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Archives for : March2017

Kannada writer Yogesh Master’s face smeared with black ink #WTFnews

Kannada writer Yogesh Master. (Photo: ANI/Twitter)
A “progressive” writer’s face was smeared with black ink here, allegedly by right wing activists who also warned him of “dire” consequences if he dare write against Hindu gods, said a senior police official. Yogesh Master was attacked by eight or nine persons who smeared his face with black ink and fled, when he was having tea at a nearby stall here yesterday, Davanagere Superintendent of Police Bhimashankar Guled told PTI.
He said Yogesh, the author of controversial Kannada novel “Dundhi,” was here to attend a book release function organised by Gauri ‘Lankesh Patrike,’ a Kannada tabloid. Journalist Gauri Lankesh runs the weekly. Yogesh was warned of dire consequences for writing against Hindu gods, Guled said, adding that the suspects shouted “Jai Sri Ram” before fleeing. Two persons have been arrested, he said.

The participants and organisers, including Gauri Lankesh, held a protest march to the police station and registered a complaint, Guled said. CPI state general secretary Siddanagouda Patil also participated in the march, he added.

The protesters alleged that the attackers were right wing activists and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and stringent action against them, Guled said.

Guled said several police teams have been formed to probe the matter. Yogesh was arrested in August 2013 after local Hindu outfits lodged a complaint against him for allegedly hurting the Hindus’ sentiments by depicting Lord Ganesha in poor light in his novel ‘Dhundi

 http://indianexpress.com/article/india/progressive-writers-yogesh-master-face-smeared-with-black-ink-4567860/

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Malaysian human rights defender Lena Hendry convicted of screening human rights documentary #WTFnews

Prosecution of Lena Hendry violates right to free expression

by Aliran admin

Lena Hendry – Photograph:Haris Hassan/ fz.com

A Malaysian court’s conviction of rights activist Lena Hendry for her role in showing a documentary film violates her right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch has said.

On 21 February 2017, a Kuala Lumpur court found Hendry guilty of organising a private screening of the award-winning human rights documentary, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, without censorship board approval nearly four years ago. She will be sentenced on 22 March, and faces fines and up to three years in prison.

“It’s an outrageous assault on basic free expression that Lena Hendry could go to prison for helping to show a documentary film,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This prosecution is part of the Malaysian government’s disturbing pattern of harassment and intimidation of those seeking to raise public awareness of human rights issues.”

Hendry, a former staff member of the human rights group Pusat Komas, was convicted under section 6 of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Act, which prohibits the “circulation, distribution, display, production, sale, hire” or “possession” of any film, whether imported or domestically produced, without first obtaining approval from the government-appointed Board of Censors.

Malaysia’s highest court rejected a constitutional challenge to the law in September 2015. A magistrate acquitted her of the charge in March 2016, finding that the government had failed to make a basic case showing her guilt. On 21 September 2016, the High Court reversed Hendry’s acquittal and ordered a resumption of the case after the government appealed.

Bringing criminal penalties for possessing or privately showing a film without government approval violates freedom of expression by imposing a disproportionate burden on a fundamental right, Human Rights Watch said.

The Film Censorship Act is rarely invoked, and Pusat Komas regularly screens films on politics, human rights, culture, and other issues without censorship board approval, with admission by pre-registration only.

The prosecution in this case appears to have been motivated by the Malaysian government’s desire to appease Sri Lankan embassy officials, who had publicly demanded that the film not be shown and visited the venue on the day of the film’s showing to urge the venue’s managers to cancel the event.

No Fire Zone tells the story of war crimes committed in the last months of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, including Sri Lankan army shelling that indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians and the extrajudicial executions of captured fighters and supporters of the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

“The Film Censorship Act violates rights by giving the government the power to arbitrarily suppress films it doesn’t want Malaysians to see, and to prosecute those who dare to show them,” Robertson said. “Malaysia should scrap this draconian law’s criminal penalties, revise it to comply with international rights standards, and allow Malaysian citizens to view films of their choosing.”http://aliran.com/civil-society-voices/2017-civil-society-voices/prosecution-lena-hendry-violates-right-free-expression/

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Delhi horror- Gangraped By 5 Men, Mother Of Two ‘Jumps Off’ The First Floor

The woman was held in a flat in Pandav Nagar.

SHAILESH ANDRADE / REUTERS

A woman jumped off the first floor balcony of an apartment in Delhi’s Pandav Nagar to escape 5 men, who had allegedly raped her through the night of Saturday, 11 March. She managed to flee in the early hours of Sunday, when one of the accused opened the door to the balcony of the room she was allegedly locked in.

According to reports, the 28-year-old (Hindustan Times reported her age as 30) is divorced and a mother of two, living in Munirka in south Delhi and working part-time. In her statement to the police, she claimed she was contacted by Vikas, one of the accused, at 11 pm on Saturday, and invited to a party thrown by one of his friends. After he picked her up and brought her to the venue, she was allegedly forced to drink alcohol and locked in a room, where five men, three of whom are employed in the BPO sector, took turns to rape her.

