Translate

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sardar Patel's Letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on Tibet

Tribute to Sardar Patel ------
Sardar Patel's Letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on Tibet

NEW DELHI
7 November 1950
My Dear Jawaharlal,
Ever since my return from Ahmedabad and after the Cabinet meeting the same day which I had to attend at practically 15 minutes notice and for which I regret I was not able to read all the papers,I thought I should share with you what is passing through my mind.
I have carefully gone through the correspondence between the External Affairs Ministry and our Ambassador in Peking and through him the Chinese Government.I have tried to peruse this correspondence favourably(sic) to our Ambassador and the Chinese Government as possible,but I regret to say that neither of them comes out well as a result of this study,The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by professins of peaceful intentions.My own feeling is that at a cruicial period they managed to instil into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means.
There can be no doubt that during the period covered by this correspondence,the Chinese must have been concentrating for an onslaught on Tibet.The final action of the Chinese,in my judgement,is little short of perfidy.The tragedy of it is that the Tibetans put faith in us;they chose to be guided by us;and we have been unable to get them out of the meshes of Chinese diplomacy or Chines malevolence.From the latest position,it appears that we shall not be able to rescue the Dalai Lama.
Our Ambassador has been at great pains to find an explanation or justification for Chinese policy and actions.As the External Affairs Ministry remarked in one of their telegrams,there was a lack of firmness and unnecessary apology in one or two representations that he made to the Chinese Government on our behalf.
It is impossible to imagine any sensible person believing in the so-called threat to China from Anglo-American diplomacy or strategy.This feeling,if genuinely entertaind by the Chinese in spite of your direct approaches to them,indicates that even though we regard ourselves as friends of China ,'THE CHINESE DO NOT REGARD US AS THEIR FRIENDS(EMPHASIS MINE!!).With the Communist mentality of 'whoever is not with them being against them',this is a significant pointer,of which we have to take due note.
During the last several months,outside the Russian camp,we have been practically alone in championing the cause of Chinese entry into the UNO and in securing from the Americans assurances on the question of Formosa.We have done everything we could to assuage Chinese feelings,to allay its apprehensions and to defend its legitimate claims in our discussions and correspondence with America and Britain and in the UNO.In spite of this,China is not convinced about our disinterestedness;it continues to regard us with suspicion and the whole psychology is one,at least outwardly,of scepticism,perhaps mixed with a little hostility.
I doubt if we can go any further than we have done already to convince China of our good intentions,friendliness and goodwill.In Peking we have an Ambassador who is emunently suitable for putting across the friendly point of view.Even he seems to have failed to convert the Chinese.Their last telegram to us is an act of gross discourtesy not only in the summary way it disposes of our protest against the entry of Chinese forces into Tibet but also in the wild insinuation that our attitude is determined by foreign influences.It looks as though it is not a friend speaking in that language but a "POTENTIAL ENEMY"(EMPHIS MINE).
With this background,we have to consider what new situation we are now faced with as a result of the disappearance of Tibet,as we knew it,and the Chinese expansion almost upto our gates. Throughout history, we have been seldom worried about our North-East frontier. The Himalayas have been regarded as an impregnable barrier against any threat from the North. We had a friendly Tibet , which gave us no trouble. The Chinese were divided. They had their own domestic problems and never bothered us about our frontiers.
In 1914,we entered into a convention with Tibet,which was not endorsed by the Chinese.We seem to have regarded Tibetan autonomy as extending to (an) independent treaty relationship.Presumably,all that we required was the Chinese counter-signature.The Chinese interpretation of suzerainty seems to be different.We can,therefore,safely assume that very soon they will disown all the stipulations which Tibet has entered into in the past.That throws all frontier and commercial settlements with Tibet,in accordance with which we had been functioning and acting during the last half a century,into the melting pot.
China is no longer divided.It is united and strong.All along the Himalayas in the North and North-East,we have on our side of the frontier a population not ethnologically or culturally different from Tibetans or Mongloids.The undefined state of the frontier and existence on our side of a population with affinities to Tibetans or Chinese has all the elements of potential trouble between China and us.Recent and bitter history also tells us that communism is no shield against imperialism,and that COMMUNISTS ARE AS GOOD OR AS BAD IMPERIALISTS AS ANY OTHER(EMPHSIS MINE!!).
Chinese ambitions in this respect not only cover the Himalayan slopes on our side but also include important parts of Assam.They have their ambitions in Burma also.Burma has the added difficulty that it has no McMohan Line around which to build up even the semblance of an agreement.Chinese irrentism and communist imperialism are different from the expansionism or imperialism of the Western Powers.The former has an ideological cloak,WHICH MAKES IT TEN TIMES WORSE(EMPAHSIS MINE!!).
Racial,national or historical claims lie concealed in the guise of ideological expansion.The danger from the North and North-East,therefore,becomes both communist and imperialist.While our Western and North-Western threat to security is still as prominent as before,A NEW THREAT HAS DEVELOPED FROM THE NORTH AND NORTH-EAST(EMPHASIS MINE!!).
