Friday, November 30, 2012

India: Dream for secular republic unfulfilled

The terror attack on Mumbai in the night of November 26th was an attack on India killing innocent people but it also confirmed the weakness of Indian state in tackling the communal agenda. The police and administrative set up were communalized and Muslim became more isolated in this propaganda war. Isolation of Muslims in India is defeat of the vision of our constitutional forefathers.

Today is a landmark date of Indian Republic as on this day in 1949 our constituent Assembly settled for the current constitution of India. With different divergent views, India finally adopted a Republican Democratic Constitution despite the tragic and disastrous accidents due to partition in which thousands lost their lives for no fault of their own and millions were displaced.

Paradoxically, the same day on November 26th, 2008, terrorists stuck the financial capital of India and bled it in full force in an open defiance to republican common sharing dream of a united India. Hundreds of innocent lost their lives and many their whole world. The incident changed the total perception of people in India and forced the governments to adopt more such strategies which actually were anti-democratic and against the basic preamble of our constitution. In the name of fight against terrorism, innocent Muslim youths were arrested in different parts of the country and thousands of them are still languishing in jails waiting for their trial to take off.

Therefore, it is time for introspection as where our republic failed and why? It is a well-known fact that despite partition in the name of religion, Indian leadership chose to adopt a secular constitution which means despite our prejudices we still attempted to overcome those through constitutional measures. For a country which bore the brunt of partition in the name of religion, it was a huge compliment and challenging task. While the leadership which fought for the nation was by and large secular at least till Nehru was there at the helm of affair, it started appeasing Hindu fundamentalists more and more subsequently after his demise in 1964. The country had seen communal disturbances in number of places and almost all the inquiry commissions had pointed the involvement of RSS in the communal riots. Meerut, Moradabad,, Aligarh, Kanpur, Bhivandi, Malegaon, Jabalpur, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad saw communal riots in different phases which bled the nation.

In 1975 Mrs. Indira Gandhi imposed emergency on the country and suspended all our rights including freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly. All the political leaders were arrested and newspapers were not allowed to publish news items which were against the ‘interest’ of the government. She lost in 1975 resulting in the formation of first non-Congress government of Janata Party under the leadership of Morarji Desai which undemocratically used its power and dismissed 7 congress ruled government immediately without allowing them to complete their terms. The argument was that they have lost their mandate. It was naked dance of dictatorial leadership who were elected in the name of democracy. Indira Gandhi repeated it when she returned to power in 1980 by dismissing the Janata governments in the states.

1980s was a tumultuous phase in Indian democracy when power started slipping out of the brahmanical domination and Congress played shamelessly though, the Hindu card in Jammu and Kashmir and later in Punjab. The results were disastrous. To counter the demand of more powers to the state raised by the Akali Dal, Indira Gandhi promoted Bhindaranwale who used the opportunity to establish himself as the biggest leader of the Sikh Panth. The Sikh Hindu divide grew in Punjab resulting in the disastrous decision of the government to raid the golden temple in June 1984 under code name ‘Operation Blue Star’. It hurt the Sikh psyche tremendously and government did nothing to remove them. They were isolated. Every Sikh became a suspect in the eye of others. This was one of the most uncertain periods of Indian republic. They were deeply hurt with the turn of events at the Golden Temple where huge number of militants had gathered. The mix of religion and politics could be best seen in Punjab and Akali Dal was no less responsible as it was they who used it to the best and Congress was only trying to consolidate the non Jats as well as Hindus in the state. The dirty game of the political parties created an unbridgeable divide.

On October 31st, 1984 Mrs. Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her own security staffs who happened to be Sikhs. The entire country saw the violence against Sikh community and each one of them were considered as a threat to the country. The national capital took the lead in violence against the Sikhs and the might Indian state did not do anything. Instead, it used the opportunity to consolidate the Hindu vote bank further which resulted in the massive mandate to Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 when elections were held in the country. It is essential to examine the 1985 electoral mandate to Rajiv Gandhi where he became the symbol of Hindu nationalism and the Sangh Parivar openly came in his support. He used those symbols too to consolidate his position yet he also initiated different political processes in various parts of the country including Punjab and Mizoram. The results were positive yet Rajiv lost in 1989 because he was surrounded by the coterie which enjoyed his innocence. With a massive mandate in his pocket, he ignored President Jail Singh who was loyal to his mother and sworn him as a prime minister without even waiting for the Congress Party formally electing him as leader.

Rajiv and his close associate Arun Nehru continued to play the Hindu Card which resulted in opening up the lock of Babari Mosque for Hindus. The government never challenged the local court order further to appease the Hindus. At the same time when Muslim fanatics raised the issue of Shahbano, the government over turned the Supreme Court order on the rights of a Muslim woman who is divorced. The congress as usual wanted a win-win situation for all the fundamentalists in the country and hence it covers extra miles to appease every one without addressing their social economic issues. The Ayodhya issue and Shabano case actually gave the Hindu fundamentalists a big handle to brow beat Muslims in the country. Under lot of corruption charges, Rajiv lost the next election resulting in the formation of another non Congress government under V.P.Singh which was supported from outside both by the left and the right.

In 1990, the prime minister announced acceptance of Mandal Commission Report giving opportunity to OBCs to share power. This was one of the biggest events of post independent India which shook the Indian power structure. It developed a deep hatred towards the then prime minister V.P.Singh in the Indian middle classes. The forces of Hinduva felt the danger of OBC assertion and their alliance with Dalits for the hegemony of the upper caste in socio-political life of our country. They could not afford to openly oppose the Mandal commission reports yet clandestinely fomenting trouble in Delhi against the government decision. After much thought, they launched the Ram Temple movement and under the grand design engaged the Shudra communities in it. They created an enemy in the form of Muslims and isolated them politically. The anti-Muslim feelings were created under the Ram Temple movement turning them the main villain.

The Congress and the mainstream parties did not take them openly. In fact, Congress was in competitive mode for this Hindu communalism which resulted in more isolation of Muslims. The biggest casualty of this communalization process in India was the Hindutvaisation of administrative set up particularly police and administrative bodies. Unfortunately, media too became victim of it. In the post 1990s, media used all the propaganda of the Hindutva forces and actively supported by the police and intelligence services to defame and isolate Muslims further. It culminated in violence against Muslims and systematic onslaught on their places of worship with demolition of Babari Mosque on December 6th, 1992. The then prime minister Narsimha Rao promised to the nation that the Babari Mosque but instead no political party including the secular ones dare to say that Babari Mosque should be rebuilt to bring it the status quo level. No culprit of that heinous crime against Indian constitution and secular ethos of the country ever went to jail except for one day symbolic punishment to Kalyan Singh who wanted to use this opportunity to garner their votes further.

Ram Mandir movement legitimized the communalization of the Hindutva brigade and brought them to power. It exposed the parties and outfits which claims to be secular and yet became part of so-called National Democratic Alliance. The culprit of the Babari demolition became senior minister and presided over the same ministries which were supposed to file cases against them. Lal Krishna Advani became the Home Minister of the country and further communalized the entire bureaucracy. Murli Manohar Joshi was made Minister for Human Resource Development and he shamelessly pursued the brahmanical agenda in education particularly in the school text books.

In Mumbai, the award of the communal riots in 1993 with active support of the Shiv Sena goons resulted in their attaining power in Maharastra when it went to polls, while in 2002, Narendra Modi outdid what Rajiv and his Congress had done to Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. The Muslims were the victims of Modi’s hate agenda as he wanted to teach them a ‘lesson’ and finish their voices completely. Gujarat became the biggest laboratory of Hindutva and brahmanical forces. Despite all our war cries against him, Modi continue to become more powerful in the absence of a credible secular alternative. This further marginalized and isolated Muslims in Gujarat.

On November 26th, 2008 the terrorists from Pakistan attacked Mumbai. The country suffered and like all, many Muslims were also killed with other citizens of the country. The war against terrorism became a war against ‘Muslims’. This was suitable for the Hindu right wing which always wanted to get legitimized in the din of ‘war against terror’. Muslim and terrorism became synonymous terms with media actively participating in it and became propaganda machinery of the state for the same. It is ironical that while in all other matters particularly on the issues of corruption, the media never bothered about the state version but on the issue of Muslims, they became voice of the state and were thoroughly communalized.

