Exiled Tibetans protest outside UN HQ in Geneva

Exiled Tibetans protested in front of the iconic “Broken Chair” in Geneva ahead of the 36th United Nations Human Rights Council Session against the atrocities being committed by the Chinese Government and demanded independence for Tibet.

Holding placards ‘Who is responsible for self-immolation -The Chinese government’ and raising slogans “we want justice”, exiled Tibetans protesters called for a “Free Tibet”.

ANI quoted Dawa Norbu, representative of Tibetan community of Switzerland, saying, “We are here to protest ahead of the 36th United Nations Human Rights Council Session meeting as we want to make them (UN members) aware of the prevailing human rights situation in Tibet. We want our voices to be heard and the reason is why UN is not acting against the Chinese government. We want to make them aware that what wrong Chinese Government has done in past few years.”, “Chinese have demolished Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Institute, one of the largest centres of Buddhist learning in Tibet. Now, they are trying to control the entire Buddhist institutes in Tibet,” he added.

Voicing concern over the increasing Chinese oriented development activities, others present at the protest voiced that they were concerned about indigenous Tibetans who live in the absence of freedom of speech, freedom to practice their religion, about arbitrary arrests that are made and the Human rights violation of those arrested who have no access to the lawyers, languishing in jails and deprived of justice.

Tibetans raised issues ranging from the gross violations of human rights in Tibet, the resurgence of immolation protests in Tibet to the 1949 China’s illegal occupation of Tibet.

Sources:ANI, Reuters





Innocent Lives are Price for Protection here


The Border Security Forces (BSF) who are responsible for protecting the Indo-Bangladesh frontier usher violence upon the people of the border areas in the north-eastern states.

In a latest and one of the most shocking incidents, two BSF personnel posted at Silsury Border Outpost (BOP) under Mami district of Mizoram the allegedly raped a woman and killed another, along the Indo- Bangladesh border in Mamit district. The rape survivor, identified as Dangubi Milebo Chakma (name changed) in a statement alleged that on July 16 she was waylaid and gang raped while she, along with another woman Rangabi Chakma, had gone to collect bamboo shoots into the forest. The survivor’s account speaks of more than just this. She told the police that when she resisted the rape attempt, the BSF personnel rubbed an acid-soaked cloth on her face. She has suffered serious injuries on her face and eyes and is undergoing treatment at Aizwal.

Many untold stories of BSF’s atrocities reside in these areas and very few cases see the light of the media and even aspire to seek justice. To note some, on January7, 2011 BSF personnel killed 14 year old Felani Khatun near Anantpur. A year before that, on November 30, 2010 a man named Khoka Mia was shot while trying to save his daughter Tulu Aktar from being molested by BSF jawans at Amzadnagar, Belonia, in the state of Tripura. On April 15, 2006 the BSF indiscriminately open fired upon the Chakma tribal village at Bulongsuri under the Lunglei district when the villagers protested against the BSF for the mistreatment of a Buddhist monk. And many have still not found justice under the judicial files.

To take stringent measures against the BSF becomes tough as they are protected under Sections 46 and 47 of the BSF Act, 1968 that grants BSF personnel immunity from being tried in regular courts, thus making them virtually inaccessible.

Biplab Mukherjee, secretary of Kolkata-based Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), that filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the BSF Act, says that on an average ten cases of BSF related violence are reported every month in the Bengal-Bangladesh border. And this is only a scratch on the surface of the bigger reality that exists.


Sources: Newslaundry, The Northeast Today




Woman arrested in Saudi Arabia for wearing miniskirt in Snapchat video

A Saudi woman has been arrested by Saudi police after a Snapchat video of her walking around in public dressed in a miniskirt and crop-top emerged on social media. The woman’s attire goes against the strict Islamic dress code which is enforced upon women of the country.

In the video, which has since gone viral, the woman can be seen walking through a historic fort located in the desert region of Najd, which is often considered to be one of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative areas.

The video evoked significant response on social media and the internet. It sparked the creation of a Twitter hashtag that demanded her arrest, with several people claiming she openly disobeyed Saudi rules, which require all women residing in Saudi Arabia, including foreigners, to wear abayas in public. The abaya is a loose, robe-like over-garment that usually covers a large part of the body. Many women in Saudi also wear a headscarf and veil that covers the face.

Social media is very popular in the country and is used as a space to vent frustrations and gauge public opinion. The protest against the video and the opinions on the woman’s subsequent arrest reveal how deep-rooted and widespread conservative views are, in spite of several recent moves by Saudi Arabia to modernize and get rid of rules that do not belong in contemporary society.

Sources: Washington Post, Glamour

President Jammeh Declares Gambia an Islamic Republic


Image Source:naharnet.com

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, declared his country an Islamic Republic, after having unshackled the colonial past to be in line with Gambia’s majority religion and principles. The small West African country comprises of 90 per cent of Muslim citizens.

The declaration was made during a rally in the coastal town of Brufut.

Jammeh said, “Gambia’s destiny is in the hands of the Almighty Allah. As from today, Gambia is an Islamic state. We will be an Islamic state that will respect the rights of the citizens.”

Mr. Jammeh, 50, a military officer seized power in 1994. Since then he had experienced considerable amount of flak and accusations of human rights abuses, such as clampdown on political opponents. He has had a reputation of showing open criticism to Gambia’s colonial past, which he holds responsible for the country’s woes.

During the declaration, having said, “I have not appointed anyone as an Islamic policeman. The way women dress is not your business,” he said, assuring no imposition of dress code on women.

He also stressed that the people with varied religious identities will be allowed to worship freely. “Christians will be given their due respect. The way of celebrating Christmas will continue”, he opined that no one possesses the right to interfere with other’s way of life.

Ousainou Darboe, the secretary general of the main opposition United Democratic Party, said to a news agency, “President Yahya Jammeh’s pronouncement or declaration is unconstitutional, it has no constitutional basis and… it is an unlawful declaration… It is becoming ridiculous that whenever he wants to divert pubic attention from what is happening in the country, he attacks colonialism,” he said that while attacking Mr. Jammeh’s 2013 withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games, calling it “an extension of colonialism.”

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch had branded Jammeh’s regime as one of the most oppressive in the world, which blamed the secret police and paramilitaries for torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

However, with the aid money being suspended in the last year over such issues pertaining to poor human rights record, Jammeh has attempted to mend Gambia’s severed relations with the European Union.

Sources: The HinduHindustan Times

Dragon’s Den

When one thinks of economically powerful and progressive countries, one of the first names that spring to mind is China. Everywhere you look, products bear the name of the Oriental behemoth, as the country somehow contrives to push a never ending supply of goods into the rest of the world every day. China is ranked second in the world in terms of nominal annual GDP, with only the United States of America ahead of them. The supply of capital to the economy comes from several sectors – from agriculture and mining to telecommunications and tourism. And with the Taiwan cash cow ever-present, China is looking at several more years, maybe decades of economic sustainability.

However, once this rich, modern, almost opulent façade is torn away, it reveals the darker side of one the world’s largest (alleged) democracies. While the official name of the state may be the People’s Republic of China, democracy and individual rights are merely lip service here.  There is no denying the fact (though they may well try to do so), that when it comes to Human Rights, China is almost at rock bottom.

