The Global Digest

Africa/Middle East

Interview with ADRF’s President Kwon Yi Chong

Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Mar 27, 2014

Dr Kwon Yi Chong

At the Interview with Global Digest Dr Kwon Yi Chong said he used to help poor people since he was young. In 1958, during he was high school student there was typhoon which devastated many Korean people livelihood. He helped those victim people through Red Cross, they collect rice, clothes and so on. And he had experience for serving as volunteer teacher for poor students who can’t effort their tuition fee. Even after he joined army, he still keep doing charity work and promoting education.

In 1960, he went to Germany as a coal miner for 3 years, he and his wife helping Korean coal miner workers through counseling program. At the same time, he study and earned BA, MA and PhD degrees in Germany. In 1979, he was appointed as professor at Korea University. In Korea, he opened a private school for poor. From 2003 to 2006, he got a government officer job at the ministry of culture, sport and education, a director for managing 70 researchers. After that, he went back to Korea University for a professor.

In 2006, he got retired. As a charity activist, he opened another schools, Hebola school, it means just do it. Dr Kwon emphasized education which can cut off poverty. He is doing justice for education from a gap among different education. From 2008 to 2013, he worked for an organization for human resource department. With the support of President Park, museums are opened for Korean miners and nurses from Germany, near Yangjae, near US embassy and Namhea German village. There are total three museum, it’s a kind of class room style for seminar.

ADRF is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting school education and promoting character education for children and young people from impoverished families. Education is for a good character, intelligence, work hard, and respect each other with courtesy. ADRF’s vision was started in 1994. Now, ADRF is working in 11 countries.

Solidarity Message for the People of Syria

Mar 12, 2014

War in Syria

Dear Sisters and Brothers and Friends in Syria, Greetings from a bleeding heart!

With an agonised heart do I write to you on behalf of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which is a member organisation of Pax Christi International. The three-year long violent conflict in Syria, which is still ongoing, has literally devastated and shattered your lives and your dreams... It has taken a toll of more than 100,000 lives and has left millions maimed and starving; it has also forced millions of people to flee the country. How sad!

My heart goes out to you, to all the civilian population, especially the women, children and the aged who are ill equipped to cope with the fall out of the violence. In the heart of the mindless and inescapable violence, your hearts must be yearning for peace. And that is what I, in deep solidarity with you, earnestly pray for. At this juncture, I do see the aptness of Pope Francis’ remark, which he made during the Vigil of Prayer for Peace at Saint Peter's Square on 7 September 2013: “Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!” Pope Francis, in his Palm Sunday homily on 24 March 2013, rightly pointed out: “Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil... ”, which includes “Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation!”

My faith in Jesus Christ emboldens and enables me to assure you that those who speak the language of death will soon realise the need for a new language: the language of love and life. That assurance stems from my faith in Jesus who conquered sin and death. His resurrection confirms our hope that life willtriumph over death; and peace over war and conflict. Jesus’ resurrection is a guarantee that our hope for change and for a new beginning will not be in vain. May all who are responsible for the current situation opt for peace! May all those who are engaged in violent conflict realise that peace is worth more than all that they are fighting for! God, the author and source of true peace, guide them to realise that it is high time that they gave up violence, and gave peace a chance!

Yours for just peace, Dr Charles Irudayam Executive Secretary Commission for Justice, Peace and Development Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India New Delhi – 110 001

Peoples Participation based on Swaraj and Civil War in Africa

Special Contribution
By Rakesh Manchanda

Child soldiers

Dialogue although failed is still the only way towards peace in Central Africa Republic and Mali. I agree with the The Hindu editorial `Central Africa Dilemma` dated 27th. Feb-2014 that there is urgent need to revive the political will in France, the EU, and the United States. Failure could make CAR-Central African Republic yet another target for what could well be externally-funded Islamist extremists.

There is a worldwide failure in forced peace experiments of similar pattern. People in Africa still believe in Gandhi and his `crude` human ways. We also see children been trained to be used as soldiers in War in Africa.

Let us revisit Mali intervention. Cotton remains the backbone of Mali economy. Subsidized cotton imports agenda means GM entry by western powers hidden as aid. Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who fills the aspirations of the people crying for a peaceful and happy life is allowed unchallenged. Peoples Republic of Mali is disturbed and is struggling for its normal and natural participatory democracy. During my seasonal stay in Mali from 2006-11, I found the people peaceful, dignified, Secular and hungry for participation in decision making process.

