Archive for category Neoliberalism

Free Palestine! End Israeli occupation! End the siege of Gaza!

Free Palestine! End Israeli occupation! End the siege of Gaza!

South Asia Solidarity Group condemns Israel’s genocidal attack on the people of Gaza.

Protesting outside the Israeli Embassy, New Delhi, July 14

Protesting outside the Israeli Embassy, New Delhi, July 14

We mourn the deaths of thousands of men, women and children killed in Gaza – not because they are disproportionate but because ‘proportionate’ does not make sense in a genocide.

We condemn Israel’s colonial policy of collective punishment which has held Gaza under siege – starving the population of essential needs  and then deliberately bombing hospitals,  schools and homes; killing people as they flee from the bombing; flattening vast areas of Gaza and  destroying its power supply and water.   This is a policy which we as South Asians know from our history. In India it was used by the British colonialists after the 1857 uprising –  India’s first war of independence – to wipe out entire populations in village after village. Like the Palestinians they were killed  not because they were convicted of anything, but because they were people of targeted regions. In that period too,  all freedom fighters and all those who resisted or even dissented were constructed as terrorists. Everyone was regarded as a ‘insurgent’.

We condemn the Indian government for its shameful silence and ambiguity over Israel’s genocide and its refusal initially to even discuss the issue in Parliament.  The present Indian government, led by the right-wing BJP, with its ideology of Hindu supremacy,  is betraying India’s own history of anti-colonial struggle.

This history was the reason why India was, for four decades after independence, unequivocally committed to freedom for Palestine. Indian freedom fighters spoke out wholeheartedly in solidarity with Palestine’s struggle.   Gandhi famously declared that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs as England belongs to the English or France to the French.” This is the understanding which  informs all those hundreds of thousands of people who, in the last few weeks, have demonstrated across India against Israel’s genocide..

We condemn the Indian government’s violent response to these peaceful demonstrations which led to hundreds being injured and the death of  fifteen year old Suhail Ahmad in police firing in Kashmir.

Why is it a crime in India today to demonstrate in solidarity with Palestine? Why are  pro-Israel forces  welcomed and pro-Palestine demonstrations  brutally attacked by the police?

We condemn India’s ‘deepening relationship with Israel. Over the last two decades, India’s ruling class has embraced neoliberalism and  grown closer to US imperialism and Indian governments have advocated a ‘pragmatic’ relationship with Israel.  Between 1998 and 2004 when a BJP-led government was in power for the first time, this relationship became even closer with a growing  affinity between Zionism and the BJP’s own ideology of Hindutva, each echoing the others’ murderous Islamophobia, both attempting to rewrite history, both specifically stamptargeting Muslim women and children for the most  inhuman violence and both profoundly misogynistic. The state of Gujarat was described,  during the 2002 pogrom against Muslims as the ‘laboratory of the Hindu nation’. Today Gaza has become a laboratory of Zionism in which illegal weapons, cancer-causing bombs and other  methods of extermination are used with a cruelty which  no words are adequate to describe.

Israel receives weapons from the US and UK but also manufactures and sells its own. India is its biggest customer. It buys a massive  50% of its total weapon sales- a huge contribution to Israel’s economy. Tens of thousands of Indian paramilitary commandos are armed with Israeli Micro-Uzis with which they kill mainly unarmed civilians in India’s central belt, where multinationals are involved in land grabs, or in Kashmir. The Barak-8 naval missile defence system, Mossad surveillance equipment and expertise, and a variety of drones are others in a plethora of  weapons which India is buying and which are proudly on display at India’s Republic Day parade. We condemn these purchases.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle for freedom!

 

“Don’t teach me what to wear – teach your sons not to rape”

Meeting held on Wednesday 23 Januaryin solidarity with India’s anti-rape protests and to confront gender violence in Britain

Kavita Krishnan on skype, Kalpana Wilson, Marai Larasi, Naila Kabeer, Rahila Gupta, Kaveri Sharma,

 Lia Latchford, Amrit Wilson (left to right)

Click the links below for press reports

http://www.business-standard.com/generalnews/news/uk-rights-groups-callindia-to-act-against-rape/114265/

http://www.thehindu.com/news/south-asian-women-call-for-genderjust-laws-in-india/article4344888.ece#.UQKv8bZpRKM.email

 

Against Gender Violence! For Freedom from Fear!

International day of action to stop the nuclear plant at Koodankulam

 Protest outside the Indian High Commission

Wednesday 24 October, 4pm to 7pm

India House, Aldwych, WC2B 4NA

Nearest tube: Holborn

Protests will also take place on the same date in

Belgium, Germany,

Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka

A report on a meeting against Nuclear Power Plants on the 18 October


Doctors, academics, legal workers and activists at a packed meeting  in the House of Commons in London  (18 October) declared their solidarity with the protesters against the nuclear power plants at Koodankulam,Indiaand Hinkley Point,Somerset,UKand their opposition to nuclear power as a source of energy.

