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Global Day of Action against Vedanta  – August 14th , AGM in London #mustshare

Global day of action against Vedanta’s AGM

 

The annual Global Day of Action against Vedanta will take place on Monday 14th August 2017, as their AGM is conducted in London.

While the Vedanta board try to don the ‘cloak of respectability’ of their London listing, communities affected by the company’s pollution, human rights abuses and tax evasion around the world will raise their voices through protests and reports showing the true face of this deadly British mining company. As usual we will bring the defiant energy and demands of these communities to London, in our theatrical protest outside the London AGM, and shareholder activism inside it.

JOIN US OUTSIDE VEDANTA’S LONDON AGM WHILE COMMUNITIES PROTEST ACROSS AFRICA AND INDIA!

Monday 14th August 20172 – 4pm .
The Lincoln Centre, 18 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

Bring drums, placards and loud voices.

Please join our Facebook event page if you can come to London on 14th August.

Why we are opposing Vedanta’s 2017 AGM:

This year Vedanta was again excluded from the Norwegian Pension Fund investments following a report which found “numerous reports of Vedanta’s failure to comply with government requirements” at four subsidiaries in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Zambia.

In Zambia, Vedanta has appealed against a precedent May 2016 judgment allowing thousands of farmers suffering eleven years of pollution by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to have their case against the company heard in the UKDuring the London appeal hearing they claimed no connection between the parent and subsidiary, stating that corporate governance reports were just for show to comply with London listing rules. Meanwhile the pollution goes on in Zambia, where Vedanta have also been found guilty of widespread transfer mispricing and tax evasion according to a recent UNCTAD report. KCM have never published their annual accounts.

Sonshi villagers

Gowda women in Sonshi, Go

In Goa, India, resumption of iron ore mining by Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa has already led to protests by Gowda Adivasis (a tribal group) suffering from air and water pollution, and accusations that the company is already exceeding its quota and continuing illegal mining under the guise of removing waste dumps. After being found guilty of widespread illegal mining Vedanta is already demanding that the resultant cap on mining is lifted.

 

In Niyamgiri, Odisha, harassment of tribal activists who succeeded in stopping Vedanta’s bauxite mine in a precedent referendum in 2013 is increasing, and key activists have been jailed and tortured this year, accused of being Maoists. Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) and the Dongria Kondshave held major blockades of Vedanta’s refinery in reaction demanding an end to harassment and the decomissioning of the refinery.

Parallel demonstrations are already planned in Zambia and India on the 14th August for this Global Day of Action and questions raised by the communities will be asked inside the AGM meeting.If you would like to plan a demonstration or organise any event in solidarity with any Vedanta affected community, in any part of the world please get in touch.

Vedanta is a FTSE 250 British mining company controlled and owned by Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies. It has become infamous for its violations of law, pollution and human rights abuses across India and Afrika. Vedanta is controlled and 69.6% owned by Brit Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies. It was launched on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 with the assistance of the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), who continue with their  support for the company.

Courtesy: FOIL VEDANTA

 

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Open letter to Mr Modi, Prime Minister of India: Ambedkar Museum, London

ambedkarstatue

London, 14 November 2015

An open letter to Mr Modi, Prime Minister of IndiaAmbedkar Museum, London

Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar remains a paramount champion for social reform both in India and beyond. In his Constitution, he far-sightedly incorporated principles of equality and human dignity by outlawing the perniciousness of Untouchablity which remains a scourge in India and the diaspora, Britain included. In it he framed a set of fundamental rights to equality, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and personal liberty. His work in the 1950s championing the liberation of women in India will continue to inspire people around the globe for generations.

In spite of the principles of Dr Ambedkar’s Constitution, crimes against Dalits continue to rise. Furthermore, reported crimes are just the tip of the iceberg. Each day two Dalit men, women, or children are murdered and five Dalit women are raped. Toleration, freedom of religion and the personal right to choose ones faith particularly in the context of Dalits, and freedom of speech are being eroded while sadly the Government remains silent or mouths platitudes. In the wake of this, Dalits, Ambedkarites and groups that represent such communities in the UK have justifiably raised their voice against these atrocities and against your visit.

Prime Minister, you have visited the Ambedkar Museum in London today against a background of rising tensions in India and robust and vocal indignation about your visit here. Many see your visit as appropriating Ambedkar’s name for party political gain. Babasaheb stands tall above this. I hope your visit to the Ambedkar Museum is your commitment to take a lead in translating his message and his legacy into real action in India and deliver real social change at home. T

here is an urgent need to reform local, state, and national justice systems and to make the police force register, process and prosecute crimes against Dalits. As the dismal conviction rates indicate, justice for Dalits is wanting in a casteist society where more often than not the perpetrators walk free. Where this happens, punish the police for dereliction of duty and pursue corruption. You and your government are under international scrutiny.

The initiative of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK to acquire the house where Dr Ambedkar lived from 1921 to 1922 must be a beacon to the world for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These are the values Dr Ambedkar cherished and put into practice.

When opened, the Museum ought to be the symbol of hope for those fighting for justice, equality and social reform worldwide, including those fighting for justice for victims of caste-based discrimination in the UK. The legislation agreed by Parliament in 2013 is being robustly resisted by the Hindu groups in the UK who argue there is no such thing as caste discrimination. The true reality is, when people get off the plane in Manchester, they do not leave their caste prejudices behind in Mumbai.

In defining the partnership between India and UK, going forward from your speech in Parliament on 12 November, you committed to drawing on the life’s work of Dr Ambedkar in terms of “building a future of social equality, opportunity, and dignity for all humans and peace among people.” This now needs to be backed by concrete actions, and not just rhetoric by the Government of India.

The Ambedkar Museum needs to be developed and managed transparently in order to deliver the purpose it was bought for. This can be achieved only with the involvement of Dalits and Ambedkarites in UK in its making and administration.

Ms Santosh Dass, MBE
President, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhists Organisations UK

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Delhi, London – GLOBAL RESISTANCE against Vedanta Resources

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31st July 2014 (Thurs) @ 2.30PM-4PM,
Venue: Ministry of Environment and Forests, Indira Paryavaran Bhavan, Jor Bagh Road, New Delhi 
(Nearest Metro Station : Jorbagh on yellow line)

ATTN LONDON = 1ST August, 2.pm 

Join the protest from 2pm onwards outside the Lincoln Centre

18 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3ED Nearest tube: Holborn.

NO MORE BLOOD, NO MORE LOOT, NO MORE ECO-CIDE!

VEDANTA, WE WILL FIGHT YOU WHEREVER YOU ARE AND WHEREVER YOU GO!

Contacts Devangana 8130414606, Aapurv 9910550736, Nikita 9582076891

This protest on 31st July in Delhi will coincide with demonstrations in Niyamgiri, Tuticorin, Goa, Lusaka & Andola (Zambia), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago) to mark THE GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST VEDANTA in lead up to the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London on 1st August. These protests are organised under the banner of FOIL VEDANTA (http://www.foilvedanta.org/) whose pioneering work is spearheading international action against Vedanta. Details of the London protest can be found herehttp://www.foilvedanta.org/news/protest-call-out-join-us-at-vedantas-agm-friday-1st-august/

STAND IN OPPOSITION TO THE CORRUPT GLOBAL CORPORATE STATE NEXUS THAT DEFENDS VEDANTA AND OTHER RUTHLESS COMPANIES LIKE IT! Vedanta has been aggressively acquiring new businesses with support from Indian and UK politicians to help cover its losses in Niyamgiri – including HZL in India and formerly Scottish company Cairn with oil operations in Rajasthan and the Gulf of Mannar, Sri Lanka.

STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH ZAMBIAN WORKERS AND COMMUNITIES AND OPPOSE INDIAN NEO-COLONIALISM IN AFRIKA! Vedanta has been ripping off Zambians by reporting losses from the KCM copper mine it bought from the government at a throw-away price, while it’s actually been making profits to the tune of US$500 million to US$1 billion and selling copper at below market rates to its own hidden subsidiary in Dubai. It has also failed to pay a fine for offloading toxic waste into local waterways resulting in 7 years of birth defects in local communities.