Thus for the first time after centuries,India's defence has to concentrate on two fronts simultaneously.Our defence measures have so far been based on calculations of superiority over Pakistan.We shall now have to reckon with communist China in the North and North-East,A COMMUNIST CHINA WHICH HAS DEFINITE AMBITIONS AND AIMS AND WHICH DOES NOT IN ANY WAY SEEM FRIENDLY TOWARDS US(EMPHASIS MINE!!)
Let us also consider the political conditions on this potentially troublesome frontier.Our Northern or Northeastern approaches consist of Nepal,Bhutan,Sikkim,Darjeeling and tribal areas in Assam.They are weak from the point of view of communications.Continuous defensive lines do not exist.There is an almost unlimited scope for infiltration.Police protection is limited to a very small number of passes.There,too,our outposts do not seem to be fully manned.Our contact with these areas is by no means close and intimate.
The people inhabiting these portions have no established loyalty or devotion to India.Even the Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas are not free from pro-Mongloid prejudices.During the last three years,we have not been able to make any appreciable approaches to the Nagas and other hill tribes in Assam.European missionaries and other visitors have been in touch with them,but their influence was in no way friendly where Indians were considered.There was political ferment in Sikkim some time ago.It is quite possible that discontent is smouldering there.
Bhutan is comparitively quiet,but its affinity with Tibetans would be a handicap.Nepal has a weak oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force;it is in conflict with a turbulent element of the population,as well as with enlightened ideas of modern age.In these circumstances,to make people aware of the new danger,or to increase the defensive strength is a very difficult task indeed;and that difficulty can be got over only by enlightened firmness,strngth and a clear line of policy.
I am sure the Chinese and their source of inspiration,Soviet Russia,would not miss any oppurtunity of exploiting these weak spots,partly in support of their ideology and partly their ambition.In my judgement, therefore,the situation is one in which we cannot afford to be either complacent or vacillating.We must ahve a clear idea of what we wish to acheive and the methods by which we should acheive it.Any lack of decisiveness in formulating our objectives or pursuing our policy to attain them is bound to weaken us and increase the threats.
Along with these external dangers,we shall now have to face serious internal problems as well.Hitherto,the Communist Party of India has found some difficulty in contacting communists abroad,or in getting supplies of arms,literature etc.from them.They had to contend with the difficult Burmese and Pakistan frontiers in the East or with the long seaboard.They shall now have a comparitively easy means of access to Chinese communists,and through them to other foreign communists.Infiltration of spies,fifth columnists and communists would now be easier.
The whole situation thus raises a number of problems on which we must come to an early decision so that we can,as I said earlier,formulate the objectives and methods of our policy.
It is also clear that the action will have to be fairly comprehensive,involving not only our defence strategy and state of preparations,but also problems of internal security.We shall also have to deal with administrative and political problems in the weak spots along the frontier to which I have already referred.
It is,of course,impossible for me to exhaustively set out all the problems.I have,however,given below some of the problems which,in my opinion,require early solutions,around which we have to build our administrative or military policy measures.
A military and intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India ,both on the frontier and internal security.
An examination of our military position and such re-disposition of forces as might be necessary,particularly with the idea of guarding important routes or areas which are likely to be the subject of dipute.
An appraisement of the strength of our forces and,if necessary,reconsideration of our retrenchment plans for the Army in the light of these new threats.
A long term consideration of our defence needs.My own feeling is that unless we assure our supplies of arms,ammunition and armour,we should be MAKING OUR DEFENCE POSITION PERPETUALLY WEAK(EMPHASIS MINE!!) and would not be able to stand up to the double threat of difficulties both from the West and Northwest,North and Northeast.
The question of the Chinese entry into UNO.In view of the Chinese rebuff,and the method it has followed in dealing with Tibet ,I doubt whether we can advocate its claims any longer.The UNO would probably threaten to virtually outlaw China in view of its active participation in the Korean War.We must determine our attitude on this question also.
The political and administrative steps which we should take to strengthen our Northern and Northeastern frontiers.This would include the entire border.ie. Nepal , Bhutan , Sikkim , Darjeeling and the tribal territory in Assam .
Measures of internal security in the border areas,such as U.P, Bihar , Bengal and Assam .
Improvements of our communications,road,rail,air and wireless in these areas and with the frontier outposts.
Policing and intelligence of frontier outposts.
The future of our mission at Lhasa and the trade posts at Gyangtse and Yatung and the forces we have in operation in Tibet to guard the trade routes.
The policy in regard to the McMohan Line.
It is possible that a consideration of these matters may lead us into wider questions of our relationship with China,Russia,America,Britain and Burma.This,however would be of a general nature,though some may be important.For instance,we might have to consider whether we should not enter into closed association with Burma in order to strengthen the latter in its dealings with China.
I do not rule out the possibility that,before applying pressure on us, China may do the same to Burma.With Burma ,the frontier is entirely undefined and the Chinese territorial claims are more substantial.In its present position, Burma might offer an easier problem for China and,therefore,might claim its first attention. I suggest that we meet early to have a general discussion on these problems and decide on such steps as we might think to be immediately necessary and direct quick examination of other problems with a view to taking early measures to deal with them.


