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Archives for : Taliban

Senior Pakistani TV journalist Hamid Mir shot at in Karachi #WTFnews

World | Press Trust of India | Updated: April 19, 2014 19:31 IST

 
Karachi Senior Pakistani TV journalist Hamid Mir, who faced threats from Taliban and other terror groups, was today shot at in Karachi by four unidentified motorcycle-borne gunmen near a bridge on way to his office.

Mir, 47, sustained bullet injuries after he was shot at near Natha Khan bridge soon after he left the Karachi airport for his office, initial reports said.

GeoTV reported that Mir, who has security guards with him, called up office to inform them of the attack on him. He was rushed to a hospital in a private car.

Four gunmen riding two motorcycles opened fire on Mir’s car about six kilometres from the airport, GeoTV said.

Dawn reported that the gunmen opened fire at the vehicle at 5:30 pm and Mir was admitted to hospital in a state of unconsciousness.

Geo News Islamabad bureau chief, Rana Jawad said Mir told him after being attacked that the gunmen were following him and continued to fire at the car.

A popular news anchor, terrorism expert, and security analyst, Mir currently hosts political talk show Capital Talk on Geo TV.

In November 2012, a bomb was recovered from under his car which was believed to have been planted by the Pakistani Taliban.

Just last month, senior analyst Raza Rumi was shot at in Lahore that killed his driver.

The issue of security of media personnel was raised by Committee to Protect Journalists, a media advocacy group, during a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month.

The Prime Minister had promised to take appropriate steps to ensure security of journalists in Pakistan

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Indian hunts for Facebook lover in Pak, vanishes in Taliban land

,TNN | Feb 25, 2014, 05.09 AM IST

Indian hunts for Facebook lover in Pak, vanishes in Taliban land
Fifteen months ago Hamid Nehal Ansari, a graduate from Mumbai, took a flight to Kabul and sneaked into Pakistan to meet a girl he had met on the internet and fallen in love with.
NEW DELHI: Fifteen months ago, a 26-year-old management graduate from Mumbai set off on a journey few would ever contemplate. Hamid Nehal Ansari took a flight to Kabul and sneaked into Pakistan to meet a girl he had met on the internet and fallen in love with.After reaching Kabul on November 4, 2012, Ansari illegally crossed into the wilds of north-west Pakistan to meet his soul mate who had informed him that her family was in the process of fixing a match for her — the trigger for Hamid’s courageous, if risky, adventure.

On Monday, the Supreme Court could offer little succour to Ansari’s mother Fauzia, who had moved the court seeking a direction to the Centre to pursue the case of her son with the Pakistani government after he vanished in Taliban territory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Hamid was last traced to Pakistan’s Kohat region where he stayed with a journalist working for an Urdu daily after crossing the border around November 10. Indian high commission officials in Pakistan have been unable to trace him thereafter.

After the young man virtually vanished into thin air, his relatives discovered from Facebook posts that he had used the ruse of a job interview in Kabul for a pre-planned journey to meet the girl whom he had met and wooed on the social networking site.

Fauzia’s worries grew as she learnt that Kohat was not too far from Taliban-dominated Waziristan area. She moved the Supreme Court in November 2013 for a direction to the Union government to trace her son and ensure his safe return to India.

She had complained to a bench of Justices Chandramauli Kumar Prasad and Pinaki Chandra Ghose that her letters to the Pakistani government had gone unacknowledged and the stock reply of the Indian high commission was that they were trying to elicit information on Hamid’s whereabouts from Islamabad.

She was worried that like many Indians who had crossed into Pakistan without valid papers, Hamid could have been arrested and lodged in a prison by the authorities there. The stories about inhuman treatment meted out to Indian prisoners were reflected in her nervous petition.

The bench ordered that a copy of Fauzia’s petition be served on additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, who in turn informed the court on the last two occasions that the Indian government was trying its best through diplomatic channels to elicit information about Hamid’s whereabouts in Pakistan.

On Monday, advocate Abhinav Mukherjee told the bench of Prasad and Ghose that Hamid had gone through Rotary Club for a cultural exchange programme in Afghanistan on November 4, 2012. He allegedly crossed over to Pakistan’s Kohat region on November 10 through an illegal route and stayed there with a friend, a journalist with Urdu daily ‘Dastak’.