Thousands of Muslims youths are languishing in Indian Jails in the name of ‘war against terror’. Many of them have not even been brought to trial. It is shameful that a ‘secular’ administration and the state could do nothing. It is the biggest blot to Indian state that it has selectively made the state apparatus anti-Muslims. While identity politics has become hall mark of Indian political system, Muslim identity has become a drawback for the community. Any formation of political front in the name of Muslims will be out rightly termed as communal while the Hindutva-isation of our political set up is complete. The Muslims youths are being detained for no fault of theirs. It is not just state of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where Muslim youths are in jail without any trials. It is tragic a state of Uttar-Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh where state government claims to be ‘secular’.

War against terrorism cannot be won by putting innocents in the jail just because of their religious identity of being a Muslim. It is proved beyond doubt how the Hindutva forces are operating in the country and communalizing the government apparatus and media. Our republic cannot hope to achieve its dreams of a secular socialist India when its ‘second majority’ suffers the fate of being ‘foreigner’ and ‘suspect’ for every act of terror which is the case of individuals or politically motivated terrorist groups. As we do not blame all the Hindus for the fault of Hindutva organizations and their misdeeds similarly, it is time when the media should stop branding every Muslim as terrorist for the act and misdeeds of these unlawful outfits whose agenda is to ferment trouble in India. The state apparatus will have to be developed in a secular way so that they do not suffer from prejudices. As long as we have political leaders without facing any trial for their involvement in hate propaganda and instigating communal violence, we will continue to have act of terror.

As long as the Muslim youths are arrested without their involvement for the troubles created by the terrorist outfits, we will not be able to bring peace in the country. The answers to today’s problems are more engagement of the community in administration, social and political life. The day, Indian society become inclusive and our administration and judiciary secularized, the political goons using religious identity as a tool to climb up the ladder and become leader would be isolated. Communalism of all variety is dangerous for the country and can be tackled both with greater administrative reforms including secularization of it as well as a wider public debate on the issue of democracy and secularism so that fringe elements everywhere is isolated. If the Muslims, Dalits, Aadivasis in this country do not get justice, it would be difficult for democracy to survive and then we will have nobody to blame but to ourselves and our faulty political system which is unfortunately strengthening status quo. The dreams of our constitutional forefathers remain unfilled as the shortsightedness of our current political class and legitimization of the communal organisations as ‘nationalist’ political parties .

BY :  Vidya Bhushan Rawat.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Genocide of the Rohingyas of Myanmar

Part 1: Current Situation inside Arakan
Myanmar’s western state of Arakan (Rakhine) is again burning. In Mrauk-U, the former capital of the independent kingdom of Arakan, hundreds of young Rakhine Buddhist men were on the march: packed on the backs of pickups, on motorcycles, on trishaws, tuk-tuks and bicycles, but mostly on foot. They carried spears, swords, cleavers, bamboo staves, slingshots, crossbows and the occasional petrol bomb. Their target: the unarmed Rohingya Muslims. As the Economist (dated Nov. 3, 2012) of the UK noted, one Buddhist terrorist tugged at an imaginary beard and made a grisly throat-cutting gesture.

Sadly, Mrauk-U is not the only town where Rohingya Muslims are facing a genocidal campaign at the hands of Rakhine terrorists. From the reports collected inside Myanmar, there is little doubt that the Rakhine Buddhist terrorists, aided by local and central government politicians, police and security forces, are carrying out a pre-meditated genocidal campaign to exterminate and drive out every Rohingya of Burma (Myanmar). 

So atrocious and criminal this campaign is even the president of Myanmar, who had previously tried to hide such targeted violence, had to admit on Friday, October 26 (as reported in the pro-government newspaper the New Light of Myanmar) that eight mosques (Muslim houses of worship) and 2,000 of Rohingya homes were torched to completely destroy these. His spokesman told the BBC this weekend that "there have been incidents of whole villages and parts of the towns being burnt down in Rakhine state." The actual facts and figures, however, are much worse!

It is feared that in the last week of October at least 5,000 Rohingya homes were burned to ashes. Satellite imagery shows the utter destruction of a Muslim quarter of the coastal town of Kyaukphyu, from where oil-and-gas pipelines are to cross Myanmar to China. In this latest genocidal campaign, the Muslim villages and localities in townships are cordoned off and fire bombed. Anyone trying to escape from their burned homes is shot dead by the Rakhine Buddhist terrorists and their patrons within the government. Racist Rakhine politicians and monks are creating an environment of racial/religious hatred and intolerance which justifies all types of violence against the unarmed Rohingya population. Many Rohingyas have, therefore, tried to escape to the forest or the open seas, only to be hunted down there, too. Last week, hundreds died when their boats sank in the Bay of Bengal. Others are forced to sneak out to Bangladesh. 

Denied entry, many have ended up in squalid camps in Sittwe (Akyab) to join others who have been confined there since early June. Dozens of Rohingya girls were also kidnapped by the Rakhine terrorists to use rape and kidnap as weapons of war to terrorize the Rohingya populace.

It is an all out extermination campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar. In a statement dated Thursday, October 25, Ashok Nigam, a United Nations official in Myanmar, said, "The UN is alarmed by reports of displacements and destruction.” He said that access to all affected people is critical and appealed for immediate and unconditional access to all communities in accordance with humanitarian principles.

As I have pointed out earlier in my speeches and writings, the Myanmar government wants to hide its heinous crimes against the Rohingya people and, thus, have not allowed access of the international media, NGOs, aid groups and even the UN to the troubled region to investigate, monitor and assess the scale of the violence. Since the elimination of the Rohingya people one way or another is the declared state objective, no aid has reached from the Myanmar government agencies to the Muslim victims. And what is worse, even the relief materials sent from the OIC and the Islamic Relief have not reached the intended Rohingya victims. 

Less than 10% of such aids have trickled down to the victims. The Myanmar government, thanks to the state-managed protests and demonstrations in October by racist Buddhists that included monks, has also barred the OIC and Muslim relief agencies from opening offices inside the Rakhine state to help the Rohingya victims.

Not a single Buddhist terrorist has been punished for the gruesome murder of Muslims, not then and not now. All what we heard from the Thein Sein government was that it had identified the instigators behind the violence and pledged to bring them to justice. But as we have witnessed earlier with the June 3 lynching death of 10 Burmese Muslims, such promises have not translated into justice, let alone created an atmosphere that protects the lives and properties of the affected Rohingya minority.

It is obvious that the Thein Sein government is playing the cat-and-mouse game with the world community with false promises made to divert attention away when the satellite pictures are too obvious and difficult to hide such crimes, and once the outside pressure is low to encourage and participate in this heinous crime. As such the pogroms that started in June 3 with nearly a hundred thousand internally displaced Rohingyas have only worsened with extra tens of thousands that are now without any shelter. The once thriving Muslim localities now look like bombed-out territories. No Rohingya has been allowed back in to rebuild those properties. They have been caged in camps that look like the Nazi concentration camps from which they can’t venture out to fetch their livelihood without risking being shot by the Rakhine Buddhist security forces. They have been placed there to slowly die.

Terrorizing the unarmed Rohingya population has become a Rakhine national passion. The Border Security Force (NASAKA) continues to remind the Rohingya people that Arakan is a Rakhine place where there is no place for the Rohingya Muslims and that they must leave or will be killed. Newer territories are added to the list of ethnically cleansed ones to terrorize Rohingya Muslims and exterminate them. The Section 144, which prohibits an assembly of more than five people in an area, is only applied against the Rohingya. They cannot go out to protect their homes, shops, mosques, schools and villages from being looted and set on fire by the Rakhine terrorists who are not stopped from committing such crimes by the security forces.

In most cases, these criminal Rakhines are aided by the government. There have been cases, e.g., as in Kyauk Pyu Township, in which instead of dousing the fire with water, the Buddhist firemen sprayed gasoline into the fire to complete the destruction! "The firemen threw petrol on the flames, as if it was water! The authorities are one-sided. We can never trust them," said a local teacher to Pete Pattisson, a journalist working for the Independent (UK). Last Wednesday, the entire Muslim community in Kyauk Pyu decided to flee in their fishing boats, joining thousands of others trying to escape from being killed or burned alive

Former Muslim residents of Pauk Taw told the Independent that a government ferryboat had rammed their fishing boats at sea, resulting in drowning deaths of dozens. Those who had fled and made it ashore have been prevented by government authorities from landing on the coast. 

