Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Scottish nationalist leader awarded more than £512,000 after winning court case

Press TV – August 24, 2019

Alex Salmond’s legal victory against the government has been widely seen as yet another victory by Scottish nationalists against an establishment hell-bent on stopping them.

Scotland’s former First Minister had been accused of “inappropriate conduct” during the time he led the Scottish government.

The Scottish government has reportedly paid Salmond more than £512,000 to cover his legal costs after he successfully contested charges of sexual misconduct in court.

Although the case against him effectively collapsed in January, the government has now formally admitted defeat by awarding Salmond the large sum on an “agent and client” basis.

This is a punitive award used by the courts to recognize the fact that the losing party to litigation has caused the other party “unnecessary expenses”.

The Scottish parliament (Holyrood) has reportedly set up an enquiry to look into the huge expenses incurred investigating Salmond and the subsequent pay out after he won his court case.

The official enquiry was set up in the wake of reports that the Scottish government had spent nearly £750,000 (excluding internal costs) trying to defend its flawed legal case against Salmond.

This massive sum, combined with the substantial payment to Salmond, has raised questions about the nature of the enquiry into Salmond’s alleged “misconduct” and whether the case was politically motivated.

The former British diplomat, and supporter of Scottish independence, Craig Murray, alludes to this possibility in his latest post on his popular and respected blog.

For their part, the Scottish Conservative Party has seen fit to go on the political offensive, possibly with a view to deflect potential revelations that they had had a hand in forcing through a botched legal case against Salmond.

Donald Cameron, a Scottish Conservative member of Holyrood, has said it is “outrageous” that so much money had been spent on the case.

Salmond, who was the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) for over 20 years, still faces a separate trial centred on 14 alleged offences, including two of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one of breach of the peace.

But in view of the former First Minister’s latest legal victory, it is fair to ask whether the separate charges against him could also be “flawed” and possibly politically motivated.

The legal and criminal cases against Salmond have raised suspicions in the Scottish nationalist community that the British establishment is trying to arrest the momentum toward Scottish independence, by any means necessary, including “flawed” legal procedures.

Salmond is widely seen as the most effective proponent of Scottish independence, as demonstrated by his two highly successful stints as leader of the SNP, first from 1990 to 2000 and then from 2004 to 2014.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

West Bank IED Attack Kills And Injures Israelis- A Closer Look

By Robert Inlakesh | 21st Century Wire | August 23, 2019

Earlier this Friday morning an IED attack, conducted inside the occupied West Bank, killed one Israeli and injured two others.

The incident has been blamed on unidentified Palestinians, who were said to have planted the IED the night prior to the incident, before detonating it upon the arrival of the Israeli settlers to the location.

The attack took place at the site of the Ein Buben Spring, located in between the Palestinian village of Deir Ibzi and the illegal Israeli settlement of Douleb.

A female Israeli has been confirmed dead, with two men injured, one currently on life support in critical condition and the other suffering moderate wounds. The three Israelis had originated from Lod – formerly the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramle – and had reportedly been visiting the spring, entering it from the ever expanding neighboring settlement.

As usual, the Israeli and Western press are treating this incident as if it has no link to anything occurring in the area prior to the attack.

Back in 2017 I lived in the occupied West Bank and visited the spring of Deir Ibzi many times. I remember being driven there with Palestinians friends to hang out. The first time I went I was confronted by Israeli soldiers who stopped our car and pointed guns in our faces and continued to linger in the area, watching us, for hours after the incident.

Another time I had visited, we had to quickly leave as armed settlers emerged over the hills and were heading in our direction.

I was told by people in the village of Deir Ibzi, that they fear the day when the Israelis will completely take the site for themselves.

The site, of course being home to a fresh water spring, has been a part the lives of those living in Deir Ibzi and the neighboring villages for generations. Until now, there has been no violent resistance like this recent attack, despite the illegal settlement expansion on the area and the violent forcing of the native population from their land.

Israel considers of all the West Bank as simply being part of Israel and call the land Judea and Sumaria. To Israel, there are no illegal settlers or illegal land grabs, they simply consider their actions as being reasonable expansion on God given Jewish land.

The eldest of the Israelis injured in the attack, currently being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, is a Rabbi and was reported to be a decorated occupation force veteran.

Due to the constant Israeli settler and occupation force attacks upon Palestinians, in the West Bank, as well as a rise in attacks upon the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, we now see a string of violent attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.

This year so far, approximately 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and with the lack of action from the international community, to end the violations of international law, the siege, the occupation etc. Palestinians now have their backs to the wall.

No peace talks or peaceful demonstrations have worked. So now, due to the lack of action taken for the Palestinians, the Palestinian people are resulting to the last and only option left for them, violent resistance.

The mainstream media will paint these attacks as horrid terrorist incidents, but the reality is, this is what happens when a people have no other options.

Today, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, 152 Palestinians were injured in Gaza’s Great Return March protests, 60 were shot with live ammunition. Over 310 Palestinians have been killed in these marches since the 30th of March, 2018, with around 40,000 people being injured. So why aren’t these acts of mass murdered labelled terrorism? Are only Arabs and Muslims able to commit a terrorist act, should this perhaps be the new definition for the word?

Under international law, the Palestinian people reserve the right to armed resistance. So why is it always a terrorist attack, in the eyes of the so-called objective mainstream media, when a Palestinian decides to resist? And why isn’t Israeli settler terrorism reported as such, when 6 year old Palestinians are run down and murdered by Israeli religious fanatics?

***

Author Robert Inlakesh is a special contributor to 21WIRE and European correspondent for Press TV. He has reported from on the ground in occupied Palestine.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel tech ‘facilitating press freedom abuses around the world’

MEMO | August 23, 2019

Israel has been charged with enabling attacks on media freedom around the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), after export controls on surveillance technology were eased.

Citing a Reuters report, CPJ noted that Israeli officials have confirmed that – thanks to a rule change by the Defence Ministry – Israeli surveillance companies “are able to obtain exemptions on marketing license for the sale of some products to certain countries”.

According to Reuters, “the change took effect about a year ago”.

CPJ stated that:

Israeli-exported technology undermines press freedom globally by allowing authorities to track reporters and potentially identify their sources.

One example given by the press freedom watchdog was the Mexican government deploying Pegasus malware, sold by Israeli firm NSO Group, to infiltrate the mobile phones “of at least nine journalists”.

Pegasus was also used by Saudi Arabia to spy on the associates of journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey in October last year.

“Over and over again, we see Israeli technology facilitating press freedom abuses around the world, by lending a hand to governments that want to track and monitor reporters,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch in Washington, D.C.

“An unregulated surveillance industry is bad for press freedom. The Israeli government should heed the UN Special Rapporteur’s call to respect human rights in its export policies.”

UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression David Kaye described Israel as “a major player in the surveillance technology market” in a June 2019 report which urged “a global moratorium on such exports until a human rights compliant regime was put in place”.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Journalism faces dire situation in Kashmir

By Shahana Butt – Press TV – August 22, 2019

Kashmir – In Indian-administered Kashmir, journalists and journalism are suffering the worst work challenges in decades. There has been a complete communication gag in the region since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status.

This is not a usual gathering or a political meeting, these are the journalists gathered under one roof, working on Kashmir stories.

Kashmir’s administration has created a media center for journalists in the region following the criticism over the media dysfunction.

In the absence of communication facilities like the internet, mobile phones and landlines, this facilitation center created by government is the only source for journalists to send their reports out of Kashmir.

These four desktops and one cellular mobile phone have become lifeline for journalists working from Kashmir. From early morning till late evening, journalists wait in queues for their turn to come.

After New Delhi’s move of scrapping Kashmir’s autonomous status on August 5, Kashmir has witnessed a complete communication blackout. Not just international media outlets suffered, but local and regional news networks and journalists were hit the hardest.

In Indian-administered Kashmir, there are hundreds of journalists associated with more than a hundred news dailies and over 40 national and international media outlets, the communication blackout not only stopped local publications but pushed the entire Himalayan region to somewhere around stone age.

The local administration in Kashmir has no idea as to when this communication blockade will end. Journalists say the information blackout has furthered the fear among people and has created space for rumor-mongering and false news, adding to the already existing panic.

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | August 21, 2019

Israeli Jewish settlers are on a rampage in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. While settler violence is part of everyday routine in Palestine, the violence of recent weeks is directly linked to the general elections in Israel, scheduled to be held on September 17.

The previous elections, on April 9, failed to bring about political stability. Although Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is now the longest-serving prime minister in the 71-year history of the country, he was still unable to form a government coalition.

Tarnished by a series of corruption cases involving himself, his family and aides, Netanyahu’s leadership is in an unenviable position. Police investigators are closing in on him, while opportunistic political allies, the likes of Avigdor Lieberman, are twisting his arm with the hope of exacting future political concessions.

The political crisis in Israel is not the outcome of a resurrected Labor or invigorated central parties, but the failure of the Right (including far-right and ultra-nationalist parties) to articulate a unified political agenda.

Illegal Jewish settlers understand well that the future identity of any right-wing government coalition will have lasting impact on their colonial enterprise. The settlers, however, are not exactly worried, since all major political parties, including that of the Blue and White, the centrist party of Benjamin Gantz, have made the support for Jewish colonies an important aspect in their campaigns.

The decisive vote of the Jewish settlers of the West Bank and their backers inside Israel became very clear in the last elections. Subsequently, their power forced Gantz to adopt an entirely different political stance since April.

The man who, on April 7 (two days before the last elections), criticized Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” announcement regarding his intention to annex the West Bank, is now a great supporter of the settlements. According to the Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, Gantz vowed to continue expanding the settlements “from a strategic point of view and not as a political strategy”.

Considering the shift in Gantz’ perspective regarding the settlements, Netanyahu is left with no other option but to up the ante, as he is now pushing for complete and irreversible annexation of the West Bank.

Annexing the West Bank, from Netanyahu’s viewpoint, is a sound political strategy. The Israeli prime minister is, of course, oblivious to international law which sees Israel’s military and settler presence as illegal. But neither Netanyahu, nor any other Israeli leader, for that matter, have ever cared about international law whatsoever. All that truly counts for Israel is Washington’s support, which is often blind and unconditional.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Netanyahu is now officially lobbying for a public statement by US President Donald Trump to back Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Although the White House refused to comment on the story, and an official in Netanyahu’s office claimed that it was “incorrect”, the Israeli right is on the fast track of making that annexation possible.

Encouraged by US Ambassador David Friedman’s comment that “Israel has the right to retain some of the West Bank”, more Israeli officials are speaking boldly and openly regarding their intentions of making that annexation possible.

Netanyahu had, himself, hinted at that possibility in August during a visit to the illegal settlement of Beit El. “We come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all parts of it,” Netanyahu said, during a ceremony celebrating the expansion of the illegal settlements to include 650 more housing units.

Unlike Netanyahu, former Israeli justice minister and leader of the newly-formed United Right, Ayelet Shaked, didn’t speak in code. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, she called for the full annexation of Area C, which constitutes nearly 60 percent of the West Bank. “We have to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” she said, referring to the Palestinian land using biblical designations.

Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, however, wants to go the extra mile. According to Arutz Sheva and the Jerusalem Post, Erdan has called for the annexation of all illegal settlements in the West Bank and the ouster of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas as well.

Now situated at the center of Israeli politics, Jewish settlers are enjoying the spectacle as they are being courted by all major political parties. Their increased violence in the West Bank is a form of political muscle-flexing, an expression of dominance and a brutish display of political priorities.

“There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel,” was the slogan of a rally involving over 1,200 Jewish settlers who roamed the streets of the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) on August 14. The settlers, together with Israeli soldiers, stormed al-Shuhada street and harassed Palestinians and international activists in the beleaguered Palestinian city.

Just a few days earlier, an estimated 1,700 Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli police, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 60 Palestinians were wounded when Israeli forces and settlers attacked worshippers.

The violent scene was repeated in Nablus, where armed women settlers stormed the town of al-Masoudiya and conducted “military training” under the protection of the Israeli occupation army.

The settlers’ message is clear: we now rule the roost, not only in the West Bank, but in Israeli politics as well.

All of this is happening as if it is entirely an Israeli political affair. The PA, which has now been dropped out of American political calculations altogether, is left to issue occasional, irrelevant press releases about its intention to hold Israel accountable according to international law.

But the guardians of international law are also suspiciously absent. Neither the United Nations, nor advocates of democracy and international law in the European Union, seem interested in confronting Israeli intransigence and blatant violations of human rights.

With Jewish settlers dictating the political agenda in Israel, and constantly provoking Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, violence is likely to grow exponentially in the coming months. As is often the case, this violence will be used strategically by the Israeli government, this time to set the stage for a final and complete annexation of Palestinian land, a disastrous outcome by any count.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tlaib and Omar’s Denial of Entry by Israel Is Not a “Freedom of Speech” Issue

By Rima Najjar – Global Research – August 18, 2019

For how long will discourse on the plight of the Palestinian people be hostage to the notion that “impartial observers”, i.e., the silent majority on Israel, must be addressed in a manner that accounts for “where they are, not where we’d like them to be”? And who defines where these people are in the first place?