OPPOSE RUTHLESS ANTI-WORKER BEHAVIOUR! Vedanta treats its workers like shit! A chimney in its BALCO plant in Korba killed at least 40 workers when it collapsed due to negligence and cost-cutting. 750 striking miners in Zambia have been thrown out of the KCM factory. Workers in .

STAND IN DEFENCE OF THE ONLY PLANET WE HAVE AND THE LIFE IT SUSTAINS! Vedanta has no respect for the environment. It pays companies to produce fake EIAs, dumps all kinds of toxic waste into pristine waterways, flouts environmental regulations and refuses to pay fines for the damages it causes.

DEMAND VEDANTA TO KEEP ITS HANDS OFF NIYAMGIRI NOW! Vedanta still has Niyamgiri in its sights and militarisation is rampant with harassment of the Dongria Khond and those supporting them. Vedanta plans to expand its Lanjigarh refinery 6 fold and has claimed that it will be sourcing aluminum from just 3.5km away.

OPPOSE THE ILLEGAL PRO-CORPORATE ANTI-PEOPLE VEDANTA-STATE NEXUS! Vedanta has been a major funder of the BJP in its election campaign and the lawyer who defended Vedanta in the Supreme Court has been made the Attorney General by the Modi regime. Before this Vedanta was funding Congress. Foreign funding of political parties is illegal. This has to be seen in light of the new regimes push to weaken the forest rights act and make land acquisition easier.

OPPOSE MODI’S POLICIES! DEVELOPMENT FOR WHOM? WHOSE GROWTH? This protest will take place outside MoEF due to the ministry’s recent statements about removing ‘obstructions’ to foreign investment and diluting the Forest Rights Act. The FRA was a crucial factor in the victory of the Dongria Kond. Similarly, MoRD have made statements about changing ‘consent’ clauses in the Land Acquisition Act and the Finance Ministry seeks to disinvest its minority shares in BALCO and Hindustan Zinc.

DEMAND DE-LISTING OF VEDANTA FROM THE LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE! Vedanta has benefited from support from crony UK politicians who facilitated its acquisition of formerly Scottish company Cairn India to cover its losses in Niyamgiri. Vedanta is listed on the London Stock Exchange but its rampant malpractices mean that it does not deserve to be there. De-listing it will damage Vedanta’s credit rating, making it harder to pull cash in to fuel its ruthless destruction.

For more details on Vedanta and this transnational state corporate nexus, kindly refer to the attachment below and Foil Vedanta’s website http://www.foilvedanta.org/

 

 

 

VEDANTA IS DESPERATE!
Vedanta Resources Plc is best known for its illegal mining activities in Niyamgiri, Orissa and the
struggle of the Dongria Khond to protect their forest against this proposed mining. Last year saw
the victory of the Dongria Khond as the Supreme Court judged against Vedanta’s illegal mining
operations. Vedanta subsidiary in Goa, Sesa Sterlite’s operations were also stopped by the Supreme
Court after it emerged that they had exported 150 million tonnes of iron-ore in 2010-11, while
declaring only 7.6 million, their agreed export allowance. Vedanta also lost its prestigious status as
an FTSE Top 100 London Stock Exchange listed company, as its ranking was downgraded. This has
put Vedanta in a tight spot as it has been struggling to repay the loans it took for the same. Vedanta
has thus, been busy finding desperate ways of covering its losses. As expected, it has been doing
this by crooked means and by pulling strings in the corridors of power. This has included its
acquisition of Scottish corporation Cairn’s oil operations in Rajasthan and the Gulf of Mannar
in Sri Lanka and its buyout of Hindusthan Zinc Limited – both well below their real value. Cairn
India has also recently lent 1.25 billion$ to British parent company Vedanta for refinancing its own
debt, which is a clear violation of existing corporate governance regulations.
VEDANTA IS LOOTING AFRICA! COLONISATION – BRIC-STYLE
Zambian workers and communities resist!
A major breakthrough arose this year when a leaked video of Anil Agarwal confirmed from the
horse’s mouth what FOIL VEDANTA’S work in Zambia had already revealed. Vedanta was
illegally making millions from its Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Zambia, which it bought
from the Zambian government – again, well below its value. It has been reporting losses yet making
profits of the tune of US$500 million to $1billion and has been selling the copper below market
rates to its own subsidiary in Dubai, run by Anil Aggarwal’s son. The news of this tax evasion and
transfer mispricing has been hotly debated in the Zambian parliament and there is a vibrant
movement on the ground including workers and communities suffering for years from Vedanta’s
toxic waste.
VEDANTA IS COMMITING ECO-CIDE!
Environment is not an ‘obstruction’
Vedanta is notorious for continuously flouting environmental and pollution control state
mechanisms, even when they are barely there. Vedanta’s proposed mining in the Niyamgiri
mountains would have been a complete ecological genocide if the resistance of the Dongria Kond
against it had not been so relentlessly strong. The existing refinery in Lanjigarh has polluted water
sources and destroyed surrounding agricultural lands. KCM’s major pollution spill into River Kafue
in 2006 poisoned thousands of people, causing on-going birth deformities. The company refused to
pay the $2million fine that was imposed on them. Similar stories abound in all Vedanta operations –
be it the massively polluting lethal leaks in the copper smelter in Tuticorin or the dubious and nontransparent
off-shore drilling activities in the highly militarised Gulf of Mannar in Sri Lanka.
THE ABYSMAL CONDITIONS OF VEDANTA WORKERS!
The struggle is on!
Workers operate under the abysmal, exploitative and precarious conditions of employment in
Vedanta factories and operations. More than 2000 contractual workers in Vedanta BALCO’s
aluminimum manufacturing company in Korba district, Chattisgarh protested earlier this year
demanding better working conditions. It is in the same factory where a chimney had collapsed in
2009 and there were over a hundred unaccountable deaths. In Zambia, continues the struggle of 750
ex-KCM miners who have been thrown out of their jobs by Vedanta. In Vedanta’s lethal gas
smelters in Tuticorin, there has been the death of 3 workers and several injured due to lethal gas
leaks.
VEDANTA, HANDS OFF NIYAMGIRI, NOW!!
Dongoro Choribo Nai!
Meanwhile, the situation in Niyamgiri is troubling with increased militarisation and harrassment
of the Dongria Kond. Vedanta still has its sights set on acquiring the bauxite in Niyamgiri and has
planned a 6 fold expansion of its refinery in Lanjigarh. The notice for the public meeting they will
hold on 30th July’14 claims that bauxite will be sourced 3.5 km from the refinery – intimating that
they have not given up on mining the Niyamgiri Hills. Under the new regime it is quite easy to
imagine the hard-won success in Niyamgiri being reversed as there are hundreds of billions of
dollars sitting in those hills.
VEDANTA’S MOST TRUSTED ALLIES?
Vedanta-BJP-Congress Bhai Bhai!
It is well known that Vedanta has been a major funder of the BJP government (and the Congress
before it) and thus the planned revisions of the Forest Rights Act (a major contributor to the
Dongria Khond’s success in Niyamgiri) and the Land Acquisition Act by the new Government is not
surprising. The Ministry of Environment and Forests under the new regime is keen to aggressively
accelerate trends which were already existent during Congress rule. The state has been immensely
pro-active in employing its machineries of repression through the police and the military in
responding to resistance against Vedanta.
LONDON’S IMPERIAL ‘SECRETS’!
De-list Vedanta from London Stock Exchange!
Evidence of Vedanta’s corruption has been made available and was presented by Foil Vedanta in the
UK Parliament (House of Commons) on 21st July’14. The UK’s government’s role in assisting
and protecting this contentious mining company has been crucial including the role of the
Department for International Development (DfID)’s CDC (formerly the Commonwealth
Development Corporation) in supporting Vedanta’s Zambian mine, and former British High
Commissioner to India Sir David Gore Booth’s assistance, as a co-opted board member in
launching the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2003.

