Tuesday, September 30, 2008

People's Human Rights Oranisation Condemns the arrest M.N. Ravunni

Janakeeya Manushyavakasa Prasthanam (People's Human Rights Organisation), has condemned the arrest of Porattam general convenor M.N.Ravunni. In a statement the organisation pointed out that the arrest of Ravunni, an ardent critic of state terror, is aimed at keeping him silent behind the bars.

The statement issued by the Organisation is posted here.


M.N.Ravunni General Convenor of Porattam - a mass organisation - was arrested by the police today.

On 31/8/2008 Agaly police arrested two Porattam activists Sunil Babu and Vinod from Goolikadavu following a quarrel with some local people. The Agaly police kept them under illegal detention for two days and also subjected them to custodial torture. They were produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Mannarkkad on 2/9/2008 in crime no.183/2008 on the charges of sedition and conspiracy to wage war against state.

On 1/9/2008 M.N.Ravunni attended a press conference at Palakkad press club accusing the police officers for the violation of human rights and on 2/9/2008 M.N.Ravunni filed a complaint before the State Human Rights Commission praying for the intervention of the commission in this matter.

Two days before Agaly Dy. S.P contacted Mr. Ravunni and informed him to be present at Palakkad S.P Office for recording his statement as instructed by the State Human Rights Commission. Accordingly he went to Palakkad S.P Office on 29/09/2008 and the police took him under custody. He is now under custody of Agaly Dy. S.P and the police arrayed him as an accomplice in crime no.183/2008 under the charge of sedition and conspiracy to wage war against state. The arrest is a counterblast to the complaint raised by him before the Human Rights Commission.

Two weeks ago a Human Right Activist’s Fact Finding Team including Adv. P.A. Pouran, PUCL State Secretary Kerala, Dr. Abdul Salam State Secretary CHRO, Adv Thushar Nirmal Sarathy Convenor Janakeeya Manushyavakasa Prasthanam visited Goolikadavu and nearby places and collected facts behind the arrest of Sunil babu and Vinod. The fact finding team concluded unanimously that the arrest of Sunil and Vinod was illegal and demanded immediate withdrawal of false case registered against them. The Hon’ble High Court of Kerala later granted bail to Sunil and Vinod.

Now the arrest of Ravunni is clearly an act of retaliation, particularly for the role played by him in exposing the human rights violation of Agaly police and also with a larger intention to keep him silent behind bars as he is an ardent critic of the state.

‘JANAKEEYA MANUSHYAVAKASHA PRASTHANAM’ strongly condemns the arrest of M.N.Ravunni and appeal all the democratic forces all over the country to join hands against the STATE TERROR.

Revolutionary Feminist Movement to stage Dharna

Even as the CPI(M) led LDF government of Kerala playing all dirty tricks to foil the land struggle in Chengara, Viplava Streevadi Prasthanam(Revolutionary Feminist Movement), the women's wing of CPI(ML) Naxalbari has decided to stage a dharna in front of Pathanamthitta collectorate on 6th October. Sadhujana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi Secretaty Celina Prakkanam will inagurate the dharna, which is held demanding an immediate settlement of the agitation. Dr.P.Geetha, Adv.Nandini, Rekha Raj, Anila George, Maya S., Radhamoni and syamala will speak on the occassion.

As part of the agitations being held by the Prasthanam, a solidarity march too will be held from October 1 to 5.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Social activists question the veracity of Delhi encounter killings

Few days back Indian capital Delhi witnessed a highly dramatic incident. Though nobody saw with their eyes any encounter, the Delhi police claimed that they shot dead two alleged terrorists Atif and Sajid at an apartment in Jamia Nagar in the afternoon of 20.09.2008 (Saturday).The police also claimed that Mohan Chand Sharma, an inspector of the Delhi Police's Special Cell also died in the operation while a third alleged terrorist was arrested.