The journalist confirmed to the Indian high commission that Hamid indeed stayed with him for two days and had talked about his friendship with the girl in Kohat. It also transpired that Pakistani security agencies reportedly apprehended Hamid, but the trail went cold thereafter.

Satisfied with the government’s prolonged efforts to trace Hamid, the bench disposed of Fauzia’s petition to send back the mother empty-handed. The bench said given the facts and circumstances of the case, there was little the government and even less the court could do.

Read morehere — http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-hunts-for-Facebook-lover-in-Pak-vanishes-in-Taliban-land/articleshow/30967546.cms

 

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Open letter to all Speakers at #THiNK2013, Goa, actually the #STiNK2013

bloodhands
Dear Speaker 
We understand that you are scheduled to speak at the ‘Think ‘13 Festival’ being organized by Tehelka at the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa from 8th to 10th November 2013.
 
We bring to your kind attention the following brief facts regarding the said event:
 
  1. Most of the sponsors are alleged to be involved in major illegal activities such as illegal mining scams, telecom scam, Radiatapes, Sponsorship of Salwa Judum, environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous communities.
  2. The organizer of the event is collaborating with the illegal acts of these corporations. The refusal to expose illegal mining in Goa, in spite of having a story researched by one of their own journalists much before it became Public knowledge, amounts to covering up the illegal mining and allowing the wanton destruction (done by the same corporations who are sponsoring the event now).
  3. The venue is a construction in violation of CRZ laws.
  4. The event is for the very rich only, as is evident from the entry charges.
 
It is very clear that holding this event is only an attempt to create a clean image for the same corporations who are alleged to be involved in massive scams, environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous communities.
 
We therefore request you to kindly boycott the event, or, announce your disapproval of, or, non-association with, the tainted corporations and their anti-people acts.
 
Thanking you,
Members of the Goan Society, including John Fernandes, Benaulim; Zarina Da Cunha, Nuvem; Abhijit Prabhudesai, Curtorim; Sidharth Karapurkar, Navelim; Rony Dias, Cuncolim; Fr. Victor Ferrao, Rachol; Cassian Furtado, Varca and many others

 

 

 

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#India – Tehelka’s #THiNK2013 – The Unbearable Stench of Blood Money is #STiNK2013 #mustread

 

stink2

 

JOIN US WHEREIS THIS STINK FEST YAAR

STiNK2013 – The Unbearable Stench of Blood Money

 

When the fourth estate is peddled like real estate, when journalism and dirty business collude, and when Orwellian ‘doublethink’ becomes the way of the scribes; we can unhesitatingly conclude that the so-called fourth pillar of democracy has been reduced to smithereens, much like the other three pillars.

 

Since its first edition in 2011, the Tehelka ThinkFest has been seen as a severe blow to the codes of journalism. The first ThinkFest featured the benevolence of the most controversial names in the business world that year, Essar and Tata Steel, both corporations stuck neck deep in a quagmire of accusations, from being involved in mining scams, telecom scams, sponsorship of the Salwa Judum, Radiagate, environmental violations, illegal land grab, forced displacement and several other crimes. But it was no surprise as Tarun Tejpal, the top gun at Tehelka, had earlier been seen that year at the Jaipur Literature Festival defending the event’s sponsorship by criminal corporations like Shell and Rio Tinto; he had essentially argued for his own case. That Tehelka was not the going to organise seminars on rural issues in Jamia Milia auditoriums anymore. That they would now openly solicit endorsements from the very corporations they had exposed in their publications.

 

Shoma Chaudhury, the Managing Editor of Tehelka, in an interview defended Tehelka’s decision to rake in blood money, saying it was to tell stories of the poor. Since 2012, aside from its problematic coverage of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi’s cases, the publication seems to have cautiously veered from reporting any scams about Essar and other sponsors.  Even prior to the ThinkFest, the publication was totally mum on the 2010 medieval-era styled pillaging of villages in Odisha’s Kalinga Nagar, where Adivasi communities have been fighting Tata Steel with their lives. In the same NYTimes interview, Shoma mentions how Tehelka refused money from Vedanta, but many might be aware of how Tehelka had once carried a Vedanta press release in the guise of an article glorifying Vedanta’s CSR activities in Lanjigarh & Niyamgiri, attributing it to a reporter who personally claimed that he had not written it.

 

This year, the Think Fest has amongst its sponsors even more infamous corporations like the Narendra Modi-backed Adani group, land grabbers like DLF and late liquor baron Ponty Chaddha’s Wave. The Adani group is widely known for its illegal land grab for its illegal SEZ and port in Mundra, all facilitated by the Gujrat Govt. It is India’s largest coal importer, biggest private port operator and biggest thermal power producer (read one of India’s biggest polluter). The Modi government has allegedly alloted land to Adani at the rate of Re.1/- per sqm, at least a thousand times less than the market rates. In fact, a CAG report highlights that Adani gained more than Rs.70 crore when the Gujarat government-owned GPSC sold natural gas to it at rates much lower than what it had bought from the open market. Another CAG report says that Adani Power owed at least Rs. 240 cr as a fine to the Gujarat Govt but was officially fined a little more than Rs.79 cr.

 

After destroying more than a thousand hectares of coastal mangroves and being slapped with a Rs. 200 crore fine, Adani needs all the goodwill that events like ThinkFest can garner for it. After all, it is India’s most indebted company with a debt bill of at least Rs. 65,000 cr while its revenues stand at Rs. 47,000 cr.

 

The rise of Adani is closely linked to the rise of Narendra Modi in the post-riot situation. Modi needed big business to support him and Adani fulfilled that role. In return Adani was given a free run to devastate nature and society and rise from a mere Rs.3,300 cr company to a Rs. 47,000 cr company within a decade. With Modi’s blessings Adani has grown rapidly and made inroads across the nation and world. While its proposed coalfields in Australia are going to be one of the single largest producer of greenhouse gases, in Odisha, the company’s goons have been seen orchestrating attacks on activists like Prafulla Samantara, who are opposing the massive proposed coalfields in Angul. The infamous Tata port at Dhamra, which is devastating Olive Ridley nesting grounds, is slated to be taken over by Adani soon.

 

While one could get stuck on Adani, there’s a long list of logos that make up ThinkFest’s Patrons that need to be talked about. Essar, for instance, continues to be one of the chief patrons of the event. If this video from the first fest is anything to go by, Neena Tejpal herself admits that Essar and Tehelka essentially share the same values, at a time when the memory of Essar’s role in the telecom scam, in supporting the Salwa Judum, its illegal diversion of water from river Mahanadi and land grab in Jagatsingpur for a steel factory where displaced people are protesting, was fresh in our minds. Essar’s relationship with Modi, of course, reads out like a jaded Bollywood love story– with Shasi Ruia accompanying Namo on foreign tours to Switzerland and South Korea, making promises of undying investment at Vibrant Gujarat summits, falling out in the face of 8000 crore sales tax dues, being caught in a compromising position by the CAG and eventually making up.

 

Also on the red carpet of sponsors are JSW Steel, pulled up by both the Lokayukta and the CBI in connection with the Karnataka mining scam, causing a windfall Rs. 890 crore loss to the exchequer in resources, just as JSW wired a hefty thank-you in the form Rs 20 crore donation to Yedyurappa’s son’s trust for turning a blind eye to its excesses.

 

Iconic scammers DLF, whose large-scale land-grabbing stunts have even found mention in Tehelka, are presenting the John Pilger session, if only to add to the irony that the ThinkFest is the perfect example of the industrial-military-media complex that Pilger always endeavored to expose.

 

A session with Medha Patkar (quite a feat to get her to endorse an event sponsored by Coca Cola), Bianca Jagger and a former Maoist revolutionary is being presented by a defense equipment manufacturer, Pipavav, just as disarmament activist Binalakshmi Nepram is also a speaker at the event. Pipavav has just been awarded a 920 crore contract to build warships for the Indian coast guard.

 

Other sponsors include chronic polluters and cartelists United Phosphorous, who slapped a 25 crore defamation lawsuit against activist Rohit Prajapati for exposing pollution at their VAPI plant. United Phosphorous also leads the race in Mumbai’s garbage scam to process the city’s waste in its Deonar dump for a whopping cost of Rs. 26,000 crore, and displace those amongst its poorest who make their living from garbage.  To stir up some local angst, Goan mining companies also feature on the list of sponsors.