According to Robert Cohen, UK Jewish blogger on Israel/Palestine, this is the truism that we ought to embrace — “impartial observers” are not ready to step out of their preconceived notions. Cohen’s critical remarks on Facebook regarding Israel’s ban of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank conclude with:

“Meanwhile, most impartial observers will wonder in what sense does Israel think of itself as a liberal democracy and upholder of free speech?”

Do we really believe that what “most impartial observers” will be concerned about upon hearing the news of Israel’s ban of Tlaib and Omar is the state of Israel’s “liberal democracy” rather than, say, Israel’s Jewish Nationalism and its devastating impact on the Palestinian people?

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement also issued a statement that referenced the lack of democratic values in the action of Israel’s government against the two U.S. Representatives, specifically the suppression of free speech:

The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel.

To me, Tlaib and Omar being denied entry into Palestine/Israel is not a freedom of speech issue (as in McCarthyism in Israel’s right-wing government). It is an issue of Israel and all its governments past and present denying and subjugating the Palestinian people since 1948. What needs to be highlighted is freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people, not freedom of speech in so-called democracies.

Palestinian-American legal scholar and human rights attorney Noura Erekat got it right. She commented on Facebook:

The fact that Palestinians can’t welcome Rashida #Tlaib & Ilhan #Omar on their own should indicate clearly to the world the lack of parity by Israel — an apartheid state- & Palestinians — a stateless people whom they continue to control, cage, & oppress. We are alive because of our resistance.

The belief or idea that this story “lends itself” to references to Israel’s long-running falsehood of “the only democracy in the Middle East” is outrageous, because Israel’s values and orientation have long been exposed as apartheid Jewish supremacist. Nobody is concerned or “wonders” about Israel’s so-called “liberal and democratic values” except so-called liberal Zionists.

And yet we persist in using terminology and purveying notions (directly and indirectly) coined for us by Zionist propaganda guidelines. As Palestine Legal posted in reference to similar current discourse on Israel/Palestine:

Using the IHRA’s poor definition of antisemitism, [Israel advocates] have succeeded in completely changing the discourse: rather than talk about the occupation, the Nakba, or its violation of national, human and civil rights, the dominant public discourse now revolves around what is or is not forbidden when it comes to criticism of Israel, and to what extent said criticism is antisemitic.

Withholding clear, unambiguous language from our forums continues to embolden racist apologists for Israel and agitators such as the following:

… In a discussion tinged with racism, Jewish power brokers in Detroit have vowed to get Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) out of office at any cost — “for Jewish reasons”…

Many “impartial observers” are fed up with the use of language in reports that beam insidious subliminal messages at us. A few days ago, after coming across report after report of unspeakable crimes against Palestinians committed by Israeli Jews colonizing the West Bank who were being uniformly referred to as “Israeli settlers”, I posted the following meme.

The meme resonated with many. Some wrote suggesting other names:

  • Illegal racist terrorists in Palestine
  • Jewish colonizers at least…
  • Extremist colonists
  • Prefer squatters
  • Prefer fascists
  • Fascist squatter colonizers.
  • Illegal SQUATTERS
  • Zionist supremacists
  • They are terrorists

Our language on current events concerning Israel/Palestine must project a decolonial future in Israel. Otherwise, we will never be able to shift the political paradigm in all of historic Palestine to one democratic secular state. A “reformed” Zionist reality, as in a “truly democratic” Jewish state, is a contradiction in terms. It is high time we moved on to a post Zionist reality.

Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 12 Comments

Kashmir Caged: A Fact-Finding Report

Army patrol on the road | Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
By Jean Drèze, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai | Indian Cultural Forum | August 14, 2019

We spent five days (9-13 August 2019) traveling extensively in Kashmir. Our visit began on 9 August 2019 – four days after the Indian government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A, dissolved the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

When we arrived in Srinagar on 9 August, we found the city silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence. The curfew was total, as it had been since 5th August. The streets of Srinagar were empty and all institutions and establishments were closed (shops, schools, libraries, petrol pumps, government offices, banks). Only some ATMs and chemists’ shops – and all police stations – were open. People were moving about in ones and twos here and there, but not in groups.

We travelled widely, inside and outside Srinagar – far beyond the small enclave (in the centre of Srinagar) where the Indian media operates. In that small enclave, a semblance of normalcy returns from time to time, and this has enabled the Indian media to claim that life in Kashmir is back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We spent five days moving around and talking to hundreds of ordinary people in Srinagar city, as well as villages and small towns of Kashmir. We spoke to women, school and college students, shopkeepers, journalists, people who run small businesses, daily wage labourers, workers and migrants from UP, West Bengal and other states. We spoke to Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs who live in the Valley, as well as Kashmiri Muslims.

Everywhere, we were cordially received, even by people who were very angry about the situation or sceptical of our purpose. Even as people expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India, they extended warmth and unstinting hospitality to us. We are deeply moved by this.

Except for the BJP spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs, we did not meet a single person who supported the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370. On the contrary, most people were extremely angry, both at the abrogation of Article 370 (and 35A) and at the manner in which it had been done.

Anger and fear were the dominant emotions we encountered everywhere. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no-one was willing to speak on camera. Anyone who speaks up is at risk of persecution from the government.

Many told us that they expected massive protests to erupt sooner or later (after restrictions were relaxed, after Eid, after 15 August, or even later), and anticipated violent repression even if the protests were peaceful.

A summary of our observations

  • There is intense and virtually unanimous anger in Kashmir against the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A, and also about the way this has been done.

  • To control this anger, the government has imposed curfew-like conditions in Kashmir. Except for some ATMs, chemists’ shops and police stations, most establishments are closed for now.

  • The clampdown on public life and effective imposition of curfew have also crippled economic life in Kashmir, that too at a time of the BakrEid festival that is meant for abundance and celebration.

  • People live in fear of harassment from the government, army or police. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no-one was willing to speak on camera.

  • The Indian media’s claims of a rapid return to normalcy in Kashmir are grossly misleading. They are based on selective reports from a small enclave in the centre of Srinagar.

  • As things stand, there is no space in Kashmir for any sort of protest, however peaceful. However, mass protests are likely to erupt sooner or later.

Reactions To The Government’s Treatment of J&K

  • When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passengers could switch on our mobiles, the entire flight (with mostly Kashmiris in it) burst into mocking laughter. “What a joke”, we could hear people say – since mobile and landline phones and internet have all been blocked since 5 August!

  • As soon as we set foot in Srinagar, we came across a few small children playacting in a park. We could hear them say ‘Iblees Modi’. ‘Iblees’ means ‘Satan’.

  • The words we heard over and over from people about the Government decisions on J&K were ‘zulm’ (oppression), ‘zyadti’ (excess/cruelty), and ‘dhokha’ (betrayal). As one man in Safakadal (downtown Srinagar) put it, “The Government has treated us Kashmiris like slaves, taking decisions about our lives and our future while we are captive. It’s like forcing something down our throats while keeping us bound and gagged, with a gun to our heads.”