The meeting was hosted by MP Caroline Lucas and organized jointly by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and South Asia Solidarity Group. Read the rest of this entry »

NO MORE FUKUSHIMAS! NO MORE CHERNOBYLS! NO NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN BRITAIN AND INDIA !

Public Meeting, House of Commons,

Thursday October 18, 6.30-8pm, Committee Room 6

Speakers: Caroline Lucas MP; Kate Hudson  (CND); Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group); Dr Frank Boulton (Medact);  Speaker from People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, Koodankulam (via internet)

 

  • In Koodankulam India, a Tsunami and earthquake prone zone, a non-violent mass movement is resisting the activation of a nuclear power plant which violates the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Guidelines. The Indian state has militarised the entire area and charged 55,000 peaceful protestors with criminal offences including 8000 with sedition.
  • In Hinkley in Somerset, a concerted peaceful struggle is taking place to prevent the setting up of the largest nuclear reactor in Britain– the first in 20 years, and the dumping of UK’s stockpile of high level nuclear waste at Hinkley Point.

  • Why, at a time when the rest of Europe is turning away from nuclear power, is Britain adding to its 18 nuclear power and nuclear dumping sites, with four more nuclear power plants planned by 2019? Why is David Cameron actively exporting civil nuclear technology to India, a country with an abysmal industrial safety record?
  • Who benefits? Why is global solidarity between people resisting nuclear power plants crucial?

STOP STATE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF KOODANKULAM!

Stop the Fuelling of the Nuclear Power Plant!

DEFEND THE DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO

PROTEST AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER!

We condemn the repression and violence unleashed by the government against the people of Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu, India who are peacefully protesting against the commissioning and fuelling of a nuclear power plant in the midst of their community which violates international safety standards. This large-scale nuclear power plant which the Indian government has been constructing in collaboration with Russian company Atomsroyexport, will have serious consequences for the life and ecology of the whole of peninsular India.

 

On September 10 2012, thousands of local people marched towards the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, as all their attempts to engage in a dialogue with the government over the last year had failed. The government responded to this peaceful protest with police violence, using teargas and baton charges against the protestors, particularly targeting women, who have been at the forefront of the movement,and forcing people including the children into the sea. A 44-year old fisherman has been killed in police firing in another protest in Tuticorn, a young girl was trampled to death, and many were injured. Meanwhile police also attacked the village of Idinthakkarai which has been the centre of the movement, and in the absence of the residents broke into homes and their place of worship and ransacked and vandalised them. Since then mass arrests and police raids on villages have continued.

 

The events of the last few days are a culmination of repression and militarisation of the area, (which has also been a feature of other nuclear power projects in India in Jaitapur and Fatehabad), in which non-violent protesters are being intimidated, harassed, imprisoned, and falsely charged. From one police station alone, charges have been brought against more than 55,000 people including 8,000 for sedition and ‘war against the state’.

 

The people are currently appealing to the Indian Supreme Court against the Chennai High Court decision to authorise the loading of uranium fuel rods for operationalising the plant.  Any attempt to go ahead with fuelling the plant at this point is therefore a violation of basic democratic rights.

 

NO Nuclear power plant in Koodankulam!

 

The protesters at Koodankulam are urging that the construction be halted because:

 

  • The construction violates the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Guidelines as the Koodankulam is in a tsunami and earthquake prone region which has also experienced small volcanic eruptions and is affected by water shortages.

 

 

 

  • It is in violation of the mandatory requirement for construction of fresh water reservoirs which are essential in case of a nuclear accident. This is significant, because fresh water is the only remedy in the event of a nuclear emergency. A main factor in all major accidents – such as at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima – was the lack of fresh water.
    • Mandatory reports on the safety of the construction are being withheld from the public and the media.

 

We demand:

 

  • The violence and repression by police and paramilitaries against the people of Koodankulam must end
  • The fuelling of the plant must be halted immediately
  • Sedition and ‘war against the state’ cases against members of Koodankulam People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy must be dropped and Section 144 lifted.
  • International safety regulations for the nuclear plant must be followed.
  • All reports, reviews and information related to the nuclear plant must be transparent and accessible to the public.

OIN THE INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS AGAINST THE KOODANKULAM NUCLEAR PLANT!

  • Join the Koodankulam contingent at the Stop Hinkley events on Saturday October 6 – details http://stopnewnuclear.org.uk/
  • Attend the Public Meeting ‘No More Nuclear Power Plants’ at the House of Commons on Thursday October 18, 6.30-8pm, Committee Room 6. More details soon at www.southasiasolidarity.org or contact sasg@southasiasolidarity.org

NO MORE CHERNOBYLS! NO MORE FUKUSHIMAS!