 

If that wasn’t enough to fill one up with disgust, the line-up of speakers is no less. Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, BJD MP often seen on TV defending Naveen Patnaik’s corporate resource grabbing, a high-flying mining and cable TV baron, is being heralded as “The Golden Boy…clearly a doer, a technocrat eager to set an example of good governance and efficiency”. This “‘accidental politician’ irritated by the inefficiencies of the country still beset by many of the problems of the ‘licence raj’” is no less than an Adani. His mining company, IMFA, availed of loan waiver from the amounting to over Rs. 2000 crore from the Naveen Patnaik government in 2007.

 

Then again, Panda hasn’t had a fraction of the good times that Vijay Mallaya has gotten away with. And yet here is, presented by Tehelka as ‘the Maverick Mogul’, his achievements listed as “bringing back to the country the sword of Tipu Sultan, Mahatma Gandhi’s eyeglasses” and “an annual calendar shoot with stunning models” (not necessarily in that order, but well, “it says as much about Mallya as the balance sheets do.”)

 

THiNK is a celebration where people like Nandan Nikelani, Vijay Mallya and Jay Panda will be promoted endlessly to the point that all their past misdeeds are pushed out of our consciousness into oblivion.

 

While a few names like Medha Patkar, Bianca Jagger and John Pilger on the guest list might make  Think seem like an honorable seminar to attend, just a little digging exposes it as a vulgar celebration of dirty blood money appropriating a journalistic organisation that was, until now, seen as a torchbearer of truth and progressive values.

 

It is understandable that there is no outcry from the general public, who might buy the general rhetoric of the sponsored bottomline. But for those in the know, those who’ve seen the truth behind the logos, who’ve resisted it in their own capacities, and who have yet chosen to actively engage with or ignore the goings-on on this rotten stage, it raises uncomfortable questions.

 

It signals an era where even vociferous dissenters believe that struggles cannot exist unless legitimised by the media, just as the avenues of getting an uncomfortable story covered are rapidly shrinking in the face of media corporatisation. It makes even the socially defiant among us afraid to call out this mainstream masquerade and risk the chance of never being invited to the ball.

As it trivialises and capitalises on the very pillars that it stands on, ThinkFest forces us all to do a double-think on what kind of inconvenient truths and truth-tellers we can live with, as the lines blur.

 

 

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Indian diarist Sushmita Banerjee shot dead in Afghanistan #Taliban

Sushmita Banerjee
Ms Banerjee wrote a best-selling memoir about her life in Afghanistan
BBC
An Indian woman, who wrote a popular memoir about her escape from the Taliban, has been shot dead in Afghanistan by suspected militants, police say.

Sushmita Banerjee, who was married to an Afghan businessman, was killed outside her home in Paktika province.

The book about her dramatic escape in 1995 became a best-seller in India and was made into a Bollywood film in 2003.

Ms Banerjee had recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband.

A senior police official told the BBC’s Jafar Haand that Ms Banerjee, who was also known as Sayed Kamala, was working as a health worker in the province and had been filming the lives of local women as part of her work.

Police said Taliban militants arrived at her home in the provincial capital, Kharana, tied up her husband and other members of the family, took Ms Banerjee out and shot her. They dumped her body near a religious school, police added.

The Taliban have told the BBC they did not carry out the attack on Ms Banerjee.

‘Taliban interrogation’
Ms Banerjee, 49, became well-known in India for her memoir, A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife, which recounted her life in Afghanistan with her husband Jaanbaz Khan and her escape.

She was the subject of the 2003 Bollywood film, Escape From Taliban.

Starring actress Manisha Koirala, the film described itself as a “story of a woman who dares [the] Taliban”.

Ms Banerjee also told her story in an article she wrote for Outlook magazine in 1998. She went to Afghanistan in 1989 after marrying Mr Khan, whom she met in Calcutta.

She wrote that “life was tolerable until the Taliban crackdown in 1993” when the militants ordered her to close a dispensary she was running from her house and “branded me a woman of poor morals”.

She wrote that she escaped “sometime in early 1994”, but her brothers-in-law tracked her down in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where she had arrived to seek assistance from the Indian embassy. They took her back to Afghanistan.

“They promised to send me back to India. But they did not keep their promise. Instead, they kept me under house arrest and branded me an immoral woman. The Taliban threatened to teach me a lesson. I knew I had to escape,” she wrote.