  • In every lane of Srinagar city, every town, every village, that we visited, we received an extensive schooling from ordinary people, including school kids, on the history of the Kashmir dispute. They were angry and appalled at the manner in which the Indian media was whitewashing this history. Many said: “Article 370 was the contract between Kashmir’s leadership and India’s. Had that contract not been signed, Kashmir would never have acceded to India. With Article 370 gone, India no longer has any basis for its claim over Kashmir.” One man in the Jahangir Chowk area near Lal Chowk, described Article 370 as a ‘mangalsutra’ (sacred necklace worn by married women) symbolising a contract (analogous to the marital contract) between Kashmir and India. (More on people’s reactions to the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A below)

  • There is widespread anger against the Indian media. People are imprisoned in their homes, unable to communicate with each other, express themselves on social media, or make their voices heard in any way. In their homes, they watch Indian TV claim that Kashmir welcomes the Government decisions. They seethe with rage at the erasure of their voices. As one young man in Safakadal put it, “Kiski shaadi hai, aur kaun naach raha hai?! (It’s supposed to be our wedding, but it’s only others who are dancing!) If this move is supposed to be for our benefit and development, why not ask what we ourselves think about it?”

Reactions To The Abrogation Of Article 370 and 35A

  • A man in Guree village (Anantnag district) said: “Hamara unse rishta Article 370 aur 35A se tha. Ab unhone apne hi paer par kulhadi mar di hai. In Articles ko khatm kar diya hai. Ab to ham azad ho gaye hain.” (Our relation with them (India) was through Article 370 and Article 35A. Now they have themselves committed the folly of dissolving these Articles. So now we are free.” The same man raised slogans of “We want freedom” followed by slogans of “Restore Articles 370 and 35A.”

  • Many described Article 370 and 35A as Kashmir’s “pehchan” (identity). They felt that the abrogation of these Articles is a humiliating attack on Kashmir’s self-respect and identity.

  • Not all demanded restoration of Article 370. Many said that it was only the parliamentary parties who had asked people to have faith that India would honour the contract that was Article 370. The abrogation of Article 370 only discredited those “pro-India parties”, and vindicated those who argued for Kashmir’s “azaadi” (independence) from India, they felt. One man in Batamaloo said: “Jo india ke geet gate hain, apne bande hain, ve bhi band hain! (Those who sang praises of India, India’s own agents, they too are imprisoned!” A Kashmiri journalist observed, “Many people are happy about the treatment the mainstream parties are getting. These parties batted for the Indian State and are being humiliated now.”

  • “Modi has destroyed India’s own law, its own Constitution” was another common refrain. Those who said this, felt that Article 370 was more important to India (to legitimise its claim to Kashmir) than it was to Kashmir. But the Modi Government had not only sought to destroy Kashmir, it had destroyed a law and Constitution that was India’s own.

  • A hosiery businessman in Jahangir Chowk, Srinagar said, “Congress ne peeth mein choora bhonka tha, BJP ne saamne se choora bhonka hai.” (Congress had stabbed us from the back, BJP is stabbing us up front). He added, “They strangled their own Constitution. It’s first step towards Hindu Rashtra.”

  • In some ways, people were more concerned about the effects of the abrogation of 35A than that of 370. It is widely recognised that Article 370 retained only nominal, symbolic autonomy and had already been diluted. With 35A gone, though, people fear that “State land will be sold cheap to investors. Ambani, Patanjali etc can come in easily. Kashmir’s resources and land will be grabbed. In Kashmir as it stands now, education and employment levels are better than in the mainland. But tomorrow Kashmiris will have to compete for Government jobs with those from other states. After one generation, most Kashmiris won’t have jobs or be forced to move to the mainland.”

“Normalcy” – Or “Peace Of The Graveyard”?

Is the situation in Kashmir “normal” and “peaceful”? The answer is an emphatic NO.

  • One young man in Sopore said: “This is bandook ki khamoshi (the silence at gunpoint), kabristan ki khamoshi (the peace of the graveyard).”

  • The newspaper Greater Kashmir had one (front) page of news and a sports page at the back: the two inside pages were full of cancellation announcements of weddings or receptions!

Invitations cancelled I Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
  • Between 5-9 August, people had suffered for lack of food, milk, and basic needs. People had been prevented even from going to hospitals in case of sickness.

  • The Government claim is that only Section 144 has been imposed, not “curfew”. But in reality, police vans keep patrolling Srinagar warning people to “stay safe at home and not venture out during the curfew”, and tell shops to close their shutters. They demand that people display “curfew passes” to be allowed to move about.

  • All of Kashmir is under curfew. Even on Eid, the roads and bazaars were silent and desolate. All over Srinagar, mobility is restricted by concertina wires on streets, and massive paramilitary deployment. Even on Eid, this was the case. In many villages, azaan was prohibited by the paramilitary and people were forced to do namaaz prayers at home rather than collectively at the mosque as it usual on Eid.

  • In Anantnag, Shopian and Pampore (South Kashmir) on the day of Eid, we only saw very small kids dressed in Eid finery. Everyone else was in mourning. “We feel like we’re in jail”, said a woman in Guree (Anantnag). Girls in Nagbal (Shopian) said, “With our brothers in police or army custody, how can we celebrate Eid?”

  • On 11 August, on the eve of Eid, a woman at Sopore told us she had come to the bazaar during a brief respite in the curfew, to buy a few supplies for Eid. She said: “We were prisoners in our own homes for 7 days. Even today, shops are closed in my village Langet, so I came to Sopore town to shop for Eid and to check on my daughter who is a nursing student here.”

Eid in Pulwama | Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
  • “It’s Army rule not Modi rule. There are more soldiers here than people”, said a young baker at Watpura near Bandipora. His friend added, “We’re afraid, because the army camp nearby keeps imposing impossible rules. They insist we have to return within half an hour if we leave home. If my kid isn’t well, and I have to take her to the hospital, it may take more than half an hour. If someone visits their daughter who lives in next village, they may take more than half hour to return. But if there’s any delay, they will harass us.” The CRPF paramilitary is everywhere, outside nearly every home in Kashmir. These are clearly not there to provide “security” to Kashmiris – on the contrary, their presence creates fear for the people.

  • Sheep traders and herders could be seen with unsold sheep and goats. Animals they had been rearing all year long, would not be sold. This meant they would incur a huge loss. With people unable to earn, many could not afford to buy animals for the Eid sacrifice.

  • A shopkeeper from Bijnore (UP) showed us the stacks of unsold sweets and delicacies going waste, since people could not buy them. Shops and bakeries wore a deserted look on the eve of Eid, with their perishable food items lying unsold.