What is more unsettling is that there is no real sense that any kind of respite might be forthcoming for the citizens. As mentioned by Jerome A. Cohen, in his article “Police, Party and Punishment in China” for the South China Morning Post, the country places most of the law enforcing duties and privileges in the hands of the nation’s police. Most of China’s immediate neighbours in the continent have prosecutors and judges who, despite their flaws, make efforts to actively restrict any sort of abuse of power by the police. However, in China (though this may seem a bit extreme) law and order almost resembles the system in Nazi Germany. In the 1940’s, the Nazi secret police or Gestapo more often than not had the last word when it came to law enforcement and maintaining discipline in areas occupied by the Fuhrer’s empire. Again, it may seem a bit heavy-handed to draw direct comparisons between the Gestapo and the Chinese police. After all, the Chinese have not indulged in a brutal mass cull of an entire race like the Nazi Germans did in the Holocaust (at least not yet). However, the extent of control that the police appear to have in China is unnerving to say the least, and quite frighteningly, Cohen notes, they exercise their right to carry out extra-legal action on any and every group of people. So often in China, campaigners for human rights and political activists “disappear” mysteriously, and are often subjected to physical and psychological abuses. These horrors are not merely hearsay or speculation. Eminent lawyers such as Gao Zisheng and Zheng Enchong, who was placed under house arrest even after he had finished serving his sentence, have spoken openly about the horrors they were subjected to by the police. In short, police abuse in China is not a figment of anyone’s paranoid imagination, but a very real, very harsh reality.

Another one of China’s more notorious laws is with regard to the One Child Policy enforced by the government in a bid to curb the country’s explosive population growth. The policy, which has been in place since 1978, decrees that a family is not permitted to have more than one child. The policy was employed in a bid to help alleviate social and economic problems in the country. The authorities claim to have prevented more than 600 million births between 1980 and 2011. While the policy is good in theory, the government’s punishments for people who break this law have been extremely harsh. More recently, in 2010, authorities resorted to imprisoning relatives of women who broke this rule, in an attempt to force them to undergo sterilisation surgery. A campaign was launched in Guangzhou, named the ‘Iron Fist Campaign’, which targeted 10,000 women across the province. Repercussions for having more than one child had always been present, but a crackdown on this scale was unprecedented, and undeniably cruel.

This modern day brutality is more surprising in its intensity than in its existence. China has a long history of violence. In Ancient times, Chinese techniques of punishment included tattooing on the offender’s face or forehead with indelible ink, cutting off of his nose, amputation of body parts and/or reproductive organs, and sentencing to death, which was done by either cutting the body into four pieces or by ripping the head off by attaching it to chariots. Of course, it would be grossly inaccurate and unfair to suggest that the prosecution today is anywhere near this scale of cruelty. But one can see where the mentality to ‘get even’, even on a highly tempered level, comes from.

Even children, it would seem, are not spared. China is filled with sweatshops, most of them in operation to do the bidding of multi-million dollar American multi-nationals. Apple and Nike are just two of the companies that have been accused in the past of enforcing hard labour on people in these shops for ridiculously low wages. Several of these workers, many of them little children, earn as little as $6 per hour while working for almost twelve hours a day, and are even sometimes docked half a day’s pay for being just five minutes late. China may be contributing heavily to the world’s economy and market, ensuring a constant supply of expensive consumer goods to feed the American soul, but countless lives are put through the mill everyday as a consequence.

An aunt from my extended family, Lynn, is Chinese and has obviously lived there for most of her life. While she is currently happy in Australia with her husband (my uncle), her early life was anything but. She was a swimming champion in school, and her stories of her daily schedules at the time make anything we have ever been through look positively tame. She would wake up at 5 in the morning, and go for practice. After a couple of hours of rigorous training, she would head to school. At the end of the day, she would go for practice yet again, till late at night. Home and sleep. That was her whole life. No playing with friends, no recreation whatsoever – a hollow, monotonously cyclical existence. Seeing her today, you wouldn’t imagine she was ever as miserable as that. It has taken her a long time, but more importantly, an escape from China to be happy.

No doubt that China remains in a position of power in the world today. However, their phenomenal economic progress is coming at an incredible price. Countless lives are virtually hanging in the balance every day, as their basic individual rights are flagrantly violated time and again. Policy makers need to be stronger, and more importantly, the rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is happening in this so-called democracy.