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U.S. hits Hong Kong leader and other officials with sanctions, citing "brutal oppression" – CBS News

The U.S. on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong officials, including the pro-China leader of the government, accusing them of roles in squashing freedom in the former British colony. The Treasury Department announced sanctions on Carrie Lam, the leader of the government in Hong Kong, and other officials.

The sanctions are the latest in a string of actions the Trump administration has taken targeting China as tensions between the two nations rise over trade disputes and the coronavirus.

"We will not stand by while the people of Hong Kong suffer brutal oppression at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party or its enablers," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

The sanctions were authorized by an executive order that President Donald Trump signed recently to levy penalties against China for its efforts to curtail anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has long enjoyed civil liberties not seen elsewhere in mainland China because it is governed under a "one country, two systems" principle in place since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

However, Beijing imposed a sweeping "national security" law on Hong Kong earlier this year, raising widespread concerns about the Chinese government cracking down on the anti-government protests.

Last week, four students were arrested in Hong Kong in the first police operation to enforce the new law, officials said. Arrests have been made previously under the new law for banners and slogans displayed at protests.

"Three males and one female, age 16-21, who claimed to be students, have been arrested for breaching the #nationalsecuritylaw. They were suspected of secession by advocating #HKindependence. Investigation is underway," the Hong Kong policetweeted.

Prominent pro-democracy activistJoshua Wongsaid that one of those arrested was Tony Chung, a student activist, and that he was detained after writing a Facebook post about "#China's nationalism."

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U.S. hits Hong Kong leader and other officials with sanctions, citing "brutal oppression" - CBS News

13 Reasons Why this activist is urging the Tamil Nadu govt to oppose NEP 2020 – EdexLive

Tamil Nadu-based activist Prince Gajendra Babu, the General Secretary of the State Platform for Common School System has urged the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in a strongly worded letter to oppose the New Education Policy as he believes it negates the vision of the Constitution of India. Babu accused the NEP of putting the federal character of the Constitution in danger and argued that the states efforts so far to establish a strong public education system would go in vain.

Babu said in his letter that his organisation had responded to every call for suggestions and recommendations from the MHRD ever since the NEP began to get drafted. Despite demanding that the NEP be released in all languages, Babu had said that the MHRD had not taken any steps to do so and only did it for a shorter version. It was only with the volunteering of teachers and activists that the final version was translated into Tamil, he added. Yet, despite responding at every stage and submitting their arguments against aspects of the policy, the activist claims nothing had come of it. He listed many reasons as to why the Tamil Nadu government must oppose the policy. These are some of the major argument the activist makes:

1. Babu says that NEP 2020 demolishes the Federal Character of the Constitution of India by promoting Centralisation. The power and authority to formulate policy and regulate all universities is now sought to be with the Union Government and the responsibility to deliver the same as dictated by the Union will be with the State. Establishment of a single Central Regulatory Authority by the Union Government to regulate the Higher Education Institutes including all State Universities is in violation of Article 246, he adds.

2. The activist argues that the NEP demands amendments to the constitution, Ensuring Right to Equitable Access to Education for all citizens is the mandate given by the Constitution of India to the Government. The Constitution of India places Incorporation and Regulation of Universities under the State Subject. The Constitution of India guarantees the Right of Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. NEP 2020 poses a threat to all these provisions of the Constitution of India. He also says that the laws enacted by the State Legislature would become infructuous.

3. It was not placed in the Parliament or the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for a discussion despite the fact that it had such massive implications for the country.

4. Financial liability is more on the state, he adds, For a college to survive it needs to meet the requirements as formulated by the Central Regulatory Authority established by the Government of India. If a college fails to achieve the required grade in a required period of time it has to become a part of the University. The State Government will be forced to bear the financial burden of each Government College to achieve the required grade within a specified time. Merger also has serious implications for management of colleges, status of staff, salary payment and student regulations.

5. Tamil Nadu has many strong research institutes and CSIR laboratories whose status the NEP has called into question as they are neither large nor multidisciplinary. There is imminent threat to institutes like the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Central Institute of Classical Tamil and others. The conditions laid out in institutional restructuring in NEP 2020 will pave the way for closure of Government Arts and Science Colleges and Universities established with the intention of social and linguistic developments, while increasing the proliferation of private institutions, he pointed out.

6. The activist pointed out that the NEP doesnt take into account social oppression and only focuses on economic backwardness, The NEP fails to recognize the social and educational backwardness. Historically, in India, educational backwardness of a particular community is not because of economic incapacity, but due to social oppression and denial of opportunity. Different communities suffer different levels of oppression and based on the level of oppression and backwardness, reservation and scholarships are provided. NEP 2020 fails to recognize this social reality. NEP 2020 categorizes only the Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs).

7. NEP talks about merit and if the meritorious among the disadvantaged group suffers economic incapacity, such students will be considered for a scholarship. Taking into account the difficulty of such students in overcoming caste oppression, gender oppression, disability, etc., there can be no equal benchmark. NEP makes no provision to assess such difficulties while tracking the progress of students, the activist wrote. He pointed out that the NEP will also undo Tamil Nadus efforts to provide reservation based on social oppression. With regard to grants for research, the activist says that the NEP doesnt consider the difficulties of marginalised students, An equal benchmark for the students coming from the socially oppressed community and the students coming from other communities is nothing but a blatant tool to prevent the academic progress of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of the Society. He also said that the NEP denied research scholars any academic freedom and the strict regimen would push many out off the course.

8. A student has several advantages under the present 3-year Degree Course and 2-year Master's Degree Course. NEP arbitrarily introduces new pattern of Degree and Post Degree Courses without any reason backed by any study in India and its impact on the social and educational development of the people of India, the activist wrote about the 4-year undergraduate and 1-year Masters degree rule.

9. There are multiple exit options for students, no attempts to keep students inside the classrooms, he says of the NEP. Even though NEP 2020 talks of equity and inclusiveness, in reality, at every stage and in every field, it paves the way for elimination of first-generation higher education entrants from completing or pursuing their goals, he added.

10. He also criticised the NEPs decision to do away with multiple university entrance exams and the responsibility to conduct exams falling squarely on NTA, Such a proposal raises suspicions of wanting to profit from obsolete, outdated tools and methods. Such a plan fails to recognize the diversity of people in India. Ensuring equal access to quality education at the college level for all students should be the aim of education in India today. NTA will never be able to bring quality or equality in higher education, he wrote.

11. The private HEIs are allowed to generate a surplus and expand their field of operation both geographically and otherwise. Treating both Private and Public on equal foot is the condition in General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS) under World Trade Organisation (WTO). This is to facilitate Foreign Direct Investors generate profit, he pointed out.

12. Babu states that the NEP makes no reference to democracy on campuses or academic freedom, Students come to educational campuses in pursuit of knowledge and to critically examine the reasons for stagnant social order and evolve new ideas for social emancipation. There is no scope and space for academic freedom to learn and express what the student understands and desires.

13. NEP 2020 has fixed the target of achieving 50 percent Gross Enrollment Rate in Higher Education by 2035. Tamil Nadu is already 15 years ahead. For the State to build on this and achieve further progress, we need to defend the Rights of the State Government, Protect the Public Institutions and ensure the strengthening and further develoment of the public education system in the State of Tamil Nadu, the activist said in his letter.

Besides this, Babu in his letter, has also criticised the teacher training course being extended to 4 years, "The present 2 year Diploma in Elementary Education provides opportunity for all, especially women, to become teachers. In the Indian social condition it will be a challenge for anyone to pursue four year teacher Degree Course in a Teacher University. NEPis premised on a misconceived idea that by increasing the number of years of study, the quality of teachers will be improved."

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13 Reasons Why this activist is urging the Tamil Nadu govt to oppose NEP 2020 - EdexLive

Kashmir: A year of lockdown and lost autonomy – DW (English)

A year after India revoked the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, people in the region are still living under curfews, lockdowns and communications restrictions. New Delhi says the measures are necessary to maintain security in the restive region.

However, many Kashmiris consider the policy to be part of a systematic campaign of oppression from India's Hindu nationalist government.

Read more:Kashmir: The world's most dangerous conflict

Last year on August 5, New Delhi decided to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir downgraded the state into two federally governed territories.

The move sparked widespread unrest, prompting Indian security forces to enforce strict curfews and curtail public movement.

Waheed Ahmad Para, a young politician with Kashmir's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), remembers how he was preemptively detained when the announcement was made last year.

Para was giving an interview in a news studio in the regional capital, Srinagar, when the police raided the studio and shut down the broadcast.

The PDP party opposed dissolving the region's special status, and Para was rounded up along with 30 other politicians and detained at a hotel.

'Political paralysis'

Para's detention would last six months. It was part of a massive crackdown on political parties, separatist groups and civil society actors all of whom opposed New Delhi's move.

Among the detainees were former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

The detentions were carried out under India'sPublicSafety Act (PSA), which allows detention for up to a year without bail or trial.

Read more:How Asia's official maps promote propaganda

TheConcerned Citizens Group,an activist organization led by former Indian Finance MinisterYashwant Sinha, has demanded the release of those who were detained under the PSA.

"We findthat New Delhi's actions haveled to shock, trauma and humiliationamong locals [in Kashmir].Simmeringangerovertheir helplessness persists,"Sinhatold DW.

Speaking to DW, Para described his detention as "a personal humiliation," and said the Indian government's oppression of local leaders resulted in a "political paralysis" in the region.

"A lot is happening and we are unable to do anything, speak up or resist," he said in Srinagar, adding that India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not have a lot of political support in Kashmir.

'Broken' economy

The status of Kashmir has been a key dispute between Pakistan and India since the two split after the end of British colonial rule. They each control part of Kashmir and have fought two wars over their rival claims.

Separatist militants launched a full-blown revolt against New Delhi in India-administered Kashmir in 1989, a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead and prompted the deployment of hundreds of thousands of Indian troops.

On February 27, Pakistan's military said that it had shot down two Indian fighter jets over disputed Kashmir. A Pakistani military spokesman said the jets were shot down after they'd entered Pakistani airspace. It is the first time in history that two nuclear-armed powers have conducted air strikes against each other.

The Pakistani military has released this image to show that Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistani territory for the first time since the countries went to war in 1971. India said the air strike was in response to a recent suicide attack on Indian troops based in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan said there were no casualties and that its airforce repelled India's aircraft.

Some Indian civil society members believe New Delhi cannot exonerate itself from responsibility by accusing Islamabad of creating unrest in the Kashmir valley. A number of rights organizations demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government reduce the number of troops in Kashmir and let the people decide their fate.

On February 14, at least 41 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide bombing near the capital of India-administered Kashmir. The Pakistan-based Jihadi group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, claimed responsibility. The attack, the worst on Indian troops since the insurgency in Kashmir began in 1989, spiked tensions and triggered fears of an armed confrontation between the two nuclear-armed powers.

Since 1989, Muslim insurgents have been fighting Indian forces in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir - a region of 12 million people, about 70 percent of whom are Muslim. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

In October 2016, the Indian military has launched an offensive against armed rebels in Kashmir, surrounding at least 20 villages in Shopian district. New Delhi accused Islamabad of backing the militants, who cross over the Pakistani-Indian "Line of Control" and launch attacks on India's paramilitary forces.

The security situation in the Indian part of Kashmir deteriorated after the killing of Burhan Wani, a young separatist leader, in July 2016. Protests against Indian rule and clashes between separatists and soldiers have claimed hundreds of lives since then.

In September 2016, Islamist militants killed at least 17 Indian soldiers and wounded 30 in India-administered Kashmir. The Indian army said the rebels had infiltrated the Indian part of Kashmir from Pakistan, with initial investigations suggesting that the militants belonged to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group, which has been active in Kashmir for over a decade.

Indian authorities banned a number of social media websites in Kashmir after video clips showing troops committing grave human rights violations went viral on the Internet. One such video that showed a Kashmiri protester tied to an Indian army jeep apparently as a human shield generated outrage on social media.

Those in favor of an independent Kashmir want Pakistan and India to step aside and let the Kashmiri people decide their future. "It is time India and Pakistan announce the timetable for withdrawal of their forces from the portions they control and hold an internationally supervised referendum," Toqeer Gilani, the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in Pakistani Kashmir, told DW.

But most Kashmir observers don't see it happening in the near future. They say that while the Indian strategy to deal strictly with militants and separatists in Kashmir has partly worked out, sooner or later New Delhi will have to find a political solution to the crisis. Secession, they say, does not stand a chance.