  • An asthmatic auto driver in Srinagar, showed us his last remaining dose of salbutamol and asthalin. He had been trying for the past several days to buy more – but the chemists’ shops and hospitals in his area had run out of stocks. He could go to other, bigger hospitals – but CRPF would prevent him. He showed us the empty, crushed cover of one asthalin inhaler – when he told a CRPF man he needed to go further to get the medicine, the man stamped on the cover with his boot. “Why stamp on it? He hates us, that’s why”, said the auto driver.

Protests, Repression, and Brutality

  • Some 10,000 people protested in Soura (Srinagar) on 9 August. The forces responded with pellet gun fire, injuring several. We attempted to go to Soura on 10 August, but were stopped by a CRPF barricade. We did see young protestors on the road that day as well, blockading the road.

  • We met two victims of pellet gun injuries in SMHS hospital in Srinagar. The two young men (Waqar Ahmad and Wahid) had faces, arms and torso full of pellets. Their eyes were bloodshot and blinded. Waqar had a catheter in which the urine, red with blood from internal bleeding, could be seen. Their family members, weeping with grief and rage, told us that the two men had not been pelting stones. They had been peacefully protesting.

Pellet gun victim | Image courtesy Vimal Bhai
  • On 6 August, a graphic designer for the Rising Kashmir newspaper, Samir Ahmad, (in his early 20s) had remonstrated with a CRPF man near his home in the Manderbag area of Srinagar, asking him to allow an old man to pass. Later the same day, when Samir opened the door to his house, CRPF fired at him with a pellet gun, unprovoked. He got 172 pellets in his arm and face near the eyes, but his eyesight is safe. It is clear that the pellet guns are deliberately aimed at the face and eyes, and unarmed, peaceful civilians standing at their own front doors can be targets.

  • At least 600 political leaders and civil society activists are under arrest. There is no clear information on what laws are invoked to arrest them, or where they are being held.

  • A very large number of political leaders are under house arrest – it is impossible to ascertain how many. We tried to meet CPIM MLA Mohd Yusuf Tarigami – but were refused entry into his home in Srinagar, where he is being under house arrest.

  • In every village we visited, as well as in downtown Srinagar, there were very young schoolboys and teenagers who had been arbitrarily picked up by police or army/paramilitary and held in illegal detention. We met a 11-year-old boy in Pampore who had been held in a police station between 5 August and 11 August. He had been beaten up, and he said there were boys even younger than him in custody, from nearby villages.

  • Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids. The only purpose of these raids is to create fear. Women and girls told us of molestation by armed forces during these raids. Parents feared meeting us and telling us about the “arrests” (abductions) of their boys. They are afraid of Public Security Act cases being filed. The other fear is that the boys may be “disappeared” – i.e killed in custody and dumped in mass graves of which Kashmir has a grim history. As one neighbour of an arrested boy said, “There is no record of these arrests. It is illegal detention. So if the boy “disappears” – i.e is killed in custody – the police/army can just say they never had him in custody in the first place.”

  • But the protests are not likely to stop. A young man at Sopore said: “Jitna zulm karenge, utna ham ubharenge” (The more you oppress us, the more we will rise up) A familiar refrain we heard at many places was: “Never mind if leaders are arrested. We don’t need leaders. As long as even a single Kashmiri baby is alive, we will struggle.”

The Gag On Media

  • A journalist told us: “Newspapers are printing in spite of everything. Without the internet, we do not get any feed from agencies. We were reduced to reporting the J&K related developments in Parliament, from NDTV! This is undeclared censorship. If Govt is giving internet and phone connectivity to police but not to media houses what does it mean? We had some people come to our offices, speaking on behalf of Army and CRPF, asking “Why are you publishing photos of the curfew-affected streets?”

  • Kashmiri TV channels are completely closed and unable to function.

  • Kashmiri newspapers that carry the barest mention of protests (such as the one on Soura) are made to feel the heat from the authorities.

  • Foreign press reporters told us that they are facing restrictions on their movement by the authorities. Also, because of the lack of internet, they are unable to communicate with their own main offices.

  • When we visited Press Enclave in Srinagar on 13 August, we found the newspaper offices closed and the area deserted except for a few stray journalists, and some CID men. One of the journalists told us that papers could not be printed till at least 17 August, because they have run out of newsprint which comes from Delhi.

  • As mentioned above, one graphic designer working with a newspaper suffered pellet gun injuries, during a completely unprovoked attack by CRPF

A checkpoint in Srinagar | Image courtesy Vimal Bhai

Does Kashmir Lack Development?

In an op-ed in the Times Of India (August 9, 2019), former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador Nirupama Rao wrote: “A young Kashmiri told this writer a few months ago her birthplace was in the “stone age”; that in terms of economic development, Kashmir was two hundred years behind the rest of India.”

We struggled to find this “backward”, “stone age” Kashmir anywhere at all.

  • It is striking how in every Kashmiri village, we found young men and women who go to college or University; speak Kashmiri, Hindi and English fluently; and are able to argue points of Constitutional and international law in relation to the Kashmir conflict with factual accuracy and erudition. All four of the team members are familiar with villages in North Indian states. This high level of education is extremely rare in any village in, say, Bihar, UP, MP, or Jharkhand.

  • The homes in rural Kashmir are all pucca constructions. We saw no shacks like the ones that are common in rural Bihar, UP, Jharkhand.

  • There are poor people in Kashmir, certainly. But the levels of destitution, starvation and abject poverty seen in many North Indian states, is simply absent in rural Kashmir.

  • We met migrant labourers from North India and West Bengal at many places. They told us that they feel safe and free from xenophobic violence that they face in, say, Maharashtra or Gujarat. Daily wage migrant labourers told us “Kashmir is our Dubai. We earn Rs 600 to Rs 800 per day here – that is three or four times what we earn in other states.”

  • We found Kashmir refreshingly free of communal tension or mob lynchings. We met Kashmiri pandits who told us they felt safe in Kashmir, and that the Kashmiris always celebrate their festivals together. “We celebrate Eid, Holi, Diwali together. That is our Kashmiriyat. It is something different, special,” said one Kashmiri Pandit young man.

  • The myth of the “backward” Kashmiri woman is perhaps the biggest lie. Kashmiri girls enjoy a high level of education. They are articulate and assertive. Of course, they face and resist patriarchy and gender discrimination in their societies. But does BJP, whose Haryana CM and Muzaffarnagar MLA speak of “getting Kashmiri brides” as though Kashmiri women are property to be looted, have any right to preach feminism to Kashmir? Kashmiri girls and women told us, “We are capable of fighting our own battles. We don’t want our oppressors to claim to liberate us!”

