negligence. --Written by Rakesh Manchanda in 2006.

A revisit to my past-(2000-5),reminds me of my extensive tours and travel plans in India for business and sale of Life Saving Devices. Ordinary overloaded buses ,shared jeeps, tireless rides in the difficult village terrain kept me engaged and updated. Village haat (baazar) ,new customers and new friendship always kept me rich and gave me a cheerful experience. Rubbing shoulders with `Aam admi`-the common man and joyful journeys kept me fit and alert at ground zero. As a learning student at the end of any hard day work my balance sheet of experiences and its self audit was important.

I used to put my experiences straight in Hindi as `Muhhoobat Nafrat ka khatha`- a Love Hate account. Doctors and most hospital administrators liked me not because was of my expensive & `branded` business solutions but because of my blunt attitude & my straightforward professional suggestion. Helping and informing my new business partners how to refill their emotional bank was my passion. Instead of getting trapped via pundit ji or an astrologer or an expensive doctor I advised my clients to control their own future. This self communication and business `funda` about your own irreversible day and actions against all odds was never easy. Surgeons who knew me and understood the importance of my scientific information asked me to meet them inside the restricted Operation Theatre. Then there were hospital administrators who at times hounded me and hated me when they used to see me removing my mask while coming out of the operation theatre. Their remarks were loud and very clear : `You are not an expert`.

Yes ! I never claimed to be an expert but a student of life and its safety. It required a daily skill to polish presentation. To compete in the market. A chiselling attitude to Stay-in-Alive. My vision was simple : Never run after the business; the business shall run after you. Control the environmental cycle the business with goodwill shall start knocking your doors ! So what did I pour daily in my love hate cycle ? On my love list the philanthropic contacts of people was endless. It included young and old doctors, technicians who used to share free medicine, free ECG camps, free blood sugar diagnosis for poor at week ends. Then there were promoters of companies importing household blood sugar test devices, Red Cross Society motivators, Blood pressure digital set promoters, Oxygen concentrator importers, Nebuliser sellers, Medical representatives, writers, journalists and of course motivated free blood donors.

Management tricks, I learned fast and `free of cost`. I never got any formal expensive training in any renowned institute. It is a different experience that I keep reading management stories which helped me to polish my business and social skills.I recollect in 2002, I was invited to conduct workshops in Army and ITBP hospitals based in Kashmir Valley and they were wise enough to send the bullet proof closed jeeps to pick me up from the Airport. My stay for a week and outings was pre- planned with enough security but my well wishers in Delhi never wanted me to visit Kashmir the border state with Pakistan haunted by terrorists. My organised and unorganised `capacity building` and `life safety` workshops and subsequent presentations was my daily work .Dwelling on subjects like if you get your finger chopped in an accident what needs to be done was religious ? How the accidental `divorced finger say in a factory which was chopped off needs to be handled ? How this separated finger can be carefully refixed ?-Provided the survival time between the chopped finger or a hand or a foot is managed and within next few hours it is taken to the operation theatre and surgery is done within the recommended time limit.

As a team leader and as a promoter of scientific devices which can be used by non medical persons, I was engaged in promotional stories. Few new and old stories used to revolve around the organs like Heart, Lungs, Brain, Eyes, Ears, Fingers. How these vital organs work in strict coordination as a team ? What if the organs become arrogant, compete, corrupt and start in-house fight and divorce each other ? What if they stop supporting each other ? My reverse engineering lessons learned in the market are still incomplete and need a daily correct support. I remember the day when one of my customer ; a renowned cardiologist of ex- PM-India and HOD-Cardiology-AIIMS- Prof.S.C. Manchanda called me . His advise was to meet and collaborate with a new NGO involved in donation of body organs like heart, limbs, kidney, liver, eyes, ears. This new social collaborator in my business workshops gave me new ideas ,new stories and new business plans with new permutations & combinations. This NGO team was trying hard to motivate people to donate their organs. As per my crude standards the team leaders were weak in communication and they were not able to convert the God fearing north Indian as possible donors of their organs after death. Traditionally in India after `natural death` people do not entertain the idea about their bodies to be cut open and post-mortem done. After death the organs today are safely removed by the intervention and at the cost of the said NGO or hospital cost and are then safely transferred to the recognised Donor organ banks. Later it gets audited by transparent list of doners. and beneficiary list chosen for implants also needs to be matched. Audit and transparency in this holy sensitive work is a must. Donation of organ always taught me the importance of time management which demands quick decisions within the time frame. If the eyes of the donar are not removed and transplanted within four to six hours after the biological death the donation exercise and its social audit is deemed as useless.

Unfortunately this challenging team work of organ collection and donation failed. Promoters could not meet their target of winning atleast one donor each week. One fine morning the team vanished without informing me. Suddenly I realised that I used to scold and tease the promoters a lot. This NGO never contacted me again. Then after several years a well wisher rang me up in my father`s house in DehraDun from Calcutta and asked me to switch on the Television. I saw several channels giving coverage of a heroic NGO organisation works called Ganadarpan. For days together few national channels endlessly discussed the increasing list of several lakh organ doners. This was discussed along with a sad occasion and the last rites of the ex-CM of WB, Shree Jyoti Basu who had donated all his organs via this NGO. Dead body and brain for research students was preserved for several days. I was happy to see this success story of Organ donation on National television channels. This religious work of donation which got written off from my memory and from my selfish list of relationships was a self reminder that I was a lazy team leader who needs a lot of improvements. Recently Pak. PM-Yousuf Raza Gilani announced that he shall donate his liver after his death. Organ donation still needs Asian Poster Boys like Kamala Hassan(Bollywood star) to promote and make the donors generous.