Author: Shamil Shams

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government insists that the revocation of the special status was needed to halt the conflict and boost economic development in Kashmir.

The impact of the government's actions over the past year on Kashmir's already fragile economy has been enormous, shuttering shops and small businesses that then took another hit as the coronavirus hit India hard and triggered a nationwide lockdown.

Despite New Delhi's claims that economic progress has been made in Kashmir over the past year, Sheikh Ashiq, the president of Kashmir's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told DW that the region has faced losses worth over 4.5 billion ($5.3 billion) over the past year.

"These are our rough estimates as we are coming with a proper report soon. One lockdown after another has left nearly 500,000 people unemployed, which is our biggest concern. We are at a point where we have no financial capacity now," Sheikh said, adding the economic crisis is unprecedented.

"There has been unrest in the past as well but this situation is peculiar. We have reached a point where we are completely broken," he said.

PDP's Para shares a similar view. "For the past year there has been no development, no economic activity, no tourism," he said. "You can never win a population by detaining and defeating them."

The Concerned Citizens Group hasdemanded that Kashmiri farmers and businessmen be compensated for their economic losses,which thegroup attributes to the upheaval caused by the region losing its special status.

Fragile security

Over the past year, PM Modi's government has also brought in a slew of new laws that locals say are aimed at shifting the demographics in the Muslim-majority region.

The military, meanwhile, has intensified its counter-insurgency operations in recent months. Clashes in the first half of the year have left 229 dead, including 32 civilians, reports AFP news agency. The 283 people killed in all of 2019 was the highest toll for a decade.

Still, a senior official in India's Border Security Force, who wished to remain anonymous, told DW that the security situation in the region is "better than ever," citing a drop in the local youth joining pro-separatist extremist groups.

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Kashmir: A year of lockdown and lost autonomy - DW (English)

The rise of nationalism has led to increased oppression of minorities around the world but the Uighur and Kashmir are reported differently – The…

We live in an era of resurgent nationalism. From Scotland to Sri Lanka, from China to Brazil, governments rely on nationalism as a source of communal identity and a vehicle for common action.

In countries where religious identity appears to dominate, as with Islam in Turkey and Hinduism in India, religion has bonded with nationalism. In nominally communist countries like China and Vietnam, it is likewise nationalism that adds to governments legitimacy and political muscle.

This nationalist upsurge the world over is bad news for ethnic and sectarian minorities. Everywhere they are facing greater oppression and less autonomy from national governments maximising their power. At best they face marginalisation and at worst elimination. This is true for the Uighur in Xinjiang province in China, the Muslim population of India-controlled Kashmir, the Shia majority in Sunni-ruled Bahrain and the long-persecuted Kurdish minority in Turkey, to name but four.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

All these communities are coming under crushing pressure to surrender to the political and cultural control of the national state. The same brutal methods are used everywhere: mass incarceration; disappearances; torture; the elimination of political parties and independent media representing the persecuted community. Any opposition, however peaceful, is conflated with terrorism and suppressed with draconian punishments.

The degree of mistreatment of these embattled communities varies with the balance of power between them and the central government. There is little the Bahrain Shia, though a majority of the population, can do to defend themselves, but the 182 million Muslims in India cannot be dealt with so summarily.

Even so, they are in danger of progressively losing their civil rights and residency through the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The Turkish Kurds are well organised but their political leaders are in jail and Turkey leads the world in the number of journalists, many of them Kurds, it has imprisoned.

What makes these countries different is partly the political strength of the persecuted communites, but above all the degrees of international support they can attract. This in turn depends less on the cruelties they endure than on their ability to plug into the self-interested rivalries of the great powers. Related to this is the ability to attract the sustained attention and sympathy of the (usually western) international media.

The Uighur deserve all the sympathy and attention they can get, but it would be naive to imagine that the sudden interest of the west in their fate over the last year has much to do with the undoubted justice of their cause. President Xi Jinping has been chosen as the new demon king in the eyes of the US and its allies, his every action fresh evidence of the fiendish evil of the Chinese state.

There is no reason to suppose that any of the films of Uighur prisoners manacled hand and foot are untrue or that a million Uighurs are not the targets of brainwashing in giant concentration camps. But the manipulation of public opinion has always relied less on mendacity, the manufacturing of false facts, and more on selectivity; on broadcasting the crimes of ones opponents and keeping very quiet about similar acts of oppression by oneself and ones allies.

What is striking over the last year is the disparity between the international attention given to the fate of the 11 million Uighurs in the Autonomous Uighur Region in Xingjian and the 13 million people in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The situations in Kashmir and Xinjiang are comparable in some ways. On 5 August last year, Indian prime minister Narendra Modis government stripped Kashmir Indias only Muslim-majority state of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories. He claimed that the aim was the economic regeneration of Kashmir, but the prolonged curfews enforced by a heavily reinforced Indian military presence has ruined local economic life.

These lockdowns and the almost complete shutdown of the internet are far more severe than anything resulting from the coronavirus epidemic, and have reduced Kashmiris to colonial servitude. This has been compounded, says Amnesty International, by a censored media, continuing detention of political leaders, arbitrary restrictions due to the pandemic with little to no redress.

The anniversary of the end to Kashmirs autonomy was marked this month by even tighter restrictions. Local political leaders were jailed or were forbidden to leave their houses. One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet, much less carry out any normal political activity, said the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, on Twitter. But worse things than jail and house arrest happen at the hands of the Indian authorities. Since 1990 between 8,000 and 10,000 Kashmiris have disappeared according to the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared, a movement modelled on that of the Argentinian mothers whose children had vanished, mostly tortured to death or executed by the military dictatorship.

Kashmir is only the apogee of the mounting persecution of almost 200 million Indian Muslims under Modis Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. The willingness of the government to double-down on humiliating the Muslims was exemplified this week when Modi laid the foundation stone for a Hindu temple to replace the sixteenth century mosque that was destroyed by right-wing Hindu mobs in 1992. Some 2,000 people were killed in the rioting that followed the mosques destruction.

Powerful governments tend to underestimate the amount of trouble that small minorities can cause them, despite an immense disparity in the balance of power between the central state and the minority in question. Look at the trouble a small ethnicity like the Uighurs have caused Beijing. Foreign powers may be exploiting their grievances for their own purposes, but those grievances are real. Look at the trouble a century ago that the Irish and the Boers caused the British Empire at the height of its power. Then as now, the very puniness of the opposition of small communities tempted seemingly all-powerful regimes to reject conciliation in the belief that they have no need to compromise. They do not understand why their overwhelming political and military power does not make them the easy winner.

Kashmir is a classic example of this syndrome. By ending the states autonomy, Modi said he would bring an end to the Kashmir problem. In fact, he predictably made it worse and it is not going away.

The west has been prepared to back Modi unconditionally because it hopes India will be a counterbalance to China. They are the only states in the world with populations over a billion. But the states backing the BJP Hindu nationalist government have not taken on board what an extraordinarily dangerous game they and Modi are playing: seeking total victory over Kashmir though it is backed by neighbouring nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Attempting to marginalise Indian Muslims so numerous that, if they formed a separate country, it would be the eighth largest in the world is not possible without extreme violence.

The riots in Delhi in February were a taste of this. Ignoring this potential for disaster is like officials in Beirut who were blind to the danger of storing thousands of tons of explosives in the heart of the city.

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The rise of nationalism has led to increased oppression of minorities around the world but the Uighur and Kashmir are reported differently - The...

Time to revisit the Kashmir strategy – The Express Tribune

Ayear has passed since India unilaterally revoked the special status of the disputed territory. Kashmir has, since then, remained under lockdown. Over eight million people have been subjected to the worst forms of oppression.

Pakistan, a party to the longstanding dispute, has rejected Indias unilateral moves and has been pushing to advance its narrative through diplomatic means at the international level. Discussions and debates in Pakistan over Kashmir have often remained emotional. The current government appears to be more keen on pacifying the domestic audience than taking practical steps to persuade India to reverse its controversial and illegal moves. The new political map, asserting Pakistans principled stance on Kashmir and renaming one of the main arteries in Islamabad as Srinagar Highway are some of the steps meant to satisfy the domestic public opinion.

When India in August last year revoked Articles 370 and 35(A) of its Constitution, Pakistan was apparently caught by surprise. Since Pakistan was not expecting Modi to resort to such an unprecedented move on Kashmir, Pakistan had to hurriedly come up with a contingency plan. In the aftermath of Indian decision, Pakistan on August 7 decided to take a host of steps after the high-level huddle of civil and military leadership. Those decisions include downgrading of diplomatic ties, suspension of bilateral trade, reviewing bilateral agreements and forcefully raising the issue at the UNSC.

The government immediately implemented the decision as far as downgrading of diplomatic ties and severing bilateral trade were concerned. But there has been no movement yet on reviewing bilateral arrangements. The Foreign Office did write letters to relevant departments getting all the details of the number of bilateral accords with India. There are dozens of such agreements but the government took no decision further whether to revoke some of the arrangements. The government was even reluctant to abandon the 1972 Shimla Agreement in which it was clearly written that no side would alter the status quo on Kashmir pending the final settlement.

India on August 5, 2019, unilaterally changed the status quo and hence rendered the Shimla Accord meaningless. It is inexplicable as to why Pakistan is still sticking to that Accord which India has used time and again to impress upon that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute. If Pakistan walks away from the Shimla Accord, the current Line of Control will revert back to the Ceasefire Line. Also, this would reject Indian claims that Kashmir is bilateral issue.

Pakistan is, however, reluctant to take those hard steps perhaps fearing possible implications. It also highlights the fact that perhaps Pakistan with time has limited options on Kashmir. Raising the issue at the UNSC and other international forums will not pay much dividends given that the Wests and even some Muslim countries interests are linked with India. These hard facts warranted a rethink of the Kashmir strategy.

Kashmir is not a static issue anymore. Indo-China border tension has clearly exhibited the urgency that India and China feel about the impending finality of resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. We sadly are fixed in what happened 70 years ago. We need a dynamic policy on J&K dispute, not one frozen in time. The debate has to reach our media and intelligentsia. Lets check what our people really want. We can tell them our limitations (both financial and military). Perpetual war/animosity would mean endless poverty and disease, as we would not have the resources to address these issues.

Lets discuss the possibilities of whether or not we can get J&K through the policy that we are or have been following, in say the next 25 or 50 years or even 100 years. Lets see what kind of a resolution the people see to the conflict.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2020.

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Time to revisit the Kashmir strategy - The Express Tribune

UK urged to ‘welcome refugees’ as Border Force meets boat with 20 Syrian migrants near Dover – iNews

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel to reach the UK is continuing to rise after Border Force met a boat carrying around 20 people from Syria off the coast of Dover on Monday morning.

The patrol boat, HMC Hunter, intercepted the inflatable dinghy at around 7:15am ahead of the White Cliffs. Photos show the Home Office agency transported the migrants to the port. It comes after hundreds of people made the dangerous journey across the water from France over the weekend.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is taking action to try and deter migrants from the journey, including asking the Royal Navy to patrol the channel, but campaigners have urged the Government to welcome refugees.

Refugee Action called on ministers to introduce more safe and legal routes for migrants to tackle the global refugee crisis.

Talking tough wont stop desperate people fleeing violence and oppression from climbing into boats to cross the Channel. Britain is better than this and refugees deserve better than this, said chief executive Stephen Hale.

The Government needs to start acting smart and step up with other countries to tackle what is a global refugee crisis. This includes creating more safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees.

The official resettlement scheme for refugees closed in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but Mr Hale said it urgently needed to be restarted to allow them to make a new life in the UK.

And [the Government] needs to reform the restrictive rules on family reunion so that families are not kept apart, he added.

Fizza Qureshi, CEO of the Migrants Rights Network, also put pressure on the Government to focus on giving migrants safe and legal options for safety.

She told i: Watching refugees risking their lives by travelling in small dinghies across the Channel is heartbreaking, and demonstrates their heightening desperation to find a place for safety and protection.

Our Government is so preoccupied with enforcement and prevention, it is neglecting its own obligations to protect those who seek safety. We urge the Government re-focus their efforts on making safe and legal routes available, and recognise their duties under international law to welcome refugees.

Monday mornings events come after at least 597 migrants, including families with young children, reached the UK between Thursday and Sunday.