The BJP Spokesperson’s “Warning”

We met BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs, Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo at the office of Rising Kashmir, a Kashmir newspaper. The conversation was initially cordial. He told us he had come to Kashmir from Jammu to persuade people to support the abrogation of Article 370. His main argument was that since the BJP had won a 46% vote share in J&K and had won an unprecedented majority in Parliament, they had not only a right but a duty to keep their promise of scrapping Article 370. “46% vote share – that’s a license”, he said.

He refused to acknowledge that this 46% vote share while winning only three Lok Sabha seats (Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh) was possible only because the voter turnout in the three other LS seats (Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla) was the lowest in the whole country.

Should a Government impose an unpopular decision on people of Kashmir who have not voted for that decision, at gunpoint? Chrungoo said, “In Bihar when Nitish Kumar imposed prohibition, he didn’t ask the alcoholics for their permission or consent. It’s the same here.” His contempt for the people of Kashmir was evident from this analogy.

Towards the end of the conversation, he became increasingly edgy when confronted by facts and arguments by us. He got up and wagged a finger at Jean Dreze, saying “We won’t let anti-nationals like you do your work here. I am warning you.”

Conclusion

The whole of Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control. The decisions taken by the Modi Government on J&K are immoral, unconstitutional and illegal. The means being adopted by the Modi Government to hold Kashmiris captive and suppress potential protests are also immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal.

  • We demand the immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A.

  • We assert that no decision about the status or future of J&K should be taken without the will of its people.

  • We demand that communications – including landline telephones, mobile phones and internet be restored with immediate effect.

  • We demand that the gags on the freedom of speech, expression and protest be lifted from J&K with immediate effect. The people of J&K are anguished – and they must be allowed to express their protest through media, social media, public gatherings and other peaceful means.

  • We demand that the gags on journalists in J&K be lifted immediately.

Jean Drèze, economist
Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and AIPWA
Maimoona Mollah, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)
Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soon Doctors Will Screen Everyone For Drugs

MassPrivateI | August 15, 2019

Imagine in the not too distant future your job, college ID, drivers license, passport, gun permit, health insurance etc., will depend on you passing a mandatory drug screening.

What is that you say? It could never happen in America.

It could happen sooner than you think if the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has anything to say about it.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, the USPSTF wants doctors to screen everyone for drug use.

“Questions about drug use should not only cover the possibility that a patient is taking illegal street drugs like cocaine or heroin, the task force said. They should also explore whether a patient might be sneaking pills from a family member’s pain medication or getting a boost from stimulants prescribed for a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.”

“The USPSTF recommends screening for illicit drug use in adults age 18 years or older”, according to their draft report.

Big Brother really wants to know if you are using illegal street drugs or prescription drugs, and they have given doctors numerous drug screening tools to find out.

Primary care practices are asked to use the following drug screening tools:

Some will say that this is merely a recommendation and that doctors would never screen everyone for drug use.

But it is already happening to welfare applicants in at least 15 states.

According to the National Conference of Legislatures, at least 15 states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients.

When is the last time you or someone you know went to the doctor’s for an unrelated pain or bruise. Did the doctor ask you or them about drug usage? Of course they did.

But if you will not take my word for it, then perhaps you will take Dr. Gary LeRoy’s word for it,

“We’ve been doing this for almost a decade in my office,” said Dr. LeRoy, a staff physician at the East Dayton Health Clinic in Dayton, Ohio, and president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Carol Mangione, the chief of general internal medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told Stat News, “This is a big change that we’re really excited about. Effective treatment is where we will finally begin to move the needle on the epidemic.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse created a “resource guide” that doctors have been using for almost a decade to ask patients about drug use.

According to the USPSTF’s “Draft Recommendation Statement,” about 50% to 86% of pediatricians report that they routinely screen patients for substance use.”

Will all hospitals and doctors adopt the USPSTF’s recommendations?

The New York Times warns “the group’s guidelines are not binding on doctors but they carry weight.”

The Los Angeles Times warns, “the task force is a group of experts who advise the federal government on disease prevention.”

And that is the key takeaway from this story. The USPSTF might claim to be an “independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. But each year, they send a graded recommendation to Congress, like this one, about mandatory drug screening.

As I mentioned earlier, most hospitals and doctors already ask their patients about their drug use. So it is really only a matter of time before the USPSTF convinces Congress to make it mandatory.

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

We must boycott Israeli sports as we did with Apartheid South Africa

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | August 14, 2019

The Palestinian Football Association is struggling to survive. Combined US-Israeli pressure on Palestinian organisations that provide aid and support to the Palestinian people is now felt in the field of sports as well. In recent months, the association’s budget has been slashed by more than half, and the new football season may be cancelled entirely.

In Palestine, football in particular, represents more than just a game. It provides respite, continuity, hope, and unity.

The Palestine Football Association has been in existence since 1928, that is 20 years before Israel was founded on destroyed Palestinian cities, towns and villages. But, not even the tragic Nakba would end the sport in Palestine. When Palestine was admitted as a full member of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 1998, a rare moment of triumph prevailed over the sense of political stagnation. The Palestinian national team became a representation of a collective sense of pride and defiance. It meant that despite Israeli military restrictions, the targeting of Palestinian athletes and the bombing of stadiums and sports facilities, Palestinians continue to embrace life and thrive.

Even after the factional clash between Fatah and Hamas and the subsequent political disconnect between Gaza and the West Bank, sports continued to provide a critical outlet for unity. While Gaza and the West Bank have their own football leagues, they still competed in a final match to determine the winner of the Palestine Cup.

Alas, last month, Israel prevented the Rafah football team from reaching the West Bank, to meet its Balata Youth Centre rivals in the Cup’s final match.

Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian sports is relentless and is part of a long record of making it nearly impossible for Palestinians to pursue activities that should have no bearing on “Israel’s security”.

The Palestine national team is possibly the most beleaguered football team in the world today.

“Due to Israeli restrictions, the Palestinian national team has been banned from playing their home games in Palestinian stadiums for many years and is forced to host them in nearby Arab countries,” wrote Hazem Balousha in Arab News. Effectively, this means that all Palestinian football training camps have to be held outside Palestine, often with the team’s Gaza squad unable to join their peers. Meanwhile, no foreign trainers are allowed to enter besieged Gaza.

Moreover, the occasional news of a Palestinian footballer being shot, beaten or imprisoned, though tragic, is routine news for Palestinians.

Israel has, however, hardly received any serious reprimand for its unlawful actions. Despite Tel Aviv’s constant violations of Palestinian sports rights, FIFA and other international sports federations continue to treat Israel with kid gloves. Worse, instead of being punished for violating international law regarding sports, Israel is often rewarded. The fact that Israel’s Football Association includes six teams from illegal Jewish settlements (colonies that are built on stolen Palestinian land) seems to be of no consequence to FIFA’s bosses.

