عڪس

You cannot keep the spring from coming

By: Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Thousands of Baloch have gone missing since 1974 and continue to go missing while more than 700 of them have had their tortured bodies dumped all over Balochistan

Selective and convenient paranoia is ingrained into the psyche of the ‘establishment’; consequently, we keep getting ridiculous explanations and excuses for all the anguish and agony in Balochistan. The establishment’s spokespersons defend it with truisms attractive enough to befool people. They want people to overlook the fact that Balochistan’s present situation is the product of the atrocities and exploitation of the last 64 years and believe that all that this is a creation of international conspiracies by powers with ulterior motives.

A few days back Senator Raza Rabbani in the Senate proceedings regarding the carnage against the Hazaras linked the recent wave of terrorism in Balochistan with the handover of the Gwadar Port to China and said, “We all know how important Gwadar is, especially when it comes to international politics.” Presumably, he wants people to believe that the United States and India foment trouble there because of rivalry with China. The British High Commissioner Adam Thomson’s statement last month that; “Pakistan needs radical change. Pakistan’s governments — federal and provincial — are not delivering enough to the people,” also gravely upset him. He questioned, “Who is he to make such a statement?” Gentleman, he makes this statement because they fund your very existence.

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4 Bogus Right-Wing Theories About Poverty, and the Real Reason Americans Can’t Make Ends Meet

We have an economic crisis that is kept out of sight and out of mind.

By Joshua Holland

When is a secret not at all secret? Consider the fact that one in three Americans are poor, if we define it as struggling to cover the basic necessities of life. ….

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/4-bogus-right-wing-theories-about-poverty-and-real-reason-americans-cant-make-ends

PAKISTAN: Sectarian killings — the nexus between Saudi Arabia and the army of Pakistan is now being openly discussed

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC):  The Asian Human Rights Commission strongly protests the murders of members of the Hazaras Shia community. A series of bombings in Hazaras town, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, claimed many lives, all of them members of the Shia Community. This recent blast on February 17 is the second one. The first one took place on January 10, and killed 90 persons. Then in the short space of just one month and seven days, another blast occurred which cost the lives of 107 persons. In both incidents more than 500 persons were injured. The second bombing took place despite the presence of the army and one of its units, the Frontier Corp (FC) which was assisted by more than three intelligence agencies working under the military command.

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Sex and Sharia: Muslim women punished for failed marriages

By Charlotte Rachael Proudman

Today I received another telephone call from a young Muslim woman, Nasrin, who pleaded with me to help her obtain an Islamic divorce. After fleeing a forced marriage characterised by rape and physical violence, Nasrin applied for an Islamic divorce from a Sharia council; that was almost 10 years ago now. Despite countless emails, letters and telephone calls to the Sharia council as well as joint mediation and reconciliation meetings, the Sharia council refuse to provide Nasrin with an Islamic divorce. Why? Because of Nasrin’s sex. An Imam at the Sharia council told Nasrin that her gender prevents her from unilaterally divorcing her husband, instead the Imam told her to return to her husband, perform her wifely duties and maintain the abusive marriage that she was forced into.

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Sri Lankan Army killed the 12-year old son of LTTE leader Prabakaran, in cold blood

CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran before and after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.

CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran before and after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.

New photographs of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran’s son just before he was shot dead, obtained by Channel 4 TV, leave more questions for Sri Lanka to answer about war crimes

It is a war that has produced some truly terrible images, but this one is particularly disturbing. A young boy sits looking distressed, like a child who has been lost in a supermarket. He has been given a biscuit or some kind of snack. In the second photograph, he is looking anxiously up, as though hoping to see someone he recognises.

The boy is Balachandran Prabakaran, the 12-year-old son of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

These photographs, which we are releasing today, form part of the new evidence in the forthcoming feature documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka,” the culmination of three years of research which will be shown for the first time next month in Geneva, to coincide with the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting. The new evidence in the film is certain to increase pressure on the Indian government not only to support a resolution on Sri Lanka and accountability, but also to ensure that it is robustly worded, and that it outlines an effective plan for international action to end impunity in Sri Lanka.

The new photographs tell a chilling story. This child is not been lost of course: he has been captured and is being held in a sandbag bunker, apparently guarded by a Sri Lankan Army soldier. In less than two hours he will be taken, executed in cold blood — and then photographed again.

Forensic pathologist’s opinion

In these photographs, which digital image analysis indicates were taken with the same camera, we can see he has been shot five times in the chest. Separate video footage, also apparently filmed as a war trophy by government soldiers, shows that alongside him lie the bodies of five men. They appear to have been Tamil Tiger fighters, probably his bodyguards. They have been stripped, bound, blindfolded and then shot in the head.

The new photographs are particularly important evidentially, because they prove that Balachandran was not killed in crossfire, or in a battle. His death was deliberate and calculated. The pictures fill in chilling details on the circumstances of his murder — and leave the Sri Lankan government with yet more questions to answer about just how systematic the executions at the end of the war appear to have been. Last year, we first revealed video footage and stills which showed Balachandran’s body shortly after his execution. These were analysed for us by a respected forensic pathologist, Professor Derrick Pounder, to assess the cause of death.

The professor identified what he thinks is the first of the shots to be fired at the boy: “There is a speckling (on the skin) from propellant tattooing, indicating that the distance of the muzzle of the weapon to this boy’s chest was two to three feet or less. He could have reached out with his hand and touched the gun that killed him.”