A TNN report says around 3000 patients die each day due to no generous attitude of Indian organ donors. Indian donation score card today is 0.08 donors per million population while a small country Spain has 35.1 organ donors per million. According to Union Health Minster of India, GulamNabi Azad only 38,000 eyes are collected annually against more then one lakh Corneas replacement appetite in India. My web of business stories at times got inspired by Hollywood movies like `Baby Day Out`. Source of one new story was inspired from Indian Epic `Arjun in mahabharat` who gifted to Bheesaham Pitama a pillow and a bed made by shooting arrows in the battlefield. Position of galaxy of arrows and the uplifted chin of the victim was such positioned that it helped the victim to stay alive for several days. It is the lifted position of the chin that did the trick to delay the death. Just as the arrows were never removed the modern science teaches tell us why not to remove the knife from the unconscious stabbed victim till the expert help is not reached. Motive behind this exercise is to delay and if not defeat the arriving chariots of Yumraj the Hindu God of Death.

Why a pillow should not be used under the head of an unconscious victim ? Why a pillow or support with height under the foot instead of support under the head is better while saving the life of an unconscious person was a challenge ? Such myths, stories and epics helped me to make my scientific presentations interesting. Silent self learning and my experience was also getting rich. Paramilitary doctor friends from forces(Army, Navy, Airforce and police) enjoyed sharing with me the valuable X-ray reports of soldiers reported fit but were still carrying compromised bullets inside the body. Bullets inside the body are left untouched or are not removed. The is wisely done by team of doctors who do not want to risk and unplug the wound. A risk in such a situation can keep the team organs dis-united.

Unfortunately at times when you find a victim in ICU struggling to keep his own `team organs` like heart lungs and brain in shape with help of external oxygen and ventilator and then when you hear that most of the doctors and nurses go on Dusshera Holiday and leave the victim alone then there is something seriously wrong in our collective team work. Consumer pressure and culture in this direction is already weak. Why we still hesitate to question powerful hospitals, bankers, insurance, police, transporters, Netas, Abhinetas ? Such hesitation or pitfalls if any should remind us about our own lack of confidence and experience in applying the magic of correct team work and enjoying the Win Win results. During my search for solutions, I try to learn and practise to shoot problems and not persons. I aways tried to look for what is wrong before looking into who is wrong. This helped me to nurse relations for long and protect them.

Day to day speed breakers in a vertical business team like assistant-boss coordination, trouble shooting skills, relationship magic (with or without gifts) which I acknowledge each day still tease me. They need collective improvement. Alone I cannot force a change. Business by heart or `business by mind` or by both needs more exploring. A fun filled light hearted work culture as religion is another challenge still untouched by me and several others. How to cheer and motivate teams during sports event, during industrial production, blood donation and religious gathering still needs more time. Time is the villain and it is just vaporising fast. Are we ready ?Are we ready to build a new day, a new love list with no hate, a new task , a new solution at our daily work sites ? The choice to live and celebrate humanity is all yours !

Note : This craft written in Public Interest was published in North India and its contents can be reused, quoted by any reader as and when required in his administrative workshops. Those critics who wish to invest time are requested to send me technical corrections, and suggestions if any. I wish to thank my colleagues in Grafax Cotton Sarl and Grafax cotton Pvt Ltd for giving me an opportunity to help me visit my past-2000-2005.

MoEF Expert Committee visits ISP and OSP canal area: Listens to farmers

Medha Patkar (C)

Visit to continue tomorrow as well: Serious issues and impacts exposed. 4th January, 2014: The Expert Committee appointed by MoEF to appraise and approve the environmental works related to the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar Canals visited the villages in the Khargene and Khandwa districts today. Dr. B.P. Das, Chairman, Mr. T.K. Nair, Bio Diversity Expert, Dr. B.B. Director, Director, (River Valley Projects), MoEF, Mr. Lakhwinder Singh, Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhopal were the Committee members who visited the villages to inspect the progress and problems related to construction of canals, the on-farm development works and other works as a part of command area development carried out in both the projects as well as the water logging, salinization due to seepage and canal breaches in various villages.

The Committee was accompanied by tens of senior officials of NVDA in more than a dozen vehicles as also tens of villages in the canal affected and command areas. The field level assessment of the progress of canal and CAD works in the Phase-I areas of OSP and ISP brought out vividly that while each distributaries in this Phase are built and have waters released, to cover the command area upto a few thousand hectares in each, it is also seen that there are large chunks of lands falling outside the command area, which are benefitted and while many land holdings in the command area also not irrigated in the command, but by pumps and pipelines put up directly on the canals.