NO NUCLEAR PLANT IN KOODANKULAM!

South Asia Solidarity Group and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

 

 


Soni Sori’s “Crime” in the Land of the Robber Barons

Member of Odisha state legislature Jhina Hikaka (2nd R), accompanied by his wife Kaushalya Majhi

Describing Maoists as the “most formidable threat” to the country’s security, India’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has recently been emphasizing the need for more “men, weapons, and vehicles” to fight terrorism and establish a new National Counter-Terrorism Center.

While the chief ministers of some regional state governments (particularly those ruled by opposition parties) have opposed Chidambaram, there can be no doubt that like him, they too feel that more must be spent on repression. Simply, they want to keep the control of “security” in their states in their own hands.

But why, with billions of rupees already being spent on counter-terrorism activities, is more now needed? Is the government really facing a “formidable threat?” And what

is it like to be at the receiving end of the government’s security forces? Soni Sori’s experiences provide some answers to these questions.

Sori, an Adivasi (indigenous) school teacher from a small town in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, is in prison charged with aiding Maoists.

Her story highlights not only the horrific human rights abuses at the hands of Indian security forces but, in a variety of ways, illuminates the collective experience of the majority of the population of Chhattisgarh, and indeed of a wide swathe of central India. Until recently, this region of deep forests and beautiful mountains, which includes not only Chhattisgarh but also the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh had been ignored byIndia’s engines of “development.” Similarly to colonial times, still today there are few schools or hospitals and malnutrition levels in these states are some of the highest in the world.

However, in the last decade and a half the riches under the ground, particularly coal, iron, and aluminum, have drawn the attention of global capital and the region is now buzzing with mining companies, security forces to clear the way for them, and international NGOs. Multinationals such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton,South Korea’s POSCO, the Indian-owned Essar, and many more are all there seeking their share of the spoils.

These companies are taking over fertile agricultural land and sacred sites and uprooting whole villages. They are displacing thousands of indigenous people – robbing them of their homes, destroying their livelihoods and culture, and reducing them to refugees in their own country. With little concern forIndia’s environmental laws, many of these companies are also destroying the land itself, not only for now but for generations to come, as they rip off the topsoil and pollute rivers and streams for miles with toxic effluents and poisonous mud.

In the last decade and a half the riches under the ground, particularly coal, iron, and aluminum, have drawn the attention of global capital.

If in the colonial era guns accompanied foreign appropriation, today independent India’s neoliberal state has gathered the full force of its repressive machinery and military power to ensure that global capital can plunder the country. On roads built specially for the purpose the paramilitary, police commandos and recently the army have invaded the region targeting all resistance – be this in the form of people’s movements, guerrilla groups, or even individual dissenters such as human rights activists and journalists.

 

India’s central belt is also the scene of what has been described as a veritable zoo of paramilitary forces: “Black Cats” (Indian Special Response Unit specializing in counter-terrorism) who provide VIP security, “Cobras” (Command Battalion for Resolute Action), Grey Hounds, Scorpions, and others. In addition, there is the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) well-known for their brutality in Kashmir and India’s north eastern states. As if this were not enough, there have also been armed vigilante groups – among them the notorious “Salwa Judum” which was set up with initial funding from steel companies Tata and Essar. Supposedly, it has now disbanded in response to popular protests.

The multinationals also have their own private armies. Female members of Tata’s militia were photographed attacking and disrobing indigenous women protesters in Odisha. There are also the untrained Special Police Officers, notorious for their cruelty and arbitrary violence.

Meanwhile, like the missionaries of the last century, international NGOs are active, often seeming to divert the energies of those who oppose the mining companies and attempting to literally buy up many of the activists who resist the corporates with offers of jobs, perks, and free Tata Sumo four-wheel drives.

The multinationals, the Indian government, and international NGOs work in cosy collaboration, supported by agencies like Britain’s Department of International Development for whom both Odisha and Chhattisgarh are “focus states.” The aluminium company Vedanta is an example. It has been engaged in an epic battle with the indigenous Dongria Kondh communities in the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha over the destruction of thousands of acres of fertile agricultural land in a region which has seen famines every year since 2007. Drinking water sources have been contaminated by its dumping of fly ash and toxic red mud into river streams, and thousands of indigenous people have been displaced.

The multinationals, the Indian government, and international NGOs work in cozy collaboration.

Vedanta has the support of various arms of the British government which helped float it on the London Stock Exchange. It also has an interesting relationship with the international NGO Action Aidwhich on the one hand, appears to oppose it vociferously, and on the other has praised it for its “good work” in the Niyamgiri area and has received funds from the company’s subsidiary Sterlite.