Yours,

Vallabhai Patel.

REF: This letter of "SARDAR" Patel can be found in the book:
"Makers of India's Foreign Policy : From Raja Rammohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha" - by - J.N. Dixit - published by India Today

Read more »

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Blasts Fail to Deter a Narendra Modi's Rally in Patna,India

Blasts Fail to Deter a Narendra Modi's Rally in Patna,India

from-

       Asia Pacific
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A group assisted a man wounded in blasts at a political rally in Patna, India, on Sunday.
  • FACEBOOK
  • TWITTER
  • GOOGLE+
  • SAVE
  • E-MAIL
  • SHARE
  • PRINT
  • REPRINTS
NEW DELHI — A series of low-intensity bombs exploded on Sunday in the northeastern city of Patna, apparently targeting a vast rally featuring the opposition leader Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to unseat the long-dominant Congress Party in national elections next spring.
World Twitter Logo.

Connect With Us on Twitter

Follow@nytimesworldfor international breaking news and headlines.
Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters
An explosion occurred near where the opposition leader Narendra Modi was to speak.
Five people were killed and 83 injured, the authorities said late Sunday.
Homemade bombs, fitted with wires and timers, exploded in a series of crowded places: at a railway station, outside a movie theater, near two landmark buildings, and two on the Gandhi Maidan grounds, where Mr. Modi was preparing to speak, according to Abhayanand, the state’s director general of police.
Four people were arrested Sunday afternoon, said Manu Maharaj, Patna’s district police chief. He said that one man was arrested at the scene of a blast and confessed to being involved, and that all four men in custody were being interrogated.
Bharatiya Janata Party officials had hailed the rally as the largest to be held in the state of Bihar, a high-stakes electoral battleground, and decided to proceed despite the blasts. An enormous crowd roared in response as Mr. Modi invoked the Hindu epics, asking them to chant traditional battle cries.
Bihar has presented a problem for Mr. Modi’s party. Commanding 40 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the state will be critical if the Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to win a comfortable majority. But Bihar has a relatively large population of Muslim voters, many of whom are wary of Mr. Modi for his uncompromising stand in favor of his party’s Hindu-nationalist ideology.
The state’s top official, Nitish Kumar, broke off a longtime coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party when it became clear that Mr. Modi was the probable candidate for prime minister.
In comments to reporters on Sunday, Mr. Kumar described the blasts as “a well-planned conspiracy to disturb and vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state,” and appealed for harmony between India’s political parties. He refused to speculate on the theory that the blasts were set by Indian Mujahedeen, a banned Islamic militant group, but did suggest they may have aimed to divide the state on religious lines.
“If it was to disturb the communal peace and harmony of the state, we all have to take it and fight it out jointly,” he said.
Mr. Modi, for his part, appeared calm and jovial at the rally, and the crowd erupted in cheers when he addressed them in Bhojpuri and Maithili, two local dialects. He said the Congress Party had failed miserably in its attempts to control inflation and unemployment, and contrasted his own humble background with the dynastic succession of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“I used to sell tea on trains,” Mr. Modi said. “Even the Railway Minister doesn’t have my experience of what one faces on trains.”
It was a note that appeared to resonate with the crowd. Amit, who said he had come to the rally from a village three hours to the north, said Indians are “tired of dynastic rule.”
“We have had the same family for 60 years,” he said.
“We don’t need this shehzada,” he added, using the Hindi word for prince to refer to Rahul Gandhi, who is the son and grandson of previous Indian prime ministers and is widely expected to be the Congress Party’s nominee for prime minister.
Throughout the day, speakers struggled to keep the crowd’s attention as five separate bomb blasts went off. Each time, the official speaking did not acknowledge the explosion, awkwardly continuing speeches and trying to maintain the momentum of the rally.
The Bharatiya Janata Party spared no expense in the run up to the rally, trying alternative tactics to bolster awareness and attendance. In a nod to Mr. Modi’s background as a tea seller, the party dispatched mobile tea vans throughout the city and gave “NaMo Tea Stall” posters to tea stands to brand themselves with the first two letters of Mr. Modi’s first and last names.
Mr. Modi’s event in Patna, with the unfolding drama of the explosions, did manage to eclipse a simultaneous rally organized by the Congress Party near New Delhi, headlined by Mr. Gandhi. The two events had been billed as “the battle of the rallies” by some journalists, but coverage favored Mr. Modi, and one observer noted on Twitter that she could not catch Mr. Gandhi’s speech because news channels “had him on mute.”
Amarnath Tewary and Zach Marks contributed reporting from Patna, India.
Read more »

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Madhesi parties woo Dalits with myriad offers

Madhesi parties woo Dalits with myriad offers
KATHMANDU, Oct 26: In an effort to woo Dalit voters, the Madhesi parties have proposed various populist programs for them in their election manifestos. 

Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi People´s Right Forum-Nepal (MPRF-N) has floated an agenda of reservations for Dalits in all areas of the government and non-government sectors. “Our party would take a lead to ensure the representation of Dalits in all state mechanisms on the basis of their population. Students from the Dalit community should get free education up to university level,” said MPRF-N in its election manifesto. 

The manifesto further says that issues concerning the Dalit community should be incorporated in the educational curriculum. The party further envisages the formation of a ´National Dalit Commission´ to resolve all issues related to that community. “Inter-caste marriages should be promoted,” it further states.