It was shortly after that, she wrote, that she tried to escape from her husband’s home, three hours from the capital, Kabul.

“One night, I made a tunnel through the mud walls of the house and fled. Close to Kabul, I was arrested. A 15-member group of the Taliban interrogated me. Many of them said that since I had fled my husband’s home, I should be executed. However, I was able to convince them that since I was an Indian, I had every right to go back to my country,” Ms Banerjee wrote.

“The interrogation continued through the night. The next morning, I was taken to the Indian embassy from where I was given a safe passage. Back in Calcutta, I was re-united with my husband. I don’t think he will ever be able to go back to his family.”

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Taliban-style edict for women spreads alarm in Afghan district #Vaw

An Afghan woman is reflected in a mirror as she walks in Kabul February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

By Rob Taylor and Folad Hamdard

KABUL/DEH SALAH, Afghanistan | Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:44am EDT

(Reuters) – One of Afghan President Hamid Karzai‘s main religious advisers will not overturn a decree issued by clerics in the north reimposing Taliban-style curbs on women, in another sign of returning conservatism as NATO forces leave the country.

Just days after the United States launched a $200 million program to boost the role of women in Afghanistan, a senior member of the country’s top religious leaders’ panel said he would not intervene over a draconian edict issued by clerics in the Deh Salah region of Baghlan province.

Deh Salah, near Panshir, was a bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment prior to the ousting of the austere Islamist government by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001.

But the eight article decree, issued late in June, bars women from leaving home without a male relative, while shutting cosmetic shops on the pretext they were being used for prostitution – an accusation residents and police reject.

“There is no way these shops could have stayed open. Shops are forbusiness, not adultery,” Enayatullah Baligh, a member of the top religious panel, the Ulema Council, and an adviser to the president, told Reuters late on Friday.

Residents of Deh Salah described the order as a “fatwa”, or religious edict, although only senior clerics in Kabul should issue such a binding religious order.

But underscoring opposition to the edict, a mayor was shot dead by a teenaged shop owner while trying to enforce the order, which also barred women from clinics without a male escort, threatening unspecified “punishments” if they disobeyed.

Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates and more than a decade after the U.S.-backed toppling of the Taliban, it still ranks as one of the worst nations to be born a girl.

Under Taliban rule from 1996 until 2001, women were forced to wear the head-to-toe covering burqa and sometimes had fingers cut off for wearing nail varnish.

The decree, signed by a conservative cleric in the area named Zmarai, contained a warning of holy war if authorities tried to block it: “If officials do react to our demands, we will start a jihad.”

There is growing fear among many people in Afghanistan that the withdrawal of NATO-led forces and efforts to reach a political agreement with the Taliban to end the 12-year-old war could undermine hard-won freedoms for women.

“LIKE THE TALIBAN AGAIN”

In the deeply conservative, male-dominated country where religion often holds more sway than legal authority, religious leaders have often been a major barrier to women obtaining the rights granted to them under the constitution.

In Deh Salah, home to about 80,000 people, most of them ethnic Tajiks rather that the majority Pashtuns, the main community from which the Taliban draw support, a cosmetic shop owner named Abdullah stood before his business – now hidden behind plywood sheeting – and said clerics were increasingly flexing their muscles.

“They want to bring back the Taliban days. If they have their way they will take control in this district and make life impossible,” said Abdullah.

“We are poor people and they have closed me down. I want the government to take action or we are going to have mullahs running the place like the Taliban again,” he said.

Shah Agha Andarabi, a doctor, said the rumor of prostitution and adultery in Deh Salah was without foundation and was being used as an excuse by conservative clerics to crack down on women.

“There is nothing going on in these shops and I guarantee that. There was no proof. They just wanted to close these shops to women,” he said.

Deh Salah police commander Colonel Abdul Ahad Nabizada also rejected the claims underpinning the decree, but said the mayor who was shot while closing the shops had been frightened into action by the threat of jihad against him if he was deemed to be blocking the edict.

“Everyone here is Muslim. We haven’t seen any behavior like they claim in this small city. There were women coming to get their needs in the market and conservative people were against it,” said Nabizada.

U.S. aid officials this week announced a $200 million assistance package for Afghan women, to be matched by other international donors allied with the NATO-led coalition in the country, due to end combat operations by the end of next year.

Human rights and women’s groups have accused Karzai’s government of backtracking on pledges to protect women’s freedoms, highlighted by parliamentary opposition to a presidential decree outlawing violence against women.

The government also appointed a former Taliban official to the country’s new human rights body, while criminal laws under consideration in parliament would prevent women and girls testifying against family members accused of abusing them.

(Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Malala Yousafzai invokes Mahatma Gandhi in her UN speech

The poster by Amir Rizvi

 

United Nations: Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai, in her first public speech at the United Nations since being shot in the head by the Taliban, has said she is inspired by Mahatama Gandhi‘s path of non-violence.

Malala invoked Gandhi and other global advocates of non-violence stressing that, “I’m not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban, or any other terrorist group.”

“I’m here to speak about the right of education for every child,” Malala said, in an impassioned address to the UN Youth Assembly on Friday.
“I want education for the sons and daughters of all the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hands and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.”

“This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhiji, Badshah Khan and Mother Teresa,” the 16-year-old said.

Malala told the UN that she would not be silenced by terrorist threats.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world,” Malala said.

The UN celebrated the Pakistani schoolgirl’s 16th birthday on Friday as Malala Day with day-long programmes for youth, drawn from all over the world.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named her 16th birthday, ‘Malala Day’, in honour of her heroic stand to ensure education for all.

Ban welcomed Malala to the UN praising her courage and determination.

“Malala chose to mark her 16th birthday with the world,” Ban said, noting the strong support she has received from millions of people all over the world.

“Malala, you are not alone. We are all with you, standing behind you,” the UN Secretary General said.

The meeting, which featured nearly 1,000 youth leaders, was addressed by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, and Ahmad Alhendawi, the Special Envoy on Youth.

Malala became a global icon for girls’ education after being brutally attacked by Taliban militants while on her way to school in Swat valley on October 9, 2012.

Malala told the gathering that the Taliban’s attack nine months ago changed nothing in her life, except that “weakness, fear and hopelessness died.”
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” Malala said.

“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women,” she said.

Malala called for worldwide action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.

This call was delivered just as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s ‘Education for All Global Monitoring Report‘, launched a new policy paper spotlighting that globally, the number of children out of school has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011.

However, 28 million children out of school live in the world’s conflict zones, and more than half of those are women and girls.

“So here I stand,” Malala declared before the Assembly, “one girl among many. I speak, not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice, not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”.

Describing the terrible October 2012 incident that only strengthened her resolve, she said the Taliban shot her on the left side of her forehead.

“They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed,” she said, adding that the incident instead gave birth to “thousands of voices”.

“The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same,” the rights activist said.

Telling the Assembly that she was focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they were suffering the most, she called upon world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity.

“We call upon all governments to ensure free compulsory education for every child all over the world,” she said, also calling on governments to fight against terrorism and violence, to protect children from brutality and harm.

Ban reiterated the UN’s commitment to give access to quality education to every girl and boy through its Global Education First Initiative which has three priorities: to put every child in school; improve the quality of learning; and foster global citizenship.

“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn.

Together, we can change the picture,” he said.

Ban also encouraged the students gathered at the Youth Assembly, to continue to voice their concerns on issues that matter to them.

“I urge you to keep speaking out. Keep raising the pressure. Keep making a difference,” Ban said.

“You are sending a message, a message of hope and empowerment… a message of dignity and opportunity. All of you are on the frontlines,” he said.
President of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic underlined the urgency of providing access to education to every child, regardless of factors like geography, gender, disability, language, wealth and ethnicity, and called member states to act quickly to avoid further disparities in education levels.

He also stressed that the quality of education should be improved, providing young people with the necessary skills to succeed in the current world economy.

“School enrollment is nothing more than a necessary foundation upon which to build a 21st-century set of educational standards,” Jeremic said.

“Basic literacy should not be seen as an end in itself, but merely as a baseline tool for teaching cognition, mathematics, problem-solving, and creative thinking,” he said.

Opening the proceedings, Brown told the Youth Assembly: “You cannot say there is anything other than an education emergency that we need to solve.”

With that in mind, he hailed young people as “the new superpower in the world” with the capability to overcome all obstacles to access education.