Mali coup was basically because of Libya returned soldiers exposed to competitive `rule of the gun` taught worldwide today by greedy West (France,EU and US) who wish to control the entire world for business. More relevant simple first Governance step towards GLOBAL PEACE today is participatory democracy and collective decision making for any Public expense based on Self Rule or Swaraj.

Give a voice to Syrians claiming political solution

Jan 11, 2014

Syrians conflict

Support an all sides’ civil society conference in Vienna...International Peace Initiative for Syria

Every day it becomes clearer that the Syrian war cannot be won by anybody with a positive outcome for the Syrian people. With its internal divisions on every side the civil war has reached the state of an unprecedented bloodshed increased by external interventions. Its continuation will only wreak havoc and spread destruction on all levels of society.

Among its main victims there are the democratic rights of the Syrian people, who originally tried to claim these rights by launching a peaceful popular mass protest movement. However their efforts have gradually been thwarted by an increasing influence of sectarian tendencies as well as a growing regional and global involvement.

Together with many people inside Syria and across the world our initiative for Peace in Syria continues to insist (see initial call ) that the only viable solution is a political settlement with a ceasefire paving the way to a transitional government, based on a power sharing agreement between the socio-political, confessional and ethnical blocs maintaining a common State. We are conscious that this is not the ideal solution for any side, and therefore it will be difficult for all sides to accept. Yet a political solution is the only way out, because the continuation of the war will be even worse.

The Legacy of Mandela: Striking Similarities and coopting power elite

Special Contribution
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Dec 7, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is no more. As Indians were readying to remember their founding father Dr Ambedkar in the early hours of December 6th, came the news of demise of Nelson Mandela, the father of ‘modern’ South Africa. World over, there is a grief yet Africans are celebrating his life. Amidst this pouring grief is another gimmickry of the western powers who are now canonizing Nelson Mandela today for their own benefits and ignoring their vast track record of violation of human rights of the people in Africa and elsewhere. A common point of the tributes emerged is that Mandela was great because he did not believe in ‘retribution’. He was for ‘reconciliation’ and is father of a ‘united’ South Africa. I heard President Obama’s speech at White House converting Mandela as his icon and maintaining that his first ‘political action’ was fight against apartheid. The British Prime Minister David Cameroon went a step ahead saying the ‘light has gone’. Mandela was a man of reconciliation said his former tormentor FW D Clerk who shared the Nobel Peace Prize along with him. In India the prime minister and commentators lost no time in describing Mandela as their friend and ‘inspired’ by Gandhi. The President, Prime Minister and all were in unison proud that Mandela learnt so much from ‘Gandhi’. It is other matter that Indian political class learnt little from Gandhi except in manipulating things and distorting the facts.

Let us try to recapture some of the historical facts of Mandela’s life before analyzing his politics and life. He was first arrested in 1955 along with 156 activists. Later he was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1964. The struggle for life and dignity of the majority black population continued and African National Congress was their legitimate representative. It is not mythological story that the American, British and rest of the western governments had no shame in supporting the racist South African regime till 1986. Mandela for them was a terrorist and ANC a terrorist organization. In fact US Congress passed Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986 against the veto of President Ronald Regan who termed ANC as terrorist organization. Dick Chaney, American Vice President was a member of American Congress and voted against the bill. The ruling Republican Party was against the bill which was putting some stricter restrictions against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Chaney is not unhappy for what he did in 1986. Mrs Margret Thatcher and President Regan have openly supported the racist P.W.Botha regime of South Africa against the wishes of international community. It is a fact that the same ‘champions’ of human rights have no shame in defending the illegitimate government of Israel and its discriminatory attitude towards the Palestinians.

In February 1990 Mandela was released from the prison after lots of pressure and realization in the western world that it was impossible to stop violence and retribution in South Africa. The darker side is that in the name of ‘reconciliation’ a lot of things have happened which can say that ‘political’ South Africa may be led by the blacks but economic power remains in the hands of white minority and somewhere Mandela was unable to challenge that. One can see in sports and other sectors too, there is little change in Africa as far as representation of blacks is concern. The African cricket team still consists of a majority of white minority players. One does not know whether blacks have got fair representation in the government services and power structure but one of the biggest ‘victory’ of the minority white regime was that the ‘reconciliation’ was done without ‘legitimate’ ‘land reforms’ and banking and financial institutions of South Africa remained solidly and powerfully in the hands of minority white community. Mandela was definitely a revolutionary influenced with communist ideology. He had got support from all those regimes who were fighting against US hegemony. Countries like Cuba supported the movement for the rights of blacks and that is why Mandela’s first invite was to Fidel Castro to visit to Africa. In an interview he said, ‘ “From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orquestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution. … Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”