 

Vedanta has been consistently confronted by the indigenous communities. Armed with little more than their anger, courage, and strength of spirit, the Dongria Kondh people have fought back over the last seven years with massive blockades and protests. Their powerful people’s movement has won some victories, most notably in August 2010, when the Indian government, under enormous pressure, prevented Vedanta from mining bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills.

While people’s movements are taking on the mining giants, Maoist guerrillas are also active in this region. Though some villagers have been drawn to them, many are alienated by their acts of indiscriminate violence – attacking and derailing trains carrying ordinary, not particularly well-off, citizens, for example, or sporadically killing not only police and paramilitary officers but also Adivasi villagers and taking hostages to try to negotiate freedom for Maoist prisoners. Their approach to the multinational companies is contradictory, while they have attacked an Essar pipeline, for example, they have also been exposed (by WikiLeaks) for taking protection money from the same company. While both Essar and Maoists spokespersons have denied this,

some local people say the news is merely a confirmation of what they had long suspected.

Whatever the truth is, it is clear that the presence of Maoists has allowed for protesters to be killed and their bodies dumped in the forest, eventually to be identified as “Maoists” who have been killed in “armed encounters.” The Maoist presence is also a pretext for the military occupation of the whole region.

Behind the propaganda about the state’s war against Maoists, and obscured by it at times, lies the reality ofIndia’s central belt where the robber barons of global capital dictate the terms.

On a day-to-day level no one knows who may turn up on their doorstep or accost them in the market place, a police officer ordering them to become an informer, a Maoist recruiter, or a Special Police Officer who may kill them to make up their quota of dead Maoists. Yet this scene has been set by those apparently benign men in suits who run the corporations.

For Soni Sori and her family, the terrifying shadow of this war has deepened since the summer of 2009 when her 25-year-old nephew Lingaram turned down recruitment by the Maoists. Soon afterwards he was arrested, tortured, and pressurized to become a Special Police Officer. He was released after his family filed a Habeas Corpus petition and he then fled toDelhi. In July 2010, her husband was imprisoned as an alleged Maoist. In April 2011, 300 homes were razed to rubble in a three-day police operation. Lingaram, who had been speaking out about these atrocities and had by this time finished a short course in journalism, returned to Chhattisgarh to film and write about the lives of the people. Police harassment of the family intensified.

 

 

Then on 14 June 2011 armed Maoists attacked Sori’s 70-year-old father’s house, shot him in the leg, and ransacked his home. On September 9, Lingaram and Sori were both charged with couriering money from Essar to the Maoists and Lingaram was arrested.

 

At this point, managing to somehow leave her three young children at different relatives’ houses, Sori fled toDelhito seek legal help. While there, she spoke out about the human rights abuses in the state. Within days she was arrested and remanded to the custody of the Chhattisgarh Police who were directed to “ensure her safety.” How they did this has now been exposed by human rights activists and confirmed by the doctors who examined her following an order issued byIndia’s Supreme Court.

Under the direct orders of the Chhattisgarh Superintendent of Police, Ankit Garg, she had been verbally abused, stripped naked, given electric shocks, beaten, and

sexually assaulted with stones and batons. The medical examination revealed annular tears to her spine and stones lodged inside her vagina and rectum.

Such is the Kafkaesque nature of India’s system of justice, that on India’s Republic Day, the Prime Minister bestowed one of India’s top police medals on Garg – for gallantry.

Sori is still being held in jail in Chhattisgarh and is being denied access to medical care while she continues to fight for her survival.

As she begins her seventh month in prison, those campaigning for Sori have published her letters from prison on the Internet. In them she exposes the details of what has happened to her in custody and writes, “I am willing to die but I did not commit any crime.” As civil liberties groups and women’s organizations remind us, she criticized the human rights abuses of the state and this can be considered a “crime” in the “world’s largest democracy.”

Click on the link below to sign the petition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/save-soni-sori-and-punish-chattisgarh-police-savesonisori

 


Stop Vedanta! Stop the AGM!

 

STOP VEDANTA’S PROFITS FROM DEATH AND DESTRUCTION!.. Stop the AGM!

Join us at the eighth annual AGM protest at THE LINCOLN CENTRE,. 18 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3ED ..28 August 2012 2.00PM… FOIL VEDANTA www.foilvedanta.org

Why People’s Movements are fighting Vedanta: Vedanta plc is a London listed FTSE 100 company which has brought death and destruction to thousands. It is owned by billionaire

Anil Agarwal and his family through companies in various tax havens. It has been consistently fought by people’s movements but it is being helped by the British government to evolve into a multi-headed monster and spread across India and round the world, diversifying into iron in Goa, Karnataka and Liberia, Zinc in Rajasthan, Namibia, South Africa and Ireland, copper in Zambia and most recently oil in the ecologically fragile Mannar region in Sri Lanka.


Read the rest of this entry »