 Satellite images of Kyauk Pyu and its coastal surroundings, released by the Human Rights Watch at the weekend, show the extent of the devastation. Where once there were houseboats and floating barges moored along a harbor town packed with houses, now there is charred desolation, with 811 homes and other structures destroyed.

All the victims in recent months have also been Muslims and yet the Thein Sein government tries to portray the violence in the Rakhine state as an interracial or communal riot.

What is going on inside the Rakhine state is simply a purposeful policy designed by the Myanmar government in which the members of the majority Rakhine ethnic group, which is Buddhist by faith, are willing executioners to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of the Rohingya ethnic community, which are Muslims, from the geographic areas of Arakan and Myanmar. The United Nations define such activities as ethnic cleansing. No hog-washing by the murderous regime and its supporters at home and abroad will succeed to hide such monumental crimes.

Part 2: Ethnic Cleansing of the Rohingyas of Myanmar
The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people is a text book case. It has become a national project that is led by the Myanmar state at the central level and the Rakhine state at the local level, supported by a good percentage of the Buddhist nation and its dominant Burman and Rakhine ethnic groups, and which employs large institutional and material resources. The local Rakhine politicians and terrorists, the Buddhist monks and mobs, and the entire state apparatus from the local to the central government level are enthusiastic partners in this project towards final solution of the Rohingya problem.

It was no accident, therefore, to witness demonstrations of monks, esp. those organized by Young Monks Association, supporting Thein Sein’s plan to expel the Rohingyas from Myanmar. The largest such demonstration was led by Wirathu, considered a venerable teacher by many Buddhists. He is a criminal who was imprisoned in 2003 for inciting violence against the Muslims. It is no accident that Suu Kyi spoke with forked tongues and that her NLD party has actually been supporting the national project towards elimination of the Rohingya people. Many of the so-called ‘democracy’ leaders have proven to be no better than fascists and are actually worse than the KKK members.

The worst criminals in this extermination campaign are, however, the fellow Rakhine Buddhists, whose ancestors settled in Arakan beginning in the 11th century, i.e., centuries after the darker complexioned Indo-Bengali ancestors of the Rohingya people had already settled in this coastal territory once ruled by the Hindu Chandra dynasty, which had closer ties with Bengal (today’s Bangladesh). 

With that intrusion, albeit a violent one, of the Tibeto-Burman people, the forefathers of today’s Rakhine race, who professed Buddhism, the original inhabitant Hindus and Muslims gradually became minority religious groups. However, in 1430 when two contingents of Muslim Army from Bengal, comprising of more than 50,000 soldiers, restored the fleeing Arakanese king Narameikhla (Maung Saw Mawn) to the throne of Arakan, and a great many of them were asked to protect the regime against any future Burmese invasion, the new settlements of the Muslim garrison around the new capital city of Mrohang (Mrauk-U) greatly added to the size of the minority Muslim community.

The Arakanese rulers of Mrauk-U dynasty adopted superior Islamic culture from nearby Muslim Bengal/India, and issued coins with Islamic inscriptions. They patronized Bengali literature. They also adopted Muslim names, a practice that was to continue for generations well into the 16th century. Muslims played major roles in administration, courts and defense of this multi-ethnic kingdom that maintained its independence for centuries until its annexation by the Burmese king Bodawpaya in 1784.

Bodawpaya was a Buddhist religious fanatic who tried to demolish everything Islamic. He introduced racism and bigotry into this multi-religious region. He destroyed mosques that once dotted the shorelines of Arakan and patronized building Buddhist monasteries and pagodas. He massacred tens of thousands of Muslims, and took another 20,000 as prisoners during his annexation of Arakan. During his tyrannical rule, some 200,000 Arakanese also fled to Bengal (today’s Bangladesh), which by then was under the British rule. After 40-years of Burmese rule (1784-1824), Arakan was occupied by the English East India Company who ruled the territory until Burma won its independence on January 4, 1948.

During the Second World War, taking advantage of the Japanese occupation of Burma, the Buddhist forces which had allied themselves with the Fascist Japanese Imperial Army against the British Raj, targeted the Indian and Muslim population and their homes and businesses. Even the Rohingya Muslims who lived in the western territories did not escape the extermination campaign. Nearly a hundred thousand of them were killed in that joint campaign. They were pushed out of the southern parts of the Arakan state; and many managed to survive by living in northern territories, closer to the Bengal, where they were a solid majority. Another 80,000 settled permanently in Bengal to save their lives. Two hundred and ninety four Muslim villages were totally destroyed.

Even after Burma achieved its independence, sadly, the mass elimination and targeted violence against the Rohingya and other Muslims continued. To the best of my knowledge, at least two dozen campaigns have been directed against them to ethnically cleanse them. These are:
01. Military Operation (5th Burma Regiment) - November 1948
02. Burma Territorial Force (BTF) - Operation 1949-50
03. Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin regiment) - March 1951-52
04. Mayu Operation - October 1952-53
05. Mone-thone Operation - October 1954
06. Combined Immigration and Army Operation - January 1955
07. Union Military Police (UMP) Operation - 1955-58
08. Captain Htin Kyaw Operation - 1959
09. Shwe Kyi Operation - October 1966
10. Kyi Gan Operation - October-December 1966
11. Ngazinka Operation - 1967-69
12. Myat Mon Operation - February 1969-71
13. Major Aung Than Operation - 1973
14. Sabe Operation February - 1974-78

15. Naga-Min (King Dragon) Operation - February 1978-79 (resulting in exodus of some 300,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh; 40,000 died)
16. Shwe Hintha Operation - August 1978-80
17. Galone Operation - 1979
18. 1984 Pogrom in Taunggok
19. Anti-Muslim riots - Taunggyi (western Burma), Pyay and many other parts of Burma including Rangoon - 1987-88

20. Pyi Thaya Operation – July 1991-92 (resulting in exodus of some 268,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)
21. Na-Sa-Ka Operation  – since 1992
22. Race riot against Muslims – March 1997 (Mandalay)
23. Anti-Muslim riot in Sittwe – February 2001
24. Anti-Muslim full-scale riot in Central Burma – May 2001
25. Anti-Muslim violence throughout central Burma (especially in the cities of Pyay/Prome, Bago/Pegu) after 9/11 – October 2001
26. Joint extermination campaign – June 3, 2012 – to date.

Every attempt has been made by the Myanmar government since the days of General Ne Win to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya people and deny them human rights. They were declared stateless, thus licensing every crime directed against them; not a single Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was honored. Here below is a shortlist of such crimes against the Rohingya people:
  • Denial of Citizenship
  • Restriction of Movement or Travel
  • Restriction on Education
  • Restriction on Ability to work
  • Forced Labor
  • Land Confiscation
  • Forced Eviction
  • Destruction of homes, offices, schools, mosques, etc.
  • Religious persecution
  • Ethnic discrimination
  • Restrictions on Marriage of Rohingyas
  • Prevention of reproduction and forced abortion
  • Arbitrary Taxation and Extortion
  • Registration of births and deaths in families and even of cattle, and the associated extortion
  • Arbitrary arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing
  • Abuse of Rohingya Women and Elders
  • Rape as a weapon of war
  • Depopulation of Rohingya community
  • Confiscation of residency/citizenship cards
  • Internally displaced persons or undocumented refugees and statelessness
  • Destruction or alteration of historical Muslim sites and shrines to erase its symbolism or Islamic identity.
Part 3: All Over Arakan It’s Bosnia Again!
In a meeting (in which I was invited to speak on the Rohingya problem) held in Luton (located 30 miles north of London), UK, on October 13, a British MP mentioned close parallel between what is happening today against the Rohingya Muslims in Arakan and what happened in Bosnia in the early 1990s against the Bosnian Muslims. He is right.

The Arakan state, which per estimates made by Dr. Shwe Lu Maung alias Shahnewaz Khan, in his book – The Price of Silence: Muslim-Buddhist War of Bangladesh and Myanmar – a Social Darwinist’s Analysis – had probably as many Rohingya Muslims as there were Rakhine Buddhists living in its four districts before the latest extermination campaign that began on June 3 of this year, is now almost devoid of any Muslim village that is unharmed or intact by Buddhist Rakhine terrorism.