In fact after his becoming president of South Africa, Mandela was categorical in his opposition to Israel and war in Iraq. He condemned it. He supported Palestinian demand for their homeland and said,’ “Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank.” For many in the West, these are difficult points and they do not expect Mandela who was now absolutely ‘fixed’ in Western ‘democracies’ to support Saddam or have any relationship with Castro regimes. But when the outpouring started today, western commentators completely ignored Mandela’s ideological tilts. Though, it is not that Mandela changed according to western framework yet the influence was visible in the later years. Perhaps when you participate in power structure it coopt you. Mandela became a ‘statesman’ without fulfilling his party’s agenda. The blacks of South Africa still revere him yet the reality is that the ‘freedom’ has not got them much except the ‘political participation’. Is it not irony that when people seek justice they are fired and killed by the police?

In the new set-up of Africa when Mandela was being canonized and glorified to maximum hiding the western hypocrisy and double standard about human rights and democracy, the person who stood with him and took his battle further in his absence, his partner Winnie was villainised. In a revealing interview to Nadira Naipaul, in March 2010, she said, ‘ "This name Mandela is an albatross around the necks of my family. You all must realise that Mandela was not the only man who suffered. There were many others, hundreds who languished in prison and died. Many unsung and unknown heroes of the struggle, and there were others in the leadership too, like poor Steve Biko, who died of the beatings, horribly all alone. Mandela did go to prison and he went in there as a burning young revolutionary. But look what came out," she said, looking to the writer. He said nothing but listened. It is hard to knock a living legend. Only a wife, a lover or a mistress has that privilege. Only they are privy to the intimate inner man, I thought. "Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks. Economically, we are still on the outside. The economy is very much 'white'. It has a few token blacks, but so many who gave their life in the struggle have died unrewarded." She was pained. Her uncreased brown face had lost the softness.

"I cannot forgive him for going to receive the Nobel [Peace Prize in 1993] with his jailer [FW] de Klerk. Hand in hand they went. Do you think de Klerk released him from the goodness of his heart? He had to. The times dictated it, the world had changed, and our struggle was not a flash in the pan, it was bloody to say the least and we had given rivers of blood. I had kept it alive with every means at my disposal". We could believe that. The world-famous images flashed before our eyes and I am sure hers. The burning tyres - Winnie endorsed the necklacing of collaborators in a speech in 1985 ("with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country") - the stoning, the bullets, the terrible deaths of "informers". Her often bloodthirsty rhetoric has marred her reputation. "Look at this Truth and Reconciliation charade. He should never have agreed to it." Again her anger was focused on Mandela. "What good does the truth do? How does it help anyone to know where and how their loved ones were killed or buried? That Bishop Tutu who turned it all into a religious circus came here," she said pointing to an empty chair in the distance. "He had the cheek to tell me to appear. I told him a few home truths. I told him that he and his other like-minded cretins were only sitting here because of our struggle and me. Because of the things I and people like me had done to get freedom."

Winnie’s pain has to be understood. She was sounding bitter but then it is a reality when friends part ways, when you see the one become larger than life while other colleagues are painted as villain then what can we expect? Except for Mandela, most of the ANC team was relegated to nothingness and those who were assertive were projected negatively by the western media. Can we truly say that South Africa is a country of unity at the moment? The lofty ideals of ‘forgiveness’ as being hailed by Clintons and Obamas need to be asked to those who have witnessed those humiliation of living life pushed as slaves. I know Winnie was charged with murders, retribution, frauds and what not but none can deny her commitment to the cause of her people and her struggle in building up organization with other people in the absence of Mandela. After Mandela was released, she was sidelined and it is certain that a person who commits herself so much feel bitter which the interview clearly reflected. The double standards are visible. You glorify a person because he has been fixed into your ‘democratic’ ‘tolerant’ model. So, you are great because you have ‘forgiven’ the tyrants, the democratic ones, who left no stone unturned to kill you and your ‘violence’. ‘We’ are opposed to ‘violence’ they would say without giving any alternatives to those who suffers in indignity and humiliation daily. Yes, violence does not mean the P.Botha regime was killing the blacks, firing upon them when they were raising issues of their human rights. Yes, ‘slavery’ is not violence perhaps and that was you can bring Gadhafi to law books, kill Saddam Hussein for violating human rights of the people but whether it is Yitzhak Rabin or FW D Klerk you baptize them through your Nobel Prizes and the entire ‘past’ is ‘forgiven’. In this battle the Western regimes have won but they have actually created differences among the communities who have been oppressed. Whether Mandela or Yasser Arafat, people of both South Africa and Palestine felt betrayed as their dream lands still eludes them.