It was also seen that while in certain areas, without canal irrigation, large tracts right from the beginning of the command area are also seriously affected and losses worth crores of rupees are borne by the farmers, without compensation being paid. The Committee was given details lists of farmers, whose land was affected even without acquisition and the farmers expressed their anguish and anger, as in Mokhangaon, Toklai, Chhota Kelva and Gujarkhedi. While the NVDA officials showed certain areas where distributaries or minors were built, committee observed that lining was non-existent for main canals from 58 to 65 kms at least and in almost all distributaries, the lining was not of cement, but of cement blocks, not properly joined. The Committee reiterated that lining is a must and water should not be released without full lining. NBA has warned that the problem of water logging would be worst as was anticipated in many expert Committee reports and as happened in Bhakra Nangal, where 2 lakh hectares of land was affected and huge losses occurred.

At few places, the chairmen of the Water Users Associations which were formed in the command area villages long back tried to belittle the issues of the canal-affected farmers and questioned their demanding compensation and completion of the pre-conditional works. However, at the end of the day, people in village after village and even the committee accepted that losses to the title holder farmers must be assessed and paid. In the concluding heated discussions the Committee has to accept that a number of recommendations in its earlier reports remain to be fulfilled and once again entrusted the responsibility to the NVDA officials. These include compensation for muck deposited illegally on un-acquired lands, review of already irrigated areas in the villages on the banks of Narmada, affected by Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar dams,

The Chairman also admitted that the Back Water Levels of Sardar Sardar Project are yet to be finally calculated and this needs to be considered so as to ensure no overlap of BWL and command area. Committee would continue to visit villages in the second phase of OSP and if possible, ISP tomorrow. This will include visit to villages where nothing short of disasters occurred in the monsoon of 2013 due to massive canal breaches. The affected farmers would also follow the Committee and give them a concluding brief tomorrow. NBA also notes that there is an interim order on the ISP and OSP canals passed by the Hon’ble High Court. A detailed repose to the same shall follow soon.

Deven Tomar Mukesh Bhagoria Jamsing Richa Phone: 09826811982

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI USA) announces the selection of Mumbai as the host city for the AAPI GHS 2015

Specil Report
By Ajay GhoshMedia

Mumbai City

Press Conference ToBe Held at Trident Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai on January 6th, 2014 at 11.30 am. Mumbai, India; January 1st, 2014: American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI USA) has selected Mumbai as the host city for the AAPI GHS 2015. To appraise the media about the plans and programs envisaged for the 9th Global Health Summit to be held on January 2nd – 4th 2015, AAPI invites you to a press conference at Trident Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai on January 6th 2014 at 11.30 am.

This Summit will be in collaboration with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs & Union Ministry of Health, the Government of Maharashtra , several participating physician associations and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, with participation from some of the world’s renowned physicians, community leaders and healthcare industry giants. and will follow a highly successful GHS 2014 to be held in Ahmedabad January 2 - 4, 2014. The Press Conference is expected to be addressed by Shri Suresh Shetty, Maharashtra State Health Minister, Shri S.J Kunte, Bombay Municipal Commissioner, Deans of the Municipal and Government Colleges, Dr. Jayesh Shah, AAPI President, Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, President-Elect and Anwar Feroz, Honorary Advisor of AAPI.

“The Organizing Committee members represent all major teaching institutions and the practitioners, who are selected for their proven records as excellent organizers, have individually consented to work for the meeting,” says Dr. Jahagirdar, who will Preside over the Event in 2015. “We are fortunate to attract their enthusiasm, and consider this as an auspicious start to the Summit.”“Physicians of Indian origin have earned a name for themselves in the medical field and India is now being projected as a medical tourism hub,” says Dr. Jayesh Shah, president of AAPI. “Harnessing this great wealth for the greater good of our motherland is what these successive Summits have achieved.” According to him, “Since the first summit we have achieved several tangibles including the engagement of all notable sections of Indian government, and a ground breaking start of an alliance between AAPI, IMA & MCI. We have also been instrumental in the ban on smoking in public places and introducing the concept of emergency medical care in India.” With its successful Summits in Ahmedabad and the one planned in Mumbai, AAPI plans to maintain this momentum and take the collaboration and contributions to new heights, Dr. Shah says.

Describing the message and theme for the Summit, Dr. Jahagirdar says, “This AAPI GHS Team’s key word is CONSOLIDATION, to enhance the achievements of the previous Summits, and continue all sustainable projects either research, community outreach or clinical with a multi-year need based platform.” According to him, in Maharashtra, there will be a pioneering drive to transmit information gleaned from workshops and clinical tracks at the Summit to the District levels. This ECHO project would be simple, cost effective and practical method of rapid dissemination of knowledge. The emphasis is on learning, and hence a deep involvement of Teaching institutions is encouraged, he goes on to add. A new approach will be to begin programs and projects sooner, and present the results at the GHS in January 2015.

Planned in collaboration with a number of Indian Doctors’ Associations, and Healthcare delivery Organizations from U.K., Canada and Australia, AAPI will host the Ninth Annual Global Health Summit on January 2–4,2015 in Mumbai, at the Trident Hotel - Nariman Point. The Summit will include four Plenary Sessions, and six skill enhancement hands on training workshops. There will also be Symposiums on Public-private partnerships, a high level CEO Forum, in addition to Research activities and poster sessions, and a ceremony to recognize contributions in the basic and applied sciences. The glitterati factor of the Bollywood world will be harnessed to have the celebrities either sponsor or support medical or community projects. “We are confident there will be those who will magnanimously offer to be the “poster person” and we will attempt to match them to appropriate causes,” says Dr. Jahagirdar, who hails from Mumbai.

According to Dr. Jahagirdar, the venues for the Summit will be distributed between the Trident Hotel and the academic institutions for the workshops. An Excellence in Education Committee will consist of Vice Chancellors and Deans of Indian Universities, Heads of Professional Societies in India, and leading experts from USA, UK, Canada and other nations. In addition, there will be the national and state policy makers attending for discourses and discussions on current and future healthcare policies. More details will be available very shortly at the website Enquiries should be directed to:

Two-day National Consultation on “Agrarian Reforms And Land Rights” December 16-17, New Delhi

Indian farmer faced with drought land

Land rights and agrarian reform are two fundamental issues that have been at the centre of peoples’ struggles working for safeguarding peoples’ livelihood and self-governance over livelihood resources. The concept of access and ownership of people over natural resources has been fundamentally and constitutionally challenged under the neo-liberal trend by replacing the notion of ‘common goods’ such as land and other natural resources fauna, flora, water, air into ‘private goods’. Important to mention that conversion of a virtuous source as ‘land’ into freely tradable commodity is not only against nature but also against natural justice and natural rights of the toiling people and specially of the landless and poor cultivator peasants and primary producers. Further, it has also negatively affect the labour rights of the labour force engaged in the agrarian sector.

This has not only negated peoples’ natural and inalienable rights over natural resources but also increased the concerns over critical agrarian issues and precisely on the issue of self reliance on food sovereignty. The process of mass-conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes and massive land acquisition for PPPs under speedy national investment board is one such example of states’ responses to the issue. There is also a new Act which facilitates the corporate to control the natural resources even after the years of struggles to repeal the Land Acquisition Act 1894. While there has been a clear negation of demands by various peoples’ movements struggling at various fronts and even parliamentary standing committee recommendations probing a more vetoed power under the concept of eminent domain.

Furthermore, there has been obvious change in the ‘rationale of production’ in agrarian sector that has also determined the land use policy, alienating ‘commons’ from the ‘right to grow’ and converting them in a form of producers for markets as modeled under neo-liberal policies. Therefore, a concrete and collective addressal of land rights and agrarian reform is important to emphasis the rights of ‘commons’ on natural resources and ‘rationale of rights of primary produces’. Under this background, we invite you to a two-day national consultation 16-17th Dec. 2013 on ‘Land Rights and Agrarian reform’ to share and discuss the thoughts, understandings and strategize for the way ahead on the issue. Details of the two-day consultation are as given below:

Organized by: National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), Society for Rural Urban and Tribal Initiative (SRUTI), Delhi Solidarity Group, INSAF and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)

Vietnam: International Human Rights Day and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

Young activists celebrate International Human Rights Day in Saigon - Courtesy Danlambao

PARIS, 10 December 2013 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – Today, as the world celebrates International Human Rights Day and the 65th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, activists in Vietnam are facing harassments, threats, Police violence and arrest simply for publicly advocating their rights. Over the week-end, Police and plain clothed security agents (known in Vietnamese as “côn an” – security hooligans instead of “công an” – security police) forcefully disbanded gatherings in Hanoi, Nha Trang, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) marking International Human Rights Day, and assaulted young bloggers and young activists.

The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) strongly denounces this governmental repression. We remind Vietnam that the right to promote human rights is a legitimate activity, protected by a key UN instrument which celebrates its 15th Anniversary this year – the “UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, more generally known as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

This important text, adopted in 1998 by the UN General Assembly in New York on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was the fruit of more than ten years of collective effort between States and civil society. It defines the rights of all people not just to enjoy human rights, but to engage peacefully to defend the rights of others. It also specifies the role and responsibility of States in establishing legal safeguards to protect this right and enable human rights defenders to conduct their activities without fear of repression or prosecution.

To ensure the implementation of this Declaration, in 2000 the UN created the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, renewable every three years. The Special Rapporteur’s work is to receive complaints and information from human rights defenders, take up their cases with governments, report to the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN General Assembly and undertake country visits. In 2012, in the wake of a serious crack-down on human rights defenders, the current UN Special Rapporteur, Ugandian legal expert Margaret Sekaggya, asked to visit Vietnam. The government turned down her request. At Vietnam’s first Universal Periodic Review in 2009, Vietnam also rejected recommendations by Norway to extend greater protection to human rights defenders who simply sought to debate issues of multiparty democracy and political reform.

To reaffirm the rights of Vietnamese human rights defenders on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the VCHR recalls some of the key provisions of this important UN Declaration:

Article 1: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”. Article 5: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) to meet or assemble peacefully; (b) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups; (c) to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations”.

Article 6: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (a) to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms...; (b) to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”. Article 7: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance”.

Article 8: “1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to have effective access, on a nondiscriminatory basis, to participation in the government of his or her country and in the conduct of public affairs. 2. This includes, inter alia, the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Article 9: “2. Everyone whose rights or freedoms are allegedly violated has the right, either in person or through legally authorized representation, to complain to and have that complaint promptly reviewed in a public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent judicial or other authority established by law… 3. to the same end, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia: (a) to complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and governmental bodies with regard to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by petition or other appropriate means, to competent domestic judicial, administrative or legislative authorities… (b) to attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments;”

Article 12: “1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights calls upon Vietnam, which will take a seat on the UN Human Rights Council next year, to respect its international obligations by immediately and unconditionally releasing all human rights defenders detained for peaceful activities to promote and protect universally-recognized human rights, e.g. Buddhist monk and prominent dissident Thich Quang Do, detained for the past 30 years in prison, internal exile and under house arrest for protesting violations of religious freedom, state confiscation of lands and the environmental dangers of Bauxite mining in the Central Highlands; blogger and human rights defender Dieu Cay Nguyen Van Hai; land rights activist Nguyen Ngoc Cuong; labour activists Do Thi Minh Hanh, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung and Doan Duy Chuong; Hoa Hao Buddhists Mai Thi Dung and Nguyen Van Lia; poet and anti-corruption campaigner Nguyen Huu Cau etc.


2009 Vietnamese authorities launched a violent crackdown on Thich Nhat Hanh’s followers at the monastery

I thank UPR Info to inviting me to speak at this pre-session on the 2nd Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam which will take place on 28 January 2014. I speak on behalf of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, an affiliate of the FIDH. We have been involved in the UPR process since Vietnam’s first review in 2009 and have closely monitored its commitments and implementation. Consultation with civil society is an essential part of the UPR process. Unfortunately, in Vietnam’s one-Party state, there are no truly independent civil society organizations, and only state-affiliated CSOs were consulted in preparing the report. The contribution of international NGOs such as ours is therefore most important in providing independent facts and information that are not reflected in the Vietnamese government’s report. At its first UPR, Vietnam accepted 93 recommendations and rejected 45. Regrettably, most of the accepted recommendations were very general, whereas those rejected were specific, concrete proposals that could have led to significant human rights progress in Vietnam. Overall, Vietnam’s implementation of accepted recommendations was extremely disappointing. Not only did the government intensify political repression during this period, but it also adopted new laws to increase restrictions on the exercise of human rights in many domains. I will focus on five key issues in which progress is seriously required. They are the rule of law, freedom of expression, religious freedom, forced evictions and the death penalty. In the joint submission with the FIDH, we raised many other important issues such as inhumane detention conditions, lack of due process of law, freedom of association, women’s right etc.

1) Firstly, the Rule of Law, which is the most important issue in our view. Although Vietnam is a state party to many core human rights instruments and recognizes the harmonization of laws, Vietnam’s domestic legislation restricts the exercise of human rights by criminalizing acts perceived to “abuse democratic freedoms” to “encroach upon the interests of the State”. The concept of State interests taking priority over individual rights is totally inconsistent with international human rights law. Indeed, Vietnam’s National Assembly will vote this week on amendments to the Constitution which include for the first time a clause on the “abuse” of human rights. If it is adopted, this would virtually nullify all the other constitutional human rights guarantees and be a serious step backwards for human rights in Vietnam. Other domestic laws in need of urgent reforms are the “national security” provisions in the Penal Code. These vaguely-defined offences, seven of which carry the death penalty, are grossly inconsistent with the ICCPR because they make no distinction between violent acts such as terrorism and acts of peaceful expression. At its UPR, Vietnam accepted recommendations by Japan, Malaysia, the UK and Australia to bring domestic legislation – including the Penal Code - into line with its international human rights treaty commitments. But it did not fulfill this pledge. On the contrary, it increased arrests under national security laws on an unprecedented scale. Scores of dissidents, religious followers, pro-democracy activists and human human rights defenders received heavy sentences under these provisions, such as blogger Dieu Cay, condemned to 12 years under Article 88 on “anti-Socialist propaganda” simply for calling for human rights and democratic reforms, or Than Huynh Duy Thuc, sentenced to 16 years in prison for demanding democratic reforms. At Vietnam’s Second UPR in January 2014, we urge states to call on Vietnam (a) to set a firm timeframe for the reform of the Penal Code and ensure that all new legislation conforms with international human rights standards; (b) delete from the Constitution, Penal Code, Press Law and other laws all articles which criminalize the “abuse” of human rights and subordinate individual rights to the interests of the state. (c) abolish Ordinance 44 which authorizes detention without trial under house arrest, in rehabilitation camps or psychiatric institutons.

2) Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom: Vietnam accepted recommendations by Italy, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada to guarantee freedom of expression and strengthen press freedom “in accordance with Article 19”. Not only did the government not respect this pledge, but on the contrary, it launched one of the worst crackdowns ever on freedom of expression online and offline. In 2013 alone, 61 peaceful dissidents were sentenced or are awaiting charge. This is more than any other year since Vietnam’s first UPR. Bloggers, activists, journalists and netizens were seriously targeted. They faced police violence, harassments, arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, firing from jobs, ill-treatment in prisons and internment in psychiatric hospitals. In 2013, Vietnam adopted Internet Decree 72 which not only requires foreign companies to provide data to the authorities, but also restricts the content of social networks such as Facebook. There is no free press in Vietnam - all the media is controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party. We urge states to call on Vietnam to revise the Press Law, Internet Decree 72 and all other related laws so that freedom of expression online and offline is guaranteed; to allow privately-run newspapers to operate in Vietnam; and to extend a standing invitation to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and on Human Rights Defenders to visit Vietnam.

3) Freedom of Religion and Belief is important everywhere, but especially in a one-Party state such as Vietnam, where religious movements are amongst the sole independent voices of civil society. Vietnam said that recommendations by Italy and Poland on “reviewing laws and provisions related to freedom of religion in order to align them with Article 18 of the ICCPR” were “in the process of implementation”. However, the only religious legislation adopted during this period was Decree 92/2013, which tightens state control and management of religions. Religions in Vietnam are subjected to a strict system of registration and controls. “State-sponsored” religious bodies have been set up, and all independent religious activity is banned. Members of “non-recognized” religious organizations such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), suffer continuous harassments, intimidation and detention. UBCV leader Thich Quang Do has been under detention for almost 30 years because of his religious beliefs. Catholics, ethnic Christians, Cao Dai and Hoa Hao also suffer a similar fate. We urge states to propose that Vietnam (a) review the 2004 Ordinance on Belief and Religion to align it with Article 18 of the ICCPR; (b) allow the banned UBCV and other non-recognized religious groups to conduct peaceful religious activities independently of officially registered religious bodies, and release Thich Quang Do and all prisoners detained for the peaceful exercise of their religious beliefs; (c) accept the recommendation of CERD to abolish the household registration system or “hộ khẩu”, which results in discrimination against minorities belonging to ‘unrecognised’ religious groups, in the fields of employment, social security, health services, education and the right to freedom of movement.

4) Forced Evictions and Citizens’ Complaints The problem of state seizure of land for development purposes has led to increasing human rights abuse. Forced evictions of farmers have been conducted with extreme violence, resulting in deaths and widespread arrests. Citizens are allowed to file complaints, but these routinely fail because of lack of the independence of the judiciary, official corruption and power abuse. One example: in October 2013, a government inquiry into citizens’ complaints on land seizures for Phuoc Long township project in the city of Nha Trang confirmed charges of corruption by local officials. Since no action was taken, a former official (Nguyen Manh Ha) and his colleague (Tran Anh Hung) leaked the report to the press. Instead of sanctioning the corrupt officials, the authorities arrested the two men and sentenced them to six and five years in prison for “revealing state secrets” (Article 263 of the Criminal Code). States should press Vietnam (a) to establish an independent complaints mechanism respectful of international norms so that those who make complaints are protected from prosecution or harassment; (b) review legislation on “state secrets” to ensure that this concept is precisely defined, and never invoked to suppress legitimate information revealed in citizens’ complaints.

Lastly, the Death Penalty, which has such serious implications in a country where simple criticism of the Communist Party can incur capital punishment. At its last UPR in 2009, Vietnam accepted, but did not implement the reccommendations by Germany and Norway to reduce the number of crimes punishable by death, and continued to pronounce from 80-100 death sentences per year. This year, the government authorized the use of locally-made lethal substances for execution instead of the firing squad. Nguyen Anh Tuan, aged 27, was the first to be executed by these untested substances in August 2013. It took him two hours to die. At the UPR in January, we ask states to urge Vietnam to (a) reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty, and revise national security provisions in the Penal Code to ensure that no-one may incur the death penalty simply for expressing peaceful views opposing the Communist Party; (b) publish statistics on the executions and death sentences; move towards a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards the abloishment of capital punishment.

From bad to worse: Reform of Vietnam’s Constitution threatens international standards of human rights

Nov 25, 2013

Dinh Nguyen Kha (C), brother of Dinh Nhat Uy, and Nguyen Phuong Uyen (2nd R)

PARIS, 25 November 2013 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) – Vietnam’s first act after obtaining a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council this month may be to adopt a new Constitution which undermines internationally-recognized human rights. The National Assembly is currently considering revisions to its 1992 Constitution (amended in December 2001) and is expected to adopt the amended constitution during the current session which ends on November 30, 2013.

“The Vietnamese people hoped that revising the Constitution might lead to lasting political reforms” said Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights. “But it seems that Vietnam is turning back the clock. If the National Assembly adopts the proposed amendments as such, the new Constitution will not only strengthen the Communist Party’s repressive control, but also reinforce arbitrary and inadmissible restrictions on the people’s fundamental human rights”. Whereas the former Constitution contained a simple clause formally stating that human rights “are respected” (Article 50), the new draft stipulates that ”human rights and citizen rights” may be “restricted when necessary for reasons of national defense, national security, social order and safety, or the morals and health of the community” (draft article 15). Given the vaguely defined “national security” provisions in Vietnam’s Criminal Code which have been routinely invoked to imprison hundreds of pro-democracy activists, bloggers and human rights defenders in an on-going crackdown on freedom of expression since 2010, this amendment is extremely disturbing. But there is worse.

Draft Article 16, a new addition, states that: “Everyone has the duty to respect the rights of others; it is prohibited to abuse human rights and citizen rights to encroach upon the interests of the state, the people, and the legitimate rights and interests of others”. If adopted as such, this article in itself will virtually nullify all the other constitutional human rights guarantees. In Vietnam’s one-Party state, where the Police and judiciary are under Communist Party control, it will be the Party which draws the line between legitimate “use” and “abuse” of the peoples’ human rights. In the current Constitution, only Article 70 on the right to freedom of religion or belief has this caveat (“no-one may misuse belief and religions to contravene the laws and state policies”), and it has seriously impacted religious followers in Vietnam. Since Article 70 enshrines the right to “follow any religion or follow none”, those who follow a religion are automatically deemed guilty of encroaching on the rights of those who follow none. They face prosecution of up to 15 years in prison under Article 87 of the Criminal Code on “undermining the unity policy” and “sowing divisions between religious and non-religious people”. Members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, and especially ethnic Christian Montagnards have received heavy prison sentences under this “Catch 22” provision, which may now be extended to all other constitutional rights.