David Cameron personally exerted
pressure on the Indian government to sell lucrative oil company Cairn India to Vedanta in 2011. The
London Stock Exchange’s faulty listing and accountability has allowed companies lie Vedanta to
flourish by making London a tax haven and engaging in practices of tax evasion and insider-trading,
and blatantly violating human rights and environmental regulations across the world.
The elaboration above of Vedanta’s illegal and exploitative operations, is however,
barely an exception. Vedanta, is but a case study of what are established norms for
multinational corporations in the capitalist order of our times.

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A cry of rage for Gaza fills the streets of London #GazaUnderAttack

by Socialist Worker reporters


The huge crowd completely packed Whitehall in central London

The huge crowd completely packed Whitehall in central London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Up to 100,000 people streamed through the streets of London today, Saturday, in one of the biggest anti-war demonstrations in years.

People from across Britain, including many Muslim men and women of all ages, turned out in a collective cry of rage against Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Hadji Nasir Ahmed travelled on a Stop the War coach from Doncaster while fasting for Ramadan. He told Socialist Worker, “The moment I knew I had to come and protest was when I saw those lads killed playing football on the beach. That’s bang out of order. But so much of what has happened isn’t on the media and especially the BBC. Even when kids are killed.”

There were speeches in Westminster including from Labour MP Diane Abbott and Jocelyn Hurndall whose son Tom was shot by an Israeli soldier.

The demonstration was called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, the Muslim Association of Britain and others. The huge crowd was young, loud and militant, with flags, placards and faces painted in Palestinian colours.

One banner carried by Jewish activists read, “It’s not kosher to support Israel”. Around 50 people marched behind the Day-Mer Turkish and Kurdish group’s banner.

Roksana Ali from east London

Roksana Ali from east London: “They say Israel is just defending itself, but against what?” (Pic: Socialist Worker)


As well as opposing these attacks, protesters raised broader demands for Palestinian liberation.

Roksana Ali from East Ham said, “Most governments in the world help Israel and say they are just defending themselves but against what?

“The siege must end and the borders open to give the people of Gaza a chance to live some kind of reasonable life. And our government needs to stop selling Israel weapons.”

Libby and Hayden had travelled from Hertfordshire. Libby said, “This is terror towards the Palestinians and it needs to stop. I’m in full support of their right to return and for an end to the occupation.”

The demonstration completely filled Whitehall. Even as the crowd marched off hundreds were still running to catch up, with a coach load from Yorkshire pulling up just in the nick of time.

Many were as angry with the British government as with Israel.

Faris Ali, a Palestinian living in London, said “We bring our children here today to remind them our land was robbed because of the Balfour Declaration signed by Britain. As a result we have suffered for 67 years.

Palestinian Faris with his daughter

Palestinian Faris with his daughter. He said, “Palestinians are freedom fighters” (Pic: Socialist Worker)


“Palestinians are freedom fighters. They will not stop fighting. It’s an illegal occupation and it has to go.”

Outside Downing Street, thousands chanted “shame on you” in unison.

Sairah came down on one of six coaches from St Albans. She said, “We’re angry but this isn’t enough. We need to do something here to change things there. British Muslims need to start a revolution. And it’s not just Muslims—It’s about time the people of Britain stood up for humanity.

“Israel is a coward state. It only gets away with it because it’s backed by other coward states like the US and the UK.”

Demonstrations also took place in other cities, with thousands of people from across Scotland taking to the streets in Glasgow.

Protester Omar told Socialist Worker, “Every day they are being bombed, so every day we should be protesting. The attacks are getting worse, so our protests should be getting bigger.”

Henry Maitless added on behalf of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, “We stand with Palestinians and we say clearly to the Zionists not in our name. The actions of the Israeli state are criminal and we won’t under any circumstances support it.”

In London, the demonstration finished with a rally at the Israeli embassy.

Libby and Hayden from Hertfordshire. Libby said, This is terror towards the Palestinians.

Libby and Hayden from Hertfordshire. Libby said, “This is terror towards the Palestinians.” (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Trade unionists read out messages of solidarity from NUT general secretary Christine Blower and PSC general secretary Mark Serwotka. Representatives of the NUS Black Students Campaign and other organisations backing the march also spoke.

To applause a speaker from the MAB responded to the politicians’ hypocritical attacks on the Palestinian resistance. “If Britain was under occupation, all of us would be taking up arms,” he said.

“We will stand united against the crimes of the apartheid state of Israel—and against our own government that stands with the oppressor.”

Mariam Khan, the youngest councillor in Birmingham, said, “This is an international demonstration—around the world people are protesting.

“Israel said the old would die and the young would forget—but we will never forget Palestine.”

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Press Release – Protest letter on Bhagana and Badaun by activists in London

 

Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
4th June 2014
Dear Prime Minister
We the undersigned women’s organizations, South Asian community organizations and Dalit and anti-caste discrimination organizations in Britain are writing to you to express our acute concern about the ongoing horrific attacks on Dalit and oppressed caste women and children across India, including most recently, the appalling gang-rape and lynching of two girls aged 14 and 15 in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, on Wednesday 28thMay. Only two months earlier, four teenage Dalit girls aged 13-18 were raped by ‘higher caste’ landowners in Bhagana in Haryana, and the survivors are still fighting for the arrest of the rapists.
We note that:
·         These caste/gender atrocities are not confined to one state but have been occurring across the country – from Bathani Tola and Bathe in Bihar to Khairlanji and Khadra in Maharashtra.
·         These are taking place with the collusion of the police as recently highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. In many cases the police themselves are the perpetrators.
·         There has also been collusion by public prosecutors and the judiciary, which has led to acquittals of the guilty.
·         Public figures who have been responsible for rapes and murders of  minority, Dalit and Adivasi women have been rewarded and promoted – two of many examples are Muzaffarnagar-accused Sanjeev Baliyan, now made a central government Minister, and Police Superintendent Ankit Garg awarded for gallantry after supervising the rape and torture of Soni Sori.
We urge you therefore to ensure that
1.      In the Badaun case: The police involved in the rape-murders must be prosecuted: In the FIR lodged by the police, the culprit policemen have been charged only with abettment (120B) whereas they should be named as the accused and
Section 166A (which refers to police and other public servants refusing to do their duties) also should be invoked in the case. The government must take measures to guarantee the security of the families of the victims since police are among the accused
2.      In the Bhagana case: The eviction today from Jantar Mantar of the rape survivors and their families who have been forced to protest in Delhi for many weeks must be stopped. Their demands must immediately be met:  all those named by the survivors must be arrested; the Dalit community in Bhagana must be given land and guaranteed security as is their right; full compensation must be provided to the Bhagana rape survivors.
3.      In the cases of the Bathani Tola and Bathe massacres and mass rapes carried out by the Ranvir Sena in Bihar: all those convicted on the evidence of eyewitness survivors have been subsequently acquitted by the Patna High Court. These acquittals must be overturned. The Amir Das Commission investigating the Ranveer Sena which was hastily disbanded before it could make its findings public, must be reinstated.
4.      Sanjeev Baliyan who is a main accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots and mass rapes of Muslim women in U.P. (and has continued to break the law, taking out inflammatory victory processions against Prohibitory Orders) must be removed from his post as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing in the central government immediately.
5.      The Atrocities Act which is specifically designed to address caste violence must be applied in all cases of caste/gender violence against SCs and STs.
Yours sincerely
Sarbjit Johal, FreedomWithout Fear Platform
Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group
Santosh Dass, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations (UK)
Ravi Kumar, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance
Davinder Prasad, British Organisation of People of Asian Origin
Bholi Randhawa, Shri Guru Ravi Dass Mission International (Kanshi TV)
Desraj Bunger, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, UK, Europe and Abroad
Satpal Muman, CasteWatch UK
Faquir Chand Sahota, Central Valmik Sabha (UK)
Eugene Culas, Voice of Dalit International
Pastor Raj, Minority Christian International Federation
Baljit Banga, Newham Asian Women’s Project
Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters
Sumanta Roy, Imkaan
Anjum Mouj, Rape Crisis England and Wales
Balvinder Saund, Sikh Women’s Alliance UK
Shahida Choudhury,Women’s Networking Hub

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Today I am 75, and facing death in a US jail for murders I didn’t commit

Despite my death sentence being quashed, I am not eligible for release until I’m 101. All I have to celebrate is the love of my wife
Prison cell

‘This year fortune smiles on me. My birthday falls on a Sunday, so it’s visitation day. This year, I will see my wife Marita.’ Photograph: Charles O’Rear/Corbis

The day was 26 January 1972. It was quite a celebration. I don’t remember why I planned a special birthday party that year – I was turning 33 – but I suppose I was at the height of my good fortune. My fruit importation business had gone spectacularly well, and I had fallen in love with the horses. So I held the party at Kempton Park racecourse. I had a runner that day – if I recall correctly, it was Golden Ridge – and all my friends gathered around. They were happy days, and I basked in my good luck.