Many of the Western commentators are still not happy with Mandela as they charge him of befriending Fidel Castro, Gadhafi and others. How much adjustment would they like once you are in power? Yes, you want ‘reconciliation’ and not retribution but is it possible to talk about ‘reconciliation’ without justice. If that is true then should we say that has happened in South Africa? Have the heart melt? How should people forget the inexplicable wounds that have been inflicted on them over a period of time? Why the racist regimes actions have gone unpunished? You punished Pinochet of Chile, executed Saddam and Ghadafi. You got Nazib killed even though by the Talibanis but you want forgiveness for a regime that violated all norms of human values and governance of modern day. The Indian hypocrisy is much bigger than the Western World. Though it was Nehru who stood clear in his condemnation of the apartheid regime of South Africa, it would be highly unjust to say that we did enough to eliminate that regime in Africa. We are we proud of? To hide our own hidden apartheid, we can speak volumes on Africa but not allow our own people to power structure. The hatred that exists in India today clearly reflects even in the tribute to Mandela.

Leaders after leaders and speakers after speakers have mentioned Mandela that he was influenced by Gandhian values. One does not know what Gandhi did for the toiling masses of Africa. Even when Gandhi was in Africa, his struggle was not really for the blacks of Africa but for the Indian community there, which was mostly businessmen Gujaratis who actually remain dominant in a large part of Africa and who as many people allege are no less racist and casteist than their white counterparts. Secondly, India is home to a system which is much bigger and more discriminatory than Africa. Over 160 million people in India suffer from hidden apartheid which has divine sanction and constitutional framework has not been able to protect those rights which are violated every day. Yes, Mandela came to India in 1990, a year which was the most turbulent in the history of independent India. A year in which the most marginalized got right to participation in governance structure, a long standing demand of reservation for the OBCs was fulfilled. It was a year when a government honored the father of Indian constitution with the highest honor of Bharat Ratna. It was along with Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Nelson Mandela also was awarded Bharat Ratna by the V P Singh government. Hence these two icons are entirely different in the entire list of Bharat Ratnas which has always been used by power elite to promote their own people. For the first time, we felt that Bharat Ratna deserving went to right people.

Mandela died just in the intervening night of 5th and 6th December. None of our commentators could find similarities with Ambedkar who fought singlehandedly the battles for the rights of Dalits in India who suffer similar prejudices and discrimination in India. He appreciated Gandhi as it is a ritual for every head of a state or a leader to appreciate Gandhi and Nehru as they are part of power structure now. There are awards and ceremonies in their names. If Mandela had time to read Ambedkar, I am sure, he would have appreciated his struggle. I don’t know how much he would talk about ‘forgiveness’ and ‘large-heartedness’. I am amused why the ‘forgiveness’ and ‘large-heartedness’ is expected from the victims. When there is laws then why not take all these action to law and human rights bodies? Can ‘forgiveness’ and ‘large-heartedness’ undo historical wrongs which the parent systems of our societies have inflicted upon the oppressed masses? If not then what is the remedy for that? If the black population in South Africa still suffers and Dalits in India are still asking for basic human dignity then what is the meaning of the so called ‘transfer of power’ and ‘inclusive democracy’. The fact is the power elite have very well manipulated this ‘inclusive’ democracy to validate on their ‘exclusive’ rights over our natural resources, our finances and our power structure. Mandela is gone and he will always remain there. It is essential that we do not ‘deify’ him. Let there be a critical analysis of his legacy so that the movement that he launched is not stuck in the din of ‘forgiveness’ forever.