The professor said the angle of the shots suggested that after that bullet was fired, the boy fell backwards and was then shot four more times. Unlike the men around him, there was no indication that the boy had been blindfolded or bound, so it was possible that the boy may have been made to watch the execution of his guards before the gun was turned on him.

The new photographs released today give us a chilling insight into what happened before that. They appear to demonstrate that the situation was calm and orderly. Balachandran was given a snack and some water. There was time to take photographs while he was held in the bunker and again afterwards. The forensic analysis report on the photographs concludes that there is “no evidence to indicate fabrication, manipulation or the use of effects to create the images” and concludes that the photographs “appear to be an accurate representation of the events depicted.”

From the separate video sequence recorded later (which has also been authenticated by both digital video analysis), it is clear that there were several military personnel in the area.

Where the trail leads to

It is difficult to imagine the mindset of an army in which a child can be executed in cold blood with apparent impunity. It also raises extremely difficult questions for the Sri Lankan military. With every month that passes, the evidence of systematic execution of prisoners grows. The pattern of apparent sexual violence against female fighters is disturbing in the extreme.

As the respected international human rights lawyer, Professor William A. Schabas, says in our film: “If you look at what looks like the mass execution of naked prisoners, these all add up to possibly the claim that this was in fact systematic — and that could point to the highest levels in the military authority of Sri Lanka as being responsible for war crimes of summary execution, killing and torture.”

India’s role

And in Sri Lanka, of course, the highest levels of the military are virtually the same as the highest levels of the government. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, have some very difficult questions to answer.

They may well continue to simply deny the evidence and cite the undoubted crimes of the Tamil Tigers. But as a defence, it is becoming increasingly threadbare. The crimes of one side do not justify the crimes of another. A government which claims to adhere to international humanitarian law cannot hide behind the brutal suicide bombings or the brutalised child soldiers of the Tigers. But for India there is a dilemma too. Because it matters not just what the answers to these questions are. It also matters who asks these questions. India is central to this.

It has been said before, but it is true, and worth repeating. Without justice there can be no peace and reconciliation, and without truth there can be no justice.

This is not an academic exercise in historical accountability. The men responsible for these crimes are still in charge. They are continuing to brutally repress Tamils in the north and persecute anyone who criticises the government including, as we have seen with the impeachment of the Chief Justice, their own judiciary.

If there is no attempt to address these issues and to bring justice to those who suffered, the fear is that in the short term, political repression in Sri Lanka will increase and that in the long term, history is destined to repeat itself with yet more bloodshed and regional instability.

It seems to most human rights defenders around the world, including those in India, that the only way ahead in this situation is for the creation of a credible, independent, international inquiry into these events, as called for by the U.N.’s Panel of Experts. That inquiry should examine all the crimes committed by both sides.

If India was to declare its support for such an inquiry, many hope it could mark the start of the long, delayed movement towards peace, reconciliation and political justice in Sri Lanka.

(Callum Macrae is director, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka.” nofirezone.org. Follow him on Twitter @nofirezonemovie)

Courtesy: The Hindu

Link – http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-killing-of-a-young-boy/article4428792.ece?homepage=true

Forced contraception of Jewish Ethopian women is tip of global iceberg

A report claims Israel pressured women to reduce its poor black population. Reproductive rights need defending across the world

By: Lisa Hallgarten

Should gynaecologists need to be told not to give women contraceptive injections without establishing fully informed consent? Of course not. But that is what has happened in Israel after it was revealed in a report by a women’s rights organisation that Ethiopian women have been given injections of Depo-Provera without sufficient understanding of the purpose or side effects of the drug. Some Ethiopian women in transit camps were refused entry to the country if they refused the injection, and others wrongly believed they were being inoculated against disease. While Israeli demographers discuss the need to “preserve a clear and undisputed Jewish majority among Israel’s total population”, it may seem anomalous that women in the Jewish Ethiopian population are forced or coerced into using this highly effective contraceptive method.

However, the conclusions of the report, written by Hedva Eyal, are that the injections given to Ethiopian women are “a method of reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor”.

Many people may be unaware that the Israeli case is merely the tip of a global iceberg of human rights abuses in the field of reproductive health. Forced sterilisation of people with learning disabilities and people of minority ethnic groups was documented across Europe and the US in the 20th century. Under the state of emergency in India between 1975 and 1977, thousands of men and millions of women were bribed, coerced and sometimes forced to undergo sterilisation. As recently as 1996 in Peru, a demographic policy led to a sevenfold increase in sterilisations in just two years, effected through widespread violations of women’s rights. A provider explained: “Many [providers] did not inform women that they were going to be sterilised – they told them the procedure was something else. But I felt this was wrong. I preferred to offer women a bag of rice to convince them to accept the procedure and explained to them beforehand what was going to happen.” ….

Read more » guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/30/forced-contraception-jewish-ethopian-women

Canada – Generation Jobless

Canada – There was a time when a University degree assured you a of good job, good pay and a comfortable life. Not any more. Today, the unemployment rate for young people in this country is close to 15% – double that of the general population. But the real crisis is the increasing number of university and college grads who are underemployed – scraping by on low-paid, part-time jobs that don’t require a degree. ….

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episode/generation-jobless.html