In total, more than 4,000 people have passed through the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the channel that marks the boundary with the North Sea, in small boats to get to Britain this year.

Last year, Ms Patel promised that the crossings would have become an infrequent phenomenon by now.

Immigration minister Chris Philp is visiting his French counterparts in Paris on Tuesday to discuss how to tackle the issue. It has been reported that France is seeking 30m from Britain to help them police the channel.

The Government has officially asked the Royal Navy for help in stopping migrants crossing over from France and the Home Secretary has appointed a Clandestine Channel Threat Commander to lead the UKs response in tackling illegal attempts to reach the UK. The role of Dan OMahoney, a former Royal Marine, will be to make the English Channel an unviable route for small boat crossings.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has authorised a Royal Air Force plane to provide aerial surveillance over the channel as part of an initial offer of assistance from the Ministry of Defence to the Home Office.

When asked if the Navy should be involving in patrolling the water for migrants, Care Minister Helen Whately told BBC Breakfast on Monday:We need to bring this to an end.

The Home Secretarys determined that this will not be a viable route to the UK and my colleague, Home Office Minister Chris Philp, is going to be in Paris later this week to talk directly with the French government about working together to stop this transit.

However Pierre-Henri Dumont, the French MP for Calais, expressed doubt over whether enlisting the Royal Navy would help matters.

This is a political measure to show some kind of resource to fight against smugglers and illegal crossings in the Channel, but technically speaking that wont change anything, he told BBC Radio 4s Today programme.

Commenting on whether it might act as a deterrent, he said: Yes, but thats dangerous, because if there is a vessel from the Royal Navy trying to push a vessel, very small boat full withmigrants, back into French waters first you could say that youve got British vessels entering French waters, I dont know if the British Government would be very happy to see the other way, if French vessels would enter without any ask, before or without any decision before, into British waters.

Additional reporting by PA

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UK urged to 'welcome refugees' as Border Force meets boat with 20 Syrian migrants near Dover - iNews

Modi sets new history of oppression in Kashmir: Quresh – The News International

LAHORE: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Saturday met Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar at the CMs Office here where matters of mutual interest, political situation, and Southern Punjab Secretariats affairs came under discussion.

Punjab Minister Dr. Muhammad Akhtar, Chief Whip National Assembly MNA Aamir Dogar, MNA Zain Qureshi, Principal Secretary to the CM Punjab and officers concerned were also present on the occasion.

The meeting decided to take prompt administrative steps to make Southern Punjab Secretariat fully functional.

Qureshi said the government was fulfilling all its promises made to the people. He said establishment of Southern Punjab Secretariat would bring relief to the people and their problems would be solved at the grassroots level.

Qureshi, Usman Buzdar and other members of the assembly strongly condemned the worst military siege and oppression of Modi government in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Qureshi said Pakistan was incomplete without Kashmir adding that Modi had orchestrated Muslims genocide in IOJ&K and set a new history of oppression on Kashmiris.

Buzdar said the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan had been highlighting Indian atrocities at all levels and the entire nation observed Youm-e-Istehsal.

One road in every division of Punjab, including Lahore, would be named after Srinagar, he said, adding, the government paid tribute to everlasting struggle of the Kashmiri people against the illegal Indian occupation.

He termed Kashmir a jugular vein of Pakistan and said Pakistan could not back off from the core issue of Kashmir cause.

He said Modi had blatantly violated the UN resolutions on August 5, 2019. He said Pakistan would continue to expose Indias stubbornness and illegal steps at every level.

Usman Buzdar said the secretaries of different departments would soon be posted in Southern Punjab Secretariat and the secretaries would be fully empowered.

The Southern Punjab Secretariat would be given administrative and financial autonomy so that affairs related to Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions could be dealt with locally, the chief minister stated.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Saturday said Pakistan remained steadfast in support of an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.

Good to speak (with Mike Pompeo) and to reiterate Pakistans continued stand for regional peace and security. We remain steadfast in support of an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan, he said on Twitter.

He was referring to his Fridays telephonic conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wherein in the two sides discussed the bilateral and regional matters including Kashmir dispute as well as Afghan peace process. Qureshi said Pakistan looked forward to strengthening bilateral relationship with the US and to continuing as anchors of stability.

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Modi sets new history of oppression in Kashmir: Quresh - The News International

Listen, morons, the government doesn’t need to invent a virus to be in control – Anchorage Press

Unless youve been living in a bomb shelter somewhere, tirelessly preparing for the new world order, you may have noticed a lot of people on social media upset about government overreach.

Perhaps at some point, like myself, you had it in your mind that in the vice of oppression youd stand tall and refuse to bend the knee to a tyrannical overlord; that when some maniacal villain came to stake their claim on your land youd fearlessly call your neighbors to arms and unite under the Stars and Stripes as one nation! With LIBERTY! And JUSTICE! For ALL!

But things are a bit more complicated than they were in 1776. Misinformation is spreading just as quickly as science and we dont just have one overlord, we have thousands, whose authorities are layered and knit together like the nightmarish intricate webs of Australian spiders during a mass ballooning event (Google it. Youll never sleep with your mouth open again.)

A lot of unprecedented things are happening in 2020 and just as humans always do when frightened, we are trying to make sense of things.

We are wasting no time coming up with fantastic explanations as to who exactly is doing this to us and why. The government wants control. Im sorry, what?! Since when is the government NOT in control? Did I miss out on a year that I didnt have to plug my special number, assigned at birth, into an official form so the government could then give me back money that I overpaid them while being an employed citizen? Did I senselessly give a copy of my birth records to an employer verifying that I am legally able to labor away at a job that pays the government from every paycheck I earn?

A lot of things in the world have changed, but the grip of power our government holds on us has not. This modern concept that the government exists to work for us is both privileged and delusional.

Since before the dawn of civilization, governing bodies have existed to control the masses. And they stay in power by convincing us that we are happier that way. Humanitys first leaders were the strongest and smartest of the tribe and kept order with their strength and knowledge. The first people felt protected under the first leaders.

A few cognitive upgrades down the path of evolution and we were ruled by religious leaders, touting the words of our deities to keep us in line. They kept us satisfied by ensuring us that the current state of affairs was the will of [the] god(s) Cue serfdom to the stage and we became slaves to the economic machine.

Life wasnt perfect as social stratification grew, but it was certainly better than having your unprotected farms raided. Perhaps some of this is beginning to sound a little familiar.

Nothing about the government wanting to control us as a population is new or strange. What is both new and strange, however, is the way in which some of us have theorized the methods in which we are being controlled, becoming allies to the thankless governing body that controls us, and defending the governments overreaches, all while calling for rebellion against the oppressive overlords.

If that didnt make any sense to you then you probably get my point.

America is rampant with popularized conspiracy theories that even the conspiracy theorists cant seem to make sense of, much less explain, and Im just as confused as everyone else trying to keep up.

It is confounding to me that so many people think the government is controlling us with face mask mandates without being able to explain what the government or government officials would benefit from all of us wearing them, and yet nobody is talking about how the government is openly meeting to discuss how they can literally control us by withholding our own tax dollars to force us back into economy-stimulating labor while its so unsafe for us to go back to work that they literally shut down the businesses we work at.

Its also weird that people are out there shaming those collecting the unemployment they paid into themselves in the years that they had jobs, while many people collecting unemployment would actually get more benefits (and insurance) by collecting public assistance instead, but choose not to because they have no desire to actually live off the system.

It is alarming to me that the federal government is so comfortable with their control over us that theyre out in the Portland streets, not giving a single fuck about the constitution, while they justify committing WAR CRIMES AGAINST AMERICAN CITIZENS with the destruction of property.

And again, the supposed freedom-lovers are silent about government control.

But those masks, man thats definitely whats destroying the health of our citizens, the future of our economy, and our American way of life.

But, in fact, its just one item on the docket that affects these conspiracy theorist types directly. So where are the real freedom fighters? Where are the libertarians when secret police make unlawful arrests? Where are the Second Amendment people when the federal government turns its sights on American citizens? Where are the All Lives Matter people when there are children locked in cages on U.S. soil?

Theyre at home. Theyre at home having their location and browser history tracked on Facebook before they go to bed so they can get up early and clock in at a job that reports to the IRS so they can be tracked financially while paying into an unemployment fund theyd be a hypocrite for having to collect on if their place of employment were ever shut down during a pandemic. Theyre home posting about microchips no government even needs to keep tabs on us, and facemasks nobody needs us in to control us.

I see you. I understand that it is easier to make excuses than to find solutions. I understand that it can be difficult to navigate which causes are righteous in a time with so much mixed information. And I understand that its hard to admit that in the face of adversity, you simply arent as brave or noble as you thought you would be.

I see you. We see you. And maybe someday soon, youll see yourself.

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Listen, morons, the government doesn't need to invent a virus to be in control - Anchorage Press

India’s oppressive siege of Kashmir tramples human rights – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Home to enthralling mountains, spectacular valleys and magnificent lakes, Kashmirs legendary beauty is best described by the famous poet Amir Khusrau in a Persian couplet which reads: If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.

Sadly, this paradise on earth is under siege. Exactly, a year ago, India imposed an armed siege and communications blackout in Kashmir. For the people of Kashmir who have already suffered unspeakable pain and humiliation over the last seven decades at the hands of India, this was a new and unprecedented indignity, as it coincided with Indias illegal attempt to alter the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Thousands of Kashmiris, including minors, have been arrested and tortured. Indian security forces routinely stage fake encounters to kill young Kashmiri protesters. The ranks of young children and women blinded by Indias indiscriminate use of pellet guns continue to swell.

Today, more than 8 million Kashmiris face incarceration in what is effectively the largest open-air prison in the world. After barring two U.S. senators from visiting Kashmir last October, India has made sure that no independent observers or organizations visit the occupied territory lest the voices of oppressed Kashmiris are heard.

Instead of letting up in its oppression, India has used the COVID-19 crisis to dial up pain for the hapless Kashmiris, thus doubling-up their inflictions and tribulations. There has been a spike in arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings. Following a year-long Internet blockade, Kashmiris are stuck in an information black hole, at a time when the rest of the world is using Internet-based platforms to fight a raging pandemic.

The grim human rights situation in Kashmir has attracted the attention of the people of conscience around the world. Amnesty International is alarmed while the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its recent reports on Kashmir has reiterated the urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir.

In the United States, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a historic hearing on Nov. 14 last year to shed light on human rights abuses in Kashmir. Many witnesses provided compelling evidence of the pervasive human rights violations committed by the Indian government security forces, especially since Aug. 5, in an environment of impunity.

Unmoved, the Indian government has taken new steps to change the demographics of Kashmir and implemented a set of domicile rules which allow non-residents to own property in Kashmir and eventually displace its local population. Thousands of such illegal certificates have already been issued.

These rules clearly violate the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, international law, and, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention. All Kashmiri political parties have unanimously rejected the new rules, accusing the Indian government of using them as legal cover for creating settler colonies.

Kashmir is only the opening gambit in Prime Minister Modis campaign to remake India into a Hindu-supremacist state. The Modi government has committed itself to implementing the racist Hindutva agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (or R.S.S.) a militant organization that advocates Hindu supremacy. In recent months, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has moved with breathtaking speed to enact a slew of legislation that would deprive millions of Indian Muslims of their citizenship. It has already started building camps for holding nearly 2 million Muslims in anticipation of their disenfranchisement. We fear that a refugee crisis with global implications may be in the making.

Meanwhile, India continues to use the bogeyman of terrorism to justify the inhuman treatment of the Kashmiri population. Tensions along the Line of Control are already running high with Indian forces regularly and indiscriminately targeting civilian populations in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. There is real danger that Indias belligerent attitude could spark a wider conflict.

A steady drumbeat of blatant threats against Pakistan continues to emanate from India, including threats by Mr. Modi that India would defeat Pakistan in a war in less than 10 days. The Indian army chief said that his forces would act to annex the parts of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistani control if they were ordered to do so. It is difficult to imagine more irresponsible rhetoric in a nuclearized environment.

We are concerned that India would try to deflect attention from the dire situation in Kashmir by orchestrating another escalation with Pakistan, just as it did in February 2019, when Mr. Modi whipped his country into a frenzy that nearly sparked a war between Pakistan and India that neither could afford. Never in the history of relations between two nuclear powers has one country so recklessly and cynically put the lives of billions of people at risk.