Following the incident a team comprising activists, academicians and journalists visited the site of the police operation. And demanding a fair, impartial and independent probe into the incident they have raised a few questions and contradictions regarding the case. Given below are the questions posed by them.

On the basis of our interactions with the local residents, eye witnesses and the reports which have appeared in the media, we would like to pose the following questions:

1. It has been widely reported that in early August this year Atif, who is described by the Delhi Police as the mastermind behind the recent terrorist bombings in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi, underwent a police verification exercise along with his four roommates in order to rent the apartment they were staying in Jamia Nagar. All the five youth living in the apartment submitted to the Delhi police their personal details, including permanent address, driving license details, address of the house they previously stayed in, all of which were found to be accurate. Though the police is now denying the veracity of the verification form, Mr. Rehman, the caretaker of the flat, has vouched, on camera, that he accompanied Atif to the Police Station for the verification.

Is it conceivable that the alleged kingpin behind the terrorist Indian Mujahideen outfit would have wanted to undergo a police verification--for whatever purpose-- just a week after the Ahmedabad blasts and a month before the bombings in Delhi?

2. The four-storeyed house L-18 in Jamia Nagar, where the alleged terrorists were staying, has only one access point, through the stair case, which is covered by an iron grill. It is impossible to leave the house except from the staircase. By all reports, the staircase was taken over by the Special Cell and/ or other agencies during the counter-terror operation. The house, indeed the entire block, was cordoned off at the time of the operation. How then was it then possible, as claimed by the police, for two alleged terrorists to escape the premises during the police operation?

3. The media has quoted 'police sources' as having informed them that the Special Cell was fully aware about the presence of dreaded terrorists, involved in the bombings in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi, staying in the apartment that was raided.

Why was the late Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, a veteran of dozens of encounter operations, the only officer in the operation not wearing a bullet proof vest? Was this due to over-confidence or is there something else to his mysterious death during the operation? Will the forensic report of the bullets that killed Inspector Sharma be made public?

4. There are reports that towards the end of the counter-terror operation, some policemen climbed on the roof of L-18 and fired several rounds in the air. Other policemen were seen breaking windows and even throwing flower pots to the ground from flats adjacent or opposite to L-18. Why was the police firing in the air and why did it indulge in destruction of property around L-18 after the encounter?

5. The police officials claim that an AK-47 and pistols were recovered from L-18. What was the weapon that killed Inspector Sharma? Was the AK-47 used at all and by whom? Going by some reports that have appeared (see 'Times of India', 20.09.08), the AK-47s have been used by the police only. Is it not strange that alleged terrorists did not use a more deadly and sophisticated weapon like the AK-47, which they purportedly possessed, preferring to use pistols?

We feel that there are far too many loose ends in the current story of the police encounter at L-18 in Jamia Nagar.We demand that a fair, impartial and independent probe into the incident be initiated at the earliest to answer the above questions as also any other ones that arise from the contradictions of the case.


Shabnam Hashmi (Anhad)
Satya Sivaraman (Independent Journalist)
Manisha Sethi (Forum for Democratic Initiatives)
Tanweer Fazal (Forum for Democratic Initiatives)
Arshad Alam (Jamia Millia Islamia)
Neshat Quaiser (Jamia Millia Islamia)
Pallavi Deka (General Secretary, JNU Students' Union)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dancing under the gun

I received this article from A World to Win News Service. It is posted here for those readers who are not subscribers to World to Win

"Anyone who is familiar with Holocaust archival photos remembers images of Nazis forcing Jews to dance in the ghetto as they laugh derisively."

This comment was made by Israeli blogger Richard Silverstein about an incident at the Tel Aviv international airport 7 September. The Alvin Ailey dance ensemble from New York arrived for a performance they were to give at one of Israel's main venues, the first stop in a six-country tour celebrating the famed New York African-American dance ensemble's fiftieth anniversary.