In fact, draft article 16 repeats almost verbatim the terms of Article 258 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code, which has been widely denounced by bloggers and pro-democracy activists in Vietnam. Before Vietnam was elected to the UN Human Rights Council this month, a movement of bloggers denounced the use of Article 258 to detain bloggers Truong Duy Nhat, Pham Viet Dao, Dinh Nhat Uy and other peaceful activists. They called on Vietnam to abrogate Article 258 to demonstrate its commitment to human rights as a candidate to the UN Human Rights Council. Instead of heeding their legitimate request, Vietnam is now considering enshrining this anti-human rights provision in the highest of all its laws, the national Constitution. One serious proposed amendment is the exclusion of the guarantee that no-one may be sujected to arbitrary arrest or detention. Whereas this clause exists in the 1992 Constitution (Article 71: No-one can be arrested in the absence of a ruling by the People’s Court or a ruling or sanction by the People’s Office of Supervision and Control, except in case of flagrant offences. Taking a person into, or holding him in custody must be done with full observance of the law”.), it has been simply removed in the proposed draft (article 22). Since this is one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam acceded in 1982, it is extremely disturbing that Vietnam now seeks to abolish this guarantee and thus strip individuals of constitutional protection against arbitrary arrest.

Most disappointing for Vietnamese people is that Article 4, which enshrines the political monopoly of the Vietnamese Communist Party, remains firmly embedded in the draft. During the public debate on constitutional reform launched by the authorities in January 2013, this was the most hotly-debated issue. For the very first time, online petitions such as the “Proposal for Reforming the Constitution” and the “Declaration of Free Citizens” drew thousands of signatures from prominent Communist Party veterans, intellectuals, students and bloggers alike, calling on the Party to abrogate Article 4 and embrace pluralism and mullti-party democracy. In the new draft, Article 4 is not only maintained but also expanded, defining the Communist Party not only as the “vanguard of the Vietnamese working class” but of “the Vietnamese people” as a whole.

A tightening of the Communist Party’s control is also found in the new draft regarding the army and police. Whereas the 1992 Constitution stated that “people’s armed forces must show absolute loyalty to the motherland and the people” (Article 45), the new draft demands that they also “show absolute loyalty to the Communist Party of Vietnam” (Article 70).This appears to reflect the Party’s anxiety about its fragility in the global context of political change, and its need to ensure the army’s protection of the regime. Indeed, one of the key demands of citizens’ petitions throughout the year was precisely the “depoliticization” of the armed forces in Vietnam. ---

Protection of Western Ghats

Special Contribution
By Thomas Kocherry

India’s 1600-km long Western Ghats mountain chain

Peoples Protest

It is very interesting to see the massive protest by the people fearing that they would be displaced in the name of protecting Western Ghats. All the time people should be alert about their safety and protection as well. Protection of people and environment go together. At the same time consciousness of the people about their rights and the need to protect the environment go together. It is also very interesting to see that the people are divided on this issue. There is a need for studies and discussion with, for and against. It is through this dialectical process and reflection we come to the right choice.

Let us study the reports first.

The Madhav Gadgil Committee report envisaged people’s participation in environment protection and sustainable use of natural resources and it was not anti-farmer as publicised by vested interests. “Many of these rumours are about things that are not even mentioned in the Gadgil report. Unfortunately, the report was not discussed in grama sabhas. It would have helped in clearing apprehensions about the proposals. It contains many recommendations aimed at encouraging farming activities, including provision of financial support to farmers. It should be discussed by the Churches, Parties, Panchayats, Municipalities during the next one week with urgency. Human habitats will remain in ecologically-sensitive zones. Those who indulge in false propaganda spread rumours that people will be evacuated from these areas. It’s absolutely wrong. The participation of every citizen is required in safeguarding the environment. By promoting organic farming and advocating green concepts in buildings, environmental protection can be ensured. We also should study Kasturirengan Committee report as well. We should know the merit and demerits of both. And we should be able to propose the corrective measures to the MoEF, so that the correct decisions are made at the right time. The report should be translated and distributed at the grassroots level to clear if any suspicion among the farmer community, which is at the grassroots for a democratic set up in an agrarian based economy. The entire region of the Western Ghats is considered in a single entity and the division of taluks is based on scientific factors and it is the local bodies to decide the activities to be taken up there.

What is vital?

The main proposals are, stop all quarries , stop removal of sands from river beds, no more construction of dams and flats, stop destruction of forests and creation of roads. Even the existence Mullaperiyar dam is questionable. There are 3 zones for the protection of the land. Here there are differences of opinions, which should be studied well. It is true that the land value is gone down in these areas. And the Land Mafias, Flat Construction mafias, Road Construction Mafias are active and they have started buying land whole sale and thus farmers are displaced. We have to be alert on this collectively instead of blaming the reports. Agricultural land Forest land should not be touched.

The danger of not protecting the Western Ghats.