We had hoped that such a close brush with war would have been a sobering experience for the Indian leadership. Regrettably, they have refused to seriously consider the offer that Prime Minister Khan had made shortly after assuming office in July 2018. He had promised that Pakistan will take two steps, if India takes one.

The people of South Asia, one of the poorest regions in the world, yearn for peace, prosperity and a better future for their children. Pakistan and India should be fighting poverty instead of each other. But we can only get there if the most fundamental reality is understood by our neighbor: Peace requires resolution of outstanding differences through dialogue.

Over 70 years of attempts to put down the Kashmiri peoples struggle for self-determination has not worked. It is time for us to find a just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the U.N. Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

In the meantime, as the siege of Kashmir enters its second year, Kashmiris await attention of and action by those who espouse the causes of freedom and human dignity to compel India to end one of the longest and most humiliating sub-humanization of Kashmiris in recent history.

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi is Pakistans Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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India's oppressive siege of Kashmir tramples human rights - Washington Times

Afghan Women Should Be the Centerpiece of the Peace Process – Foreign Policy

Afghanistan has been seeking peace for decades. Perhaps it is time to embrace the fresh perspective that women can bring. Afghans have already seen the benefit of having all of society, both men and women, contribute to Afghanistans progress. Womens economic, social, and political contributions are strengthening Afghanistan daily by enriching the countrys societal fabric and helping to build a more stable society. Women now constitute 21 percent of the labor force. From parliament to orchestras, civil-society organizations, and sports teams, women are on the national stage more than ever before.

The question then is whether womens contributions to peace processes are valuable. The evidence clearly says yes. This has been proved in the Philippines, Liberia, Northern Ireland, and many other regions where women have had a substantive voice in a peace process. Womens inclusion in Afghanistan would be similarly impactful, since peace talks that substantively include women have been shown to be more likely to both succeed and last. This makes womens participation in peace talks a national security issue.

Peace cannot be established by an agreement just between those who hold the guns. Women are sidelined because they are less often perpetrators of violence. However, women cannot just be an issue in the negotiations; they must be a party to them. Fortunately, womens participation is a priority for the Afghan government. Their participation is reflective of the republics values and is being passionately pursued by the government and women alike.

Afghan women are claiming a prominent place in the public sector, and a large number of women have entered leadership positions in politics. After gaining equal political rights in 1964, womens participation in parliament remained low, with a mere six women elected in 1965, making up only 2.2 percent of the parliament. Women now make up 28 percent of the Afghan legislative bodyhigher than the global average. Afghan public approval of a womans right to vote is at a record high of 89.3 percent.

Women are in high-level, decision-making government positions to an extent that is historically unprecedented. Afghanistan has a female deputy minister of defense and deputy minister of the interior, and there are around 6,000 women in Afghanistans national security forces. Womens inclusion in national security dramatically increases intelligence capabilities, because women have access to populations and situations that men are often excluded from. They offer a unique perspective to security operations, and the information they provide makes both Afghanistan and its allies safer.

This progress has extended beyond Kabul. Since 2001, more than 150,000 Afghan women in rural areas have been elected to serve as their communities representatives on community development councils. Womens participation in government ensures a more accurate representation of society, and their presence has been shown to restore trust in government. They are also able to increase the governments focus on issues such as social welfare, legal protections, and government transparency, all of which contribute to state stability.

Women are skilled at engaging at the community level and strengthening civil society. They have historically played a key role in reintegrating ex-combatants into communities around the world. In Afghanistan, women have successfully encouraged local insurgents to participate in peace talks, coordinated with the wives of insurgents to facilitate several hostage releases, and worked in schools and civil-society organizations to counter extremism.

Similarly, womens participation has a positive influence at every phase: peacemaking (making a deal), peace building (crafting mechanisms to implement the deal), and peace management (maintaining peace).

When making peace, there is a positive relationship between the strength of womens influence and the likelihood of agreements being both reached and implemented. This is in part due to womens skill in moving decision-making processes forward through their ability to promote consensus, prioritize inclusivity, and increase society-wide support. Last year, 15,000 Afghan women from across all 34 provinces participated in a peace jirga, a traditional consultative assembly. This radical inclusivity led to a powerful statement from all the women of Afghanistan on their demands and vision for peace.

While building peace, womens commitment to inclusivity and open dialogue allows them to build more broad-based public support. They are more likely to include rural areas that are often isolated from the process and ensure the participation of marginalized groups. Women are also more likely to focus on social and humanitarian issues when implementing peace deals. The inherent value of addressing these issues is clear, but they also contribute to stability in the long term.

Finally, women increase the success of peace management. Women have been shown to push for more concrete, fundamental reforms for post-conflict reconstruction efforts, such as establishing commissions that monitor the implementation of the peace agreement. Womens efforts to ease tensions after a peace agreement are so central to reintegration that women are most frequently cited by ex-combatants as influential figures in their reintegration. Additionally, peace processes that include women are 35 percent more likely to last for at least 15 years, according to a quantitative analysis of 182 peace deals signed between 1989 and 2011.

Women also have a role in shaping the future of the country by fostering a culture of peace at the nucleus of society: the home. With 64 percent of the Afghan population under the age of 25, the power of mothers should not be underestimated. A consistent correlation is found between childhood exposure to abuse and later violent behavior. A recent study indicated a strong relationship between womens disempowerment at the household level and national levels of terrorism. Setting a precedent of terrorizing women in the household sets a precedent for terrorist violence in adulthood as well.

The relationship between womens security and state security is clear. The physical security of women has been shown to be the strongest predictor of a secure, peaceful state. A 2008 study at Harvard University showed that if a single variable had to be selected to estimate state security and peacefulness, womens physical security is a more accurate predictor than levels of democracy, wealth, and faith. There is also a strong correlation between gender inequality and both intrastate and interstate warfare, and between womens empowerment and the number of Islamic State foreign fighters that a country produces. When there is a war raging in the home and sexist oppression is normalized, a culture of violence, oppression, and war will also be perpetuated.

Afghanistan has been stuck in a culture of war for too long, and women can play a major role in fostering a culture of peace. The omnipresence of war and insecurity keeps citizens focusing more on how to divide resources now, rather than how to multiply them in the long term. In a culture of war there is no faith in the future and everything is a matter of urgency, so the collective good is disregarded. This exacerbates corruption, and pessimism and skepticism become the default mode of the population.

In order to move forward, a culture of peace needs to be fostered in Afghanistan. The country has already made enormous progress in this regard. Once women regained their agency and mobility in 2001, they slowly but steadily reintegrated into society as equal citizens, helping to shoulder the responsibility of shaping a better future. Female literacy has nearly doubled since 2011, enabling women to contribute more substantively to Afghanistans progress. Furthermore, Afghanistans gross domestic product has nearly quintupled in the past 19 years, in part because of womens participation in the economy. Women are now working as artists, athletes, and musicians. They are enriching Afghan culture, and their presence in these fields serves as a symbol of security and a budding culture of peace.

In order to be truly sustainable, peace must be inclusive, broad-based, and reflective of the needs and aspirations of all of society. Therefore, women need unambiguous constitutional protections of their rights to avoid regression. Both Afghanistans 1964 and 2004 constitutions explicitly protect against sex discrimination. In fact, in what is essentially a bill of rights in the 2004 constitution, gender equality is the very first right outlined in Article 22, articulated before even the right to life or liberty. In Article 149, the Afghan Constitution says amendments cannot affect the tenets of Islamic Republicanism and that amending fundamental rights of the people shall be permitted only to improve them. Peace negotiations must occur within this constitutional framework and cannot entail negotiating away fundamental rights. A democracy and rigid constitution are the best way to ensure womens equality is explicitly protected.

If the goal of negotiations is not to reduce violence temporarily but actually to build a lasting peace, then it is important for women to be substantively involved at every level. President Ashraf Ghani has already ensured that the governments negotiation team is inclusive of women. Four of 21 team membersabout 20 percentare women. A quota system is helpful, but does not in itself guarantee a desirable outcome for women. What is most important is that women are empowered and men are convinced to influence the process positively in order to achieve an outcome that both reflects and secures all of societys interests.

In order to achieve this, supportive mechanisms need to be put in place. Firstly, the preservation of the republic system and equal rights for women needs to be nonnegotiable in the peace talks and remain enshrined in the constitution. Additionally, women could be given veto power during the peace talks on issues that would impact them. International allies should continue to hold Afghanistan to high standards in order for aid to be continued. Global funds should be explicitly conditioned on the preservation of the progress women have made and on human rights more broadly.

Regardless of how the protection of womens rights is achieved, one thing is clear: Womens involvement is crucial. Women are the centerpiece of peace.

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Afghan Women Should Be the Centerpiece of the Peace Process - Foreign Policy

Why the Colour of #RevolutionNow Was Not Arab Spring-red, By Festus Adedayo – Premium Times

even though the indices of revolution, the hopelessness, the frustrations are present everywhere. The truth is that there is no difference between the widespread despondency in Katsina-Ala, the frustration in Nkalagu or the massive disdain with Nigerian ruling class in Igboho, but motivations for dissent are not the same.

They all happened almost simultaneously, as if in a choreography. On February 9, 2011, a huge crowd of protesters had gathered at the Tahir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Unruly, eyes dilating like pellets of ice immersed in a mug full of Campari liquor, it was obvious that this was a crowd determined to change the status quo. They shouted anti-government slogans, calling for an end to oppression, economic adversities and collapse of the Arabian spirit in the Arab world.

A couple of weeks before then, specifically on January 14, 2001, at the Habib Bourguiba Boulevard in Tunis, Tunisia, it was the same huge crowd, mobilised to end the decadent order. Similarly on February 3, 2011, a mammoth crowd of dissidents gathered at the Sanaa in Yemen, calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullahi Saleh. A couple of months after, specifically on the cold morning of April 29, 2011, hundreds of thousands of people at Baniyas, Syria, gathered to upturn the ruling order.

The overall goal of the protesters was similar: Bring down oppressive regimes that manifested in low standards of living in the Arab world. Dubbed the Arab Spring, an allusion to the 1848 Revolution and the Prague Spring of 1968, by political Scientist, Marc Lynch in an article he did for the American Foreign Policy magazine on January 6, 2011, the upheavals were a series of anti-government protests sparked off in the early 2010s in Tunisia, which eventually culminated in uprisings and armed rebellion that became widespread across the Arab World.

Within the twinkling of an eye, the protest had spread to five other Arab countries, namely Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, leading to the deposition of the second president of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali; Egyptian Hosni Mubarak; Muammar Gaddafi of Libya; and Yemens first president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. In places where such upturns were not achieved, major social dislocations, riots, civil wars and insurgencies followed. In all of this extended social violence, the demonstrators catchphrase was, translated from Arab, the people want to bring down the regime.

So, did the #RevolutionNow conveners actually want to bring down the Muhammadu Buhari government last week, and were they representative of the people of Nigeria? I ask this question because, if the Arab Spring upheavals were what they sought to clone, we must place it side by side the gloating of the Buhari presidency which likened the #RevolutionNow version to a childs tantrum and a poor imitation of the original. Femi Adesina, Buharis spokesman, articulated the Buhari governments disdain for and scant belief in the possibility of the rehash of an Arab Spring-like revolution in Nigeria. My reading of this mockery of the protests was that Buhari, like the ruling class elite now and before him, was persuaded that the internal contradictions in Nigeria can never allow for a peoples revolt against governmental oppressors.

A revolution is always a mass thing, not a sprinkle of young boys and girls you saw yesterday in different parts of the country. I think it was just a funny thing to call it a revolution protest. In a country of 200 million people and if you see a sprinkle of people saying they are doing a revolution, it was a childs play. Revolution is something that turns the normal order. What happened yesterday, would you call it a revolution? It was just an irritation, just an irritation and some people want to cause irritation in the country and what I will say is when things boil over, they boil over because you continue to heat them, the Buhari publicist said.

I am persuaded that the social condition of the 200 million people Adesina literally venerated for staying aloof to the #RevolutionNow is far worse than those of the people in the Arab countries who revolted. Like in those place, a tiny clique too has held onto the jugular of power for decades, continuously riding roughshod over the suffering people and believing that a violent upturn is a mirage. This ruling elites lethargy, in Nigeria, has resulted in apathy to the worsening fates of society and the breeding of a teeming and agonising majority.