The UN and other international human rights groups have called the Rohingya Muslims, and rightly so, the worst persecuted people in our planet. Because of their race and religion, they are victims of genocide in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Truly, no other word in the English language but genocide can describe what the Rohingya people are facing. The use of this term should not come as a surprise since the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.” As noted by experts, the term can be applied to such destructions in whole or in part of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. By any definition, the Rohingya people of Arakan are ethnically, racially, religiously different than the Rakhine Buddhists and majority Burmans in Myanmar.

In his book – Worse than War – Dr. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen cites five principal forms of elimination: transformation, repression, expulsion, prevention of reproduction, and extermination. Transformation involves the destruction of a targeted group’s essential and defining political, social, or cultural identities. As I have mentioned earlier, in spite of their ties to the soil of Arakan since time immemorial, the Rohingyas are falsely alleged by the dominant ethnic groups as new settlers from nearby Bangladesh.

Repression entails keeping the hated, deprecated, or feared people within territorial reach and reducing, with violent domination, their ability to inflict real or imagined harm upon others. Such repression has been a regular feature of Rohingya life inside Myanmar.

Expulsion, often called deportation, is a third eliminationist option. It removes unwanted people more thoroughly, by driving them beyond a country’s borders, or from one region of a country to another, or compelling them en masse into camps. The Myanmar government since the days of Ne Win has been guilty of this crime.

Prevention of reproduction is the fourth eliminationist act, which the Myanmar government has been employing in conjunction with others. Not only are the Rohingya families restricted from marrying, the women are often forcibly sterilized, forced to abort and very often raped. In recent months, during attacks on Muslim homes, villages and towns the kidnapping of the Rohingya girls and women have become a recurring event.

Extermination is the fifth eliminationist act in which the targeted groups are killed, often with the excuse that their very existence poses a mortal threat. It promises not an interim, not a piecemeal, not only a probable, but a “final solution” to the putative problem. It is not difficult to see why in recent weeks, poisoned oil and food were sold to the Rohingya people by Rakhine businessmen to kill them. The latest activities by the Rakhine terrorists, aided by racist monks and others within the larger Myanmar society, including murderous politicians and government authorities, thus, clearly show that Rohingyas are victims of an extermination act.

A comparison with the previously cited list of crimes of the Myanmar government clearly shows that Rohingyas are facing all the five forms of elimination. It is a complete package of annihilation of the Rohingya people!

Genocide requires preparation and planning. It begins in the minds of men and needs mass mobilization to commit the horror against the targeted group. The perpetrators or the executioners must not only feel secure but also must be self-motivated and zealous to commit their horrendous crimes. Often times, the task of preparing the mind is left to ideologues and chauvinist intellectuals who sell the poison tablet of intolerance against the targeted group. Without political leadership the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators would not lift a finger in harm. However, once set in motion, typically with a few encouraging and enabling words, they, both the eliminationist regimes’ shock troops and their societies’ ordinary members give themselves, body and soul, to death. They do so easily, effortlessly. And this is what we are witnessing today in Myanmar, esp. the Arakan state.

Taking a cue from other places where genocides have taken place, the leaders of this greatest crime of our time - the Myanmar government, the local Rakhine politicians and intelligentsia, and their racist Buddhist monks within the general population -- have been feeding many myths for public consumption that not only distort the history of the Rohingyas and other non-Buddhists but also exaggerate the potential benefits that could come from ‘purifying’ the soils of Myanmar and Arakan by eliminating the ‘other’ people, esp. the Rohingya Muslims. Thanks to the poisonous writings of Rakhine chauvinists like Aye Chan, (late) Aye Kyaw, Khin Maung Saw and others, the Muslim population is deemed an ‘influx virus,’ a threat to the Buddhist identity of Myanmar, esp. of Arakan. Thus, a pervasive slogan that is often heard and discussed in the media is that the Rakhine people can’t live any more with the Rohingya ‘terrorists.’ Forgotten in such biased reporting is the mere fact that all the victims of the carnage have been Rohingya people. It is they who are terrorized by Buddhist terrorism, and not the other way around!

The causes of mass murder can often be found in the ideology that the state espouses. Social and ethnic compositions are usually the fault lines along which such elimination projects emanate. As I have noted elsewhere, the Myanmar government espouses a new Myanmarism in which racism and bigotry are the defining ideologies to purify its soil of all the non-Buddhists and non-Mongoloid races. Its mosaic of identities - ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic and cultural, and the resulting diversity, which could have been its greatest strength is seen in this toxic ideology as its greatest weakness.

In 1935, years before the Jewish Holocaust happened in Germany, anti-Jewish racist and bigotry-ridden laws were promulgated in the German city of Nuremberg stopping social and economic contacts with the Jews. The Jews also lost the right to vote and hold office. Within the next eight years, 13 implementation ordinances were issued dealing with the enforcement of the Reich Citizenship Law that progressively marginalized the Jewish community in Germany. Anyone violating these laws was punished by hard labor, imprisonment and/or fines. Such laws were exploited by hard-core Nazis to destroy properties of a people that the authorities would not generally protect. Truly, it is hard to imagine the Jewish Holocaust in Europe without those Nuremberg Laws. The recently issued religious edicts from Buddhist monks banning social and economic ties with the Rohingya people, in particular, and the Muslims, in general, is a sufficient reminder and a dire warning about the ugly head of genocide that is emerging now in Myanmar, esp. in its western state of Arakan.

As I have noted in my keynote speech at the Bangkok Conference on “Contemplating Burma’s Rohingya People’s Future in Reconciliation and (Democratic) Reform,” the new Myanmarism, espoused by the Buddhist political leadership inside Myanmar, is totalitarian and is akin to neo-Nazi Fascism. Its leaders and followers erase distinction between politics and religion, wanting to merge their racist and fascist politics with and subordinate to radical Theravada Buddhism that is extremist, fundamentalist, racist, violent and intolerant of all religions except its own. This toxic ideology is a sure recipe for disaster in a country like Myanmar with some 140 ethnic groups and minority Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus comprising 15 to 20 percent of the total population. It breeds intolerance and promotes violence that is officially sanctioned by people in authority and supported by vast majority of its people as a national project. This hybrid cocktail of Burmese racist supremacy and intolerant Buddhism is a threat not only to its minority races and religions, but also to the entire region.

Sadly, however, because of the western appetite for Myanmar’s natural resources, the crimes of the Myanmar and Rakhine government are overlooked. And instead, the root causes behind the targeted violence against the Rohingya Muslims are falsely attributed to poverty and lack of economic opportunities – points recently made by Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department.

There is, however, no doubt that in spite of Myanmar’s enormous natural resources, the country remains the poorest of the ASEAN countries, and South-east Asia. But to say that poverty is at the heart of the genocidal campaign is a linguistic camouflage to justice U.S. State Department’s silence on the grievous nature of the crimes committed by the   murderous Myanmar government. We have heard similar excuses during the Bosnian and Rwandan genocidal campaigns. There are many countries with worse poverty but the powerful majority there doesn’t commit acts of genocide against the minority. For genocide to happen, it is always a national project in which people of all walks of life participate, and that is what is happening with the Rohingya problem inside Myanmar.

For years, China, India and other Asia Pacific countries have been doing business with the brutal military regime in Myanmar. Human rights were never a priority. Many of the European and North American countries were left out from a share at that Myanmar pie. For them to join in, they needed a face change with Myanmar. And that devious process started first with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Suu Kyi – who did not merit it, and then with the change of the uniform of the old guards who not long ago had donned the military dress to claim that they are reform-minded. It was a Glasnost moment for Burma, which was renamed Myanmar. That claim was followed with a controversial election held in 2010 (followed by a by-election in which Suu Kyi’s NLD enthusiastically participated) to show that Myanmar was moving from a fascist military oligarchy into a democracy, and then the trip of Suu Kyi as Thein Sein’s unofficial ambassador to the western world pleading for opening up trade and commerce relationship with the government. And in this warming up session, the last play was played during Thein Sein’s trip to the UN where he met with Ban Ki-Moon and other western leaders.