 

How different it is today.

 

This year I will celebrate my 75th birthday at the South Florida Reception Centre just outside Miami, USA. I will be roused by the prison guards at five in the morning. At six, there will be grits for breakfast, along with something they call “chicory” (there is no real coffee). After my insulin shot, I will be locked back down until around 9.30am. Then I should get a couple of hours on the yard, along with 600 other “inmates”.

 

I have been condemned for crimes I did not commit – two murders that I now believe were committed by Colombian drug cartels. I have spent 27 years, perhaps the true prime of my life, in prison – on death row until the retrial – and I am now ineligible for parole until after my 101st birthday. I am bankrupt, so I cannot support my family, let alone pay for my appeals. I have come close to death several times, either in Florida’s electric chair or in the similarly deadly prison hospital.

 

I am trying to get my mobility back after I nearly died some months back from what is called necrotising fasciitis. So, on my birthday, I will slowly push my wheelchair round a couple of circuits of the concrete pathway, before I have to subside into it. Though it’s mid-winter, it’s been getting up to above 28C here, and it’s humid, so I don’t last long. Also, I have a staple the doctor accidentally left in my foot after an operation, and it hurts like hell if I walk too much. I can’t have it taken out, as a kind-hearted prison doctor advised me that I would risk another infection if I went back there. This time I might lose my leg, so it’s better just to endure it until I can get out of here.

 

On a normal day, I would be facing a soya patty, rice and Kool-Aid drink for lunch, though I would not eat the rice – it’s pretty bad for a diabetic. After another hour of lockdown, I might get a further hour on the yard before a second congealed soya patty for dinner. They spend an average of $1.67 (£1) a day on my food here, and you can imagine what one gets for 56 cents a meal. I used to have a German shepherd called Jason – how I loved that dog! – and he would bite me and run away if I fed him this stuff.

 

For the rest of the evening – until the final “inmate count” and lights out at 10pm – I might try to read the paper. I get a British newspaper weekly to try to keep up with news from back home. And I’ll sit in my wheelchair in line for the phones, so I can have five minutes with my wife.

 

There is one way my birthday will be better than those halcyon days, because now I truly understand what love means. This year, there won’t be any champagne. There won’t be any winners at Kempton Park. But this year fortune smiles on me. My birthday falls on a Sunday, so it’s visitation day. This year I will see my wife, Marita, perhaps for two full hours.

 

Some people call their life’s partner an angel; in my case, I know she is one. Marita has forsaken everything for me, barely able to survive, just so she can take my five-minute calls, and come for these treasured prison visits. Without her, I would long since have been consigned to the mental asylum or the grave. With her, even this half-life is worth living. All I can do is hope – and I hope against hope that her next birthday, her own 75th in November, will be held among old friends in London.

 

Read more here — http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/26/75-death-us-jail-murders-sentence

 

 

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Sex segregation in UK universities – a step forward for the Muslim religious right

December 10, 2013
Source: siawi

Marieme Helie Lucas *

A battle that concerns us all is being waged in the UK right now and has surprisingly very little echo outside Britain: Universities UK– a body that officially represents universities – made public their new guidance, according to which sex segregation could be practiced in the universities of the kingdom at the request of guest speakers representing religious groups. (http://blog.universitiesuk.ac.uk/2013/11/25/external-speakers-guidance-segregation/)

While protests flew in and an international petition ‘Rescind endorsement of sex segregation at UK Universities’ was posted on November 23, 2013 (https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Universities_UK_Rescind_endorsement_of_sex_segregation_at_UK_Universities/), UUK published a response that pretended that they were only envisaging a theoretical case, a mere ‘hypothetical case study (p.27) in which an external speaker on faith in the modern world requests that the audience is segregated according to gender’. http://blog.universitiesuk.ac.uk/2013/11/25/external-speakers-guidance-segregation/
They also pretended that there were only trying to apply ‘ a wide range of legislation from equalities law through to criminal law and the duty to protect the safety of university staff, students and visitors’, with the aim of ‘accommodating everyone’s views’ and ‘ensur (ing) that no one is unlawfully excluded from the event’.
This was a blatant lie, as a brief search in the media clearly shows. And it was only one among the many lies that were uttered by university authorities on the issue of sex segregation, secularism, high education and the pervasive political importance of religious organizations in the kingdom.

Facts

In short, here are some facts: in March 2013 a Prof made the local news, when he started walking out of a debate in which he was one of the two speakers at University College London, if sex segregation was enforced on the audience, as was the case. A video shows him saying “quit the segregation or I’m out of here” after security staff tried to throw out three men who had gone to sit in the women’s section of the audience. Prof Krauss added “You are in a public arena and not in a mosque, not in a private event.”
Not surprisingly, women were seated at the back of the room: according to a student, ‘females were allocated seats at the back corner of the auditorium to view the debate from a disadvantaged position‘. (http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/03/sexual-segregation-at-a-ucl-event-a-scandal-say-students) Dana Sondergaard who attended the event, wrote on her Facebook page: “After having been told the event would NOT be gender segregated, we arrived and were told that women were to sit in the back of the auditorium, while men and couples could file into the front”.

The debate entitled Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense? was organised by the Islamic Education and Research Academy: Prof Krauss, a theoretical physicist and director of the Origins project, was to debate on the question of science vs religion with Mr Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a lecturer and iERA member.

Interestingly, rumours had been spreading beforehand that sex segregation will be the rule during this debate, and Prof. Krauss had approached the authorities, making it clear that he would not speak to a segregated audience; he was assured in advance that this would not be the case. (Video: Krauss, stating that he had been promised no such segregation would take place
(http://standforpeace.org.uk/walkout-in-ucl-over-gender-segregation-at-iera-event/)

In the week before the event, word of a segregated seating arrangement began circulating. On Friday, Dr. Krauss posted the following status on Facebook:
‘News update: Have now been informed that the event in London will NOT be gender segregated.’

However, one of the organisers said that the segregation had been agreed with the University and suggested more than once that the men should be refused entry.
(http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/03/sexual-segregation-at-a-ucl-event-a-scandal-say-students)

Similarly, students alerted their unions and the authorities and were given similar re-assurance. However segregation signs were posted on doors in advance. (http://www.siawi.org/article6218.html).
In a statement by concerned students, it is made clear that ‘Separate entrances were in place for women and men’, and that ‘A policy of sexual segregation was enforced at an event at University College London on Saturday, with the organisers’ security trying to physically remove members of the audience who would not comply’, and that ‘A policy of segregation was suggested by IERA in a statement before the event’.
This was raised by students with UCL, who gave assurances that no segregation would be allowed. (http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/03/sexual-segregation-at-a-ucl-event-a-scandal-say-students). ‘Several attendees approached UCL’s security personnel to alert them to the situation, but found that the staff were unwilling to intervene, and were instructed to comply with the organisers’ policy of segregation’.

Interestingly UUK first denied that enforced segregation took place, then argued that sexes were separated left and right, and not front and bottom, and finally said that, at a last minute arrangement, there was provision for a mixed area for married couples!
UUK went on stating that segregation of the sexes at universities is not discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.”
Students speaking to different media after the event used strong words to describe the situation and their reactions: ‘shocked’, ‘intimidating’, ‘threatening and divisive’, ‘genuinely fearful of the repercussions’, ‘disgraceful’, ‘insulting’, ‘a scandal’, ‘a violation’, ‘disappointed at UCL (which) did not keep its promise’ …

So much for the ‘hypothetical case study’ that UUK pretends to have addressed in its guidance document. Moreover, UUK lied to Prof Krauss as well as to students about not allowing segregation. It also pretended to ban in future religious groups that would request sex segregation, while they were in fact preparing the infamous guidance document that justifies this very segregation.