Let us not create another Utterakhand in Western Ghats. Through wrong development we can create destruction of Environment, which can invite Disaster in the whole areas. Ultimately the people are the victims. Our Development should be All Inclusive of People and Environment. The type of industries banned would be those included in the ‘red list’ issued by the government under the Environment Protection Act. Those were usually considered to be the most polluting of the lot. If we do not save Western Ghats now, we will land in deep trouble. There is a very clear warning involved. The ecologically important grasslands which is facing various kinds of threat could be effectively countered and there is enough provision for it in the Madhav Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats, which specifically catagorise the entire region in to three zones based on the topographical features, cultivation, soil condition, and its bio-diversity spread. Protest and study should go together. The Panchayats and Grama Sabhas are the decision makers of Development . Let us not shirk that responsibility.

Over Hundred Organisations Demand World Bank Withdrawal from Tata Mundra

Nov 4, 2013

Tata Mundra Power Project in Gujarat

Over a hundred prominent organisations expressed shock over World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim’s inaction on the audit report on Tata Mundra Power Project in Gujarat, condemned it and demanded International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) withdrawal from the project. “People’s movements and their allies in India are shocked that you have cleared the IFC Management’s response to the CAO Audit Report on Tata Mundra Project,” the letter sent today to the President said. “The CAO findings warrant nothing less than IFC’s withdrawal from the project” they added.

Condemning it they said, “Your endorsement of IFC’s response to CAO findings and thus letting IFC and the company continue the violations merits nothing less than condemnation.” The independent recourse mechanism of IFC the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) released their findings on October 24, after a year-long investigation into the financing of IFC to the project. CAO found IFC made serious lapses in funding Tata coal plant. The letter was issued in support of the local organisation, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS). It was signed by National Alliance of People’s Movements, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, All India Union of Forest Working People, India Climate Justice, National Fishworkers Forum, All India Forum of Forest Movements and others. Taking serious note of the inaction of the President the organisations said, “By your decision to keep your eyes closed to the damning findings of CAO, you are complicit in the human rights violations, livelihood loss, impacts of air pollution, water contamination, and perilous marine ecological disaster in the wake of the IFC-funded project.”

Looking at the larger malice of World Bank, the letter said, “(World Bank’s)compliance mechanisms like CAO and Inspection Panel are increasingly becoming a farce, while the Bank continues aiding projects – whether hydro projects or coal projects, infrastructure development, or meddling with our policies and legal system.” World Bank Group has currently 386 active projects in India with a committed portfolio of $29.5 bn. Concluding the letter, they said “We will continue our struggles against the Bank, its policies and its blatant disrespect of human rights. We will strengthen the struggle of MASS and would challenge you and your Bank at every possible avenue.” Background:

The 4000 MW Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd (Tata Mundra) is finance byInternational Finance Corporation (IFC), Asian Development Bank, Korean ExIm Bank and other national Banks. A complaint by the local organisation MASS to the recourse mechanism of IFCthe Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) led to a full investigation into the financing of the project. CAO validated major MASS complaints. It found the IFC committed serious supervision failures and significant policy breaches.

CAO confirmed that the environmental and social risks and impacts of the project were not considered and addressed; there is no social baseline data; IFC’s policies for land acquisition not applied, despite physical and economic displacement, Inadequate attention paid to the requirement of biodiversity conservation; IFC failed in its review and supervision of the impacts on airshed and marine environment and IFC failed to examine the cumulative impact of Tata Mundra. IFC rebutted the findings of CAO.

Resources: CAO Audit Report IFC Response to CAO Audit Report Key Observations and Findings from CAO Audit Press Release by MASS dated October 24, 2013 Contacts: Madhuresh Kumar: +91-9818905316 Soumya Dutta: +91-9213763756

TI-Korea’s Statement on Former President Chun Doo-hwan’s Surcharge Payment

Former president Chun Doo-hwan

2013: 16 years after his trial, former president Chun Doo-hwan has still not paid fines owed on illegally amassed funds. However, one of Chun’s sons, Chun Jae-guk, will pay back fines equivalent to KRW 1,672 billion, according to statements made at a press conference held on September 10, 2013.

Despite the announcement that the fines will finally be paid, if the message is examined closely we can see that former president Chun is not sincerely apologizing to Korea's citizens. Rather it is a mere “business deal” with law enforcement authorities. There is no way that TI-Korea can hide our bitterness regarding this sad situation. Chun Doo-hwan’s great responsibility is to sincerely apologize for the December 1979 military coup, and the bloody crackdown on protestors in Gwangju in May 1980; to be held accountable for his suppression of the pro-democracy movement; and, to fully repay and apologise for the properties and various benefits that were not mentioned as being acquired fraudulently and illegally during his dictatorial rule from 1980 to 1987.

Chun must be judged by the law and he must apologize to the people. It would be a huge mistake for Chun to think that everything was solved by the statements made at a two minute long press conference. Because authorities in Korea pay so little adherence to upholding the law, fraudulent people continue to flourish despite not paying fines. Strict law enforcement that can serve as a yardstick for consistent justice is required.

In addition, there are still enormous numbers of powerful criminals who consistently evade paying surcharges and they need be cited as examples and held to account. The practice of acquiring properties through corruption should not be ignored. Corruption and unlawfulness are a sickness in our society, like cancer cells. The best cure to this cancer of corruption is the vigilance and critical minded perseverance of our society.

Transparency International-Korea (South)

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