Soon thereafter one after another of the western governments, too keen to eat their share of the pie, lifted all previous bans against the murderous regime. They promised huge investments. Emboldened by such moves, the Thein Sein government does not feel that it is obligated to honor any previous pledge made to the world community. Soon after his return from the UN session, the racist Buddhist monks conducted stage managed demonstrations asking the government to force out or relocate Muslims. In government managed newspapers, they announced dire consequences against anyone doing any business with Muslims including selling food and buying or renting out homes to and from them. As hinted above, it is a copy of the Nazi era policy. It is a total package of ethnically cleansing Myanmar of the Muslim population, in general, and the Rohingyas, in particular. So insidious is Myanmar’s Buddhist fascism, the Rakhine Buddhists living inside and outside Arakan and their patrons in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not want any Muslim, esp. the Rohingya, living inside Myanmar, esp. in the Rakhine state.

As I have noted elsewhere, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people has now become a national project in Myanmar in which most Buddhists of Myanmar including the so-called democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi are willing participants one way or another. Even when they are not personally participating in this heinous crime, through their sinister silence and/or endorsement of the regime’s anti-Rohingya policy and the genocidal campaign that is carried out by criminal Rakhine Buddhists, they have essentially become partners in this crime. The Rakhine Buddhists now have their own version of Kristallnacht. They are mimicking the Nazi Party's series of pogroms in 1938, whereby one Jewish township after another was attacked. At this rate of destruction, there won’t be any Muslim locality left inside Arakan, their ancestral home.

None of these attacks since June 3 are isolated, unplanned, or spontaneous offenses. Already made stateless by the highly discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law that is at variance with scores of international laws, the Rohingyas are falsely blamed by fascist Rakhine politicians for crimes that they did not commit so that the Buddhist populace could be incited to accept and assist the progressively savage operations of "race purification." Lynching attacks are organized by Aye Maung’s fascist party - RNDP and other equally racist Rakhine politicians and greedy businessmen to loot Rohingya properties and burn their homes, businesses and mosques. Rohingya property is confiscated. In this task the Rakhine-dominated security forces and police are willing partners. As a result, the Rohingyas are now caged in concentration-like camps and ghettos or pushed into exile. The genocidal program is progressing in fury and irresponsibility to the "final solution" to make them an extinct people.

We can still stop this extinction if our powerful western governments act. They can pressure the Thein Sein government through the UN Security Council not only to stop this ethnic cleansing and restore Rohingya citizenship, but also ensure that the Rohingyas are compensated for their loss of lives and properties and live with safety and security under UN-monitored safe havens created to the west of the Kaladan River. If the regime resists such tangible changes, the UNSC members can take the criminal leaders of Myanmar and the Rakhine state to a Nuremberg-type trial for committing heinous crimes against humanity, let alone ban all economic transactions with the rogue regime.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the powerful nations towards the Rohingya problem is a reminiscent of the Nazi era; they refuse to see and hear the obvious truth. It is simply immoral and inexcusable. They are buying and parroting the Myanmar regime's argument, that the conflict is basically two-sided with two large racial groups attacking each other. This is a false equivalence. When all the townships that are burning, and refugees, are from one side – the Rohingya, and when renowned activists, Buddhist monks, and local Rakhine politicians and students are using language reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda, something truly catastrophic is underway seeking "final solution" of the Rohingya problem. Nothing can hide this ugly truth!

The Rakhine (Arakan) state now looks like a prison-like ghetto for the Rohingya people. Now, the Rohingya homes are ring-fenced by burnt-out buildings and military checkpoints. Outside the capital city of Sittwe (Akyab), up to 100,000 more Rohingyas are living in a series of sweltering refugee camps where malnourishment and disease are rife and where security forces and local Rakhine activists impede aid workers from operating freely. As a result of years of persecution and a slow but steady genocidal campaign, half the Rohingya population has already been pushed out. Others living inside are counting their days to get out of this living hell. Can our generation allow such an obliteration of an entire community?

How many Rohingya deaths and destruction of their homes would qualify for these powerful nations to act and stop this most far-flung and terrible racial persecution of our time? How can we ignore or tolerate such a calculated, malignant and devastating crime, which epitomizes racial hatreds, religious bigotry, terrorism and violence, and the arrogance and cruelty of power?

It is sad to see that we have not learned anything from genocides of the past – neither from Hitler’s Germany nor from the more recent ones in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda. Linguistic camouflages are still used to minimize the nature of the crime faced by the Rohingya people. Many reporters relaying the events are using prefixes like “alleged” only to obfuscate what is really happening. Many local reporters are absolutely biased and are guilty of disseminating government propaganda.

In his closing remarks before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, Robert Jackson, the U.S. Chief Prosecutor, issued the following warning: “The reality is that in the long perspective of history the present century will not hold an admirable position, unless its second half is to redeem its first. These two-score years in the twentieth century will be recorded in the book of years as one of the most bloody in all annals. Two World Wars have left a legacy of dead which number more than all the armies engaged in any way that made ancient or medieval history. No half-century ever witnessed slaughter on such a scale, such cruelties and inhumanities, such wholesale deportations of peoples into slavery, such annihilations of minorities. The terror of Torquemada pales before the Nazi Inquisition. These deeds are the overshadowing historical facts by which generations to come will remember this decade. If we cannot eliminate the causes and prevent the repetition of these barbaric events, it is not an irresponsible prophecy to say that this twentieth century may yet succeed in bringing the doom of civilization.”

Witnessing the latest genocidal campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, it is obvious that we have failed on both counts - to eliminate "the causes" and to prevent "the repetition of these barbaric events." 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pakistani ISI circulating counterfeit currency in India and Bangladesh

Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence [ISI] is printing counterfeit Indian and Bangladeshi currencies from the state-owned security printing presses under special arrangement and circulating the same through well organized network, which is coordinated by senior ISI officials. Although India's National Investigation Agency [NIA] estimated over 16,000 crore [1 crore = 10 million] of counterfeit Indian currencies in circulation, the actual volume of such currencies are believed to be much above the estimation. Despite such counterfeit Indian currencies being regularly seized by members of law enforcement agencies in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and Holland, the frequency of such illegal circulation could never be either contained or stopped.

The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau [CEIB] in India says that the NIA, the CBI, the DRI and police have detected only 28 to 30 per cent of fake currency actually circulating in the market. The quantity of fake currency floating around in the country is enough to keep the terrorist machinery well-oiled and running. The price of a counterfeit Rupees 100 Indian note sold in by the ISI-run racket at the one fifth prices to the distribution network. According to intelligence reports, major portion of the fund received from the distribution of counterfeit Indian and Bangladeshi currencies are used by ISI in giving financial backing to various terrorist and jihadist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Hizbut Tahrir, Hizbut Towhid and other militancy groups in Jammu and Kashmir. ISI is also running illegal trade of smuggling narcotics from Afghanistan and Pakistani frontier provinces to various destinations in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, while a large volume of such narcotics are re-directed to various Western destinations by using Bangladesh in particular as transit route. Few years back, a Bangladeshi business and manufacturing enterprise named B D Foods, which has closer ties with Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami were caught red-handed while shipping heroin concealed inside raw fish.

In recent past, the Pakistani ISI also started pumping counterfeit Indian currency via Vietnam as their previous route using Thailand has already come to a total halt due to strict measures taken by the Thai authorities. Counterfeit Indian currencies are being smuggled to India by some assigned 'carriers' of ISI, most of who are females. Counterfeit currencies are tactfully hidden within bodies of the carriers, while they also use specially made suitcases which has metallic compartment to hide the fake currencies. Counterfeit currencies hidden in the compartments can easily cheat eyes of the scanners at Nepalese airport. At the same time, counterfeit Indian currencies are also transported by ISI 'carriers' inside electronic and electrical appliances, including refrigerators. In recent past, Vietnam has turned into the major hub of pumping counterfeit currencies to India via Nepal. The ISI men also send package of counterfeit currencies through international courier service on a regular basis.

According to Indian intelligence sources, during 2011, ISI pumped counterfeit Indian currency worth US$ 250 million. An ISI official named Aslam Chaudhury plays key role in transportation of counterfeit Indian and Bangladeshi currencies through their regional network of carriers. Each year, ISI pumps counterfeit Bangladeshi currency worth more than US$ 50 million. It was also revealed by the Indian intelligence agencies that, ISI produces each of the RS 100 counterfeit notes at the cost of RS 20 only, while the cost of production by the Indian federal bank is above RS 38. The counterfeit currencies are printing in highest precision and in most cases; these are similar to those of genuine notes. ISI's agenda is not only to fund terror outfits through distribution of the counterfeit currency, but also to put adverse pressure on the national economy and monetary system in Bangladesh and India.