On June 17, Brown launched a worldwide petition calling for urgent action to ensure the right of every child to safely to attend school. Malala was the first signatory and since then, more than one million people have signed the petition.

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Afghan MPs block divisive women’s rights law #WTFnews

Legislation was approved by President Karzai in 2009, but stalled by conservative MPs who deemed it un-Islamic.

Last Modified: 18 May 2013 14:27

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009, but it needs parliamentary approval [Reuters]
Afghanistan’s parliament has failed to pass a law banning violence against women, a severe blow to progress made in women’s rights since the Taliban was toppled over a decade ago.

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009 and parliament’s endorsement was required. But a rift between conservative and more secular members of the assembly resulted in debate being deferred to a later date.

Religious members objected to at least eight articles in the legislation, including keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16, the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims and the halving of the number of wives permitted to two.

“Today, the parliamentarians who oppose women’s development, women’s rights and the success of women…made their voices loud and clear,” Fawzia Koofi, head of parliament’s women’s commission, told Reuters on Saturday.

Women have won back the hard-fought right to education and work since the Taliban was toppled 12 years ago, but there are fears these freedoms could shrink once NATO-led forces leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Increasing insecurity is deterring some women from seeking work outside the home, and rights workers accuse the government of doing too little to protect women – allegations rejected by Karzai’s administration.

“2014 is coming, change is coming, and the future of women in this country is uncertain. A new president will come and if he doesn’t take women’s rights seriously he can change the decree,” Koofi said.

The election for a new president is expected to be held in April 2014. The constitution bars Karzai from running again.

‘Morally corrupt’

After almost two hours of clashes between Koofi and the more religious members of the 244-member parliament, speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the assembly would consider the law again at a later date, but declined to say when.

Some members sought amendments, such as longer prison terms for crimes committed against women, such as beating and rape.

Many legislators, most of them male, cited violations of Islamic law.

“It is wrong that a woman and man cannot marry off their child until she is 16,” said Obaidullah Barekzai, a member from southeast Uruzgan province, where female literacy rates are among the lowest in the country.

An Afghan man must be at least 18 years old to marry.

Barekzai argued against all age limits for women, citing historical figure Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad, who married off his daughter at age seven.

At least eight other legislators, mostly from the Ulema Council, a government-appointed body of clerics, joined him in decrying the law as un-Islamic.

Abdul Sattar Khawasi, member for Kapisa province, called women’s shelters “morally corrupt”. Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb last year dismissed them as houses of “prostitution and immorality”, provoking fierce condemnation from women’s groups.

 

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‘First’ Afghan female rapper seeks reason with rhymes #Womenrights #Vaw

By AFP
Published: January 3, 2013

Soosan Feroz practicing with Afghan pop musician Farid Rastagar at a recording studio in Kabul. PHOTO: AFP

Soosan Feroz  practicing with Afghan pop musician Farid Rastagar at a recording studio in Kabul. PHOTO: AFPSinger raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KABUL: Sporting a long leather coat and western jeans under a headscarf, Soosan Feroz looks like many modern women in Kabul.

But she is a surprising new phenomenon in this conservative country – the nation’s first female rapper.

Her lyrics though are not unfamiliar for many of her fellow countrywomen – she raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war in a country gripped by poverty.

“My raps are about the sufferings of women in my country, the pains of the war that we have endured and the atrocities of the war,” Feroz told AFP in an interview in the office of a local company that is helping her record her first album, between local performances including at the US embassy in Kabul.

Like most fellow Afghans, the 23-year-old says her life is filled with bitterness – memories of war, bombing and a life at refugee camps in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.

She was taken to Pakistan as a child by her parents and later to Iran, escaping a bloody civil war at home in 1990s.

Two years after the 2001 US-led invasion of her war-scarred nation that toppled the Taliban, the then-teenager returned home with her family.

She worked as a carpet weaver with her other siblings for a living until she discovered her new talent.

Told that rap and hip hop had become a way for many artists around the world to express daily hardships in their lives, Feroz says: “If rap singing is a way to tell your miseries, Afghans have a lot to say.

“That’s why I chose to be a rapper.”

She recalls her woes at Iranian refugee camps in her first recorded piece of music, “Our neighbours”, which has been posted on Youtube and viewed nearly 100,000 times:

“What happened to us in the neighbouring country?

“We became ‘the dirty Afghan’

“At their bakeries we were pushed at the back of the queue.”

The lyrics are borne from personal experience, Feroz said. “As a child when I was going to bring bread from our neighbourhood bakery, the Iranians would tell me, ‘go back, you dirty Afghan’.

“I would be the last one in the line to get my bread,” she said.

Millions of Afghans still live in Iran and Pakistan, which together hosted about seven million refugees after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Feroz was too young to remember the bloody battles of the 1980s between the Russian soldiers and freedom fighters known as mujahedin but her first song is full of war tales, with one line proclaiming: “We went to Europe for a better life (but) in refugee camps we rotted.”

Thousands of Afghans put their lives on the line every year to reach Europe through dangerous and illegal routes on land and sea. Those who make it often spend years in isolated refugee camps.

Afghan pop star Farid Rastagar has offered to help the young artist release an album, the first song of which will be released in January.

One of the songs is called “Naqisul Aql” which can be translated as “deficient-in-mind” – a common belief about women among Afghan men.

“In this rap, she sings about the miseries of the women in Afghanistan, about abuses and wrong beliefs that still exists about women,” Rastagar told AFP.

Afghan women have made some progress since the fall of the Taliban but many still suffer horrific abuse including so-called ‘honour killings” for percieved sexual disobedience.

Feroz, the daughter of a former civil servant and an illiterate housewife who remarkably let their daughter sing, has already made scores of enemies not only among conservatives but within her own family.

After releasing her first song on the internet, Feroz’s uncles and their families have shunned her, accusing her of bringing shame on them.

Others, mostly anonymous callers, have threatened to kill her.

“What’s my fault?” she asks. “I always receive phone calls from unknown men who say I’m a bad girl and they will kill me,” she says, her dark eyes welling with tears.

Sitting next to her is her father, Abdul Ghafaar Feroz, who says he prides himself on being her “personal secretary”.

“I’m not deterred,” Feroz said, her father nodding his head in agreement. “Somebody had to start this, I did and I don’t regret it and I will continue. I want to be the voice of women in my country.”

 

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Suspect’s sister apologizes for shooting of Malala

Rehana Haleem (left), who has apologised to Malala Yousafzai

Source: Independent | Andrew Buncombe

The sister of a man suspected of being involved in the shooting of the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai has apologised for the attack, saying her brother has brought shame upon the family.

In an interview with a television channel conducted in the Swat Valley, Rehana Haleem said that the teenager who had fought for the right of young girls to be educated was like a “sister” to her. Her brother, 23-year-old Attah Ullah Khan, is one of three people police have indicated they are looking for in connection with the attack.

“Please convey a message to Malala, that I apologise for what my brother did to her,” Ms Haleem told CNN. “He has brought shame on our family.”

The young woman added: “What he did was intolerable. Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible.”

Malala, 15, was shot on 9 October as she and her classmates were on their school bus in the Swat Valley, which was under the control of the Taliban between 2007-09. Gunmen leapt aboard and demanded that the youngsters identify Malala. Three girls were shot – two of her friends who suffered non-lethal injuries and Malala herself who was struck by a bullet that passed through skin on her head and lodged in her shoulder. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

Amid the subsequent outcry, the Taliban sought to justify its actions, saying Malala had engaged with Western elements. They also blamed the media for its “negative” coverage of the shooting.

Malala, who first came to public notice when at the age of 11 she wrote an anonymous diary for the BBC during the period the Taliban held control of the Swat Valley, was rushed to hospital where doctors operated to stabilise her and to remove the bullet. Once it became clear she would require extensive rehabilitation she was flown to Britain, where she is undergoing treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

It was reported this week that Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, spoke with officials at the hospital for an update on the teenager’s condition and was told she was gradually improving.

Ms Haleem told CNN that security forces searched the family home a day after the attack and that the family was detained. She was pregnant and was subsequently released but her husband and other relatives remain in custody. Speaking from Warhi Mast Malik Abad, a village on the outskirts of the city of Mingora, where the attack on Malala took place, she said she had little doubt that her brother was involved in the shooting.

“If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent,” she said. “His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?” Police said last month that they had arrested six men in connection with the shooting but were still searching for Mr Khan.

 

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