Recently, the sports brand, Puma has replaced Adidas as the sponsor of Israel’s national football teams. The decision indicates that the company is completely oblivious to sports apartheid in Israel. Puma’s lack of sportsmanship is now the subject of a major international boycott campaign led by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Over 200 Palestinian sports clubs support the call on Puma to end its dealings with Israel, in an attempt to pressure Israel to put an end to its violations of Palestinian human rights.

In fact, Israel should be boycotted in every possible way until it relents and respects international law regarding the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people. Often, however, we overlook the centrality of sports boycott in the overall boycott strategy.

Sports boycott engages, not only politicians and intellectuals but also ordinary people around the world. “The case for football boycott of Israel is just as compelling as that of football boycott of South Africa,” BDS wrote on its homepage. For one, “boycott would spread awareness of Israeli racism and abuse of Palestinian human rights across the football community worldwide.”

Moreover, boycotting Israeli sports, especially football, will deny Israel an important tool aimed at normalising its military occupation, apartheid, and racism. It will force ordinary Israelis to think about the consequences of their support of right-wing racist governments. It could, in fact, it will espouse a serious debate in Israel.

This same logic worked in Apartheid South Africa and was a powerful tool in the international support for the anti-Apartheid movement in that country.

But with FIFA and others turning a blind eye to Israeli violations, Palestinians continue to suffer while Israel continues to sell itself as a sports-loving member of FIFA and other sports organizations.

“Divestment and boycotts are familiar tactics from the international anti-apartheid movement, but they didn’t match the psychological power of the sports boycott,” wrote Tony Karon in the National.

“Rugby was an essential part of the identity of the South African regime’s base, and denying their ability to compete on an international stage was one of the most painful sanctions in the minds of many apartheid supporters.”

As for FIFA, it suspended the membership of the Football Association of South Africa in 1961, followed by a decision, in 1968 by the United Nations General Assembly that called for boycotting all sports bodies in South Africa that practiced apartheid. The pressure continued to mount, uniting international solidarity around clear and achievable objectives.

Many organisations have taken the lead in their respective countries to create a similar movement for Palestine. Israel must not be allowed to participate in international sports while simultaneously cementing its apartheid, racist regime in Palestine.

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Big dreams for a small school

Defence for Children Palestine – August 12, 2019

Students attending Ibziq Mixed Primary school in the northern Jordan Valley, near the West Bank city of Tubas, face danger and instability due to Israel’s military trainings and activities in the area.

Read the feature: https://www.dci-palestine.org/big_dre…

FOLLOW DCIP Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DCIPS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DCIPalestine

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dcipalestine/

MUSIC The Machine Assembly by The Whole Other https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBDYF…

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

India’s narrative on J&K is hyperbolic

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | August 13, 2019

Editorials have appeared in two leading Delhi newspapers today (here and here) urging the government to present a credible, appealing diplomatic narrative on the J&K developments.

The Indian narrative so far is largely focused on the domestic audience. It has gone to ridiculous extents by projecting that the situation is actually quite “normal” in J&K. Pictures of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval savouring (mutton) biryani with Kashmiri Muslims on a street corner in Srinagar have been doing the rounds. (Indeed, it was a charade to hoodwink the public.)

Crude propaganda won’t win hearts and minds. A narrative has to be crafted rationally. It’s common knowledge that there is little acceptance of the government move among Kashmiri Muslims.

When it comes to the external projection of the Indian narrative, given the fact that India’s case is flying in the face of international law and the UN Charter, the government must be capable of sensitivity.

The government would have seized the initiative at the diplomatic level if only soon after Home Minister Amit Shah piloted through both houses of the parliament at breakneck speed the legislation on abrogating Article 370 of the constitution, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had stood up and made a suo moto statement offering to discuss all differences with Pakistan bilaterally in a comprehensive dialogue in the best interests of regional security, peace and stability.

Of course, such a momentous initiative would have required imagination, far-sightedness and wisdom — and, most important, political courage at the leadership level. The shortfall in statecraft and diplomacy is appalling.

A self-righteous attitude will not do. Take EAM’s demarche with the Chinese counterpart State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Monday. The MEA readout spells out the Indian stance on the following lines:

One, constitutional amendment is an “internal matter for India” and the “sole prerogative of the country”.

Two, abrogation of J&K’s special status (including changes in Ladakh’s status) is aimed at “promoting better governance and socio-economic development”.

Three, the government move has “no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control” with China.

And, four, India is “not raising any additional territorial claims.”

Incredibly enough, this was how EAM brushed aside China’s “serious concern over the recent escalation of turmoil in Kashmir” – that “any unilateral action that may complicate the situation in Kashmir should not be taken; that the Kashmir issue is a dispute born out of the region’s colonial history and should be properly handled in a peaceful way in line with the UN Charter, relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India”; and, its expectation that “India will play a constructive role in regional peace and stability.” (here, here, here, here and here

EAM’s rejoinder may have some resonance domestically within India as a macho attitude, but it will only arouse mirth and derision abroad — even in the diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri area.

No P5 member country has officially voiced support for India. There is no shred of evidence that the Russian Foreign Ministry voiced support for India on the issue — not on the FO website; neither in a Tass or Novosti report nor even in the irrepressible Russian press. Some fly-by-night operator well-versed with the Indian rope trick, apparently spread fake news on a Friday night and it became “breaking news” in India by next morning. Pathetic.

Simply put, the Indian stance articulated by EAM is fundamentally flawed in logic and can only be counter-productive, as it shuts the door on discussion. The point is, Kashmir is an international dispute and India unilaterally changed J&K’s “status” in violation of the relevant UN resolutions. No one will accept India’s claim that it is an “internal matter”.

World opinion accepts that Pakistan is a party to Kashmir dispute. It is beside the point that India is not redrawing boundaries. And it’s gratuitous to say there is “no implication” for the LOC or the LOAC. If things were that simple, why couldn’t Modi government stomach the CPEC passing through Gilgit-Baltistan? We screamed, “territorial sovereignty” blah, blah.

World opinion will only believe that Delhi’s real intention is to change the demographic balance so that there shall be no Muslim-majority entity henceforth within the Indian Union.

If such unilateral acts in modern history are as simple as “internal matter”, why is no one recognising Russia’s annexation of Crimea? Why is Beijing so sensitive on intervention in Hong Kong? Why is the US insisting on “freedom of navigation” in South China Sea? Why is the US raising eyebrow over the North Sea Route and the Arctic? What is wrong with Iran’s claim over Persian Gulf as sovereign territory? What prevents Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa from solving the Tamil problem in similar fashion (as he hinted last week)?