On the occasion of this incident, and thanks to Prof Krauss making his dissent public, one learnt with dismay that sex segregation had been enforced for over a year – at least – in many public debates or conferences, at the initiative of vocal Muslim fundamentalist organizations.

In Leicester university in a segregated event entitled Does God Exist?, organized by the same group and with the same guest speaker, Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a message on the group’s website says: “In all our events, [the society] operate a strict policy of segregated seating between males and females.” The statement was removed after the Guardian contacted the society. A photograph passed to the Guardian shows signs put up in a university building, directing the segregation. (http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/apr/15/leicester-investigating-islamic-group-gender-segregation).
Leicester University denied enforced segregation. But a Leicester student told the Guardian he believed segregation was common practice at the society’s events to avoid offending those with strong religious beliefs.

More recently, in an article written on November 24, author states that sex segregation openly continues elsewhere: ‘One recent example of an event held by the Islamic Society at the University of Northampton described seating arrangements as “open to both Brothers and Sisters, with segregation adhered-to” ‘. (http://occamstypewriter.org/sylviamclain/2013/11/24/uk-university-debates-when-gender-segregation-ok/)

In a report written by Student Rights on 13 May 2013, entitled ‘Unequal Opportunity – Gender Segregation on UK University Campuses’,
(http://www.studentrights.org.uk/article/2082/report_unequal_opportunity_gender_segregation_on_uk_university_campuses), one learns that those are far from being isolated incidents. According to the report, ‘180 events logged in the period March 2012 to March 2013 were investigated for evidence of segregation; 46 of these events (25.5%) at 21 separate institutions were found to have either explicitly promoted segregation by gender, or implied that this would be the case, with six of these cancelled before taking place’. The report concludes that ‘As all 21 of these institutions have equality and diversity policies which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender, as well as a legal responsibility to do so under the Equality Act 2010, this briefing uncovers potential failings in these duties’.

Meanwhile, UUK wrote in their guidance document that universities should bear in mind that “concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system” and that if “imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”

If we understand correctly, it creates a hierarchy of rights, in which the rights of religious groups supersede the rights of others?

UUK ‘s choice of partners

Not all Muslims –far from that – nor all people from Muslim descent, nor all faith based Muslim organizations hold that genders should be segregated. In fact two extremely important women’s organisations joined the protest against sex segregation, by signing the on line petition and by additionally writing separate letters to UUK, stating their dismay at and opposition to sex segregation in universities under religious pretexts: those are the international solidarity network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws – a non-confessional organization – and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women – a faith based organization -. Moreover, among the initiators (and among later signatories as well) of the online petition are numerous men and women of Muslim descent.

Who are then the religious groups that UUK see fit to invite to organize their events in the premises of universities – rather than other groups?

According to Stand for Peace (http://standforpeace.org.uk/walkout-in-ucl-over-gender-segregation-at-iera-event/), they are far from being ordinary religiously minded people; they are fundamentalists and very organized. ‘Tzortzis has previously been associated with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an organization that campaigns for a global Islamist caliphate’. ‘He is on record condemning democratic principles and advocating for a Sharia state and advocating for a Sharia state: “We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom. We see under the Khilafa (caliphate), when people used to engage in a positive way, this idea of freedom was redundant, it was unnecessary, because the society understood under the education system of the Khilafa state, and under the political framework of Islam, that people must engage with each other in a positive and productive way to produce results, as the Qur’an says, to get to know one another.”
Stand for Peace also says that ‘IERA’s staff includes Islamist hate preachers
such as Abdurraheem Green, Hamza Tzortzis (the opposing speaker at the debate) and Yusuf Chambers.’ The article goes on to give various examples of such hate speech: ‘Tzortzis wants to criminalize homosexuality.’‘Yusuf Chambers is a founding member of the iERA. In a recorded conversation conducted with Dr. Zakir Naik (who has been banned from entering Britain), Chambers specifically asks what the punishment for homosexuality should be (the answer is “Death”), and then asks Naik to refute suggestions that homosexuality has any natural or genetic origins. In the same interview, Chambers agrees that adulterous women should be stoned to death.
Abdurraheem Green, another iERA official, recommends that death is a “suitable” punishment for adultery and homosexuality:
“Such crimes thus need suitable and effective punishments that act as a sever [sic] warning to others. A public crime deserves a public punishment. Adultery is punishable by death, and a slow and painful death by stoning. All of this also goes some way to help understand way acts of homosexuality are similarly treated so harshly.” According to Green, beating women, in order to “bring them to goodness,” is permissible: The husband is allowed, to prevent her from evil, to apply some type of physical force … It is not allowed to break the skin, does not allow to break a bone or even leave a mark on the skin. A beating that is that severe is forbidden and this is a type of assault, and is haram, and a crime in Islam to treat your wife like that. But a type of physical reprimand in order to bring her to goodness is allowed.
The iERA’s Abdullah Hakim Quick has been condemned by New Zealand’s broadcasting authority for his anti-gay tirades, which state that homosexuals must be killed, that they are “sick” and “not natural”, and that “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names.” He continues to hold this position: “They said ‘what is the Islamic position [on homosexuality]?’ And I told them. Put my name in the paper. The punishment is death. And I’m not going to change this religion.”
Stand for Peace concludes: ‘This is just the tip of the iceberg: other iERA speakers include Bilal Philips, described by the US an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center; Zakir Naik, banned from the UK for saying that “every Muslim should be a terrorist;” and Shady Sulieman, who has said that for those who commit adultery, “their punishment is stoning to death.”’

It needs to be asked from UUK why are such speakers invited to organize events on university premises? Why not, instead, the women from the Canadian Council of Muslim Women or their UK equivalent, or representatives from organisations of secularists or atheists of Muslim origin?
Why in the name of openness, multiculturalism, tolerance, respect for each other’s religions and cultures are doors opened to those who precisely refuse reciprocity in that matter?
Why in the name of democracy and human rights is visibility given to the most reactionary political organizations that cover themselves under religion?

A deliberate policy of creating antagonistic ‘communities’

Protests so far have addressed the need to maintain the secular tradition of universities in Europe; they have also challenged unequal treatment between men and women and supported gender equality. Said Krauss: “It is “vitally important” that institutions such as universities were secular and avoided segregation of any kind”.

But when will the crux of the matter be addressed: i.e. the extreme right political nature of Muslim fundamentalist groups, and the apparent inability of shortsighted liberals not to play into their political game? When will liberals cease to consider these groups as the legitimate representatives of the ‘Muslim community’?
One of the corollaries of allowing extreme right groups to pass off as representatives of Islam and then of a whole community is that one cannot counter them anymore without being accused of being ‘ against Islam’. Said Richard Dawkins commenting on recent incidents of sex segregation in universities: it is time to stop ‘being so pusillanimously terrified of being thought ’Islamophobic’?

It is the evident interest of the xenophobic Far Right in Europe to highlight such attacks on university traditions and gender equality and to use those against citizens and migrants of Muslim descent, regardless of their personal faith. One can therefore meditate on the counter effect engendered by giving the floor in to aggressively reactionary organizations, as if they spoke for all ‘Muslims’.
‘It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics. This capitulation is a disaster for feminism, progressive ideals and above all Muslims’ writes Yasmin Alibhai Brown on December 8 (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/its-shameful-that-our-universities-have-accepted-gender-segregation-under-pressure-from-the-most-oppressive-religious-fanatics-8991593.html).
Should one aimed at exacerbating divisions among people along ‘community’ lines, one could not do any better than give such prominence to the ‘fanatics’. Ultimately, it can only reinforce rejection and hostility for ‘the Other’ that one pretended to open doors to. ‘Muslims’ are obviously the first victims of these policies. This concern is echoed in the Canadian Council of Muslim Women’s letter to UUK on November 28: “We are highly disturbed by such guidelines which affect Muslims, esp. Muslim women. We are an organization of believing Muslim women who value equity, equality and empowerment and cannot comprehend your decision”.

It is also the evident interest of Muslim fundamentalist organizations to instigate outrage and rejection, so that they can claim to be further victimized: they have long mastered the art of hijacking and manipulating human rights concepts, to turn to their benefit minority rights, religious rights and cultural rights, although they are on record for trampling on all those when they are in power.
Recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bangladesh have demonstrated that millions of people of Muslim descent want freedom, secular democracy, human rights for all (not just for fundamentalists theocrats), but these cases also show how well organized and well funded fundamentalist groups were able to take over secular popular movements.
And Yasmin Alibhai Brown continues: ‘This Tuesday, 10th December, is Human Rights Day. It is my birthday too, and insha-allah (God willing) I plan to mark both by joining a demo outside Woburn House in Tavistock Square, London. These are the offices of Universities UK (UUK), an affiliate which describes itself as “the voice of UK universities”, which is a bit presumptive I think, especially now’.

So far UUK has shown no sign of coming back on their guidance document, despite protests. The online petition has gathered more than 7700 signatures to this date, and signatures are still coming in. It is therefore vitally important that more signatures come in NOW in support of protestors and demonstrators – signatures from all over the world, not just the UK, as UUK has to be shamed the world over for trading secularism and women’s rights in the name of cultural relativism.
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Universities_UK_Rescind_endorsement_of_sex_segregation_at_UK_Universities/

For the battle that is being waged now in the UK concerns us all: attempts by fundamentalist forces to undermine secularism and to destroy hard won gender equality laws have been going on steadily in most European countries, in the name of rights. The education system is especially targeted, as controlling the minds of the youth is critical.
We cannot afford to loose the battle in the UK, as it will certainly backlash on other countries. In the words of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women who responds to UUK on 02/12/13: “We are not in the U.K, but the world becomes very small and interconnected in matters of gender equality and what you do there influences us here. As an organization of believing Muslim women we constantly struggle with those of you who become cultural relativists and those amongst Muslims who are rigid and intolerant of any diversity. Don’t you see that you, perhaps without conscious effort, are siding with this group? Who do you think you are appeasing? Certainly not the reasonable ones who are fighting for our rights”.

Today, December 10, Human Rights day, opponents to these reactionary politics will demonstrate in London. Many presumed ‘Muslims’ – believers and unbelievers alike – will be among them, thus illustrating the fact that UKK (like many other liberal and human rights organizations) repeatedly allies with the wrong politico-religious groups in its stated attempt to supposedly facilitate links between ‘communities’.

The author is among the initiators of the petition: Rescind endorsement of sex segregation at UK Universities

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#India – Faking Happiness is forced to Present the ‘ VEDANTA ANTHEM” #HipHop #mustshare

Kamayani for FAKING HAPPINESS CAMPAIGN

 

 

An Indo-German collaboration with production by the talented DJ BC from Germany and the lyrics and vocals by A-List from India. A List is a raptivist and a member of Faking Happiness campaign. This track is a quick freestyle in response to Vedanta trying to salvage it’s reputation by sponsoring , NDTV‘S ”  Our Girls Our Pride ” , a  PR Exercise and a desperate attempt to salvage themselevs after they were kicked out  by the Gramsabhas and after attempting to exploit the Dongria Kondh  tribal community in Odhisa for the Niyamgiri Hills.

 

Pic- courtesy Down to Earth

It has been learnt that Mining Giant Vedanta, is shitting  in their pants after  their exposure by  Faking Happiness: Activists Strike Back at Vedanta Ad Campaign, which was such a huge set back. Recently , after they were Kicked out in a Match of 12-0, by the Dongria Kondh ,  tribal of Odisha, they have once again planned a Corporate social responsibility ( CSR)  campaign, called ‘Our Girls our pride and once again, we are back with a   BANG.

 

Our two petitions  to NDTV and Priyanka Chopra haS crossed the 2500 mark, do sign if you have not so far, if you have not  ?

NDTV WITHDRAW VEDANTA

and

PRIYANKA CHOPRA WITHDRAW AS AMABASSADOR

 

Faking Happiness also  sent birthday wishes wishes Happy Birthday Dr Prannoy Roy – Withdraw Vedanta #ourgirlsourpride

So, Now Vedanta, CSR initiative is in a soup , as many  Craetive Faces with Political Voices, join Faking Happiness Anti Vedanta Campaign , and the voices are increasing every day

Hence, what they did ?

 They kidnapped, our very own , Ashwini Mishra aka A-list while he was  recording at his studio, and  coerced him to  to sing the ‘ VEDANTA ANTHEM “, they wanted to tell world that…… they will not take their defeat down and here are the lyrics—-

We are Vedanta, everywhere that we go,
Faking Happiness, you know how we roll,
We are Vedanta, everywhere that we go,
Faking Happiness, you know how we roll,
That’s right, this is the Vedanta anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them,
That’s right, this the Vedanta anthem,
All the corporate greedy people anthem,
That’s right, let’s go ahead and do this,
We thought we’d put our corporate greed to some music,
And tell you exactly where we come from,
Come on man, this is not a protest, this not a dumb song,
You see we kidnapped A-List, he’s in the back,
So Vedanta rep could come here and rap,
And tell you the truth,
That is the youth,
That needs to understand this is so much more than booth,
SO,
Listen to this, let the world know,
Matter of fact, for the girls though,
Let’s really talk about ‘coz the world dies,
When we build a mine, but we do the girl child,
We do a program for them on NDTV,
And now look, all these emcees be free,
But they never really talk about what we do,
“Coz corporate sponsorship taken, BOOM!
Now what you gonna do, what you gonna say,
‘Coz we do this like every single day,
Exploiting poor people like it is fun,
Actually it is when that shit has done

This is Vedanta and this is our anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them,
This is Vedanta and this is our anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them

That’s right, ain’t this a crazy world,
We are evil but we got Desi Girl,
That’s right, we got Priyanka Chopra to endorse us,
Now we got all kinds of endorsements,
All sorts of people saying that it’s cool,
What they did in the past, but they sent kids to school,
But hear the truth, we didn’t send anyone though,
That’s right, and that’s how we get through the flow,
That’s right, yo, this is such a crappy fest,
We make an art form out of  faking happiness,
And that’s us, that’s the Vedanta anthem,
All the corporate greedy people chant them,
And yo, you know Niyamgiri’s ill,
And we will come back, we will take Niyamgiri Hill,
And all the tribal people who had opposed us,
Come on man, you had proposed us
To be gone, but we will be back,
And when we come, we will come, we will be wrath,
We will buy over the police and the army,
That’s right, I’m rich, tell me who’ll harm me,

Vedanta Signing Out.


SO WHATS THE BACKGROUND OF VEDANTA AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE BOTHERED ?

BACKGROUND

Niyamgiri hills, home to 8,000-odd Dongria Kondhs, tribal group, a few hundred Kutia Kondhs and other forest-dwellers who eke out a living cultivating pulses, paddy and collecting naturally-grown horticultural crops, is considered sacred by the indigenous tribes and others as it is the abode of Niyamraja – their presiding deity.

Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had rejected (Stage-II /final approval) Forest Clearance on 24.8.2010 for the Bauxite mining on the basis of issues outlined by the Forest Advisory Committee which stated that ‘the Primitive Tribal Groups were not consulted in the process of seeking project clearance and also noticed the violation of the provisions of Forest Rights Act, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and also the impact on ecological and biodiversity values of the Niyamgiri hills upon which the Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kondh depend’ and the detailed report of Naresh Sexana Committee specially appointed to look into the issue. This MoEF Order was challenged in a petition at the Supreme Court of India by Orissa Mining Corporation.

The Supreme Court of India had decided on 18 April 2013 that if Bauxite Mining Project of Vedanta affects the religious right of Schedule Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers like Dongaria Kondh, Kutia Kandha and others over the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha ‘right has to be preserved and protected’. The Court has left it to the Gram Sabhas to decide if such right is affected by the proposed mine.cts.

In India  first time an environmental referendum was conducted on a directive by the Supreme Court to find out whether mining in Niyamgiri will tantamount to an infringement of the religious, cultural, community and individual rights of local forest-dwellers. During July-August this year, 12 gram sabhas, selected by the Odisha government for the referendum on mining in Niyamgiri hills, had rejected the proposal. The tribal villages, located on the hill slopes, are part of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts.

image

1.   The first  village council  was held at Serakpadi village of Raygada district.  In the sabha 36 out of 38 voters in the first Palli Sabha in Niyamgiri have voted against mining in Niyamgiri.

2.T he second, three hour long ,  village council meeting at Kesarpadi in Rayagada district-, in which -Thirty-three of 36 eligible voters , including all 23 women, voted against bauxite mining……At the three-hour-long sabha, 33 of 36 adult voters from Kesarpadi  unanimously adopted a resolution as per the Forest Rights Act, conveying their opposition to mining in the Niyamgiri hills.

3  The third village council meeting was held in a non -tribal forest hamlet of Tadijhola, which is imporant note also  unanimously rejected proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills t.Nineteen of the 22 voters in the village were present  including eighty-seven year old Sugri Gouda. Hard of hearing and barely able to stand on her own, she insisted on signing the resolution before leaving the meeting venue. Three bare words she uttered drew a cheer from those present: “Niyamgiri dibu nai” (won’t give up Niyamgiri). Gauda was the also most sought after by media, with a slew of video cameras following her fragile steps as a family member walked her home.

4.  The villagers of Kunakeda, a Dongaria Kondh village in Kalahandi district, today unanimously rejected the proposal for mining in Niyamgir..All 21 out of 22 voters, who attended the meeting, voiced their opposition to Vedanta .

5  The 5th village coucil meeting w s held at Palberi, where .Fifteen of the 16 adult voters from the forest village were in attendance. and voted out vedanta.

 

6 The sixth Pali sabha , Batudi rejected settlement of community forest claims in Niyamgiri ,  31 among 40 voters from the hamlet in attendance, also rejected a joint verification report to settle community and religious rights to the forests granted under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

7  The seventh village council , Phuldumer – again voted unanimously to reject Vedanta’s mine.—49 of the 65 listed voters were present to voice their opinion, in the meeting.

8  Ijurupa  village council meeting was a CLASSIC ,  where there is just a famiily, and the  four  members of te family nailed down a 72 MT mining proposalvillage in Kalahandi district, Odisha

9   At Lamba ninth pallisabha ,Braving intermittent rain, the 38 voters in the remote village, ousted Vedanta

10.The largest village council fo 12 villages , Lakhpadar village under Kalyansinghpur of Rayagada district located on the slopes of Niyamgiri, the 97 Dongaria Kondhs present in the pallisabha unanimously rejected the proposal to mine the hills for bauxite.

11. Khambasi village in Rayagada district , was the  the eleventh palli sabha , which  also unanimously opposed Vedanta

12-   On August 19th In Jerapa, 16 out of 26 voters, including 10 women, gathered at the final Palli Sabha on Niyamgiri. Under heavy police presence, and in heavy rain, they repeated the statements given in previous meetings – that they opposed the mine and would not leave the mountain no matter what. The twelve voters said they were ready to face bullets to prevent the digging of their sacred mountain.

On August 19th, NDTV and VEDANTA LAUNCHED the ‘ our girls our pride’ campaign. Coincidence ?

 

While our friends at  FOIL VEDANTA protested on the streets of london , On August 1st at the AGM  of Vedanta , When asked about Lanjigarh refinery and the scandal that is the attempted Niyamgiri mine, Anil Aggarwal ,  responded with a dreamy speech about believing that Niyamgiri was meant for Vedanta. he talked about hearing about Kalahandi as a child – a ‘black spot’ on India, and its ‘poorest poorest place’, and how he’d always wanted to do something about it. He said:

“We took courage to go there, no road even or bridge, it was all isolated, we created infrastructure, 7000 got work, not a blade of grass was moved in Niyamgiri .”

DOWNLOAD FULL PROCEEDINGS HERE

 

JOIN US – FAKING HAPPINESS

 

 

 

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UK Tells Sikh Delegation It Will Ask India To Commute Bhullar’s Death Sentence

LONDON – A British foreign office minister on Tuesday told Sikhs that UK will ask India to drop the death penalty against Davinderpal Singh Bhullar.

Hugo Swire — Britain’s minister for India in the foreign office — met Sikh representatives with Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon and discussed the case of Bhullar whose appeal for his death sentence to be commuted was rejected by India’s Supreme Court on April 12.

They said, “If India executes Bhullar it will signal to the world that it is backward and prepared to eliminate all Sikh prisoners.”

Swire told the delegation that UK was against the death penalty in all circumstances. Swire said UK will monitor the case of Bhullar closely “as we will in all cases where the death penalty has been given as a sentence”.

He further said that UK will call on the Indian government

 

Open Letter

Open Letter to the President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Indian Home Minister, Mr Sushilkumar Shinde, and the President of the Indian National Congress party, Mrs Sonia Gandhi

In the matter of the immediate risk of execution of Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (“BHRC”) writes concerning the recent rejection by the Indian Government of the application for mercy plea by Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. We urge the Government to stay the execution of Professor Bhullar and commute the sentence of capital punishment.

Professor Bhullar was convicted in 1993 of involvement in the bombing of the All Indian Youth Congress in New Delhi, where 9 people died and 36 people were wounded. Having been deported from Germany in 1995 -a decision later controverted- he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 2001. The offences were drawn under the now repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1985 (“TADA”). TADA was widely criticised for contravening India’s Constitution and international human rights law.

The charges against Professor Bhullar now are widely considered to be unsubstantiated; the evidence relied upon has been fundamentally discredited.

Specifically, the conviction was based solely upon his uncorroborated – and later retracted – “confession”. There was compelling evidence that the “confession” had been obtained both without access to a lawyer and following ill treatment amounting to torture. In such circumstances, the confession evidence is unreliable and unsafe.

Also, there was a complete failure by the prosecution to corroborate the “confession”. Although one hundred and thirty three witnesses were relied upon by the prosecution, not one of those witnesses actually identified Professor Bhullar. On the contrary, many expressly stated that the man seen at the scene was not Professor Bhullar.

Of further substantial concern is a report that the Public Prosecutor, who prosecuted this case during the Supreme Court appeal in 2002, has described the sentence and the subsequent imposition of the death penalty, as a ‘judicial error’.

On 12 April 2013, Professor Bhullar’s judicial review of his failed clemency petition to the President of India was dismissed by the Supreme Court of India. Subsequently, Professor Bhullar’s wife petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay in execution. This was rejected. Professor Bhullar now faces imminent execution.

The breaches of due process in Professor Bhullar’s case are fundamental and serious and so his continued detention is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). TADA, under which he was tried, convicted and sentenced, is incompatible with international human rights laws and conventions, particularly Articles 7, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 14 and 26 of the ICCPR. The trial proceedings themselves were in breach of the right to fair trial safeguards under international law and the few protections under TADA were not applied.

Further, it is of considerable note that the Supreme Court was spilt in its findings. Significantly, the Presiding Judge took the decision that Professor Bhullar’s conviction should be quashed on the ground of the unreliability of the “confession”.

It is normal procedure in capital cases in India that where there is a dissenting judgment the sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. Such a procedure is just and fair where a court is ruling on whether a person should lose his life. We have no information as to why this did not occur in this case.

A pressing factor, which urgently must be realised, is Professor Bhullar’s mental health. It has deteriorated since 1995 and, recently, he was diagnosed by a medical board, constituted by the Delhi government as suffering from mental illness. Other reports have described him as being psychotic, delusional and unable to make sense of his surroundings, suffering from hallucinations and severe depression. Professor Bhullar is entitled to instruct his own appropriately qualified medical expert and we urge the Government to allow this action. Until now, the justice system appears to have failed in adequately considering Professor Bhullar’s mental health. Belatedly, it appears to be recognising its importance.

Professor Bhullar’s mental health fundamentally impacts not only upon the lawfulness of upholding the death sentence but also upon his continued detention. Turning to Indian regulations, even the Tihar Jail manual states that a mentally ill person should not be executed. International law is clear that a person with Professor Bhullar’s mental state should not be sentenced to death. In 2005, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged all states that maintain the death penalty “not to impose the death penalty on a person suffering from any mental or intellectual disabilities or to execute any such person”.

The above facts – even in short form – demonstrate that there were serious procedural and evidential flaws in the trial. In any event, irrespective of whether the conviction is unsafe, the execution of an individual who is mentally unwell and incognisant of his own situation is contrary to international law. It amounts to cruel and inhumane treatment. It is unarguable that this case falls into the category of “the rarest of the rare”. Further, humanitarian grounds alone dictate that the death sentence should be, at the very least, commuted.

The BHRC urgently requests the President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Indian Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, and the President of the Indian National Congress party, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to make the necessary representations and subsequent order to stay this execution.

We respect that India is a rich source of impressive and just human rights jurisprudence. We hope that this is not simply legal history and urge that the opportunity to continue this legacy is taken in Professor Bhullar’s case.

Kirsty Brimelow QC
Chairwoman,
Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC)

source- http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/

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London -Vedanta AGM disrupted by worldwide protests again! #Kudos

1st August 2013. Foil Vedanta’s report with pictures:

An inflatable monster representing Vedanta with the subsidiaries as snake like heads

Today protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organizations held a loud carnival demonstration at the AGM of controversial FTSE 100 mining company Vedanta at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square London. A parallel demo was held in Johannesburg. Yesterday in Delhi almost a hundred people braved rains to raise their protest at Odisha Bhawan. Meanwhile, the majority of tribal village meetings given legal power by the Supreme Court of India have unanimously voted against Vedanta’s flagship Niyamgiri mine.

 

Please see the video here, pictures here, and details of coverage of the demo’s in South Africa, Delhi and London below.

Vedanta’s London AGM was again disrupted today by protesters from Foil Vedanta and other organisations who raised a number of human rights concerns. Chanting and singing was continuous throughout the two hour protest and could be heard inside the AGM. Protesters held placards painted with defiant anti-company quotes from the Dongria Kond tribe in Odisha, India, where the company has been trying to mine illegally for ten years, and has now been stopped. Another group performed street theatre holding a giant inflatable monster with Vedanta Resources painted on it, and snake like heads bearing the names of Vedanta’s subsidiaries. Some Sri Lankan protesters played Parai drums (a Tamil drum of revolution) outside the Mayfair venue. Vedanta subsidiary Cairn India is drilling in the fragile Mannar basin off Sri Lanka. At the peak of the protests a sit in was staged as the Vedanta monster was used to block the road.

 

Arundhati Roy speaks to a crowd at Odisha Bhawan

Protesters in Delhi yesterday sang, chanted and heardspeeches from famed writer Arundhati Roy. The protest was timed to coincide with Vedanta’s London AGM and was organised in association Foil Vedanta. It received wide press coverage. This is an excerpt from the statement Arundhati Roy gave to Foil Vedanta:

 

‘We must demand that the Vedanta refinery is dismantled, the land restored to the people, and reparations paid. And that the security forces are withdrawn and the people who are in jail released. There are reports that Vedanta is trying to transfer its 13.5 billion dollar debt to its proposed Indian subsidiary Sesa-Sterlite. This might be an effort to leave public financial institutes in India holding the can.’ (The full statement can be found at the end of this report)

Meanwhile in Panaji, Goa, a group of ‘clowns’ staged a satirical performance outside the offices of Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa asking them to please cause more mine waste floods, health problems and environmental damage – which they have been accused of.

 

 

The protesters in London and India celebrated the victory of the Dongria Kond over Vedanta.In April the Supreme Court of India gave a precedent final verdict that the ultimate decision on the contentious Niyamgiri mine should be taken by village meetings (palli sabhas) held on the mountain. On Monday the majority vote was in, as the seventh of twelve meetings registered an unanimous NO to the project. To date eight palli sabhas have been held and each one has unanimously voted against the project. Commentators are suggesting the mine will now be cancelled, losing Vedanta a $7 billion investment.

Societe Generale’s analysts report states:

 

‘Niyamgiri bauxite reserves in the state of Odisha were central to Vedanta’s aggressive expansion plans in aluminium. We think Vedanta’s management was overly confident and committed too much capital without getting all the relevant clearances in this case.

 

…As the environmental clearance (in Niyamgiri) has not happened, and we do not see it coming any time soon, an investment of close to $7bn is generating close to 0 EBIDTA.’

The fiery speeches given by the tribal community, and quoted at today’s AGM, have been reported daily in India’s national papers, in what has now become a major national issue(6). From Odisha, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti’s Lingaraj Azad said:

Vedanta has built its refinery at Lanjigarh without environmental and forest clearances, and expanded from 1 to 6 million tonnes, encroaching on reserves forest land and violating a multitude of laws. It has told so many lies to the Supreme Court. Now that the people’s verdict has given a clear NO to the Niyamgiri mine the refinery should be dismantled and closed for good.

From Lanjigarh to London the people’s battle has been won!”

 

Protesters in Johannesburg

In Johannesburg a picket by Earthlife Africa protested a coal fired power station planned by Vedanta Zinc. Their press release states:

In Johannesburg, Earthlife Africa held a picket at Anglo American’s headquarters. The demonstration was carried out in solidarity with the demonstration in London: there, Foil Vedanta and supporters voiced their disapproval about Vedanta’s inhumane business practices during Vedanta’s annual general meeting.

Today, we protest in solidarity with anti-Vedanta activists all over the world,” states Lerato Maregele, Education and Youth Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg.

“For us, this picket is part of a series of protests that will continue until Anglo stops hurting this country and the world. As Anglo American and Vedanta want to build yet another climate killer, we confront Anglo with their poor energy choice.”

 

Inside the AGM dissident shareholders disrupted the meeting by asking questions on Vedanta’s environmental and human rights record. The protests highlighted controversies and violations caused by Vedanta since their last AGM, including:

 

  • * The major toxic gas leak which killed one, and hospitalised hundreds at their subsidiary Sterlite’s copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, India in March.
  • * Fly ash dumping and pollution at Vedanta’s Jharsuguda Aluminium complex in Odisha, India.
  • * Ongoing health impacts and pollution at Vedanta’s MALCO plant, Mettur, Tamil Nadu (See full quote on this at the end of this report).
  • * The seven tax havens where Vedanta keeps it’s profit, making it one of the mining companies with the highest percentage of profit in tax havens.
  • Vedanta’s major planned restructuring, which will transfer it’s loss making and high debt subsidiaries into Indian entities, making the Indian government potentially liable for Vedanta’s $13.5 billion toxic debt.
  • Protests at Vedanta’s Zambian subsidiary – Konkola Copper Mines – over workforce conditions.

 

Foil Vedanta again called for the company to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange, a move supported by a number of MPs and financiers(9)7

 

 

Miriam Rose from Foil Vedanta said:

This year we brought the defiant voice of the Dongria Kond to London, as they unanimously reject Vedanta’s illegal attempts to mine their sacred mountain. Vedanta thinks it can hide from it’s atrocities here in London. We brought the evidence to the AGM to show investors and the public Vedanta’s consistent pattern of violating laws and human rights with relative impunity.

We demand that Vedanta is formally investigated by the FCA and de-listed from the London Stock Exchange in recognition of it’s proven abuses of law and Human Rights.”

Press coverage:

London:

Please see the video here

Please see excellent pics of the demo from Peter Marshall at demotix here, and from Sam Hardy here. More pictures can also be found below.

Times of India – Activists plan protest at Vedanta’s London meet tomorrow

First Post – London: Activists protest outside Vedanta AGM over Niyamgiri

Press Trust of India – Activists hold protest outside Vedanta AGM over Niyamgiri

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