The counterfeit Bangladeshi currency notes are pumped by Pakistani ISI through a number of ways. In most cases, the counterfeit currency is carried by few airline staffs, who work for ISI against healthy compensation, while the distribution of counterfeit currency are coordinated by unscrupulous employees of several nationalized financial institutions. Counterfeit Bangladeshi currency is missed up with genuine currencies and bundled by those bank employees and circulated to people. In most cases, innocent people, who are deceived by the bank employees with counterfeit currencies, end up into hands of law enforcing and intelligence agencies, thus suffering legal consequences, while the main culprits always remain out of reach. It is even learnt from dependable sources that a section of employees working at the vaults of the central bank are also linked with the counterfeit currency racket and replaces the genuine notes with the counterfeits, while due to high-precision printing methods, it is nearly impossible detecting the counterfeit currencies even in the regular scanning devices.

Seeking anonymity, a senior government official in India said, most of the counterfeit Indian currency notes seized by the law enforcing agencies over the last few years have been of a higher denomination. "Printing of high-quality fake currency of a higher denomination is helping the counterfeiter earning huge profit, which is being used to fund terror operations inside India, besides destabilizing country's economy. Circulation of Bangladeshi counterfeit currency by ISI significantly increased since Bangladesh Awami League came into power in 2009. In India, out of each of the four RS 1000 currency notes, one is detected to be counterfeit. The situation is also becoming alarming with Bangladeshi currency.

In 2009, Pakistani spy agency ISI eliminated Majid Manihar, who was believed to be the top kingpin of distributing counterfeit Indian and Bangladeshi currency in Nepal. Manihar was one of the key links of ISI in Manihar and he is believed to be killed by the Pakistani spy agency, when his son Vicky was arrested with counterfeit currency, which resulted in Majid Manihar being under strict eyes of the Indian intelligence. Manihar was shot dead in a hotel in Nepalganj in Nepal.

The ISI handlers were suspecting that Manihar was bargaining with Indian agencies for the release of his son. They also feared an eventual crackdown on their network. So, they got rid of Manihar by getting him killed by hired killers. Manihar's son Vicky, after his arrest by a district police team of India led by SP Lalji Shukla, had given some vital leads about the fake currency business in the border area. He had also revealed ISI's role in the FICN operations and his father's links with Dawood Ibrahim.

In Bangladesh, the distribution of counterfeit currency note by ISI is coordinated by a man named Ismail, who belongs to Aga Khan Community, who has closer ties with Dawood Ibrahim and his network. Ismail, a Pakistani citizen also is reportedly holding British passport runs a huge distribution network of counterfeit currencies in Bangladesh, which has a large number of female cadres in the racket. The racket also maintains closer links with a section of unscrupulous employees of various banking institutions in Bangladesh.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tipaimukh Dam: Trans-boundary impact assessment and state of customary int’l law

The issue of utilisation of Tran boundary water resources (TWRs) between India and its neighbours China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh is a crucial source of regional conflict. Bangladesh and India share 54 TWRs. None of these water resources are being utilised according to the international rules and practices or multilateral integrated management planning. Riparian states are attempting to solve the water inadequacy problem through national unilateral actions and limited bilateral cooperation.

These approaches do not offer the minimum sustainable benefits to its riparian states. Rather, they are causing the depletion of available water, and socioeconomic and environmental problems. The upstream state, India constructed a series of structures, such as dams, barrages, reservoirs or regulators to block the free natural and regular flow of the waters of TWRs shared by the downstream state Bangladesh. Such water controls are built on the Mahananda at Banglabandh, on the Teesta at Gazaldoba, on the Manu at Nalkata, on the Khowai at Chakmaghal, on the Gumti at Maharani, on the Ganges at Farakka, and on the Dakatia at Kalsi.

So far the information available, none of these constructions project followed the fundamental principles of international law relating to the utilisation of an international water course, such as prior notification, consultation, environmental impact assessment (EIA), not to cause damage to other states, riparian right of access to water and equitable sharing of water. Hence, the dire consequences of these unilateral actions over the TWRs make Bangladesh worry about the socioeconomic impacts of other future projects.

Recently, the upper riparian state India has initiated an ambitious unilateral action plan to implement the Inter-River Linking Project (IRLP) to link 37 rivers excavating 9,000 kilometres of more than 600 long canals by building hundreds of reservoirs to give water access to 150 million hectares of land in India from the waters of the Brahmaputra to the Ganges, from the Ganges to the Mahananda and the Godabari in the next decade. The IRLP is a big concern for downstream Bangladesh and upstream Nepal.

Moreover, India has taken another initiative to build the Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project Dam (The THPD envisages construction of a 162.8 meter high rockfill dam, which will intercept a catchment area of 12,758 sq km ) on the river Borak to produce 99,000 megawatts of electricity gradually within the next 50 years. The Borak is the main stream of the branch river of Meghna in Bangladesh. These projects also indicate immeasurable future threats for Bangladesh and some north parts in India. These ongoing and future unilateral actions increase regional tensions and mistrust. Bangladesh and downstream north-east States Monipur, Mizoram and Assam (in India) are concerned about the construction of THPD for hydropower generation over the Borak river, which will reduce downstream water flow and cause socio-economic and environmental impacts.

India has conducted an EIA and environmental management plan (EMP) within its territory for the proposed THPD. However, it does not assess its downstream impact in Bangladesh. It has been criticised widely and declared controversial due to lack of public participation and consultations, EIA in all aspects and areas and providing information to the stakeholders in north-eastern State Monipur and Bangladesh. Any environment activists argue that it was prepared based on misinformation and undermining the rich biodiversity, natural and cultural heritage, impacts on the living planets and their rehabilitation and proper management scheme. Hence, all downstream stakeholders demand a holistic impact assessment on the proposed THPD.

Recently, India has agreed to conduct a joint investigation about the EIA of THPD with Bangladesh. As part of the process Delhi has handed over the six parts THPD reports to Bangladesh with a proposal of joint venture investment in the last joint expert meeting held in August 2012. According to the signed memo of joint investigation on 28th August 2012, the term of reference (TOR) for the assessment of THPD issues, each country is envisaged for assessment in their respective sides. However, Bangladesh is still awaiting for some specific project related data and information from India. This paper investigates (a) why EIA and EMP are important over the utilisation of TWR and (b) what fundamental principles are available in the customary international law about these issues.

The Citizens Concern for Dams and Development expresses serious concern about the joint investigation initiative and says that the Dam construction cannot be done only by the negotiation between Central India and Bangladesh alone. It demands the active participation of the indigenous peoples of Manipur (who will be obviously affected) in the decision making process as they and their land, rivers, forests and other resources will be directly affected. They also demand to revoke (i) the Environmental Clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) of the Government of India because the affected peoples opposed all the five public hearings and the construction of THPD and (ii) the MOU signed between the Government of Manipur, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited on 28 April 2012 without informing and taking consent of the people of Manipur.

A wide range international legal instruments and forums, including the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) and the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes indigenous people’s inherent rights over their land, and that resources should be fully adhered to in its entirely. In 2007 and 2011 the UNCERD have urged Indian Government to respect the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples before THPD construction. The issue of stakeholder participation has widely been discussed in the second World Water Forum (WWF, the Hague 2000) which includes sharing of power, democratic participation of citizens in elaborating or implementing water policies and projects, and in managing water resources.

Paragraph 23 of the fifth WWF ministerial declaration mentions that, good water governance requires multi-stakeholder platforms and legal and institutional frameworks enabling the stakeholders’ participation at the local, national and regional level. Article 18 of the Berlin Rules on Water Resources 2004 also gives importance about stakeholder participation in utilising a shared water resource. Bangladesh needs to express their respect and standing about the stakeholder indigenous peoples’ right and the importance of holistic impact assessment, which will protect its citizen’s right more effectively.

International jurisprudence about issue of prior notification, consultation and negotiation, EIA and EMP on any projects over the TWR are quite clear. International legal instruments and international court and tribunal decisions and awards relating to the utilisation of shared natural resources have developed the principles of ‘states responsibility’, ‘prior notification, consultation and negotiation’, ‘good neighbourliness’, ‘not to cause significant harm to other states’, ‘riparian states right of access to water’, ‘non-recognition of unilateral action’ and ‘equitable and reasonable utilisation’. These principles of international law require prior EIA on any form of a unilateral project plan over the TWR at both the upstream and downstream point to assess the Tran boundary environmental impact.

The UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration 1972) and some other international instruments have imposed responsibility on states to ensure that states’ activities within their jurisdictions or control do not cause damage to the natural systems and the environment of other states and regions or in areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. The principle not to cause significant harm to other states is reiterated in the UNGA Resolution on World Charter for Nature 1982. It emphasises that early detection of any degradation threats on a shared natural resource considering the status of natural processes, ecosystems and species are very important. It recommends for timely intervention and facilitation by riparian states to remove such threats valuing relevant conservation policies and methods (Paragraph 19). It asks states to give supreme importance to protecting the resource, maintaining the balance and quality of nature and conserving natural resources, in the interests of present and future generations in using shared natural resources. The Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) (1975) has acknowledged the principles of international law relating to ecological protection.

It requires states to cooperate to ensure the progressive development, codification and implementation of international law as one means of preserving and enhancing the human environment, including principles and practices, as accepted by them, relating to pollution and other environmental damage caused by activities within the jurisdiction or control of their states affecting other states and regions. These instruments have recognised the coordinated and integrated management of TWRs planning to minimise socioeconomic and environmental impacts.

The UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States (1972) has provided the responsibility of states not to cause damage to the environment in other state’s territory and required states to cooperate in international norms and regulations in the field of protection, preservation and enhancement of the environment (Article 30). It also provides that the environmental policies of all states should enhance and not adversely affect the present and future development potential of developing states. This responsibility was recapitulated in the Convention of Bio-diversity 1992 in relation to TWR, which states that ‘damaging activities upstream frequently degrade the inland or coastal waters of downstream states’ (Article 3).

Article 14 gives extra importance on the necessity of EIA and minimising adverse impacts to maintain a sustainable ecosystem, wherever appropriate. The UNGA Resolution on Cooperation between States in the Field of the Environment (1972) asks states not to use TWRs in ways that create significant harmful effects on zones situated outside their national jurisdiction, rather to use the resource effectively through bilateral and multilateral cooperation or through regional machinery, to preserve and improve the environment.

Most of the South Asian states are parties to a number of global environmental instruments like conventions, treaties and declarations that are potentially applicable to TWRs management and utilisation. Among them, the 1972 Ramsar Convention aims to stop the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands as the components of natural inland water systems (Article 5). This Convention requires an understanding of the implementation of obligations between states in respect of TWRs and coordinated conservation of wetland flora and fauna. Provisions for preventing and mitigating harm related to the utilisation of TWRs are also found in a number of conventions, including the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1994 Convention on Desertification.

The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Tran boundary Context 1991 (Espoo Convention 1991) defines the term ‘impact’ from a very broad aspects, which includes “any effect caused by a proposed activity on the environment including human health and safety, flora, fauna, soil, air, water, climate, the landscape and historical monuments or other physical structures or the interaction among these factors; it also includes effects on cultural heritage or socio-economic conditions resulting from alterations to those factors”. 

This Convention asks states to take all appropriate and effective initiatives, either individually or jointly, so that no adverse trans boundary environmental impact can take place from proposed activities (Article 2). It forcefully asks states to consider all anticipated affected stakeholders as early as possible at the same time when informing its own public about the proposed activity (Article 3). Article 4 obliges states to furnish the environmental impact assessment documentation to the likely affected stakeholders for their comments before taking any final decision about the projects. Article 5 invites states to conduct consultations, without delay, on the basis of the environmental impact assessment documentation.

Sustainable approach for the integrated governance of TWRs through multilateralism by which artificial structures like dams, storage (reservoirs) can be built wherever necessary, and operated for safeguarding the resource, the environment and the downstream impact.
To be continued.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

ISI running sex racket to trap politicians

Pakistani spy agency, Inter Service Intelligence [ISI] is running sex racket, which comprises cine stars, models, college and university students as well as some housewives from lesser affluent families, which is regularly used in trapping politicians, members of the civil society as well as journalists, sexual acts with the ISI planted hookers are videoed secretly, which are later used as tools of blackmailing. In addition to hookers from domestic sources, ISI also employs beautiful females from various nations including Tunisia, Uzbekistan and few of the east European nations, who are brought into Pakistan under the disguise of employees with few local enterprises, which also are secretly owned by the Pakistani espionage organization. Similarly, ISI traps female and male politicians, who get engaged into illicit romantic or extra-marital relations and regularly bug their telephone calls as well as secretly follow their movements within and outside the country. In most cases, whenever political VIPs in Pakistan get involved into romantic or extra-marital relations and plan their secret sexual rendezvous, ISI will mostly install secret video cameras within the posh hotels, guest houses or recreation clubs in that country or would even follow them to foreign countries and try to grab as much as evidence they could get on such romantic or extra-marital relations of the VIP politicians.

The ISI recruited hookers from Tunisia and the east European nations as well as some of the Asian nations are also sent to a number of ‘enemy nations’ of Pakistan, including India with the assignment of sexually alluring high officials and politicians of those countries, thus finally ending up with secret videos, which are mostly used for extracting sensitive information from those targeted high officials and politicians. If any of those high officials or politicians denies meeting the requirement of ISI by providing sensitive information and evidences, the videos of their sexual rendezvous are leaked by ISI to public or in some cases, such videos are sent to the members of their families with the ulterior motive of creating family jeopardy.

The sex racket traps of ISI, which is codenamed ‘Dilruba’ gets funding from illegal drug trafficking as well as dealing in counterfeit Indian currencies, which are regular source of hidden earning of the Pakistani espionage agency. According to information, each year ISI protected drug paddler traffic 50-55 tons of narcotics from the Pakistani frontier and Afghanistan to various nations in Asia as well as some of the Western destinations. On the other hand, counterfeit Indian currencies are printed at least in two security printing presses in Pakistan, which are owned and run by the Inter Service Intelligence. Annually, these printing presses produce billions of counterfeit Indian Rupees. In recent years, the same printing presses of ISI are also producing counterfeit currencies of Bangladesh.

Source :

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pakistan and the threat of extremism : Turning point?

            Despite outrage over Malala’s shooting, the dark forces are gathering again.

MANY say they now realise it has taken a 14-year-old schoolgirl to teach Pakistan the meaning of courage. Back in 2009 Malala Yousafzai began chronicling the dark grip of the Pakistani Taliban on her homeland, the pretty Swat valley in the country’s north. She had a clear-eyed conviction that girls had a right to an education, something the Taliban did their best to prevent, even after their local rule was broken in an army offensive. She called the Taliban “barbarians”. On October 9th the barbarians took their revenge, shooting her in the head. She is now in a British hospital, in Birmingham, with a specialist unit for war injuries. Doctors are impressed by her resilience.

Back home, says Nusrat Javed, host of a popular political show, “Malala has liberated Pakistan.” Pakistanis have voiced unprecedented anger against the Pakistani Taliban, calling for the peaceful majority to reclaim the country’s destiny from gun-toting, head-chopping extremists.

The question is whether political, military and religious leaders have Malala’s gumption. Most condemned the attack without condemning the Pakistani Taliban. A few went further. The army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, who had already taken a more aggressive stance against extremists in recent months, sounded ready for action. After visiting Malala in hospital in Pakistan, he said: “We refuse to bow before terror. We will fight, regardless of the cost. We will prevail.”

The obvious military response would be to go after the Pakistani Taliban in their stronghold of North Waziristan, part of the lawless tribal areas that border Afghanistan. The United States has long urged the army to go after extremists there. The government coalition, led by President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), also proposed a resolution calling for (presumably military) “practical measures” in response to the attack on Malala.

It is all starting to look like the high-water mark of courage. No national consensus exists about whether to fight the home-grown Taliban or, in some unexplained way, to make peace with them. On October 16th the main opposition party, led by a former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, opposed the government’s resolution, demanding proof that earlier military operations had not weakened the country rather than strengthened it. The PPP balked, and dropped its proposal. With an election due in the next few months, politicians of all stripes are cautious about advocating operations against extremists that could result in a violent blowback across Pakistan.

Besides, the army appears not to have a plan and rationale for going into North Waziristan. Past military operations in the tribal areas, including in Swat, have not cleared them of extremists. The operations were often half-hearted, leaving the tribal people deeply cynical of the army’s intentions. After all, the army has long used jihadists as its proxy warriors. Awkwardly, the leadership of the Swat branch of the Pakistani Taliban is based not in North Waziristan but in Afghanistan.

And now, stung by the opprobrium, the Taliban is lashing out. Pakistani journalists are under serious threat, while international news organisations are lying low or scaling back their operations in Islamabad, the capital. A smear campaign by religious conservatives has begun against Malala, painting her as some kind of “American agent”. And on October 15th over 100 Taliban attacked a police station near the north-western city of Peshawar. After killing the local police chief and five of his men, they sliced off his head and took it away as a trophy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RAW re-predicts doom of ruling party during next election in Bangladesh

Indian intelligence agency – RAW, in its recent report has once again forecasted massive defeat of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League, during the 2014 general election in the country. It said, although Bangladesh Awami League, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina has been exhibiting sincerity in strengthening relations with India, its popularity at home has been miserably dropping down due to series of high-profile corruptions, financial scams, campus violence, deteriorating law and order situation, suffocation of media and freedom of expression. It said, the ruling party, which even in the recent past enjoyed reasonably good relations with the Islamic political parties and fronts despite its secularist policy, some of the recent actions of Bangladesh Awami League has not only created huge gap between them and the Islamic leaders, but also giving wrong impression amongst the people, interpreting the ruling party as "anti-Islam". On the other hand, continuous repression on religious minorities, including Hindus and very recent incident at the Buddhist temples at Chittagong Hill Tract areas, the religious minorities are no more feeling comfortable under the rule of Bangladesh Awami League. The vandalism on the Buddhist temples and population in the eastern part of Bangladesh has already tarnished the image of the ruling party at home and abroad.

The report said, the decline in popularity of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League is even beyond speculations, while Bangladeshi masses are openly expressing anger at the poor governance of the ruling party. Taking advantage of such situation, main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has suddenly boosted its diplomatic efforts within and outside the country, which is clearly aimed at winning a diplomatic battle with the ruling party. While Bangladesh Nationalist Party is intensifying its diplomatic efforts, including visit of former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia to China and her upcoming visit to India, the ruling party as well as its foreign minister is rather sitting reluctantly, as if they are prepared to accept the diplomatic defeat. Dhaka's relations with Washington is already freezing down, which became clear when the Prime Minister's office ignored repeated requests from the US ambassador in Bangladesh, Dan W Mozena, who had been seeking appointment to meet the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. Top brasses in the foreign ministry had reportedly suggested its staffs to refrain from showing "extra importance" to any of the members of the Western missions in Dhaka.

Indian intelligentsia and political pundits had been expressing concern over potential security threats to Indian soil, if Bangladesh Awami League gets defeated in the next general election, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been taking numerous measures in uprooting anti-Indian activities within Bangladesh as well as activities of the separatist groups in India, who had been earlier using Bangladeshi soil as safe haven. During Sheikh Hasina's current tenure, a large number of members of the United Liberation Front of Assam [ULFA], including its bigwig Aravind Rajkhowa, had been handed over to the Indian authorities, while the Bangladeshi government is set in handing over ULFA leader Anup Chetia and two of his accomplices to India in next few weeks. It may be mentioned here that, Anup Chetia along with his accomplice Babul Sharma and Laxmi Prasad had been serving in Bangladeshi prison since 1993. Anup Chetia and two others were arrested from Dhaka by the local intelligence agency in 1993, when Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP] was in power. Although Anup Chetia was arrested during BNP's rule, it is rumored that the party had been extending support towards ULFA and other Indian separatist groups while there is also allegation of providing logistic supports by the BNP led government to these anti-Indian elements. Currently, trial into the case of recovery of a huge arms haul is continuing in Bangladeshi court, where leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami are accused of having hands behind this arms trafficking, which reached Bangladeshi soil en-route to separatist groups in the North-Eastern provinces in India. Few of the top figures of country's intelligence and law enforcement agencies are also accused in this huge arms haul.

Earlier on December 17, 1995, western nationals were arrested when arms were being dropped from Latvian Antonov AN-26 aircraft at Indian district of Purulia in the state of West Bengal. The chief accused "Kim Davy" [real name Niels Holck, alias Niels Christian Nielsen] claims that it was a conspiracy of the Indian government together with RAW and MI5 to overthrow the communist government in West Bengal and he was given assurances from the central government about his safety and return to Denmark. He further alleges that MP Pappu Yadav, who is in touch with the Prime Minister of India, facilitated his safe exit from India. The crew of the aircraft consisted of five Latvian citizens and Peter Bleach, a British citizen and an ex Special Air Service operative turned mercenary who was based in Yorkshire and involved in arms dealing. 

However, Annie Machon, the former MI5 officer, accuses Bleach of being an MI6 agent in her book "Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers". In numerous interviews, Bleach has always evaded questions on this subject and has declined to answer questions on his military background. They were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment while alleged kingpin Niels Christian Nielsen [aka Kim Peter Davy], a Danish citizen and member of the Ananda Marga group, escaped. Later, an Interpol red notice was issued against him. Following the intervention of Russian authorities, the Latvian crew [who gained Russian citizenship while in Indian custody] were later pardoned and released in 2000. An appeal has been submitted by the pilot lawyer before the Calcutta High Court in March 2000 challenging the trial results and the judgment but it is still pending. Peter Bleach, too, was released on 4 February 2004, via a presidential pardon, allegedly due to persistent British Government pressure. In 2007 Kim Davy was traced by Denmark authorities and on April 9, 2010 Danish government decided to extradite Kim Davy to India but Danish authorities failed to successfully defend their decision in the Danish high court. The court, therefore, refused extradition of Kim Davy to India. Further, Danish authorities decided not to appeal the high court judgment to the Supreme Court.

The government in Bangladesh led by Sheikh Hasina also nabbed a number of anti-India terror outfit, including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Sipah Sahaba, Joish-e-Mohammed etc, which had been reportedly operating from within Bangladesh. Some of these terror outfits reportedly had direct links with Al Qaeda. When Bangladesh Nationalist Party led government was in power, a team of Al Qaeda clandestinely visited Bangladesh and held secret meeting with the local counterparts inside a warehouse in Ashuganj area, which is 25-30 kilometers from Indian district of Agartala. The international terror outfit Al Qaeda reportedly established connections with a number of Bangladeshi Islamist and jihadist groups. But, since Sheikh Hasina's government came in power, jihadist operatives within Bangladesh have been significantly eliminated with the help of Indian intelligence. The Indian intelligence strongly believes that, during the rule of Bangladesh Awami League, threats to India's domestic security from the cross-border terrorists is greatly checked. For this particular reason, Indian intelligentsia is recommending New Delhi's direct hands in ensuring Bangladesh Awami League in continuing in the office, at least for another term, while it categorically predicts a huge political doom to the ruling party, if the election is participated by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which may bag brute majority in the election, mostly because of anger of the voters over gross misrule of the grand alliance government led by Bangladesh Awami League.

While the possible outcome of the electoral result of 2014 polls in Bangladesh is clearly going to be unfavorable to the ruling grand alliance government, Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence [ISI] has recently intensified its activities inside Bangladesh with the ulterior motive of putting the ruling grand alliance government into further political complicities. According to sources, ISI operatives have suddenly become over-active in Bangladesh, while some of its jihadist contacts are regularly holding secret meetings possibly to finalize blueprint of anti-government sabotages in the country. Some of the ISI operatives are regularly holding meetings at Dhaka's Banani and Dhanmondi areas, while an ISI agent with extensive connection with local Jihadist groups and fanatic clergies, is giving anti-government provocations with the instigation of unseating the current government much ahead of the next general election. The same ISI agent is also reportedly holding secret meetings with some of the retired officers of Bangladesh Army, which still is skipping attention of the Bangladeshi intelligence.

BY :   Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.