Abdur-Rahim Jackson, a senior dancer, passed through security with the rest of the troupe. Then he was pulled aside and taken to a holding room.

The problem, security police told him, was his name. "I explained to them," Jackson later recounted, "that my father converted to Islam and gave me that name. They repeatedly asked me what my father's name is, what my mother's name is and why they gave me that name." One security officer told him he should change his name.

But they weren't through with him. They said that his airline pre-flight passenger data, passport, prestige in the field of dance, his travelling with the troupe, his pictures in the dance company's brochures, etc., weren't enough. If he wanted to enter Israel, they said, he would have to dance for them, right there in the interrogation room, surrounded by mocking police. Unwillingly, and highly upset and embarrassed, he said later, he did. (Associated Press, 9 September)

Then he was interrogated by a second set of officers – and again, forced to dance. After about an hour of humiliation, they released him.

The incident made news in Israel for the wrong reasons. Jackson, it turns out, is not now and never has been a Moslem, and his fiancé, although classifiable as Black by zealous profilers, is Jewish. Her Israeli family were waiting at the airport. Nevertheless, Israeli officials adamantly refused to comment, let alone apologize.

Blogger Silverstein points out, "Perhaps it doesn't rise to the same level of humiliation [as the famous Polish ghetto photo]. But that's only because Israeli personnel knew this was an American citizen. You can be certain that if this had been an Israeli Arab dancer the treatment would've been much worse." (richardsilverstein .com)

Much worse: Mohammed Omer, a 24-year-old from Gaza, was one of two winners of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (along with Dahr Jamail). International governmental support, including Dutch diplomats who travelled to get him, forced Israel to let him out of Gaza so he could attend the award ceremony in London. Omer became a journalist as a teenager after an Israeli bulldozer crushed his home while his family was still inside, seriously injuring his mother. Yet, according to a former Dutch ambassador, "He is a moderating voice, urging Palestinian youth not to court hatred but seek peace with Israel." (johnpilger. com, 2 July)

But as with the dancer Jackson, Israel doesn't care if someone really poses a threat or not. They have a system to enforce. Part of that is that no one among those they consider subhuman is allowed to consider themselves as good as the master race. Nor can any of the master race's enforcers entertain the idea that those whose oppression their identity is based on are human beings. Their system stands or falls, ultimately, on guns, but this ideology is essential to its survival.

When Omer tried to re-enter Israel, at the Allenby Bridge from Jordan, again travelling with a Dutch diplomat for protection, eight Shin Bet (Israeli Gestapo) officers surrounded him and demanded his prize money. One put a gun to Omer's head. They forcibly stripped him and made him stand naked. They laughed when he complained that he was a human being. After twelve hours without water, food or a toilet, he vomited and passed out. Then the Shin Bet men used their thumbs to gouge under his eyes and the nerves under his ears and stepped on his throat to cut off his breathing – torture procedures designed not to leave marks. All the while, his Dutch diplomatic escort was waiting. Maybe that's why he ended up in a hospital instead of dead.

Before they tortured him, they made him dance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Memory of September 11

Its yet another September 11; one of the darkest days in history. It was on on this day in 1973, the Chilean military, with the backing and under the direction of the U.S. government, murdered democracy in Chile. Just before his death the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, made this speech over Chilean radio. As he spoke, nonfascist radio stations were being knocked off the air:

Santiago de Chile, 11 September 1973

My friends,

Surely this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes.

My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath: soldiers of Chile, titular commanders in chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself Commander of the Navy, and Mr. Mendoza, the despicable general who only yesterday pledged his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has appointed himself Chief of the Carabineros [paramilitary police].

Given these facts, the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign! Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seeds which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever.

They have force and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested by neither crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.

Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the Armed Forces broke their tradition, the tradition taught by General Schneider and reaffirmed by Commander Araya, victims of the same social sector who today are hoping, with foreign assistance, to re-conquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.