Rajendra Mahato-led Sadbhawana Party (SP) has said that it would take the initiative to draft a bill of ´special rights´ for the Dalit community to ensure their ´equal and special´ representation in all state mechanisms. As per the party´s manifesto, discrimination based on caste and creed is an ´inhuman act´. The party manifesto says that practicing untouchability is a ´crime against humanity´. 

Similarly, the manifesto of the Mahanth Thakur-led Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) envisages the formation of a separate ´Dalit Economic Development Project´, a ´Dalit Education Project´, and a ´Dalit Employment Project´. The party has said that the educated unemployed from the Dalit community should be given incentives. 

However, the central committee of the party is manned by the Tarai upper castes, with the chairman, vice-chairmen, general secretaries and spokesperson all belonging to the Madhesi upper castes.

Similarly, TMDP has proposed 25 Dalit candidates from among its 130 candidates under the proportional representation (PR) electoral system. 

Likewise, the Sharat Singh Bhandari-led National Madhes Socialist Party (NMSP) has said that their party would take initiatives to declare the sacred figures of the Dalits --King Salhesh, Dina Bhadri and Bhantha-- national icons. The party envisages the formation of an effective ´National Dalit Commission´ and free education and health services for the Dalit community. 

The party manifesto further envisages the formation of separate benches for Dalits in the law courts of Nepal. 

However, analysts believe that the Madhesi parties have floated the populist programs merely to win Dalit votes. “Madhesi parties had proposed attractive plans aimed at the Dalits during previous elections as well, but they did not fulfill their promises. 

They have failed to provide political justice to the Dalit community as they appoint Dalit representatives merely as ceremonial leaders in their parties. Dalit leaders don´t have any say anywhere in the party´s entire decision making process,” said political analyst Chandra Kishor. 

He further said that for the sake of economic and cultural democracy the parties should ensure proper representation of the Dalit community. “The political parties even offer short term incentives for Dalit voters in a bid to woo them. But this time round their tactics will not work.” 

For instance, in a breach of the electoral code of conduct, the TMDP candidate for constituency-1 in Saptari, Jay Prakash Thakur, distributed sarees to women and Dalit voters on October 19. Similarly, Madhesi People´s Right Forum (Republican) Chairman Raj Kishore Yadav, who is contesting from constituency-6 in Siraha, distributed sewing machines, pressure cookers and cycles to women and Dalit voters. The Election Commission has sought clarifications from them. 

Likewise, sources have confirmed that SP Vice-chairman Sanjay Sah, who is contesting from constituency-4 of Dhanusha district, has distributed motorbikes and offered financial assistance for voters in the Dalit community to construct porticos at their houses. 

NMSP Chairman Sharat Singh Bhandari has admitted that candidates of both Madhesi and non-Madhesi parties offer short term initiatives to Dalit voters. “The candidates often offer handsome incentives to the Dalit community to woo them and they get readily taken in,” said Bhandari.

“Candidates in Tarai offer money and materials for building homes and this is a normal practice for taking them into confidence,” added Bhandari. 

Dalit rights activist Bhola Paswan said that both Madhesi and non-Madhesi parties take the Dalits merely as a vote bank. “The political parties had proposed ambitious plans for the Dalit community in previous elections too. Proposing big plans is natural for the parties,” claimed Paswan. 

He added that the parties have proposed programs for the Dalit community just to win their trust and fool them. 

Litterateur and cultural expert Dhirendra Premarshi has said that the Madhesi parties have always floated ambititous programs to impress Dalit voters. "It is easer to envisage those programs than to implement them," said Premarshi. 

"The tendency of distributing dhotis, Sarees, pressure cookers, cycles, sewing machines and other short term incentives is the worst method of influencing voters. They are easily influenced as most of them are facing economic hardship and are illiterate. Those who try to woo voters this way can never be true friends of society," added Premarshi 
Read more »

MNDF storms Majlis arrests MP Ali Azim

MNDF storms Majlis arrests MP Ali Azim


MNDF storms Majlis arrests MP Ali Azim thumbnail
The Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) has stormed the People’s Majlis and arrested Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Azim today after the Supreme Court stripped Azim and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz of their parliamentary seats over decreed debt on Thursday (October 24).
The Parliamentary Privileges Committee, in a statement on Friday, said they do not accept the Supreme Court’s “politically motivated” verdict as it was issued in contravention of the Supreme Court’s procedures.
Lines of grey clad security officers with their arms intertwined blocked the main entrance to the Majlis this morning ahead of an extraordinary session scheduled to discuss interim arrangements should a president-elect not be determined at the end of the current presidential term on November 11.
The security officers refused to allow Azim entry as MDP MPs advocated in support of Azim. The MP for Malé signed the Majlis attendance roster despite the officers’ attempts to block him. Shortly afterwards at approximately 10:00 am, fifteen combat clad soldiers arrived at the Majlis, stormed the building, surrounded Azim and removed him from the Majlis premises.
In the ensuing scuffle, DRP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed was pushed to the floor. The MNDF then turned Azim over to a waiting police can outside the Majlis gates. Government aligned MPs cheered the MNDF’s actions.
A statement released by the MNDF this morning read: “We have handed over Ali Azim to the Maldives Police Services after he assaulted security officers at the People’s Majlis and disobeyed officer’s orders. The Supreme Court has stripped Ali Azim of his seat.”
This morning’s statement contradicts a statement issued last night in which the MNDF said its role was to oversee security at the Majlis, not to determine who can enter its premises.
“The Maldives National Defense Forces are mandated with overseeing People’s Majlis security. It is People’s Majlis Speaker who decides those who can enter the building,” the statement said.
The parliamentary regulations also state the Majlis premises are controlled by the Majlis Speaker. Article 4 of parliamentary regulations read: “Unless otherwise explicitly stated in the Constitution or laws, the Majlis building, hall, the pathways and corridors leading to the hall within the Majlis premises and the Majlis courtyard is under the control and orders of the Majlis Speaker.”
According to MDP parliamentary group leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, the Speaker had sent a letter to the MNDF stating that Azim can enter the Majlis, but had not been able to reach the Chief of Defense Forces following the letter.
Suspension invalid
The Parliamentary Privileges Committee, in its Friday statement, said that Azim and Nashiz’s parliamentary membership continues despite the Supreme Court ruling.
“The parliamentary privileges committee, at its 21st sitting, has decided that the Supreme Court’s stripping seats of MPs Ali Azim and Mohamed Nashiz is invalid and their seats are not vacant and their parliamentary membership continues,” the statement said.
The committee expressed concern over the verdict saying, “Hearings in the case were concluded over a year ago, but the case was fast tracked and a sentence was issued in absentia. This is a politically motivated act to obstruct the no-confidence motions scheduled against a cabinet minister.”
“We believe the ruling violates the Supreme Court’s procedures. One Supreme Court Justice had received the statements the day before and has asked for a delay until Monday to research the case and prepare an opinion. But he was not given the opportunity to do and the ruling was issued without his opinion,” the statement read.
The Supreme Court case was filed in November 2012 by Mohamed Haleem, a member of the Jumhooree Party’s (JP’s) legal committee. The last hearing of the case took place almost a year ago.
Haleem contended that the MPs should be removed from parliament following a Civil Court judgment in February 2010 involving non-payment of five credit facilities worth MVR117 million (US$9 million) issued to Funadoo Tuna Products by the Bank of Maldives (BML), for which the pair had signed as loan guarantors.
As the lower court judgment was subsequently upheld by the High Court, the Civil Court in 2012 authorised BML to seize the assets mortgaged for the loans, which included Funadoo island, a yacht, and the Reethi Beach Resort.
While the majority Supreme Court verdict held that mortgaged assets was not cause for disregarding a judgment to settle the debt, Chief Justice Faiz ruled that the guarantors would only have to bear responsibility if the debt could not be settled by selling the mortgaged assets.
Arrested for assault
Azim, MP for mid-Henveiru, joined the MDP from the government-aligned DRP in June this year.
Nashiz, MP for Raa Alifushi, is a half-brother of DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and husband of the party’s deputy leader MP Rozaina Adam. Following the annulled first round of the presidential election on September 7, the DRP decided to back MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Rozaina has released a Civil Court letter on twitter stating that Nashiz has no decreed debt.
With the provisional support of 10 DRP MPs, the MDP had gained a majority of the 77-member parliament – the MDP had 34 seats.
The police have confirmed Azim’s arrest and said they are investigating an “individual for forcibly entering the Majlis premises, attacking officers and disobeying soldier’s orders” at the request of the MNDF.
Speaking to local broadcaster Raajje TV, Azim’s lawyer said the MP is being charged with assault and is currently being treated at the hospital for injuries sustained during his arrest.
The MDP has condemned Azim’s arrest and said “We condemn in the strongest terms, the security force’s attack on parliament members and attempt to dishonor the Majlis.”
The party has called on the Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz to launch an investigation immediately.
Meanwhile, the Majlis secretariat has announced it is hiring an independent Sergeant at Arms to oversee security of Majlis sittings and parliamentary committee hearings.
Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof told local media Azim assaulted PPM presidential candidate and MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom this morning.
Meanwhile, MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor remains holed up at the Majlis after the Crminal Court ordered the Police to arrest Hamid and present him to court over refusal to provide a urine sample.
Read more »

Defence Ministry alerted to possible threat to former President Nasheed’s life

Defence Ministry alerted to possible threat to former President Nasheed’s life


Defence Ministry alerted to possible threat to former President Nasheed’s life thumbnail
The Ministry of Defence and National Security has been alerted by the Office of President Mohamed Nasheed to possible dangers to the life of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate.
“According to sources, two Al-Qaeda agents have been employed for an attack on President Nasheed and are currently in Male’. The Office has requested the Ministry of Defense and National Security’s Intelligence to launch an investigation into the matter and to share findings with this office,” read a press statement from the former president’s office.
Following the request for an investigation, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) issued a press release yesterday (October 25) stating that it was making inquiries and working with the Maldives Police Service (MPS) to investigate the matter.
“And President Mohamed Nasheed’s security has been strengthened better than before,” the MNDF said.
The press release added that providing security for high-level officials of the state was the responsibility of the MNDF and was therefore treated as “a high priority.”
Article 128 of the constitution entitles former presidents to “the highest honour, dignity, protection, financial privileges and other privileges entitled to a person who has served in the highest office of the land.”
Head of Security for the former president, Ameen Faisal, told Minivan News that they had been made aware of the threat on Thursday (October 24).
“We have been hearing of this threat many times…Last night we heard about it and thought we can’t make it a joke, we have to take it seriously now,” the former defence minister and national security advisor said.
Former Head of Police Intelligence Chief Superintendent ‘MC’ Mohamed Hameedtold the parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee in January this year that the police had received information about two separate assassination plots against former President Nasheed.
Speaking in the same committee in January, former military intelligence head Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam claimed to have received information about an assassination attempt planned to have been carried out during an MNDF live-fire event.
Former Minister of Human Rights under the current administration, Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, last year also alleged assassination plans against Nasheed by local politicians.
Nasheed reacted to Dhiyana’s claims by acknowledging them as credible, commenting that he had received information from government intelligence sources of plots to assassinate him.
“I did get information from the Ministry of Defence that the intelligence got reports of planned assassination attempts. I had knowledge of this before,” said Nasheed.
Read more »