WORLD: Trading liberty for security- Attack on Syria

Sep 23, 2013

Cartoon by Avantha Artigala

The geopolitical situation in the world has entered another turning point in the wake of planned military strikes on Syria where over hundreds of thousands of civilians have already perished in the war between the government forces and rebels. In other words, it seems that global politics has approached the very edge of the precipice over contradictions on “military interventions”, which are the most unsuccessful strategies of reconciliation and restoration of the rule of law in certain jurisdictions. However, it is healthy news, though it might only be temporary, that the United States and Russia have reached a landmark agreement on the withdrawal of, or destruction of chemical arsenals controlled by the Government of Syria, headed by its long term President, Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

‘Both parties reached a deal on a framework that will see the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid- 2014’, states a report by Moscow based media. The truth is out there, as the saying goes. The use of chemical weapons by someone against their enemies is no doubt the most heinous crime against humanity and mankind. It was not only in Syria, where recently over 1,400 people, including infants, children, and women, were killed in chemical attacks. World War II, the Vietnam War, Kosovo, Libya, and the infamous Fallujah, Iraq, have all taught us bitter lessons on the use of chemical weapons, though only a small number of rights groups urge for accountability on those crimes at the time when they occurred. While teaching how to destroy or remove the chemical weapons preserved by the “bad guys”, it’s good to learn who made them first and who used them first against whom.

Duplicity has always created room for criminals and it has opened tremendous opportunities for those who want to hide the truth. It has directly attacked the system of human justice and it has evaporated the hope of freedom. What we have been deliberately ignoring here is our own tendency to sanctify someone, when the facts that we or our allies collected has led to the victimization of the innocent. This method has played a bad role in many places in the world. Here is where Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry’s, argument, “providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also their neighbours,” is not only debatable but laughable. It is enough to understand the real bitterness of this kind of political game play, if you are able to read at least one narrative of the victims who were detained in the Guantánamo bay prison on suspicion of engagement in terrorism.

Ahmad Zubair, who was former prisoner and hunger striker at Guantánamo, released in 2009, noted, in a sworn statement submitted to a US court by Ramzi Kassem, “During each force-feeding, my nose bleeds. The pain from each force-feeding is so excruciating that I am unable to sleep at night because of the pain in my throat.” He also explained that, at one point, the authorities arranged for his mother to call the prison, who “urged him to drop the hunger strike.” Zuhair said, “My family did not know what I was going through at Guantánamo — the humiliation, the torture, the solitary confinement.” How can the Secretary of State genuinely declare, that the removal or destruction of chemical weapons and arsenals would end the threat to the people, when his own room is the stage for playing the notorious game of mistreating political prisoners. When it comes to chemical weapons, history is much clearer on the facts and their use against civilians since the first use of chemical weapons in 1915-17 by the Germans.

Reports indicate that, the U.S. still holds approximately 5,500 tons of chemical weapons while Russia has much more, about 21,500, inherited from Soviet arsenals. At the same time, it is important to know who refused to sign the agreement on the Chemical Weapons Convention which came onto force in 1997. Signing or refusing the agreement is not important. But, the core issue is ratified by those laws. The best example is the nuclear capability that the government of Israel developed, under the pretext of threat from neighbouring Arab nations. While quoting the well-known defence magazine, Jane’s, one analyst says, “It (Israel) has the ability to develop an offensive chemical weapons program within several months.” The major reason for many Arab countries refusing to sign the Chemical Weapon Convention is the nuclear capability that Israel has.

The crisis in Syria prevailing in this framework is not just a simple articulated formula that can be used against “bad guys”, to establish one’s dominant ideology among the people, but political complicity of power played against truth and justice. If one doesn’t have an enemy one must first give birth to the enemy before one prepares a systematic attack on him. The theory which played out in ‘Kissingerian’ diplomacy has reduced its own space of play in modern political culture. That is why the attack on Syria is not an easy game to play. What none can refuse is, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness.’ In other words, ‘badness cannot drive out badness.’

No war on Syria!

Special Contribution
By Antony Arulraj
Sep 2, 2013

No war poster

Respected Consul General,

I make an earnest and fervent appeal to the United States of America to respect the sovereignty of Syria and to desist from waging a war against Syria!

War has only one end: destruction, devastation! War can never be justified! The attack by the U.S. will only compound the woes of the civilian population in Syria. If the U.S. really has any sympathy for the people of Syria, then the U.S. should Inline images 1give up the proposed attack on Syria.

if the U.S. goes ahead with the attack on Syria, the U.S. will stand exposed for its ulterior motives. The attack will only confirm the prevailing widespread suspicion that the U.S. attacks on any country have been and are carried out for the solely for its own and advantage. There is a growing perception among the citizens of many countries that the U.S. military interventions have left only a trail of blood in many parts of the world.
Most of the people of the U.S. are not for war on Syria. So am I! Enough is enough!

Antony Arulraj. Advocacy Officer, Hotline Delhi, JPD Office, CBCI Centre, No. 1, Ashok Place New Delhi - 110 001 India Tel: +91-11-23366127 Cell: +91-9868272910

Democracy means that also the Muslim Brothers are entitled to enjoy it

Special Contribution
By Wilhelm Langthaler
Aug 23, 2013

Conflict escalating in Egypt

By the military coup, the cracking down on the Muslim Brothers and the declaration of the state of emergency the generals attempt to restore the rule of the old social and (partially) also political elite. The army has been the central pillar of the global capitalist order in Egypt.

All those who believed that the popular movement could use the army against the Muslim Brothers have been taught a bitter lesson. It happened the other way round: the movement was used by the army against the Brotherhood suppressing the democratic achievements altogether! As revolutionary democrats we condemn the military rule and the massacre against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). We demand democratic rights for all including the MB, despite the fact that they themselves did not act according to the same principle. In Egypt the strategic main enemy of revolutionary democrats are the old elites assembled around the generals. Political differences and conflicts with Islamists including the MB must not lead to neglecting the old oligarchy and their power apparatus.

The military coup and the dictatorial roll-back pose a serious threat to the democratic popular revolt – the biggest and most imminent danger along the past two years since Mubarak was toppled. What actually made the return of the junta politically possible has been the deep rift within the popular opposition against the old regime between Islamist and secularist forces.

On one hand the MB bear heavy political responsibility as they proved incapable to engineer consensus. To do so it would have been decisive to reach out to and join hands with the Tahrir against the military and the remnants of the old regime. Unfortunately the contrary did happen – the Tahrir was declared the main enemy. The MB have been waging their cultural struggle against secularists. They have no concept whatsoever for administering a plural society. The more the MB revealed to be unable to implement the central ideas of the revolt – bread, freedom, social justice –, the more they lost support, the more they stuck to their exclusive claim to power. In this way they pushed away people including among the Islamic cultural environment. In a certain sense they even provoked the revolt against their rule. On the other hand the leftist popular opposition committed the reciprocal error. Instead of reaching out to them on their turn without giving up the demands of the revolt, they simply returned the cultural struggle declaring the MB to be their main enemy. The political idea of proposing co-operation, even if not being accepted immediately, apparently did not find many followers.

Thus the mass movement against Mursi first turned into an appendix of the liberals (National Salvation Front) and eventually of the military and the old elites. The Tahrir was taken over by Tamarrod which continues to back the generals until now while el Baradei already withdrew. Many asked even for the intervention of the army and welcomed their coup as they still regard the MB as their main enemy. Those revolutionary democrats who remained true to the Tahrir’s struggle against the military have been politically paralysed. As long as Islamists and military are categorised as tantamount enemies one is faced with an impossible two-front war.

As revolutionary democrats we demand: Halt the repression against the Muslim Brotherhood and restore democratic rights. Search for a compromise with the Muslim Brothers allowing for new elections as soon as possible. Against the bloody military junta (lightly disguised as civil) develop a project of a popular government based on the demands of the revolt against Mubarak.

Mandela’s Greatness May Be Assured - But Not His Legacy

Special Contribution
By Sadanand Patwardhan
Jul 15, 2013

Nelson Mandela

These words of John Pilger would apply also to another great political leader, M K Gandhi, whose greatness is unquestionably abiding, but has left no legacy. Gandhi was a statusquoist, he would advance on the path of reform only if it wouldn’t shale violently the boat. B R Ambedkar’s words were prophetic at the adoption of Indian Constitution, “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value.

In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up”.

Ambedkar’s words rang true in many places that saw the *dawn of democracy* after the nightmare of colonial rule in 50s and 60s. Even when Mandela and ANC came to power in 1994 ending officially the political apartheid, the economic and social apartheid continued almost unabated. The documentary, Apartheid Did Not Die (made in 1998 captured this truth shunned by media. Pilger’s new article has these words about Nehru when,

“Mandela, too, fostered crony relationships with wealthy whites from the corporate world, including those who had profited from apartheid. He saw this as part of “reconciliation”. Perhaps he and his beloved ANC had been in struggle and exile for so long they were willing to accept and collude with the forces that had been the people’s enemy. There were those who genuinely wanted radical change, including a few in the South African Communist Party, but it was the powerful influence of mission Christianity that may have left the most indelible mark. White liberals at home and abroad warmed to this, often ignoring or welcoming Mandela’s reluctance to spell out a coherent vision, as Amilcar Cabral and Pandit Nehru had done.

Ironically, Mandela seemed to change in retirement, alerting the world to the post 9/11 dangers of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. His description of Blair as “Bush’s foreign minister” was mischievously timed; Thabo Mbeki, his successor, was about to arrive in London to meet Blair. I wonder what he would make of the recent “pilgrimage” to his cell on Robben Island by Barack Obama, the unrelenting jailer of Guantanamo”. Read the whole article here: Sadanand Patwardhan

Arab Spring turns into military take over in Egypt

Jul 11, 2013

Military troop in control

Two years after the Arab Spring held the world captive, Egypt again finds itself immersed in turmoil as Egyptians took to the streets on June 30th in a movement to remove Islamist Brotherhood leader Dr. Mohamed Morsi (Morsy according to some sources) from his post as president of the country. The movement was backed by Egypt's National Army, which issued a statement on July 3rd, 2013 ousting Morsi and claiming that the leadership of the Islamic Brotherhood does not truly represent the interests of the people. Further demands include improvements to economic conditions to help alleviate poverty. Cairo, a bustling city of over 20 million residents, rarely sees a quiet moment. Since June 30, however, the city has been teeming with protests and occasional violence. The last time the city saw this much action was during the Arab Spring of 2011, which resulted in the removal of President Hosni Mubarak after a thirty year term. After Mubarak's removal, Mohamed Morsi, a representative of the Islamic Brotherhood Party, was elected as president, and was the first Egyptian president to win a Democratic election.

Upon my arrival on June 27th, it was obvious that Cairo was facing severe shortages of hard infrastructure. Roads were in disrepair, trash was rampant, buildings seemed to be falling apart, and many people were walking along the highway rather than taking public or private transportation. Along the way, I witnessed the victims of a vehicle accident lying on the side of the road, as onlookers stood around, presumably (and hopefully) waiting for emergency medical transportation. The traffic from Cairo International Airport was terrible – a 30 km drive through the city took well over an hour to complete. The economic situation since the revolution and Mubarak's subsequent arrest has had severe impacts on the daily lives of Egyptians. Crime has been on the rise, and people fear theft and muggings, especially in the larger cities. People are more likely to stay at home at night, and most women disappear from the streets after dark. Petrol stations frequently face shortages or shut down all together.

One of the most shocking aspects of Cairo was the long queues for petrol -- often extending for blocks. The lines at the gas stations were such that drivers (all men) were waiting outside their vehicles, chatting, drinking, and even fighting. These lines could last anywhere from an hour or two to TWO DAYS to fill up a tank. We first took for this to indicate poor gasoline controls, removal of government subsidies on petrol, or perhaps shortage. However, we later learned that the people of Cairo were proactively filling up their tanks to prepare for the protest, just in case an angry government reigned in supply. On June 30th, the protests-turned-revolution began across Egypt. I happened to be in Luxor, a city on the Nile River about 500 km south of Cairo. We managed to get stuck in the middle of the protests in a taxi as we were carted from Karnak to Luxor Temples. Although it appeared to be just a heavy dose of traffic, we quickly noticed a motorcycle carrying two young men, one of whom was carrying a three foot long rusty metal pipe. We giggled a bit over why on Earth this boy thought it necessary to bring the pipe to a 'peaceful' protest -- or perhaps he just happened to have it with him?

After the death of a 21 year old American student who was attacked while taking photos and video of the protests in Alexandria, the United States, British, and other governments discouraged against all but essential travel to Egypt for their citizens, in anticipation of potential violence. Talking with tour guides and taxi drivers, we began to get a better picture of the situation in Egypt. Ayman Abdo, a young tour guide (and anti-Morsi protester) in Luxor, claimed that "tourists are not like before" and that while many sites can reach 90\% capacity year round, now it feels closer to 20-25\%. Many tour guides are college educated, and impressively speak at least two languages. During times of high tourism, they are well paid, but since 2011, the industry has seen a dramatic decline, causing them to search for other sources of income.

Morsi's Islamic Brotherhood party quietly takes an anti-tourism stance, because in their view of Islam, they should not be welcoming to foreigners. Tourism development has slowed considerably since Morsi came to power. For example, the new Egyptian Museum being built by the Pyramids at Giza has continued construction but at a slower pace. Morsi's policies, coupled with international fears following 2011′s revolution, have caused this decrease in tourism; civilians are quick to blame the Islamic Brotherhood for the decline. The poverty in Egypt was shocking. Egypt was on par with many South Asian countries in terms of poverty and lack of development. The Egyptian people rely heavily on the Nile as a source of water, and have had to dam it in order to provide water to their 82 million people. Access to clean water is still not guaranteed. Trash litters the streets and sidewalks while many people sit around idle, drinking tea at street side stands or smoking sheesha.

Buildings are left unfinished, with the metal construction rods sticking out of the roofs. Presumably the owners do this so as to avoid further hassle in case they decided to build higher in the future, however this leaves Egypt with an 'unfinished' and dilapidated feel. The touts in Egypt were extremely aggressive. Our first run in with them was outside Abu Simbel temples, where we were required to 'run the gamut', so to speak, by walking through a shopping area before arriving back at our bus. The harassment almost got to an unbearable level, with multiple touts following a single tourist at one time, all promising 'good deals for you, my friend' and 'best price' while naming outrageous numbers for the regular made-in-China fare you find in the tourist routes.

Another curiosity was the culture of 'baksheesh,' or tipping. We had been warned through reading travel guides that tipping was required in almost every aspect in Egyptian culture. However, I found this to be completely false. Baksheesh appears to only be part of Egyptian-tourist culture. Egyptians expect to be tipped for just about everything. A cleaner at one of the temples offered to take a photo and then asked for baksheesh. Touts will follow you around temples and other sites; say a few sentences of history or point out a piece of art and then demand money. Not only is it frustrating to be provided what are widely considered 'free' services at a cost, but this frustration is further compounded by a national shortage of small bills.

At a 1-7 exchange rate to the American dollar at the time of writing, the lack of small paper money and coins creates huge issues, not only for locals but for well-meaning tourists who are torn between not tipping at all and tipping large amounts. While ₤E100 may be appropriate for tipping tour guides, one will quickly run out of money after tipping the same amount to taxi drivers, baggage boys, bathroom attendants, etc. At one point we tipped ₤E200 to a taxi driver for a fare 1/4 of that price because we had no smaller bills. A shortage of change means that locals have a harder time selling to tourists. All the small bills we came across were old and ripped, indicating their overuse. After a boy named Mohammed tugged at my heartstrings and convinced me to buy a 'handmade' bracelet I didn't want, he promptly ran off with an extra ₤E10, claiming "gift, gift!" I was quickly mobbed by his friends demanding money, claiming that he had used their money as change. We eventually resorted to using American cash for tipping and making purchases, as this was widely accepted.

Every tour guide emphasized how much they loved Americans. American tourists are friendly, tip well, and are happy to spend money. However, it seemed that the American government couldn't win at either side of the equation. Morsi supporters didn't like that Obama had yet to comment on the situation, and that the US government had yet to call the military's intervention a coup. Anti-Morsi protesters claim that the Obama administration is funding terrorism by supporting Morsi and his Islamic Brotherhood regime. According to one Cairo tour guide, Morsi pardoned several state prisoners connected with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the Middle East. While the political problems in Egypt will take much time to sort out, there is a lot of work that can be undertaken in the near future to improve the social and economic situation of Egyptians. Obviously, the first step is to stop the violence. The bloodshed and violent sexual attacks on women are unwarranted and unnecessary. Foreign governments need to hold Egypt's government and military accountable for their actions. Firing on unarmed citizens is not a model of democracy that should be upheld and it should never be condoned, even in the midst of a revolution.

Despite protestors using a poor economy as one of their rallying points against Mubarak, violence by civilians or military only serves to worsen Egypt's economic situation, and thereby impact the quality of life of Egyptians. Foreign currency reserves have dropped dramatically in response to the first revolution ousting Mubarak, as well as decreased tourism revenue and collapse in foreign direct investment. The Central Bank of Egypt needs to address the small currency shortage – either by exchanging larger bills for smaller ones at nationwide banks, or printing and replacing small bills. Small day-to-day transactions are made increasingly difficult if one doesn't have money. As far as international investment, only political stability will increase investor's confidence in the market.

It is also the duty of the interim leaders to ensure that Egypt's judiciary and government sponsored services are carried out as usual. Without proper enforcement of justice, criminals will continue to run rampant. Hundreds of women have reported assault, and the nature of the violent sexual assaults on women in Tahrir is horrendous, with many women requiring surgery. In a recent post in the Guardian, Mona Eltahawy argues that Egypt is in need of a revolution against sexual violence, as many sexual crimes in Egypt are never prosecuted or even acknowledged. Egypt is facing an uphill battle, and things are likely to get worse before they get better. Poverty, infrastructure, fiscal policy, pollution, and women's rights are all areas needing a great deal of reform and attention. The greatest challenge facing Egypt's next generation of leaders is to implement a lasting form of Democracy-- one that extends justice to all citizens.

Jan 2011-Jun 2013