The Modi government will be creating a long-term, intractable problem for India for generations to come by adopting such an ostrich approach. Analysts have pointed out (here and here) that the change in Ladakh’s status makes the India-China border dispute incredibly complicated and all but unsolvable. India’s international standing can get seriously damaged.   

The only way to address the conundrum is to propose to Pakistan that India is ready to discuss these differences. Fortuitously, Pakistan also faces the unhappy situation that no one in the international community is showing willingness to stand up and be counted as its partner to push back at India.

The bottom line is that India enjoys wide acceptance for its insistence on bilateralism to resolve differences with Pakistan. India should now tactfully exercise this privilege. It is always possible to hold out informal assurances that there’ll be no “colonisation” of Kashmir valley. After all, we have such safeguards for many regions of India.  

The window of opportunity shall not remain open for long. From all accounts, the ground situation in J&K is explosive and the grating roar of human misery is approaching. PM Imran Khan’s prognosis on another Pulwama is not off the mark. For Delhi to build a new architecture in J&K out of the debris all around, a dialogue with Pakistan is critically important.

August 13, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

Mediation Is the Way Forward for Kashmir

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 13, 2019

It so happened that when the most recent Kashmir crisis broke on 5 August I was at a gathering of the UN Blue Berets of Kashmir. We served together in that beautiful but now chaotic region 39 years ago and have had a reunion almost every year since then. We have rarely been able to discuss good news about Kashmir, because there hasn’t been any.

The August decision by India’s ultra-nationalist Prime Minister to unilaterally change the status of the territory is only one of the many disasters to befall it in the seventy years since the Muslim majority state, the fiefdom of a Hindu Maharaja, was allocated to India by the colonial British who in 1947 had been forced to grant independence to India, resulting in creation of the separate nations of Pakistan and India which disagree about the status of the territory.

Before examining the Indian government’s recent actions, a most important aspect of the Kashmir dispute has to be clarified. It concerns the matter of bilateralism as interpreted by India. This was indicated, for example, by the newspaper the Chandigarh Tribune which stated on 8 August that “UN chief Antonio Guterres has recalled the Simla Agreement of 1972, a bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan that rejects third-party mediation in Kashmir after Islamabad asked him to play his ‘due role’ following New Delhi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.”

The Tribune is one of India’s best newspapers. Its reports are usually factual, objective and well-written. But it is flat wrong in its contention that the Simla Accord “rejects” third party mediation about Kashmir, because it most certainly does no such thing.

The Tribune was retailing the policy of the Indian government whose External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar announced on 2 August that he had “conveyed to American counterpart Mike Pompeo, this morning in clear terms, that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally.” India has for decades insisted that involvement of any third party is not permissible and that there can be no mediation.

It is obvious why India refuses to countenance mediation — because it is almost certain that any independent, objective mediator would make the point that UN Security Council agreements still apply to the territory, and that none of them, most notably the matter of a plebiscite, have been annulled or in any manner diluted. As the BBC has noted, “In three resolutions, the UN Security Council and the United Nations Commission in India and Pakistan recommended that as already agreed by Indian and Pakistani leaders, a plebiscite should be held to determine the future allegiance of the entire state.”

But it is India’s relentless and wilful misinterpretation of its existing accord with Pakistan that is the greatest blockage in the path to reconciliation.

The Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan was signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto following the 1971 war between the countries, which resulted in creation of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. It lays down that “the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between the two countries” and “the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them . . .”

First, the mention of the United Nations, which is important because the UN Charter states in Paragraph 33 that “The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”

Mediation and arbitration are proposed, and the Simla Accord does not in any way discount or reject them. Its statement “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them” is quite clear that by inclusion of the phrase “or by any other peaceful means” that mediation is not excluded.

India is intent on becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, but this will be impossible if it continues to ignore the content of the UN Charter Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 1, which says its aim is “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

It is difficult to see how India’s inflexible opposition to international mediation can benefit India or — much more importantly — the twelve million inhabitants of Indian-administered Kashmir.  The decision by Prime Minister Modi to annul Article 370 of the Constitution and thus abolish the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir was simply a movement in his ultra-nationalist campaign to ensure supremacy of Hindus. Since 1948 the Article has meant that the territory’s citizens have their own Constitution, their own laws, and the right to property ownership, with non-Kashmiris not being permitted to buy land. It is this last that is a major life-changer for the region, because southern Hindus will now be encouraged to by land and property, and gradually (or perhaps not-so-gradually) displace the Kashmiris themselves.

Modi promised “new opportunity and prosperity to the people” — but if he thought, before he made the announcement about annulment of citizen’s rights, that this would be greeted with enthusiasm and that his policy would indeed benefit the people of the territory, then why did he send “tens of thousands of Indian troops . . . in addition to the half a million troops already stationed there”? Why did the Central Government “shut off most communication with [the territory], including internet, cellphone and landline networks”?

Obviously he was expecting resentment from every Kashmiri. And he got it.

Even the news outlet India Today was slightly bemused, and three days before the Modi decision was made public reported that “In the past one week, the Narendra Modi government has decided to send an additional 38,000 troops to the Kashmir Valley in two batches — 10,000 and 28,000. This follows a statement by the home ministry in Parliament that the situation has improved in Kashmir Valley.” In other words the Central Government was well aware that the Constitution decision would provoke anger and bitterness on the part of Kashmiris and was well-prepared to take military action to crush any manifestation of discontent.

The New York Times observed that “Clamping down on millions of people is an extraordinary step for the world’s largest democracy. . . As tensions have risen in recent days, groups of young men, full of years of pent-up frustration, have squared off with soldiers, hurling rocks and ducking buckshot. Security forces arrested more than 500 people and put them in makeshift detention centres.”

On 9 August a reporter for the UK’s Guardian managed to find out that because of the clampdown on communications “people cannot call relatives, or call ambulances if there is an emergency. Public transport is not running, which means those with health problems can only get to a hospital if they have a car – and even then they struggle to get far. Across the city, many roads are permanently blocked by loops of barbed wire. At checkpoints, people – including families with children – can be seen pleading with police to let them pass. Most people, nervous that tensions were building last week, had stocked up on food and essentials, but it’s not known how long the curfew will last.”

On 10 August the BBC’s reporter filed that “Thousands of people took to the streets in Srinagar after Friday prayers, in the largest demonstration since a lockdown was imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir. The BBC witnessed the police opening fire and using tear gas to disperse the crowd. Despite that, the Indian government has said the protest never took place.”

Welcome to the Occupied Territory of Kashmir.

India and Pakistan continue to claim the whole of Kashmir, but neither government can seriously believe that any mediation tribunal would judge this to be appropriate. There would be compromise — the sort of compromise that India and Pakistan are incapable of reaching on their own.

If ever mediation was needed, it is now, before there is eruption that could lead to nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

August 13, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment