[sacw] SACW #1 | 19 Jan. 03
Sun, 19 Jan 2003 04:00:00 +0100
South Asia Citizens Wire #1 | 19 January 2003
#1. 500 protest in Lahore against war on Iraq (Luke Fomiatti and=20
[Also a BBC report on protests in Pakistan]
#2. UK: 'Community Perceptions of Forced Marriage' (Yunas Samad and John Ea=
#3. UK: Freedom to choose may have cost bride her life (Jeevan Vasagar)
#4. India: Murderer scream pierces Modi hardsell
- You have blood on your hands, [Jairus Banaji] tells chief minister=20
at CII venue
- Modi gets earful at CII function.
#5. Hindu nationalists tap immigrant guilt in U.S (Gaiutra Bahadur)
18 January 2003
500 protest in Lahore against war on Iraq
by Luke Fomiatti and Tamara Pearson
Pakistan - The Anti-War Committee-Pakistan, a coalition of 27 NGOs,
progressive political parties and activists including Labour Party=20
Workers Party, People's Party Shahid Bhutto, Mazdoor Kisan Party and Joint
Action Committee for People's Rights, organized the protest to coincide wit=
an International day of action against war. The intention was to march to t=
US consulate and present a petition opposing war on Iraq.
However, even after extensive negotiations with police, they were denied th=
right to march and allowed only a stationary rally. Chanting :Bush Bush Hus=
Hush" (Go away Bush) and waving placards with slogans such as 'operation
infinite lawlessness' and 'WTO' economic terrorists=92 the rally managed to=
about a block before being blocked by police.
Farooq Tariq, a member of the Anti-War Committee, called the protest a grea=
success. "Pakistan is known for anti-American demonstrations led by
fundamentalists, but these fundamentalists are not anti-imperialism=20
and they are not
for peace; they want more war with America. It is only the Left wing forces
that have consistently fought against American imperialism and today all th=
left parties are united in an Anti-war committee and we will show the real
alternative to the masses in fighting against imperialism."
A number of messages of solidarity were received from around the world
including ASAP (Australia), John Pilger (film maker), Asia Peace=20
(USA), UIT (Latin America) plus others.
John Pilger message to Pakistan
"I send my greetings to the Anti War Committee Pakistan. I can think of no
other country where campaigning against a barbaric attack on Iraq is more
important than Pakistan. Pakistan is at the centre of American war planning=
was part of the American attack on Afghanistan, and Washington will expect
Islamabad to support when it drops its cluster bombs on Iraq. I admire you
people immensely. We in the West don't need the courage that you people of
principle must have in your everyday political lives. I admire you=20
and I am honoured
to regard myself as one of your comrades. All power to you!"
MESSAGE OF SUPPORT TO ANTI-WAR PROTESTS AND SOLIDARITY TO IRAQI PEOPLE
The Asian Peace Alliance greets the (Pakistan peace coalition) on this day
of anti-war protest. We stand side by side with you in extending our
solidarity to the people of Iraq as they face another crisis that=20
promises to heighten
their already unimaginable suffering For there is already a war on Iraq. Th=
governments of the United States and Britain have consistently been waging =
war on its people since the end of the first Gulf war. Over the last 12
years, barbaric economic sanctions have claimed the lives of more than half=
million children, according to UNICEF. This means that 5-6000 children are
killed in Iraq every month, due to contaminated water, lack of medicines an=
malnutrition: the direct result of American attacks against water treatment
plants, sewage treatment plants, electrical generating plants, and=20
centers during the Gulf war, and the subsequent imposition of sanctions.
500,000 children. Every single one of them is a young life snuffed=20
out forever by
easily preventable causes. It is a human tragedy on a scale few of us can
How can we comprehend that the infant mortality rate in Iraq rose by 100%
between 1991 and 1995? That chronic malnutrition in Iraqi children under 5 =
up by 72% in the 6 years following the =91Gulf war=92? That Iraqis are now =
from diseases that were once easily treated in their country? Under the
noses of UN inspectors combing Iraq for =91evidence=92 of a weapons program=
real weapons of mass destruction, economic sanctions, continue to be deploy=
against the Iraqi people. It is also often forgotten by the media that a
military campaign has continued to be waged against Iraq by the US=20
and its allies
over the past 12 years. Almost completely hidden from international
scrutiny, US and British planes have continued to bomb Iraq an=20
average of 3-4 times
per week, killing hundreds in their enforcement of so-called 'no-fly zones'=
These no-fly zones blanket more than 60% of Iraq, 60% of a country over whi=
no plane can fly without prior approval from Washington.
The cost of reconstructing an economic infrastructure in Iraq is estimated
to begin at US$50-60 million. And while most Iraqis are forced to subsist u=
an average of US$130 a year, the US has continued to spend $1.4 billion
annually on further bombing their battered country. There is already a war =
Iraq. Any further military action by the US and Britain will only increase =
suffering of a people who have known only misery, violence, and tragedy for=
decade. Can the world watch, give its tacit consent, as the US and British
militaries pummel them even further? How can anyone support this war and st=
call themselves human?
In the name of humanity and peace, it is time to stop this war on the
innocent. There is no justification for a new military campaign, and=20
there must be
no new military campaign. We extend our strong solidarity to the efforts of
the (Anti-War Coalition in Pakistan) against the planned escalation of US a=
British violence on the people of Iraq. Similar efforts are being carried o=
throughout Asia and around the world. The collective strength of peace
loving people around the world can and will stop this insanity. It is=20
also time to
end the sanctions, time to let the people of Iraq enjoy their right to life
and security. Their suffering must end. We demand peace for the people of
Iraq, for the people of Asia, for the people of the world.
o o o
Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 12:14 GMT
Pakistanis in anti-war protest
Protesters argue US policy is short-sighted and unfair
By Paul Anderson, BBC correspondent in Islamabad
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
'Community Perceptions of Forced Marriage'
by Yunas Samad and John Eade
(12 November, 2002)
The report is available as a downloadable
pdf file (433k) on the following address:
This is an analytical report of the Community Liaison Unit (CLU),
'Community Perceptions of Forced Marriages'. The CLU is the section of
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that co-ordinates and repatriates
victims of forced marriages from outside the UK. This study is a follow
up on an earlier report that attempted to evaluate and establish the
extent of forced marriage among the minority ethnic population in the
UK. This report provides the context, explores the problems and the
perceptions of Pakistani and Bangladeshi community on forced marriages.
Therefore, this report represents a comprehensive and rigorous synthesis
of existing research evidence combined with primary data collected
specifically for the report.
Saturday January 18, 2003
Freedom to choose may have cost bride her life
Greater independence among young British Asians poses risk of=20
violence from brokers of arranged marriages
The large pile of shoes on the doorstep is the only sign of what=20
happened a week ago. At the family home of Sahda Bibi, the=20
21-year-old bride who was stabbed to death on her wedding day,=20
wellwishers arrive every few minutes, respectfully leaving their=20
footwear at the porch.
The lives of the predominantly Kashmiri Muslim families are as=20
closely inter-linked as the narrow terrace houses in this inner city=20
district of Birmingham.
Yet last Saturday violence erupted. The prime suspect for the crime,=20
Rafaquat Hussain, is Ms Bibi's first cousin.
Neighbours believe he became furious after Ms Bibi had rejected his=20
suggestion of a husband, a man from within his own immediate family.
They say that the young woman had refused to be compelled into=20
marriage against her wishes, instead choosing for herself, a choice=20
endorsed by her father, who told her: "You're a Brummie. As my=20
daughter, who you want to marry, you marry."
Within hours of the killing, Mr Hussain had fled the country, leaving=20
Ms Bibi's parents and brother to puzzle over the killing. They=20
believe Mr Hussain had been reconciled to the wedding.
Late last year, Ms Bibi, a dressmaker, told her family she had fallen=20
in love with Zafar Hussain, 28, a distant relative from Barnsley,=20
She won her family over to the decision. "My dad had a lot of=20
affection and love for her," said her brother, Sabreaz Khan.=20
"Anything she wanted to do was her choice."
But some members of her extended family were not so happy. In=20
particular, Rafaquat Hussain, 37, a businessman with three children,=20
is thought to have been furious and drove up from his home in=20
Camberley, Surrey, to remonstrate with her.
On Saturday morning, Ms Bibi had put on her jewellery and the gold=20
wedding gown she had made for herself when she was stabbed 14 times=20
in the head, neck and shoulders. Her groom was also attacked and=20
suffered leg injuries.
The case has drawn attention to forced marriages in British Asian=20
communities, and the threat of violence that sometimes accompanies=20
attempts to make young people marry against their wishes.
Yet it also illustrates the changing attitudes of an older Asian=20
generation, now increasingly prepared to accept that children born in=20
the west will often prefer to make their own choices.
Last year, around the same time that Ms Bibi revealed to her family=20
that she had fallen in love, the Foreign Office released the most=20
detailed study of forced marriages the government has ever undertaken.
It suggested that the practice was increasing because more young=20
people were reaching marriageable age in British Asian communities.
Narina Anwar, a young woman who was forced into marriage herself but=20
escaped and now works with the Foreign Office to help others, is not=20
sure whether such coercion is increasing.
"I don't know whether forced marriages are actually on the increase,=20
I think more people are coming out and standing up for themselves,=20
realising they are being forced into marriage," she said.
Some of the young women and men she has talked to were not even aware=20
that they had the right to choose a partner for themselves, believing=20
compulsion was the norm.
Ms Anwar, who grew up in Bolton, said those families where forced=20
marriage is most likely to occur are those who originate from rural=20
areas of the subcontinent and now live in deprived areas of Britain.
"My parents were from a rural background. It wasn't just that they=20
couldn't speak English. They couldn't read the Koran in a way that=20
they'd know what it meant - they didn't know about their own=20
When her parents attempted to force her and her two younger sisters=20
into marriage with three Pakistani villagers, it was accompanied by a=20
threat of violence.
"Nobody hit us, but there was a threat that we would be killed if we=20
tried to escape."
The acceptance of domestic violence came with a culture rooted in the=20
rural past of the subcontinent. But when she was in Pakistan, Ms=20
Anwar found that attitudes there were different.
"It has actually changed in rural culture in Pakistan.We lived in=20
that village for six months. I got the impression that to hit a woman=20
is totally wrong, but people here are still carrying the culture that=20
Over the last two years, West Midlands police officers have dealt=20
with around 50 cases of forced marriage.
Detective Inspector Gill Baker, who specialises in dealing with such=20
cases, warned that it was not just an issue for poorer families: "We=20
are aware of cases involving influential families. It is similar to=20
domestic violence. I don't think it's a working-class problem."
The police agree that there is increasing westernisation among young=20
Asians, but that does not necessarily mean forced marriage is likely=20
The Foreign Office study suggested that the main motive for families=20
to compel such matches was to impose their will on increasingly=20
independent young people.
"The elderly appear exasperated by their inability to enforce or=20
impose their decisions of marriage on young men and women," it said.=20
"They see marriage as the ultimate means in preventing young people=20
Pushing his two-year-old daughter in a pram down the street where Ms=20
Bibi lived, Sultan Mahmood was incredulous at the idea that he might=20
try to rule her future. "I wouldn't. There's no chance," he insisted.
"It's changed over the years. My father's generation, they were all=20
trying to put across the old idea of arranged marriage. The ones=20
brought up in this country are more into letting things progress as=20
For Ms Bibi's parents, her own happiness had been quite enough.=20
Greeting mourners at their home last week, her brother Mr Khan was=20
still struggling to understand why. "On the biggest day of anybody's=20
life ... it's the greatest loss."
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Murderer scream pierces Modi hardsell
- You have blood on your hands, activist tells chief minister at CII=20
venue to attract investments
Tarun Das with Narendra Modi at the meeting in Mumbai. (AFP)
Mumbai, Jan 18: Like Banquo's ghost, the Ghost of Godhra came here=20
today to haunt Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at a meeting with=20
corporate honchos when a human rights activist demanded to know why=20
the country's apex industry chamber - the Confederation of Indian=20
Industry (CII) - was feting a "murderer" and giving him a platform to=20
draw investments to what Modi calls India's Sunshine State.
The meeting organised by the CII was meant to be a renewal of a love=20
affair that had gone sour after the Godhra riots. As Tarun Das, CII's=20
general secretary, said: "Gujarat and CII's is an old prem (love=20
affair); we are delighted to renew that relationship."
The CII, the premier association of Indian industrialists, had=20
invited Modi to address a select group of senior CEOs and=20
industrialists on the business opportunities in Gujarat. The theme=20
for the meet: Gujarat - economic development and opportunity.
The organisers of the meeting had a nagging fear that the meeting=20
would be hijacked by human rights activists - and it kept them on=20
tenterhooks. If it happened at the Pravasi Sammelan in Delhi, it=20
could happen here, too.
Like a Bollywood star, Modi arrived 90 minutes late for his date with=20
the industrialists: he would see them on his terms and no longer=20
would he be cowed or apologetic before the smart set, especially=20
after the strong mandate he had received in the recent elections.=20
Last April, for instance, he had refused to come to a CII meeting in=20
Delhi and had sent former finance minister Suresh Mehta to argue his=20
At the April meeting, Mehta had got into a slanging match with Anu=20
Aga, chairperson of Pune-based engineering company Thermax Ltd, who=20
had heaped scorn and criticised the government. But now industry=20
could not ignore Modi - even Aga remained silent.
But not Jairus Banaji, an activist from Insaaniyat, a human rights=20
activist group. After Modi had trotted out his spiel about how=20
progressive Gujarat was and how he would convert "red tapism to a red=20
carpet", the floor was thrown open to questions.
Banaji managed to catch the eye of Jamshed Godrej, who was moderating=20
the event, and dropped the bombshell: "Why is this CII giving=20
credibility to a leader who has blood on his hands. There is no=20
justice in Gujarat. You have blood on your hands, Mr Modi."
Dumbfounded by the sudden turn of events, Godrej said this was not=20
the forum to ask these questions even as businessmen near the=20
activist tried to shout him down. As he was being pushed out of the=20
hall, Jairus fired the last salvo: "Is this democracy, Mr Modi?"
The chief minister finally regained his composure and directed the=20
volunteers not to push him out. "Unhein rehene deejeeye (let him=20
stay. He (Jairus) has to now listen to my answer. Five crore=20
Gujaratis have answered through the ballot. Even then, I am ready to=20
face any court hearing and, if found guilty, I am also willing to go=20
to the gallows," Modi said.
Realising that the event had been hijacked yet again by another human=20
rights activist, Modi said: "The media will trumpet this, more than=20
anything else that happened."
But there were industrialists at hand to try and retrieve the=20
situation. Anil Munibhai Naik, chief of Larsen & Toubro, mollified=20
the chief minister by saying there were events that took place, but=20
it was a "mere storm in the teacup".
Naik said there was more hype than substance in the bloody events in=20
Gujarat, while reminding the chief minister that his company had the=20
second largest investment in the state of Rs 6,000 crore.
The meeting was bristling with business barons and bankers: there was=20
Narottam Sekhsaria, the cement baron, Prashant Ruia of the Essar=20
group, P.P. Vora of IDBI, Aroon Purie, head of the India Today group=20
and Prabhu Chawla, the magazine's editor. Chintan Parikh of the=20
Ashima group, Pradip Madhavji, chairman of Thomas Cook, Nimesh=20
Kampani of JM Morgan Stanley and Maitreya Doshi of Premier=20
Automobiles were all waiting patiently to hear Modi.
"The portents were all bad, right from the start," a police official=20
For starters, Modi was late and the industrialists had to be kept=20
entertained till he came. The state government officials thought it=20
would be a good idea to show why the state was such a great=20
investment destination. However, the film projector conked out.
The fast-track elevators in the five-star hotel crawled as hotel=20
staff scrambled to scrape off the posters that had mysteriously=20
appeared on the hotel walls. They read: "Gujarat khamosh raheingen=20
toh kal sanaata chaiyegein (If Gujarat remains silent today, there=20
will be a deathly stillness tomorrow)."
When the chief minister finally made his appearance, the whole=20
assembly of businessmen rose to applaud him.
Soon after, all hell broke loose.
Jairus and Geeta Seshu - another activist - have been detained at the=20
police station till Modi leaves town, as a precautionary measure.
o o o
The Times of India
JANUARY 19, 2003
Modi gets earful at CII function
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
MUMBAI: Mumbai businesspersons were given a taste of spirited=20
activism on Saturday afternoon while they were being addressed by=20
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at a function organised by the=20
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
While the business community was listening raptly to Mr Modi's vision=20
for "Gujarat Unlimited" and his promises to make his state=20
industry-friendly, a group of anti-communalism activists, led by=20
[...] Oxford fellow Jairus Banaji, asked Mr Modi how he could talk of=20
corporate governance without offering justice to the thousands of=20
people who lost their lives in Gujarat last year.[...]
Posted on Fri, Jan. 17, 2003
Hindu nationalists tap immigrant guilt in U.S.
The "Hindutva" movement opposes India's secular
system. Its leaders are raising funds in America.
By Gaiutra Bahadur
Inquirer Staff Writer
Ten years ago, in a small town in north India, Ashok
Singhal spearheaded the destruction of a 16th-century
mosque, sparking the worst religious riots since the
country won independence.
His supporters tore down the Babri Masjid brick by
A week ago, in a basement in suburban New Jersey,
Singhal courted the hearts and pocketbooks of Hindu
immigrants to the United States.
This American visit and dozens before it, critics say,
are part of a campaign to tear down India's secular
political structure - not brick by brick, but dollar
The movement Singhal belongs to - Hindu nationalism,
or Hindutva - is rising in India. And some say it has
risen with the sometimes unwitting help of Indian
Americans who have contributed millions to charities
in their native country, particularly schools in
tribal areas that the Hindu right views as key to its
Singhal's visit coincided with the end of an
unprecedented government-sponsored conference in New
Delhi of prominent Indians living abroad. The country
is trying to tap into the guilt, nostalgia and
financial resources of its diaspora.
That strategy explains the unlikely spectacle of the
silver-haired leader of the World Hindu Council
holding forth in the basement of a Voorhees physician
last Friday night. Sixty people listened to a man one
called "a saint in street clothes."
Two police officers stood sentinel, since there are
some for whom Singhal, whose group has reshaped Indian
politics in the last decade, conjures Hitler more than
he does a saint.
The 77-year-old - an ally of Indian Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee - spoke of the ongoing effort to
build a temple over the ruins of the Babri mosque,
where Hindus believe the warrior god Ram was born.
"We need the Hindus to unite throughout the world,"
Singhal said in an interview, "... because there is a
cultural onslaught against the Hindus."
"People can understand more because of Sept. 11," he
said. "America has suffered the first onslaught by the
jihadis. We have been suffering this onslaught for the
last 1,000 years."
According to Human Rights Watch, Singhal's group
helped stoke religious riots in Gujurat state last
spring that claimed 2,000 lives, as well as attacks on
Christians in 1998 and 1999.
After Singhal's speech, his host, gynecologist Veena
Gandhi, made a pitch: "$365 a year for one school. A
dollar a day, for which we can't even buy a Coke in
New York. Talk to your friends. This is our debt to
our country where we were born."
Gandhi is a leader in the U.S. offshoot of the World
Hindu Council and a coordinator for a group devoted to
starting tribal schools, the Houston-based Ekal
Vidyalaya Foundation of USA.
Since the group began, Indians in the Northeast have
raised about $500,000 for 1,400 schools, most of it
from the Philadelphia region, said Sanjeev Jindal, a
coordinator and a Merck scientist from Lansdale.
He says the schools' main purpose is to combat
illiteracy. Critics say more is at stake.
"The schools... help to create a cadre of foot
soldiers to fight against the constructed enemies of
Hindutva, in this case Muslims and Christians," said
Smita Narula, a senior researcher at Human Rights
She said more tribal people took part in last year's
Gujurat riots than ever before in the state's history
of religious tensions - a fact viewed by many as a
sign of Hindutva's success in areas where Christian
missionaries once held sway.
Gandhi dismissed critics of the schools, saying, "They
find this an obstacle to the spreading of their own
She said the Hindutva agenda was not meant to exclude
Muslims, Christians, or other religious minorities:
"Hindus have always taken a beating because we are
supposed to forgive... . You cannot be tolerant to the
point of being a coward."
A report last year by a group of activists - the
Foreign Exchange of Hate - revealed that the bulk of
$5 million raised by one U.S.-based charity for relief
and development projects in India went to a network of
Hindu nationalist groups - including the Ekal
It came largely from unsuspecting workers with origins
in India and from U.S. employers providing matching
Just as many contributors did not realize how their
dollars were being used, members of Hindutva groups
here seem to join for reasons different from their
counterparts in India.
"There's a whole generation of people who emigrated
out - sort of 'brain drain' types - who feel guilty
for having left India," said Gautam Ghosh, an
assistant professor of anthropology at the University
The dozens gathered in Gandhi's basement are battling
cultural loss in a nation where they are a minority.
The World Hindu Council hooks them on heritage, with
14 U.S. chapters that run summer camps, cultural
centers and temples.
That was how Jindal, the Merck employee, got involved.
"I thought it was a neat project, and I wanted to
volunteer my time," he said. "It would be a shock to
me that these kids are being taught to hate Muslims or
Christians - and to the extent that they should go and
become soldiers. Nothing would shock me more if that
would be the case."
Contact staff writer Gaiutra Bahadur at
bahadug@p... or 856-779-3923.
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