I address you, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesina who believed in us, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals who continued working against the sedition that was supported by professional associations, classist associations that also defended the advantages of capitalist society. I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours -- in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to act. They were committed. History will judge them.

Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to his country.

The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.

Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again and free men will walk through them to construct a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.

To watch Allende speaking please click http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=WEmvWWQkzRM

Nepal: Prachanda -- `No illusions on the ultimate goal of socialist communism'

In his first interview since he became Nepal's prime minister, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal ``Prachanda'' spoke to Rabindra Mishra of BBC's Nepali Service about the strategies of his new government.

BBC: In the past Maoist leaders had vowed not to keep any private property. They handed over their private properties to the party. Now, what will you do to your salary that you will be drawing as prime minister?
That (money) will go to the country and the people. It will be deposited in the party treasury. Except some amount for the general upkeep, the salary will be deposited in the party treasury.

Then, how can one be assured of the right to private property under your government when you are yourself are not keeping private property?

We do not believe that private property should be abolished. But we believe that the leadership must keep away from making money to ensure that the properties of the people are protected and promoted.

What three things you will do in the next three months that will make a difference to the people?

First, a special committee will be announced to facilitate the integration (of the army) and rehabilitation within six months as part of moves to take the peace process to a logical conclusion. Second, the process of constitution making will be expedited in three months. Third, programs to provide immediate and long-term relief will be announced.

Given that the army integration is being seen as a very sensitive issue will you let the current army chief General Rookmangud Katawal complete his tenure?

The demand of the time is to exercise maximum restraint. The country will suffer by any move that breeds bitterness at this juncture.

So the suspicions about the army chief being sacked are misplaced? He will not be sacked, will he?

That will not happen. As long as everyone including the army, the police and the other officials remain committed to the people's mandate on democracy, peace and change, no one needs to feel insecure. There will be no prejudice against any.

How will you handle the army integration? The Nepali Army seems to have its own ideas about this. How will you merge your combatants into the national army?

Now that I have become prime minister I have been travelling with the army security. I have found a serious commitment and sense of responsibility in the Nepali soldiers. I don't think that we will face any problem in taking this (integration) process to a conclusion.

If you had so much faith in Nepali Army, why did you distrust the NA and, instead, induct your combatants of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) for your personal security?
I never showed such distrust. I never wanted to show any bit of distrust towards NA or police or PLA or armed police. Since last two years armed police and PLA personnel had been providing security to my residence in Naya Bazaar. This was an issue that needed a technical solution. I do not want to suspect anyone or make anyone feel humiliated. The PLA also should not feel that they have been orphaned now that I have become Prime Minister. I am quite sensitive on this matter. Both PLA and NA understand the issue very well.

Among the 20,000 Maoist combatants in the cantonments, how many will be accommodated into the Nepali Army. What happens to the rest?

The PLA combatants who are staying in the cantonments and who have been verified by the United Nations are all eligible for rehabilitation and integration. According to our latest understanding each and every PLA combatant will be given the freedom to choose whether he/she wants to return home or engage in other professions. Therefore, I am not in a position to say how many PLA combatants will be integrated and how many of them will return home.

How long will the ex-King Gyanendra be allowed to stay in the Nagarjuna palace?

We are discussing this matter. The cabinet has just been expanded. It will take up the issue soon.

Will you re-open the probe into the palace killings (of 2001)?

This issue will be raised at the Constituent Assembly. There have been no satisfactory answers yet to the people's serious questions about the incident.

Perhaps the people could raise similar questions about you also?

Maybe. But the people of Nepal have already justified our action -- you call it civil war or people's war -- through the Constituent Assembly verdict. Have the people ever justified the palace killings?

Do you ever feel that you hands are stained with blood?

Sometimes in the event of grave mistakes on our part, I was emotional. But what is more important is the great process of transformation and the class, ethnic, regional and gender consciousness which have come about through our movement. So I do not feel the need to repent.

Would you have visited China first if it had not hosted the Olympic Games?

Let's not get into hypothetical questions. Since China is our neighbour and since we could not attend the inaugural ceremony of the Olympics I went there for the closing ceremony. Anyway, it would not have been easier for me to go there first if there had been no Olympic.

Since China is the land of your inspiration Mao Zedong, you must have harboured wishes to travel there?

I would be lying if I said no.

What do you want to do with the 1950 Indo-Nepal treaty?

Nepal has become a republic passing through big changes since the Rana regime. So, the 1950 treaty should be clearly reviewed. It cannot be kept in the present form.

What are the provisions that you do not like in the present treaty?

I am engaged in consultations on my visit to India soon. So, I do not want to reply to your question at this point.

When are you visiting to India?

I am going to attend the UN General Assembly. I will travel to India before that.

You used to claim that different power centres were blocking your ascent to power. Have you defeated those centres now?

I cannot use the same language as I am prime minister now. I have said on many occasions that had any other party won the election, nothing would have stopped the formation of a new government within a week. It took four months for us.

You have defeated the king and elbowed out Girija Prasad Koirala. Do you feel that you have mastered the policy of 'use and throw'?

I am pained by the allegations that we engage in ``use and throw''. I never think that I have cheated anyone. But in course of advancing my cause, I might have made compromises and come closer to one or another at different times. But there was never any conspiracy there. It was our philosophy of cooperating with others to defeat the primary enemy.

There are two schools of thoughts within your party -- one favouring the people's republic and the other favouring the democratic republic. Which one will prevail?

That is not the case. There is no illusion within our party regarding our ultimate goal of establishing a socialist communism. However, in the current national and international circumstances, we have decided to move ahead by institutionalising the federal democratic republic.

So, you want to establish a people's republic by means of the state of the democratic republic?

We will definitely attempt to establish a people's republic by institutionalising democratic republic and through the legitimate means like elections. Once we attain that, we will then work to achieve socialism and communism.

Will there be a people's republic if your party wins a majority in the next election?

Let's not understand this in a provocative manner. We will definitely try our best to ensure that the new constitution will be as close to the ideal of people's republic as possible. I believe that the constitution would pave the way for a people's republic, socialism and communism.

How can it pave the way for communism when you have said there will be guarantees of all kinds of political freedom?

We have concluded that socialism without multiparty competition and political freedoms cannot survive. We have learned this from the experiences of Russia and other countries.

What are you talking about, socialism or communism?
I am talking about socialism. A lively society can be built only if there are political freedoms and competitions within socialism. Communism is something like a heaven where there is neither a class nor a state nor an army. It will take hundreds of years to reach there.

You are not in a mood to step down as party chairman even after becoming PM. Why?
Certainly since I will not be able to devote adequate time and energy for the party after becoming the PM, other comrades will have to take more responsibility. But there is no rule anywhere in the world that the party chief has to step down when he becomes PM. Besides, ours is a party that believes in central and unified leadership. So there is no question of abandoning one responsibility when taking up another.

You once publicly said that top leaders will not join the government and act like Mahatma Gandhi?
What I said that that will happen only after a people's constitution and a stable government are put in place. We believe that a leader does not need to stick to the position of a prime minister or a president once the revolution is completed, constitution is written and the country cruises on a stable course.

Politicians are smart in playing with words, aren't they?

Not at all, I have only tried to reply in a very direct manner.

How long will your government survive?

It will continue till the constitution is written and the peace process is completed. I believe our party will win majority, even two-thirds majority in the next election. Then, our government will continue for another five years. We will improve our performance during that period. There will come a situation where people will start thinking that Maoists alone can run this country. In the subsequent election, we expect to win 90 percent votes and we will continue in power for many decades.

You have high expectations. Do you believe they will be fulfilled?

Definitely. We have strong faith in people. We are devoted to the nation and the people. No one can severe our relation with the people.