Zia Has Picked A “Path of Confrontation, Not of Dialogue”

 Zia Has Picked A “Path of Confrontation, Not of Dialogue”


6 killed in Bangladesh as opposition, police clash

At least six people were killed and more than 100 injured in Bangladesh on Friday when security officials clashed with opposition supporters trying to defy a ban on protests, just two days before a planned national general strike.
Security officials in the southern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar opened fire, killing two people, when opposition supporters attacked police and paramilitary border guards with sticks and firearms, ignoring a ban on rallies in the area, local police official Ranjit Kumar Barua said by phone. At least 15 people were injured in the violence, he said.

“We had no other way but to open fire,” he said, adding that one of the dead was an opposition member and the second was a shopkeeper.

Several television channels reported that three people died in the central district of Chandpur when police and ruling Awami League supporters clashed with opposition supporters. At least 30 people were injured in the clash in the area, which is 64 kilometers (40 miles) east of the capital, Dhaka, the stations said.

The violence also spread to the eastern district of Comilla, where at least 20 people were injured. Comilla is 88 kilometers (55 miles) east of Dhaka.

Another man died during violence in northern Nilphamari district during similar violence, the stations said.

Similar clashes were also reported in Bangladesh’s second-largest city, Chittagong, which is in the southeast, and in many other towns across the country.

In Dhaka, opposition supporters allegedly set fire to a car and a bus, but no injuries were reported.

At least 10 homemade bombs were exploded at a premier public university area in Dhaka.

Ruhul Kabir Rizvy Ahmed, a spokesman for the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said at least 400 opposition supporters were arrested across the country.

The government has banned rallies in some parts of the country, fearing violence as the opposition gears up for street protests. Authorities deployed paramilitary border guards in Dhaka and other cities and towns to aid police in maintaining order.

The violence came as opposition leader Khaleda Zia said Friday that she and her allies would stage a three-day general strike across the country beginning Sunday morning to back demands for a caretaker government made up of people from outside political parties to oversee elections that are due by early January.

Zia told a huge rally that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had two days to agree to the demand, otherwise more protests will be announced. Street protests in Bangladesh often turn violent.

Hasina recently proposed establishing an all-party government with herself as the leader to oversee the elections, but Zia, a former prime minister, rejected that.

Hasina offered to hold talks in line with her proposal, but Zia refused.

Such a caretaker government has been used in the past, but Hasina’s government scrapped the provision in 2011, citing a Supreme Court ruling saying the provision was unconstitutional. But the opposition says the dropping of the system makes it easier to rig the election — a charge denied by the government.

A senior ruling party leader, Mohammad Nasim, criticized Zia, saying she has picked a “path of confrontation, not of dialogue.” He also urged Zia to agree to Hasina’s proposal.

Bangladesh has had a parliamentary democracy since Hasina and Zia together threw former military dictator H.M. Ershad out of power in 1990, but peaceful transfers of power have remained a big issue.
Read more »

Pakistan second-worst country in gender equality: WEF

Pakistan second-worst country in gender equality: WEF


Pakistan second-worst country in gender equality: WEF

Pakistan ranks as the world’s second-worst country in terms of gender equality and equitable division of resources and opportunities among men and women, says a report published Friday.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with faculty at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, assesses 136 countries, representing more than 93 per cent of the world’s population, on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations.

According to the index, Iceland tops the list with the most equitable sharing of resources among the sexes, followed closely by north European countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Pakistan comes down at 135, followed only by Yemen, and its score has fallen three spots since the study was conducted last year.

The comprehensive annual report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas, including economic participation and opportunity (salaries, participation and highly skilled employment), educational attainment (access to basic and higher levels of education), political empowerment (representation in decision-making structures), health and survival (life expectancy and sex ratio).

According to the index, Pakistan ranks second-worst in economic participation and opportunity, eighth-worst in terms of equal access to education, 13th from the bottom in terms of health and survival.

Surprisingly, the magnitude of disparities is much smaller in Pakistan when it comes to political empowerment and representation in decision-making structures among the two sexes, with a rank of 64 among 136 countries.

Among neighbouring countries, China ranked at 69, Bangladesh at 75, India at 101 and Iran at 130. Afghanistan was not included in the study.

Global gender gap narrows slightly in 2013

According to the report, gender disparity narrowed slightly in the current year on the back of definite if not universal improvements in economic equality and political participation between the sexes.

Overall, the report found Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running. It, along with Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) and Sweden (4th), has now closed over 80 per cent of its gender gap. These countries were joined in the top 10 by the Philippines, which enters the top five for the first time, Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).

At the global level, the report found that in 2013, 96 per cent of the health and survival gender gap has now been closed. “It is the only one of the four pillars that has widened since the report was first compiled in 2006.”

The global gender gap stands at 93 per cent in terms of education, with 25 countries having closed their gaps completely.

The report says gender gaps for economic equality and political participation are only 60 per cent and 21 per cent closed respectively, although progress is being made in these areas, with political participation narrowing by almost 2 per cent over the last year.

In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited, it adds.

Pakistan second-worst country in gender equality: WEF

Pakistan ranks as the world’s second-worst country in terms of gender equality and equitable division of resources and opportunities among men and women, says a report published Friday.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with faculty at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, assesses 136 countries, representing more than 93 per cent of the world’s population, on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations.

According to the index, Iceland tops the list with the most equitable sharing of resources among the sexes, followed closely by north European countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Pakistan comes down at 135, followed only by Yemen, and its score has fallen three spots since the study was conducted last year.

The comprehensive annual report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas, including economic participation and opportunity (salaries, participation and highly skilled employment), educational attainment (access to basic and higher levels of education), political empowerment (representation in decision-making structures), health and survival (life expectancy and sex ratio).

According to the index, Pakistan ranks second-worst in economic participation and opportunity, eighth-worst in terms of equal access to education, 13th from the bottom in terms of health and survival.

Surprisingly, the magnitude of disparities is much smaller in Pakistan when it comes to political empowerment and representation in decision-making structures among the two sexes, with a rank of 64 among 136 countries.

Among neighbouring countries, China ranked at 69, Bangladesh at 75, India at 101 and Iran at 130. Afghanistan was not included in the study.

Global gender gap narrows slightly in 2013

According to the report, gender disparity narrowed slightly in the current year on the back of definite if not universal improvements in economic equality and political participation between the sexes.

Overall, the report found Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running. It, along with Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) and Sweden (4th), has now closed over 80 per cent of its gender gap. These countries were joined in the top 10 by the Philippines, which enters the top five for the first time, Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).

At the global level, the report found that in 2013, 96 per cent of the health and survival gender gap has now been closed. “It is the only one of the four pillars that has widened since the report was first compiled in 2006.”

The global gender gap stands at 93 per cent in terms of education, with 25 countries having closed their gaps completely.

The report says gender gaps for economic equality and political participation are only 60 per cent and 21 per cent closed respectively, although progress is being made in these areas, with political participation narrowing by almost 2 per cent over the last year.

In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited, it adds.
Read more »

Activists Slam China's Human Rights Record Amid UN ReviewActivists Slam China's Human Rights Record Amid UN Review

Activists Slam China's Human Rights Record Amid UN Review


china-tibetan-activists-un-oct-2013-600.jpg
Tibetan activists unfold a giant banner on the face of a UN building in Geneva, Oct. 22, 2013.
AFP
Rights activists have hit out at China as it undergoes scrutiny by the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying an all-out public relations bid by Beijing does little to hide routine violations of the rights of its citizens.

In a statement released shortly after the Chinese delegation to the Council's second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Beijing's rights record, the New York-based group Human Rights in China (HRIC) warned that the ruling Chinese Communist Party has continued to detain and punish citizens who had tried to contribute to the review.

"The Chinese are in the best position to know the situation of human rights in China," the delegation told the Council in its closing comments on Tuesday.

But HRIC said Beijing was trying to present itself as one with the Chinese people.

"This ... diverts attention away from a stark reality: the people of China—the Chinese most directly affected by the human rights situation—are increasingly asserting rights protected by both domestic and international law," the group said in a statement on its website.

"Yet, Chinese voices ... demanding information about and participation in China’s international human rights reporting, are being silenced, harassed, and intimidated," it said, citing the case of detained activist Cao Shunli, who was prevented by police from boarding a plane to Geneva to participate in the UPR process earlier this year.

The group said Beijing had stepped up a crackdown on rights defenders and citizen activists this year, and was now targeting "even moderate voices" calling for greater official transparency and accountability.

It called on the Communist Party to respond to the "objective, comprehensive, and impartial evaluation of China’s human rights situation by its own people."

'Show of force'

An online writer who gave only his surname Liu, for fear of reprisals, said there had been a clear deterioration in human rights protection for Chinese citizens since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2009.

"Dissidents are being persecuted, as are religious groups, as well as online dissidents," Liu said.

"This is probably because the new administration [under President Xi Jinping] wants to make a show of force to preserve stability, so it is using some strong-arm tactics."

He said the problem stemmed from one-party rule.

"This is a closed system of government," Liu said. "The main characteristic of Chinese Communist Party rule is dictatorship and authoritarianism."

Excuses

Meanwhile, U.S.-based dissident Yang Jianli said Chinese officials typically explain that the country is "still developing" to excuse human rights violations.

But he said China's level of economic development wasn't the main obstacle to human rights protections.

"The way I see it, the Chinese government is the biggest obstacle in the way of progress on China's human rights situation," Yang said.