For their part, the men claim that she was brought over for “paid sex” to a Holi party for the sum of ₹5,000. According to their version, a dispute over the promised sum of money provoked the woman to jump off the balcony. Any form of sexual activity without consent, no matter what the circumstances, is rape under the law and is a punishable criminal offence.

After the police was informed of her ordeal by the public, the woman was taken to a hospital for treatment for her injuries as well as medical examination, which confirmed sexual assault. A gangrape case under IPC 376D has been registered on the basis of her statement. The police have also arrested the five men, all of whom are in their 20s.

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/03/13/allegedly-gangraped-by-5-men-mother-of-two-jumps-off-the-firs/

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Polls Weren’t About AFSPA But Who’ll Save Valley From Hills. And Irom Sharmila Didn’t Look Like Saviour

In India where elections are about money and power, Ibobi Singh nurtured his constituency. He provided jobs for almost every voter over there
Polls Weren't About AFSPA But Who'll Save Valley From Hills. And Irom Sharmila Didn't Look Like Saviour

On March 11, one could almost hear hearts breaking across the globe as a legend crashed and was smashed at the just-ended Manipur hustings.

It was hard to digest for most that Irom Sharmila, considered almost a goddess due to her herculean feat of hunger striking for 16 years demanding end to the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), got less than 100 votes.  One could see people going crazy trying to figure out the reasons.

“How could people do this to her after she had sacrificed 16 years of her youth for her people, fought so valiantly against the draconian AFSPA? ” was the general  refrain of these talks. Media hype and local drama had helped build a larger than life figure of her.

She cried a lot when the results were out yesterday. It hurt.  Because, though neither she herself, nor her supporters expected her to win, such a royal ditch was never expected.

But her supporters, who are there even after a huge chunk disappeared after she stopped her legendary fast on August 9, 2016, said her fight was more of a symbolic nature. Not real. She was an image of theory and a principle. But practical life is different. Elections in India are about money and power. She had neither.

She was not practical. After 16 years she had decided to step back into ordinary life. Just as the ugly hullaballoo over her stopping her fast was dying down, she announced her decision to continue her fight against AFSPA by going into politics about two months later. She set herself the most difficult task to fight and win against another icon (tainted no doubt) of Manipur politics, Okram Ibobi Singh, the undefeatable man who had held the post of chief minister for three terms  (now posied for a fourth). The announcement came in October, 2016 with only about 4 months to go before the polls.

“Ibobi Singh has nurtured his constituency. He provided jobs for almost every voter over there.  In his constituency he is a god. No one can touch him. His wife won previously. This time she vacated her seat for her son. He won by a thumping margin. Even his nephew won. He can put up a lamp post and it will win,” said a friend of Sharmila describing the deep rooted powers of the man she had stood against.

He on his part had never ever uttered a word against her but instead ‘humbly’ incorporated her agenda, that of lifting AFSPA into his party manifesto.

On the other hand, Sharmila had no money, no widespread support with just a straggly band of followers. She did not campaign much either. She had no experience at grassroots politics. Among the things she did after the announcement was doing a small tour of Delhi during which she had met the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal among other people.

Besides, the elections this time was not about AFSPA. In 16 years since those dark days of routine official killing sprees under AFSPA, things have changed in the state. She had started her fast in 2000 after about 10 youth were gunned down by State Forces in a series of so called encounters.

There has been a sea change in the past 16 years.

This polls was about who will safe-guard the valley against the pressure from the hills? With the hills in ferment shouting for homelands and ethnic districts, Ibobi’s creation of the 7 hill districts as an antidote to this is seen as a master stroke.

Sheer genius, for many across the board, Ibobi is a hero, considered the only one who can protect the territorial integrity of the state against the call of the Naga brothers in the hills to divide the state.  One cannot ignore the view that Ibobi has already infiltrated the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP), a crucial need for the valley people,  as the Central ruling party is seen to be hands in glove with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Issac-Muivah (NSCN-IM)) with which it has an exclusive pact called the Framework Agreement signed in August 3, 2015.  The NSCN (IM)’s goal of creating a Nagalim State cannot be done without the dismemberment of Manipur.

Under this desperate situation, “No one was even remotely thinking about AFSPA,” is the general view.

And then, the last straw, she made mistakes or rather “decisions” which went against her image. Lots of them, say her supporters.

Some of her ardent followers had left her party, People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), because they believed that she did not seem to be the one making her own decisions. What to say, when to say, her views, her future plans or even her political goals were suspected to be from extraneous sources.

“It was her boyfriend. He seemed to have almost complete control over her,” was one view.

She has had a fiancée, Desmond Coutinho, a non-resident Indian of Goan background since 2013.  He has been the source of many conflicts over the years after he appeared into the sensitive scenario as a ‘boyfriend’.  He has then openly accused Sharmila’s band of supporters of ‘using’ her for their personal gain and interests.  Coutinho laid a heavy handed claim to her. Significant is an image of a power of attorney purportedly giving him sole right to represent her posted in his FB page. He seemed to resent the supporters and her well wishers who had been fighting alongside her all the while to amplify her campaign in the national and international human rights networks, as well as those who are looking after her now.http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/polls-werent-about-afspa-but-wholl-save-valley-from-hills-and-irom-sharmila-didn/298206

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Sexual Violence As Tool of State-Repression: Chhatisgarh’s Unending Tale of Injustice

Bastar Solidarity Network, Mumbai organised the book release of “Bearing Witness:Sexual Violence in South Chhatisgarh” on 10th March 2017. The book has been brought out by Women against Sexual violence and State repression (WSS).

Dr. Ilina Sen, academician and activist released the book. While releasing the book she said that it would be naive to examine cases of violence in South Chhatisgarh independent of the resource presence there. Mineral deposits in the state, in most cases, intersect with traditional settlements of adivasis, and therefore places their eviction by the state, as an inevitable. The adivasis, in most of these cases, have displayed enormous courage, resisting the corporations, the governments and the vigilante groups. Hence the unforeseen and totally unjust presence and multiplication of violence. We have some of the richest corporations of the world—international as well as national—allying with the governments to annihilate the people and their ways of life. There are multiple forms of resistance that includes cultural forms as well, through which the people speak for themselves. The alliance between the corporations and the state and central governments is now quite obvious, and the onus is on all of us to critique, resist and extend solidarities towards the people.

Pushpa Rokde, who works with the Dainik Prakhar Samachar in Chhatisgarh is the only adivasi woman journalist from Bastar. She was one of the firsts to report the cases of rapes and atrocities by security forces in Bijapur in 2015. She spoke about the challenges of being an adivasi and a journalist. She spoke about how the state and the police view her as being pro maoist or going to meet maoists whenever she goes in the interior areas of Chhatisgarh to cover stories. She mentioned how the situation has deteriorated due to increasing numbers of fake encounters. Because of this fear, she said that men were afraid of taking ailing women to hospitals for fear of being killed midway. She said that Adivasis are truthful and have called encounters fake only when innocent people were killed. She said that the state has intimidated those journalists who have chosen to speak the truth.

Shreya K, a WSS activist, placed sexual violence within the larger history of violence of all forms in Chhattisgarh, which peaked between 2005 and 2009 where the Salwa Judum was in active operation. She asserted the presence of a pattern in terms of specific acts—unwanted touch on various body parts and especially sexual organs, pilfering of chickens, taking away money and so on—in areas filled with security forces. The incoming of forces has been continuing in newer forms post the Supreme Court banishment of the Salwa Judum, therefore contributing towards the manifold increase in multifarious instances of violence and sexual assault in particular. It has to be noted, she said, that one could derive identical patterns if one were to examine three factors in the state—the flow of government forces, constancy of violence and the presence of natural resources eyed by mining corporations. We’ve always been able to read the presence of sexual violence into incidents of warfare—where the inequality of power across spectrums are maximum, making justice an almost impossible end. Instances of sexual violence are seldom reported (due to the insistence of taboos), and if reported, the due process is seldom begun. Shreya spoke poignantly about the emotional and physical pain many victims she’d met had suffered, and one of the most important acts we could do, she said, is to bear witness, and hence the launch of the book.

Adv. Yug Mohit Choudhary, human rights lawyer, underlined the vulnerabilities to which people working in the state of Chhattisgarh— lawyers, journalists, academicians—are exposed, certainly caused by the absence of the rule of law. The instances of injustice and violence seems to be ever present in the state—and bearing witness to these events of urgency is a duty we all are responsible to. He examined an event that occurred in a village called Sarkeguda, in Chhattisgarh, in particular—where 17 villagers were killed by CRPF forces on 28 June 2012. The case, after analyses reveals stark violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)—wherein there are evidences of gunshots at the back, head injuries, bodies shot when they were kneeling and incise wounds—which clearly indicate possible torture and fictitious encounters. The case is still undergoing a Judicial Commission Enquiry, awaiting justice, he said. He ended by highlighting that there is consistent lying from the side of the state, and this denial of truth seems to be the status quo. We should, he said, together think of strategies as a collective—to give and bear witness.

The three speakers were followed by the presentation of a few video documents from the state—recorded in 2016—recording state violence against the adivasis in Chhattisgarh, collected by Women Against Sexual Violence and Repression (WSS).

A photo exhibition on Bastar by renowned photographer Javed Iqbal was exhibited on the occasion. This was followed by a question-answer session with the speakers, and the session ended with a few cultural programme.

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