He said China's presentation to the Council on Tuesday had dominated proceedings.

"During this three-and-a-half hour meeting, the Chinese government took up 70 minutes, while the other 100-some countries had only 51 seconds each to bring up a number of issues, such as [jailed Nobel peace laureate] Liu Xiaobo, other dissidents, and the issue of the protection of Tibetans, freedom of speech and the Internet," Yang said.

Liu said Beijing didn't need to do much to improve human rights in China.

"There are some things it needs to do less, or best of all, stop doing them altogether," he said.

A U.S. official on Tuesday called on Beijing to end harassment, detentions and arrests used to silence human rights activists and their families and friends.

"We're concerned that China suppresses freedoms of assembly, association, religion and expression ... harasses, detains and punishes activists ... targets rights defenders' family members and friends and implements policies that undermine the human rights of ethnic minorities," said Uzra Zeya, acting assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department's bureau of democracy, human rights and labor.

Accusations

Meanwhile, China's special envoy Wu Hailong, who led the Chinese delegation to Geneva, said talks with other countries had been "open, candid ... and cooperative."

But he said that some accusations leveled at China were "based on misunderstandings and prejudice."

However, HRIC cited the detention in April of rights activists Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” after they held up signs in the street to demand that high-ranking officials disclose their assets.

It said rights lawyer Guo Feixiong was detained in August after he petitioned the government to ratify U.N. human rights covenants, while Beijing police had also formally detained transparency advocate Xu Zhiyong and other supporters of the New Citizens’ Movement.
Read more »

Forced Abortion Victim in China Rails at Judges in 'Fraud' Trial

Forced Abortion Victim in China Rails at Judges in 'Fraud' Trial


china-baby-jan2012.gif
A Chinese mother stands by her newborn baby girl at a maternity hospital in Beijing, Jan. 26, 2012.
 AFP
A Chinese woman charged in court with fraud after writing online about her forced abortion at the hands of the authorities said Thursday that she had been framed, slamming the judges for not listening to her side of the story, her lawyer and relatives said.

Li Fengfei, who appeared in a highly unstable mood, told the court in the southwestern province of Guizhou's Bijie city, that she was not concerned about her fate "because she didn't want to live since losing her baby."

She was arrested and charged with "embezzlement" for allegedly issuing fake receipts and official stamps after she took to the Internet to complain about being forced into a second-trimester abortion by family planning officials that left her critically ill for weeks.

"Li Fengfei lost her temper twice in the courtroom," her lawyer Li Guisheng said after the second day of her trial. "Her mood was very distressed, and she got into arguments with the judges."

"She said...she has nowhere to be heard, and that she thought that at least she would be given an opportunity to speak in court, and that she had waited a long, long time, but that when she got here, they wouldn't let her speak," Li Guisheng said.

"She was apoplectic, telling them she didn't care what they sentenced her to, because she didn't want to live since losing her baby," he said.

"She said that a lot."

'Worst sort of violence'

Li Guisheng said he had argued throughout that Li Fengfei is not guilty of the charges of embezzlement.

"I think she was framed," he said. "This isn't just a case of one individual, but it's about someone who is trying to protect other people, the people who have the power."

"They have used the worst sort of violence against her; the forced abortion," he said. "They locked up a pregnant woman in a detention center; this is the first time this has happened in Jinsha county in decades."

Li's husband Zhang Kainan said he agreed with her lawyer.

"None of [the alleged crimes] exist," Zhang said. "Before, they said she had falsified accounts, and all of that was overturned, so these charges are new, and nothing to do with the previous ones."

He said Li had told him the evidence presented by the prosecution was fake, adding that the couple's own rights had been violated by the authorities.

"We neither of us wanted that abortion, and we feel that they violated our rights," he said.

"The lawyer told me that forced abortions are illegal, but when we brought it up in court, the judges were against it, and it looked like we didn't even have the right to speak," Zhang said.

"They said it was unconnected to this case, but it was definitely connected, because the [prosecution officials] ordered her baby to be aborted on July 9, and that's why the abortion happened."

Family planning rules

Current family planning rules state that no abortions should be forced, and that none should be carried out after six months.

But experts say forced abortions have been the norm for decades under China's draconian one-child policy, as local officials strive to meet set quotas and impose fines for "excess births."

In June 2012, Shaanxi-based Feng Jianmei was forced to terminate her pregnancy at eight months, sparking global outrage after a graphic photo of Feng and her dead baby went viral.

The government launched an investigation and had officials, who had demanded a 40,000 yuan (U.S. $6,440) fine from Feng, apologize to her.

Another woman, Pan Chunyan, reported earlier that local family planning officials in Fujian province had forced her to get an abortion in her eighth month of pregnancy in April 2012.

Experts say the rules governing "excess birth" are unclear and often abused by local authorities, or by the rich and politically connected, who can afford to pay large fines for bigger families.

Last month, an official report said that around 1.6 billion yuan (U.S. $261.5 million) collected in fines—often with the threat of violence or forced abortions—from Chinese families who exceed draconian birthrate quotas was misadministered by officials.

The fines levied across nine Chinese provinces, cities and counties between 2009 and May 2012 for "excess births" were misadministered by local officials, according to a probe by the National Audit Office in Beijing.
Read more »