However, my reading of the Presidencys dismissive appraisal of the #RevolutionNow protests shows that the mockery is situated on a wonky pedestal. Buharis basis for dismissing the protest includes its scant attendance, the absence of belligerent protesters and the fact that things have not yet boiled over. Of a truth, on the outward, Omoyele Sowores #RevolutionNow, which provoked that disdainful appraisal of the Nigerian presidency, may look too sparse to qualify for a peoples revolt. However, proclaiming it a failure may be a fatal mis-reading of the temperature of revolts.

Though Buhari must have been buoyed into lethargy by the many contradictions of the Nigerian state that might not have allowed Nigerians to troop out in their millions to convince government that Buhari is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, things are actually fast boiling over from within. It is apparent that government has failed to see the success of the protest as a symbolism for perforation of the veneer of governmental resistance. Since it could not see this implication, government then dangerously lapsed into a couple of false assumptions, which show it as incapable of properly reading what people dont say.

the Nigerian elites, being part and parcel of the maggots that lace the Nigerian decadence, are literally having a celebration inside the Nigerian sewage and are far from being dissident against the status quo. Again, whereas there are motivations for revolt in virtually all parts of Nigeria, the complexities in the diversities of tribe, religion and culture have compelled divisive motivations.

In his weekly Facebook epistle, Adesina was further lionised to make further fatal fallacious blunders. Citing the viral call of a four-year old boy, who urged his mum to calm down, in a piece entitled Why We Need to Calm Down, the presidents spokesman made the same ruling elite mistake of equating infrastructural projects with development and imagining that the people are happy. He regaled Nigerians with tales of construction projects, which he said are unprecedented in Nigerias history. Does he know that development is also mental and not merely physical structures?

While Nigeria may indeed have witnessed a flurry of Chinese loan-funded, ostensibly corruption-ridden infrastructural projects, the joy level of Nigerians has sunk considerably under Buhari. The lack of development is evident in the peace that has eluded Nigerians in the last five years, in the widespread belief that Nigeria is rudderless under Buhari and the fear that Boko Haram, ISWAP, ISIS and bandits are presiding over the Nigerian affairs, rather than the elected political elite.

By definition, a revolution is a fundamental, sudden change in political power and political organisation. It is propelled when a people revolt against an oppressive government run by people generally perceived as incompetent. In human history, there has been an array of revolutions which significantly changed the status quo. While notable revolutions are the American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783, the French Revolution of 1789 to 1799, and the Russian Revolution of 1917, Africa has had its own experiences, ranging from the Angolan Revolution of 19611974, the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, and the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964. The most recent in this league in Africa is the Arab Spring. So, what gave #RevolutionNow conveners the impression that Nigeria is ready for a revolt?

Successful revolutions have been known to succumb to some indices. James DeFronzos Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements, which can be regarded as a handbook for revolution, provides some insights. Mass frustration resulting in local uprisings, dissident elites, powerful unifying motivations, a severe crisis paralysing state administrative and coercive power and a permissive or tolerant world context are some of the indices that DeFronzo observes as being present if the revolt against an existing order must be consummated.

A critical look at the Nigerian situation reveals the following: Whereas there is mass frustration in the country, this has seldom resulted in local uprisings, except the June 12 riots. In the same vein, the Nigerian elites, being part and parcel of the maggots that lace the Nigerian decadence, are literally having a celebration inside the Nigerian sewage and are far from being dissident against the status quo. Again, whereas there are motivations for revolt in virtually all parts of Nigeria, the complexities in the diversities of tribe, religion and culture have compelled divisive motivations. The Nigerian ruling elites are coercive, reckless and feckless in their rule but the contradictory indices earlier provided have restrained massive and widespread paralysis of governments. Allied to these is the fact that while there is indeed a sidon look of the international system against the slide in the affairs of Nigeria, this has lionised the ruling elite into further tightening the screws of their misrule.

Only a surface analysis would conclude that Nigeria is not ripe for a revolution. A combination of an incompetent ruling class and a gale of hopelessness is oscillating in the Nigerian sky. A conservative estimate will show that, at least 90 per cent Nigerians, from all the geopolitical zones, are miserable, hopeless and perceive life as worthless. At every point, those purportedly elected to provide succour advertise confounding helplessness daily.

Look at the Bauchi State governor, who recently appointed a special assistant on Unmarried Women Affairs; or the systemic chaos that is the order of the day in Nigeria. Check out the symbolism of Edo State where the unrivalled lawlessness of Adams Oshiomhole is jamming the arrogance of power of Godwin Obaseki. And of course, the massive theft of Nigerias inheritance and the full-blown wretchedness of Nigerians, both of which are tribal-blind and religion-jaundiced.

What are those contradictions that made the #RevolutionNow look like a failure and which have made Adesina and his ilk gloat at the possibility of an overturn of the system? One is the structural default that Nigeria sits upon. No successful revolt can happen, in the words of DeFronzo, without unifying motivations. Though there is mass frustration, the motivations for revolt are not unifying. This necessitated what happened recently in Katsina, Buharis home state. Tired of their massive killing by bandits with a corresponding incapability of their son, Buhari and his sidekick governor, Aminu Masari, Katsina people blocked the roads and asked for the resignation of both of them.

Femi Adesina and the ruling class as a whole may however not have too long to gloat. To gloat at the impracticability of a revolution is a fallacious appeal to authority. It can also pass as a fallacy of the straw man. This is because it is not unlikely that the Nigerian ruling class might have been holding on to weak, phony and ridiculous beliefs that have no basis in science.

Also, persuaded that the unprecedented heists in government and Buharis cancerous cronyism are offshoots of a systemic imbalance, Southern Nigeria has consistently called for restructuring. In the ears of a feudal North used to kowtowing, however, that singsong is absolute bunkum. Again, while bandits who come from a culture that seems to justify slaughtering have butchered more Southern Kaduna people than the number of rams they have probably collectively slaughtered in their lifetimes, the rest of Nigerias consternation at this bloodletting sounds strange to the sons of perdition whose DNA is violence and bloodshed. So where can there be one voice against systemic disorder as to propel people to massively gather to upturn a decadent status-quo like Buharis?

The above are ills resulting from the calamitous dalliance of Flora Shaw and her British soldier liaison, Lord Lugard. Unfazed by the fact that Nigeria is not a nation but a concentration of nations, with different persuasions, worldviews, cultures, social foundations, human excitements and expectations, this duo soldered the nations into a fractious whole, with dangers for their forcefully welded existence. This resulted in last weeks sprinkle of young boys and girls, a la the presidencys gloat, as against a mass uprising, even though the indices of revolution, the hopelessness, the frustrations are present everywhere. The truth is that there is no difference between the widespread despondency in Katsina-Ala, the frustration in Nkalagu or the massive disdain with Nigerian ruling class in Igboho, but motivations for dissent are not the same.

Femi Adesina and the ruling class as a whole may however not have too long to gloat. To gloat at the impracticability of a revolution is a fallacious appeal to authority. It can also pass as a fallacy of the straw man. This is because it is not unlikely that the Nigerian ruling class might have been holding on to weak, phony and ridiculous beliefs that have no basis in science. The collapse of the current world order, especially in this world of coronavirus, may have underscored this.

It is in the enlightened self-interest of the Nigerian ruling class to flatten the curves of inequalities and gross lack and want, otherwise, its thinking that Nigerians are incapable of rising against it will collapse.

That was the thinking of those running George Orwells Animal Farm. The lyrics of the Orwellian Beasts of England say this much and are a pointer to the fact that, if the oppression and frustration in Nigeria continue unabated, it may be the push for a surge of the adrenaline of the oppressed Nigerian.

Orwell had enjoined the suffering oppressed, the Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland, the corollary inside the Nigerian Animal Farm cage, the, Beasts of every land and clime not to be downcast as Soon or late the day is coming/Tyrant Man shall be oerthrown/And the fruitful fields of England/Shall be trod by beasts alone. Rejoicing in a future of conquest of the system, Orwell also enjoined that, Rings shall vanish from our noses/And the harness from our back/Bit and spur shall rust forever/Cruel whips no more shall crack.

Are the Nigerian ruling elite who believe that the decadent order would continue ad infinitum listening?

Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.

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Why the Colour of #RevolutionNow Was Not Arab Spring-red, By Festus Adedayo - Premium Times

Promare, BNA, and the Outrage of the Oppressed – Anime News Network

What could a movie about fire spewing mutants and a show about Beastmen playing baseball have in common? Well, they're both made by Studio Trigger, are a lot of fun to watch, and get a little messy with their metaphors. In 2019, Studio Trigger gave the world Promare, the studio's first feature length film and the world responded with love and adoration. Audiences being introduced to the Burnish, flame-powered people who appeared 30 years ago and have faced discrimination ever since due to fear of their immense power. 2020 saw Trigger follow up this theme with the release of BNA: Brand New Animal, a series about the lives and struggles of an all-beastman city as it fights against worldwide oppression.

Both works show some of Trigger's best qualities. We are treated to colorful, vibrant palettes as we go on an action-packed ride with over-the-top characters that are hard not to love. The comedy and writing are solid and the soundtracks? Phenomenal. But while I can definitely say that I enjoyed both of these works, the mishandling of their oppression based metaphor left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Promare is the worst offender of the two in regards to it's messiness. When the Burnish first appeared, they were discriminated against and feared and the world set up tools like segregation to oppress them, of course ignoring the voices of the oppressed people and others saying it was not the solution. Jump forward 30 years and the world has adapted to the presence of the Burnish. Fire hydrants are everywhere. Special rescue teams are dispatched to deal with Burnish-based fires. And anyone discovered to be a Burnish is arrested and carted away to a maximum security facility, far from the public. Everything's lovely.

While many loved Promare, I found myself frustrated the first time I watched it. This is not to say that I don't enjoy the movie. The enjoyment just had to be found beneath the frustration. Far, far beneath it. A significant cause is due to the fact it was lauded as this cute, fun, ride, and, while it is all those things, no one decided to mention that it was a movie that is primarily about state violence and discrimination and opens with a montage of oppression, riots, and violence.We are shown news clips of proposed Burnish segregation. We see Burnish getting attacked in the streets by crowds of people. The Burnish riot against their oppression and they are met with resistance from those who fear their flames. And it all feels eerily relevant in light of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests going on right now. The Burnish are fighting for their right to exist on equal footing in a world that sees them as little more than dangerous and deserving of their persecution. None of this is exactly what I expected when I got on this "cute, fun, ride."

Brand New Animal didn't carry such a sparkling clean image going in, though I was aware that it was an allegory for racism (though I was wary of any more racism allegories from Netflix after the disaster that was Bright) and that made the ride much smoother. Beastmen are hated and discriminated against, to the point of people advocating for the deaths of all Beastmen. Luckily, there's Anima City, a place full of nothing but beastmen, where they can live free of oppression and discrimination. Well, in theory.

BNA's world, and by proxy, its discrimination, is much more fleshed out than what is seen in Promare. There is a long history to the beastmen, including ancient cities and even a god and religion, and beastmen are diverse and multifaceted, filling a multitude of societal roles and having varying personalities, something we did not get to see in Promare with the Burnish. The discrimination against beastmen is just as developed, not reducing it to one form of heinous illegality, but rather the results of leaving an oppressed group unprotected. Humans can hunt beastmen down without fear of persecution. Beastmen children are trafficked for reasons I'd rather not think too deeply on. Migrant bird beastmen are shot out of the skies for border violations. As the show goes on, Michiru, a girl who turned into a beastman under mysterious circumstances, discovers several different aspects of Beastman discrimination and the effects it has on them.

Spoiler warning. I'm going to be talking about heavy spoilers for both Promare and BNA past this point, so heads up if you haven't seen them yet.

One of the aspects Michiru discovers happens to be a government conspiracy to eradicate all Beastmen. Alan Sylvasta, head of Sylvasta Pharmaceuticals, has been pulling the strings for ages. He has been manipulating Beastmen with the approval of the Japanese government to make the Beastmen in Anima City go through Nirvasyl Syndrome, a reaction to too many Beastmen being gathered in one place, causing them to transform and become incredibly violent. This would cause Anima City to be deemed a failure, beastmen to appear violent, and Sylvasta and the government to push a drug that would transform beastmen into humans, solving the beastman problem once and for all. It should be noted that these drugs will be delivered through the use of military grade robots. Well, when they're not in the middle of using live ammunition on everyone in the vicinity.

Promare has a similar plot point as we discover that the Earth is in danger. The molten core will soon overflow, leading to heavy devastation across the planet. Unlike BNA, surely Governor Kray, a powerful government official and likely billionaire, will choose to work with the many resources at his command to stave off this disaster and save humans, Burnish, and the planet as a whole, right?

Of course not. He makes a space Ark that can only fit 10,000 people that will take him and his giant terraforming robot to a new planet that won't explode. But the real kicker is, to power this spaceship, he uses a warp drive engine that will instantly transport them to this new planet. But a warp drive is going to need a power source. If only there was an energy-spewing- no, a fire-spewing fuel source nearby that he could use until it burned itself out! Kray uses captured Burnish to power his warp engine through a process that very rapidly kills them. Burnish are seen as a resource and a nuisance and little else. Though they are not even allowed to exist in peace, their very bodies are taken and are put to work for a world that does not love them.

And luckily, it's easy for Kray to get Burnish. Their very existence is deemed illegal. Any discovered Burnish are arrested by the Freeze Force, a not at all vague parallel for ICE. This is regardless of whether they harm anyone or are actively using their powers. And anyone who knowingly harbors them is arrested as well. After their arrest, they are immediately taken to a maximum security prison that is as cold as it is inhumane. As we enter the cell, we are met with freezing temperatures and bandaged Burnish, all wounded either from their encounters with the Freeze Force or from having their limbs frozen whenever they produce the smallest flame. And as two Burnish lay dying amongst all these injured people, not a single finger is lifted to provide aid to them.

Not that any aid would be expected from the Freeze Force. They don't care about the Burnish. They are simply the collectors. To capture the Burnish, they can do as they please. The means do not matter. They may beat them down. Destroy their homes. They can even crush them underfoot, though that is frowned upon. Not because the Freeze Force shouldn't have the right to kill another human being, but because that would be a waste of precious fuel for Kray.Speaking of Governor Kray, as his plan is on the cusp of failing, it is revealed that he is a Burnish, and a powerful one at that. It's already disgusting that the Burnish must bear witness to genocide and human experimentation, but for the orchestrator of it all to be a Burnish himself feels like a slap in the face. Brand New Animal does the same thing in revealing that Alan Sylvasta is actually a beastman, and a pure blooded one at that, spouting hate for the lesser beastmen. While these things don't negate the horrible bigotry perpetuated by humans in the respective works, it's insulting to portray members of these groups as grand orchestrators of so much oppression. One could easily argue that both of these characters could be metaphors for the self hate that is ingrained in oppressed groups after decades of discrimination, but making them the ringleaders obscures the fact that oppressors are the ones with the true power to oppress.

Another issue I have is with how these works handle resistance to oppression. Promare almost posits the Burnish discrimination as if it was their own fault. Their flames are dangerous and they are not using them properly. And, of course, the actions of Mad Burnish are seen as wrong. How dare they burn things down after they are attacked and discriminated against?

And how dare Lio still try and kill Kray, the orchestrator of his people's genocide? Lio is stopped and his own words are thrown back at him. "Burnish don't kill for no reason," he's told by Galo, even after Galo discovers the heinous acts committed against the Burnish and the plans laid out by Kray. Is the Burnish experimentation not reason enough? Does genocide not fill all the requirements for Galo, someone who's not directly affected by this Burnish oppression? It is reminiscent of James Baldwin's response when asked how to get Black people to cool it. It is not the black people who have to cool it, because they won't We are the ones who are dying fastest.

BNA adds a justification to its discrimination with Nirvasyl Syndrome. Just like the Burnish, Beastmen are dangerous down to a biological level and in a way that makes them a danger to everyone around, including themselves. And just like with Lio, when it's discovered that Sylvasta is developing a drug that could wipe Beastmen from existence, Shirou is stopped and treated as if his rage is wrong and unwarranted.

Michiru, someone who has been a Beastman for less than a year and learns a new facet of the culture everytime the sun rises, can neither see what's wrong with a (seemingly) human man making a drug that could eradicate Beastmen across the globe nor can she see fully grasp why Shirou's rage is valid? Both works continue a long tradition of telling oppressed people what qualifies as good rebellion and how they should act against oppression through the mouths of people who actively uphold the systems that oppress them. I should also add that, as a Black person, hearing thoughts on resistance from a character who has been suddenly transformed into a beastman is more than a little weird when I live in a world of Rachel Dolezals, Shaun Kings, and blackfishing.

However, when it is all said and done, BNA does not go down the route of eradication. The evil plan is stopped and Nirvasyl Syndrome is treated without changing Beastmen to humans. Beastmen are still Beastmen, including Michiru, who decides to continue in her Beastman form. Anima City decides to open up, realizing that Beastmen being cooped up in a city does not actually address the problems at hand and leads to more issues. The ideas here aren't necessarily revolutionary but they're more of a step in the right direction. But how much longer until significant societal change comes? Are we doomed to an infinity of baby steps that do not solve the actual problems or directly respond to the outcry?

On the other hand, Promare's attempt to wrap everything in a bow reveals it's lack of revolutionary imagination. No, its solution is to completely erase the identity of the Burnish. Undercutting the entire idea that the discrimination against the Burnish is bad, it simply takes away the reason for the discrimination. There is no eradication of discriminatory practices or destruction of ghettos. We see nothing indicating that Kray will be held responsible for his crimes against humanity. No, Promare's solution to oppression is for the oppressed to homogenize. I love to see marginalized people with superpowers as stories of freedom, and not stories of erasure, so the eugenics in Promare's final moments don't sit right on my spirit. Both Promare and BNA use the struggles of real life people as a staging ground for a show on discrimination and, even in the midst of all this fantasy and fiction, they continue to give piecemeal attempts at positive change that lead to nothing and, in Promare's case, completely eradicate the oppressed's identity.

There are no worthwhile solutions to be found. Only half-answers and eradication.

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Promare, BNA, and the Outrage of the Oppressed - Anime News Network

Anniversary of Article 370 abrogation: One year on, Valmiki Dalits in J&K await government package – India Today

For the oppressed Valmiki Dalits in Jammu and Kashmir, the abrogation of Article 370 had brought freedom and domicile status. For the first time in three generations, they became eligible for government jobs. However, one year on, Valmikis await a government package to uplift them out of decades-old state-approved slavery.

We need a quota for jobs and education, to make a beginning. Domicile certificate has arrived, we are now formally residents of J&K. But the start is not as easy. Reservation may benefit us to prepare for future opportunities, said Eklavya, a graduate and law aspirant.

Eklavya had given up on his dream of becoming a lawyer, after realising that the lack of domicile status will bar him from pursuing legal practice.

Despite my graduation degree, I am employed as an assistant at a university. I deserve a better chance at employment, he observed.

HOPE AFTER FREEDOM FROM OPPRESSION

When India Today TV met with the community in August 2019 in Jammu, members were teary-eyed and thankful. Distributing sweets, they had shared hope of watching their children pursue dreams.

Most Valmikis, brought to J&K from Punjab in 1957 to clean streets, were restricted to odd jobs including sanitation. They were not provided Permanent Resident Certificate despite political assurances amid special status.

Due to the failed promises, even three generations later, the community struggled for a job opportunity, that is, until Jammu and Kashmir's special status was revoked and they were granted domicile status.

Also read | J&K starts issuing domicile certificates; suffering finally ends, says Valmiki community

Aware about recommendations sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) regarding the need for additional compensation, community leader Gharu Bhatti said they hope for a positive outcome.

We met Lieutenant Governor (LG) Murmu on May 23 and requested for compensation like announced for refugees. We deserve to be compensated to recover from the past 63 years. Many of our youth are already over-age for government jobs. We hope that the government will at least announce reservation in jobs for Valmiki Dalits, just like 4 per cent reservation announced for International Border residents," Gharu Bhatti said.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Radhika has spent her young life with broken dreams. She trained hard to join the Border Security Force (BSF) and cleared the initial examination. However, her name was rejected due to Article 35A, that denied resident status required for government employment in J&K.

Heartbroken, she had quit her studies and gave up on the dream.

I have received the domicile certificate and can now apply for jobs. That is a huge relief. But I am not sure, anymore. I did not have the heart to resume studies, after facing dejection, for no fault of mine, she said.

Radhika is contemplating graduation in physical education, till then, she will work with a private company.

Radhikas hope is to bring her father out of despair, who still works as a sanitation worker. Famished but hopeful, the man had accompanied her to the examination centre but was left in tears when told her name got rejected due to Article 35A.

GROUSE AGAINST POLITICIANS

No local politician has yet approached the community to discuss a further plan or hinted at a special package, according to community members. Despite Home Minister Amit Shah mentioning their story in the public domain, Valmiki Dalits await further political interest, expected from J&K-based leaders.

Most youngsters have started to apply for employment opportunities, anticipating to be the first in three generations to get a chance at a brighter future. They hope not to be relegated to cleaning sewers, anymore. But they need the government's help to do break the cycle.

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Anniversary of Article 370 abrogation: One year on, Valmiki Dalits in J&K await government package - India Today

Pro-Beijing influencers and their rose-tinted view of life in Xinjiang – Coda Story

When Jerry Grey, a British-Australian living in Guangdong, China, went on a cycling holiday to Xinjiang in the late summer of 2019, he was blown away by the regions spectacular scenery and architecture. A particular highlight of his trip was visiting Turpan, the ancient oasis city in the east of the region, where he admired an 18th-century mosque with the tallest minaret in China.

Grey, 62, who visited Xinjiang as a tourist, said he couldnt find any traces of the sprawling concentration camps he had read about in the press. I never saw one, he said. That doesnt mean they arent there. Its a huge place, but we did cycle down some very, very long stretches of open road.

Grey, who is a former London Metropolitan police officer, admitted that he found Xinjiangs surveillance network and continual police checks oppressive. It was a pain in the butt, he said. But at no stage were they ever abusive.

I asked him if he would willingly live under a draconian regime of surveillance and arbitrary detention like the one that operates in Xinjiang, controlling the regions Muslim population under the guise of combating terrorism.

Would I like it? Course not. I wouldnt like it at all, he said. But would I move? Probably not. If they said to me, You cant use a VPN and you cant use your Twitter account, and things like that, then I might consider it. Because my lifeline to the outside world is through the internet.

Despite Greys acknowledgement of heavy surveillance in Xinjiang, he has devoted the past five months denying the existence of detention camps in the region, citing his bike ride as evidence.

In March, he was in quarantine after returning home from a trip to Thailand. It was six months on from his visit to Xinijiang. I was bored silly, so I opened up my Twitter account and thought, I know what Ill do. One of the things I can do is I can start tweeting about the bike ride.

Grey began with two followers and now has more than 4,000. Many of them are Chinese users, living both within the country and abroad. His Twitter page is a relentless rehashing of his camp-free cycling tour. We didnt see any concentration camps, but the days and nights in Xinjiang require a lot of concentration to get through, he quipped in one July 15 post.

Grey has, inevitably, attracted the attention of Chinese media. On the day we spoke, he was scheduled to speak with the state TV channel CGTN directly after.

Their propaganda department absolutely sucks. And I think maybe Im being used, but Im being used to deliver a message that I believe in, he said. Theyre not telling me what to say.

Other Beijing-based news outlets have already featured interviews with Grey: Australian offers candid observation of Xinjiang distinct from Western characterizations, ran one headline on the website of the Global Times newspaper in June.

Though Greys individual reach is modest, he is part of a network of users that all share a similar message. He calls them his comrades in arms.

Carl Zha, a Chinese-American Twitter user with 43,000 followers, spends his mornings surfing in the turquoise waters of Bali, Indonesia, before returning to his fiancee, three puppies, and his job as an influencer posting and broadcasting about China. Zha, 43, was born in China a month after Mao Zedongs death and left for the U.S when he was 13. Over the past two years, he has become known for his content about Xinjiang. His posts are devoted to attacking Western reports of human rights abuses in the region and painting coverage of Uyghur oppression as an influence operation designed to incite tension between the U.S. and China.

The US government is pushing Cold War propaganda to get us involved in another war, he told me in a Skype interview. Despite the content of his Twitter account, he said he doesnt deny that China has inflicted human rights abuses on its Uyghur population.

I feel very conflicted about what the Chinese government is doing, because it is very heavy-handed, it is a massive social engineering project, he said. I asked him whether he had spoken to any Uyghurs about the issue. He said that he has been a member of a WeChat group of Uyghur and Han people from Xinjiang in 2015. Its pretty much defunct now, he said, explaining that it went quiet when Xinjiang authorities cracked down on communication two years later.

Since then, despite extensively posting about Xinjiang, Zha told me he had not had a conversation with any other Uyghurs, either living in Xinjiang or abroad. Nobody has reached out to me, he said. The Uyghurs living in exile there are actually plenty of outlets for them right now. I mean theres many all the news channels, all the mainstream news. Im a small shop. Im a one-person channel.

Zhas podcast about China, titled Silk and Steel, hosts mostly like-minded guests, including Jerry Grey. Zha said he wasnt opposed to speaking with Uyghurs and told me that he had featured a Hong Kong protester on the show.

Im not just a shitposter that posts a lot my podcast is my income stream. Thats whats supporting me to live in Bali, he said.

Zha and Grey are part of a group of bloggers, YouTubers and social media personalities backed by legions of automated accounts who seek to play down Uyghur oppression in Xinjiang. They see reports of Uyghur human rights abuses as attempts to attack Beijing, and believe that Western coverage of the Xinjiang crisis forms part of a state-funded offensive against China.

Though the accounts of Zha and Grey are run by real people, there are hundreds of accounts within their network which appear to be inauthentic. These coordinated accounts, seen by Coda Story, all spout Chinese propaganda content claiming Xinjiang is happy and thriving. Some claim to be run by Uyghurs. If they were authentic Xinjiang Twitter accounts, their users would require a VPN to access them a practice that can mean instant arrest in the region.

Over on TikTok, the top-ranking videos on the Xinjiang hashtag bring up beautiful images of the region, interlaced with videos claiming the camps in Xinjiang are a conspiracy theory. A top result comes from an American user called @vagdentata. I keep seeing people post about the Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, claiming there are concentration camps there that is not true, its fabricated by the CIA. On Friday, President Trump banned dealings with Chinese tech giants TikTok and WeChat and announced he would bar both apps from operating in the U.S, unless they were sold to a U.S. buyer within 45 days.

Mamutjan Abdurehim, 42, is a Uyghur father living alone in Sydney. He has spent a great deal of time on social media, trying to find out more about the situation in Xinjiang. He is troubled by the presence of the denialists he encounters on the internet.

Thats the most painful part of being online, he said. Seeing somebody denying openly denying whats going on there and trying to portray activists as agents of the West or agents of Western propaganda. Thats very, very painful.

Abdurehim believes his wife, Muherrem Ablet, is currently imprisoned in Xinjiang. She and their two children were separated from him after they had to return to China to replace her passport. In April 2017, Abdurehims wife was rounded up and sent to a camp. The family was told she would be entering a brief period of study. Except for a short message when she was allowed out on day release in late May 2017, Abdurehim has not heard from his wife since.

Abdurehim said he is often kept awake at night after reading conspiracy theories denying Uyghur oppression. I get tempted to respond to them and fight them over Twitter, he said. But I calm myself down. No, no, no, no need for that.

Alongside Abdurehim, there are thousands of Uyghurs around the world who have testified about their missing family members in Xinjiang. Since 2016, the region has been subjected to a brutal crackdown, corralling Uyghurs into a sprawling network of detention centers, camps and prisons.

Researchers and journalists have unearthed overwhelming evidence of Xinjiangs surveillance and detention programs. As a result, they are often targeted by bots, trolls, and pro-Beijing influencers. Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, who published a report exposing Xinjiangs forced labor system in March, is one of them.

There have been a lot of attacks against me and my family on the internet, she said, explaining that her critics are not interested in seeing evidence of oppression in Xinjiang.

They have decided that if we publish material that appears to be criticizing the Chinese government, then we must have been paid by a foreign government; we must have secret agendas. But, no matter how strong the research is, no matter how much evidence we have, theyre not going to be persuaded otherwise.

One Twitter account that frequently targets Xu is run under the name Xi Fan. Its owner says she is a young Chinese woman living in Victoria, Australia, who grew up in Xinjiang. Her tweets are typical of pro-Beijing channels: TikTok videos showing Chinas tourist attractions, mixed with political content often justifying the Chinese governments crackdowns on Tibetans, Hong Kongers, the Falun Gong religious movement and Xinjiangs Muslim minorities.

On the day that the new Hong Kong security law was passed, giving Beijing sweeping powers to clamp down on dissent, she tweeted: Ive been looking forward to this day for a long time. I was in the street when I heard the good news, and jumped for joy. Hong Kong is finally stable.

When I contacted Xi for an interview, she would only answer my questions publicly on the platform. Our back and forth lasted a whole day. When I joined Twitter, I saw articles here about Xinjiang, I was shocked and angry, she said. These articles are complete distortions of reporting, which is why I am speaking out.

I asked her what her response was to the thousands of Uyghurs around the world who have spoken out about abuses in Xinjiang. They are liars. They are trying to subvert China, incite ethnic hatred and split China. Paid by CIA, to attack China. And u stupid idiot believe that, she said. She added: U believe what u want to believe. And Uyghur are still living a stable and happy life in China. Soon after, she stopped responding to my questions.

Illustration by Sofiya Voznaya

Excerpt from:

Pro-Beijing influencers and their rose-tinted view of life in Xinjiang - Coda Story

Shehbaz says oppression of unarmed Kashmiris Modis challenge to the world – Geo News

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that saving unarmed Kashmiris from the oppression of Indian forces is a challenge posed by the Modi government to the whole world.

"Modi has challenged the world, the way he has aggressively taken over control of Kashmir," Shehbaz said, while addressing the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

He said Pakistan will have to move past "empty rhetoric" and fight for Kashmir with practical steps.

"We will have to expose India before the world at the diplomatic level," he added.

The PML-N leader said that the abrogation of Article 370 by India on August 5, 2019, was a tragedy for the region.

Earlier in his speech, Shehbaz thanked the AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider for inviting the opposition to Muzaffarabad.

The visit comes two days after Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the region's capital to show solidarity with Kashmiris on Youm-e-Istehsal.

Youm-e-Istehsal was marked in Pakistan and all over the world on Wednesday to observe the one-year anniversary of August 5, 2019, when the Indian government illegally annexed occupied Kashmir into two union territories by revoking Article 370 of its constitution.

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Shehbaz says oppression of unarmed Kashmiris Modis challenge to the world - Geo News

Modi government enjoys twin triumphs –

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday took center stage at a ceremony laying the foundations for a temple at a flashpoint holy site exactly a year after imposing direct rule on Muslim-majority Kashmir twin triumphs for his Hindu nationalist government.

The site at Ayodhya, and Kashmir, have been two of the most divisive communal issues of the past 30 years in India, and Modi has attempted to draw a line under both.

For his fans, both steps confirm Modi elected to a second-straight term in a landslide victory last year as a decisive, visionary and heroic leader, and Indias most important in decades.

His critics see him as remolding the officially secular country of 1.3 billion as a Hindu nation at the expense of Indias 200 million Muslims.

Modi has certainly been Indias most transformative leader in recent memory, making him wildly popular, but also highly controversial and quite divisive, said Micheal Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center.

The holy city of Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh has long been a religious tinderbox, providing the spark for some of its worst sectarian violence.

In 1992, a Hindu mob destroyed a centuries-old mosque there that they believed had been built on the birthplace of Ram, an important deity. This triggered religious riots that killed 2,000 people, most of them Muslims.

A lengthy legal battle ensued, but in November last year in a major victory for Modis Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Indias top court awarded the site to Hindus, allowing a temple touching the sky to be built.

Yesterdays elaborate religious ceremony was shown live on television and was reportedly set to be beamed in Times Square in New York City. Small celebrations also took place across India.

A masked Modi, 69, shared the stage with the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a militaristic hardline Hindu group that is parent to the BJP and which Modi joined as a young man.

Not only mankind, but the entire universe, all the birds and animals, are enthralled by this golden moment, the main priest chanted.

Modi is going to make his position permanently in history purely on the strength of this temple, his biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said.

Further cementing Modis place in his countrys annals is Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan since 1947 and the spark for two wars and the source of much bloodshed.

The BJP had long seen the special status enjoyed by the part of Kashmir controlled by India as a historical wrong, and on Aug. 5 last year, Modi abolished it.

An accompanying security operation turned the region into a fortress for weeks, with telecommunications cut and thousands taken into custody.

Even now, India has maintained stifling restraints on Kashmiris in violation of their basic rights, Human Rights Watch has said.

Fearing protests ahead of the anniversary, thousands of Indian troops on Tuesday imposed a tight curfew in Kashmir.

In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan who on Tuesday released a new map showing all of Kashmir as part of Pakistan led a protest march in Muzaffarabad.

We will never accept, and neither will the Kashmiris, the illegal Indian actions and oppression of the Kashmiri people, Khan said in a statement.

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Modi government enjoys twin triumphs -

Art 370, CAA, triple talaq, Ram Mandir are just one cycle of Modis permanent revolution – ThePrint

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After Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan, Article 370 and triple talaq, many Bharatiya Janata Party observers are asking, What next? The clue to the BJPs future agenda lies in two factors: one is in the past, in how the partys politics changed after the 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid; and two, in how Prime Minister Narendra Modi sees his own role.

After the demolition, the BJP faced what political scientist John McGuire described as a moment of crisis. It had reaped the political gains of the Ram temple movement, but now that the issue was over, it had to redefine itself.

The BJP would do so over the next four years, remaking itself from a hard Hindutva party to a party of governance a national alternative to the Congress. When the 1996 Lok Sabha election came, Lal Krishna Advani was on a surajya (good governance) yatra and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was emphasising the BJPs commitment to pluralism and tolerance.

There are some optimists who hope that the successful completion of the BJPs Right-wing projects under Modi Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Article 370, triple talaq and now Ram Mandir would similarly precipitate another move to the centre. Now that the BJP has reached the limits of the potential gains from cultural nationalism, it will finally focus on issues of governance.

This view is deeply mistaken. In an article last year, I had argued that while Modis first term was defined by the soft Hindutva mixed with social welfare of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, its second term would be defined by hard Hindutva of V.D. Savarkar and the remaking of the Indian nation. The first term was used by Modi to patiently redefine the centre and mainstream of Indian politics, while holding off on the implementation of core issues. From this redefined centre, Modi has finally unleashed his transformative cultural nationalism agenda and this would likely last for the remainder of his second term. The next big political issues are likely to be UCC (Uniform Civil Code) and NRC (National Register of Citizens).

The BJP under Modi is remaking both Hindu identity and national identity, a project that is still a long way away from completion.

Also read: In his second term, Modi govt has moved from Deen Dayal Upadhyaya to Veer Savarkar

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During the mid-1990s, the BJPs expansion was predicated on political moderation. In 1996, its coalition government led by Vajpayee fell in 13 days because no major party, except the Shiv Sena, Samta party and Shiromani Akali Dal, wanted to ally with it owing to its communal image. As political scientist Michael Gillan noted in his study Assessing the National Expansion of Hindu Nationalism: The BJP in Southern and Eastern India, 1996-2001, the BJP aggressively sought coalition allies in this phase on the basis of a common anti-Congress platform and reconfigured Hindutva to suit regional contexts, as opposed to big national Hindutva issues. In fact, the BJPs 1999 manifesto, astonishingly, had no mention of Ram Mandir.

The BJP is now in its phase of dominance, and is freed from the constraints of regional allies. The compromises have to be made by regional parties, recently seen with the AAP and BSP, in line with the BJPs ideological agenda, not the other way around.

Also read: Why the Modi government gets away with lies, and how the opposition could change that

Hindutva is now the pathway to the BJPs consolidation and expansion. In West Bengal, the political fight is between BJPs Hindutva and Mamata Banerjees Bengali pride resisting the suzerainty of Delhi. In Telangana, the BJP accuses the TRS of appeasing Asaduddin Owaisis AIMIM, celebrates the day of the states accession as liberation from Muslim oppression, and its state president promises the UCC. In Assam, the BJPs entire politics is based upon the fear of the Bangladeshi Muslim. These state-level communal agendas have to be necessarily packaged within a national narrative.

Hence, the BJP would likely push the UCC before the 2021 election in West Bengal, challenging Mamata Banerjees TMC to defend special protections for minorities, a charge on which she is politically vulnerable. This will be supplemented in Bengal (and other key states) by what political scientists Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar have described as the Uttar Pradesh model of riot. Rather than instigating major and violent state-wide riots as in the earlier phase, the BJP-RSS have attempted to create and sustain constant, low-key communal tension together with frequent, small, low-intensity incidents out of petty everyday issues that institutionalise communalism at the grass roots, to keep the pot boiling, the authors wrote in their book Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh.

In fact, we are already seeing this model at play in Bengal, the latest example being the Telinipara riots. In Uttar Pradesh, we might see the completion of the Ram Mandir just before the 2022 assembly election, rekindling Hindu consciousness.

Also read: Modi faces no political costs for suffering he causes. Hes just like Irans Ali Khamenei

The widespread Hindu consolidation under Narendra Modi is still in its infancy. Caste and regional identities are still potent under the surface. If the BJP relaxes on its cultural nationalist agenda of us versus them (Muslims), these regional and caste identities will regain political salience and hamper the party. Indeed, backward caste identities are being progressively integrated in the Hindutva project, a phenomenon known as subaltern Hindutva. The PMs reference to Raja Suheldev a backward caste icon who supposedly resisted Muslim aggression in his Ayodhya speech is just the most recent instance of this careful strategy.

Modi hardly ever names Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Rajiv Gandhi because he is not competing with them. The competitor he sets up for himself is Jawaharlal Nehru, the pre-eminent architect of modern, secular India who defined the country for its first four decades of Independence.

Modi presents himself in similar historical terms, not as an economic reformer or a social welfare populist, but as a nation builder or rebuilder a saffron Nehru. The former politicians might be held accountable in one or two terms, but people understand that remaking the nation is a long drawn-out affair. Much like the country gave Nehru three terms to complete his project, Modi implicitly asks Indians to trust him with a similarly long time-frame.

Also read: Bhoomipujan 2020 is like Balakot 2019, the surgical strike that washes all sins

People seem to have bought into this framing of politics. In states they might punish the BJP for failure on economic issues such as farmer distress and unemployment, which we saw in Maharashtra and Haryana but national politics has been delinked from economic issues. As India slides into its worst economic recession since Independence, Modis popularity is at an all-time high.

This is helpful for the BJP since the economic recession means almost certainly that the Modi government will not go into 2024 with any major economic achievements. It takes many years for the economy to recover from such a deep recession. Since a lot of fiscal space will be taken in ameliorating the impact of the public health/economic crisis, theBJP wont have the space to launch any new big social sector schemes or expand the welfare state.

The fact that Modi now almost never talks about India by 2022 a set of ambitious targets in the sectors of housing, electricity, internet, and drinking water among others is an indicator that those targets wouldnt likely be achieved. Neither it is likely that Modi would spend much political capital on big economic reforms, lest economic issues come back to the centre of political debate.

If the opposition is waiting for the cultural nationalistic issues to subside of its own accord and material issues to become salient again, it will have to wait for a long time. It is almost predetermined that the BJP will go into 2024 on the plank of Hindu nationalism, because it is not just the most potent option but also, in many ways, its only option.

Mao had described his system of rule as permanent revolution. In making revolution, one must strike when the iron is hot one revolution must follow another, the revolution must continually advance. This was how the new Chinese nation would be created after centuries of feudalism and imperialism.

In the Hindutva ideology espoused by Modi, Indian is emerging after centuries of Muslim/British/secularist rule of Hindu oppression 1200 years of slave mentality, in Modis words. Article 370, CAA, and Ram Temple bhoomi pujan are just one cycle of the new permanent revolution many such cycles of revolution await to play their part in the building of New India.

The author is a research associate at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Views are personal.

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Art 370, CAA, triple talaq, Ram Mandir are just one cycle of Modis permanent revolution - ThePrint

Right these wrongs: PoK-origin Labour MP wants UK to intervene in Kashmir – Times Now

Zarah Sultana, PoK-origin UK MP/ Official Twitter account  |  Photo Credit: Twitter

London: A Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK)-origin Labour MP has sought UK's intervention in the Kashmir matter. In a letter which brazenly refers to Kashmir as 'Indian occupied Kashmir', the MP, Zarah Sultana has said that 'Britain had laid the groundwork for the oppression that Kashmiris face today' by executing the partition of India. She also said that the UK has a moral obligation to 'right these wrongs'.

In a tweet on August 5, Sultana had said, "1 year ago today the Indian government unilaterally revoked the semi-autonomous status of Indian Occupied Kashmir.Human rights abuses, repression & brutal lockdown ensued. I've written to the Foreign Secretary, urging him to honour Britain's obligations to the Kashmiri people."

On the day coinciding the anniversary of Indian government's decision to revoke Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Sultana, in her letter, claims that human rights organisations have reported 'human rights violations, including torture, rape, extrajudicial execution and illegal detention' in Kashmir.

"As you know, in 1947, acting as a colonial power the British government oversaw the partition of the Indian subcontinent. This laid the groundwork for the oppression that the Kashmiri people face to this day. Britain, therefore, has a special obligation to right the wrongs," the letter states.

The move may be viewed against the backdrop of several attempts by Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir matter. Most recently, Turkey had claimed that India's decision to abrogate Article 370 did not contribute to peace in the region. India hit back at Turkey and urged that country to refrain from commenting on India's internal matters.

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Right these wrongs: PoK-origin Labour MP wants UK to intervene in Kashmir - Times Now

South Africa needs the skills of the women who led resistance in the 1980s – IOL

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By Reneva Fourie

South Africa should not be struggling to overcome its current challenges of underdevelopment and corruption as there is an entire generation of remarkable women that is under-utilised.

The women that led anti-apartheid struggles inside the country during the 1980s are hardworking, selfless, highly knowledgeable and competent, with impeccable integrity. They possess a unique capacity to motivate and lead people because they acquired the skill by convincing many to risk their lives (and livelihoods) for a cause. Empowering others is inherent in this cohort of women; for having a second layer of leadership to replace them in the event of detention or death, was imperative.

As we celebrate the brave actions of women who on August 9, 1956, marched to the Union Buildings and demanded the abolishment of the Pass Laws, we honour too on this day, the women activists from the decades before, and from the decades thereafter.

I want to share some of the contributions made by women from my hometown, Grassy Park, to our fight against apartheid in the 1980s. I do so because younger women activists always challenge me about the lack of material on women activists from the 1980s.

Secondly, it is hoped that their rich experiences will motivate even more women of younger generations to become emboldened social activists.

And thirdly, but most importantly, I seek to highlight that South Africa does not have a shortage of women leaders. I focus only on my area, for if I were to focus on the Western Cape, or even just the Southern Suburbs Region, the stories would amount to volumes.

Grassy Park is a beautiful suburb in the Western Cape that is home to three scenic lakes - Princess Vlei, Zeekoe Vlei; and Rondevlei Nature Reserve. Now densely populated (and even viewed as mildly dangerous by some) the apartheid designated coloured area, had a mixed class composition - the largest portion of whom were professionals.

Grassy Park has a rich history of anti-apartheid activity. Sam Kahn still resides there. Many known leaders from the area like Dr Neville Alexander and Imam Gassan Solomon have now passed. Other contemporary leaders who hail from the area include the first Director-General of Trade and Industry, Dr Alistair Ruiters; former Sactwu General Secretary and current Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel; and former Cosatu Deputy President and Minister of Human Settlements, Connie September. The area has produced too many leaders for me to list.

What is less known is that the leaders in Grassy Park during the 1980s were mostly women. And here I am not just referring to members of the local branch of the United Womens Congress (UWCO). Women led in the branches of the student movement (Lotus River/ Grassy Park Students Action Committee-Logsac), the Cape Youth Congress (Cayco), the civic movement (Lotus River/ Grassy Park Residents Association-Logra), and the church youth movement (Inter-church Youth - ICY).

It was women who ran the Congress-aligned local Advice Office and it was a woman who led the local ANC underground cell.

In addition to political work, women activists ran soup kitchens, childrens groups, and adult literacy classes. Leadership extended beyond Grassy Park to include regional and provincial levels.

Experiences such as these enabled the development of extraordinary organisational, management and interpersonal skills among all activists from that era, which should be drawn upon, to get our country out of its current quagmire.

The powerful women activists from my hometown include Norma Gabriels; Lorna, Anthea and Beulah Houston; Aisha and Madeniyah Slamang; Cindy and Zenda Woodman, Fatima, Rabia and Suleila Ismail; Hilary Oostendorp; Blanche Paulse; Crystal and Dee Dicks; Carlette and Margo Johannissen; Marcella, Danielle and Celeste Naidoo and their mom, the late Willemina Naidoo; Farida Khan; Pamela Harris; Sherine Franz; Vanessa Calvert; Donna Miller; Carol-Anne Davids, Barenise Weeder, Chrissie Francis and the late Carmen Hefele. These women are all educated professionals who remain social activists, albeit in a far more subdued manner (or they apply their skills internationally).

Sure, the Peter Mokabas and Blade Nzimandes of this world have undoubtedly influenced me, but I cannot help but feel overwhelmingly blessed to have been surrounded by phenomenal women, all my life in my family, in my community, and throughout my career.

I profile only Julie Jaffer, Ghairo Daniels, Sara Ryklief, Natalie McAskill and Charlene Houston. I thank them for permitting me to publish some of their stories; for the enormity of their contributions can never be captured in one short article. Reading their stories gives insight into our hidden history, and highlights that there are capable, ethical leaders who continue to serve.

Julie Jaffer

There are few people who are as deeply loved in Grassy Park as the peoples doctor, Dr Zuleiga (or Julie as she is fondly known) Jaffer. In addition to serving the community as a health practitioner; she treated our bruises after run-ins with the police and special branch; and was a pillar of reason in meetings of UWCO and, post-unbanning, meetings of the African National Congress and its Womens League.

Her assertiveness emanated from her parents instilling a rejection of societal boundaries in her from an early age, emphasising that she should accept no label other than that of her being a human being. She became politically active as a 14-year old and underwent a gradual process of conscientisation until being recruited to do community work as a means to raise political awareness in the area.

Her determination to fight for a united, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa was deepened by the murder of Iman Haroon in detention, during her time as a university student and her experiences later, as an intern at Somerset Hospital during the 1976 uprisings. Organising in conditions of severe repression was dangerous, but she and her fellow intern, Sophie, started organising workers at Somerset Hospital and subsequently facilitated a successful march in solidarity with the students. She was also among the first who called for free healthcare for all and was one of the people who contributed to the formation of the UDF.

One of the earliest campaigns that Logra (led by Julie and others) mounted was the Lower rates and rents Campaign, which combined different class issues. She recalls being scared at the goals of the campaign, but they did it anyway. One of the achievements was taking the officials of the Divisional Council on a tour of the area to see the poor conditions of peoples homes and the environment. It was the first time the authorities saw the area that they made decisions about.

Julie also had a wonderful way of organising women around issues that interested them and then using the event to create awareness around racial, sexual and class inequalities. Once our democratic government was in place, she contributed to building the local ANC branch and the Womens League branch. More recently she was part of a small group of women deepening democracy through a loose network that brings decision-makers into closer connection with ordinary women, thereby contributing to the sharing of accurate information on service delivery.

Julie was also involved at St Lukes Hospice until she took up a post at UCT teaching palliative medicine. At the same time, she hosted book readings promoting local authors, especially women. Donations collected at the events were used to upgrade communal areas at public hospitals. Julie and her team wanted these spaces to look as beautiful as private hospitals and give patients a more dignified experience. Later the funds were used to support the Grassy Park branch of St Luke's. Currently, Julie is considering new ways to address the very basic and urgent need for food security in the community.

Sahra Ryklief

Sahra Ryklief does not view herself as an activist but rather as an empowerer of activists. Indeed, while she was never at the forefront of resistance, her compassion, diligence, wise guidance and constant presence in every activity of resistance in the area of Grassy Park in the 1980s, and thereafter her services in the labour movement, have contributed to the building of many strong activists and leaders.

She is an autodidact and has a lasting love, respect and allegiance for informal learning spaces, individual and group, specifically public libraries (and more recently, online resources) and the learning which occurs in social, cultural and workplace associations. She worked as a public librarian for the first decade and a half of her working life, which got many a young person, including myself, to visit the library daily. She developed an internal training programme for rural and urban librarians, ran a youth drama group and halfway through her tenure as a municipal librarian became the trade union representative for the amenities and cemeteries sector of the municipal union.

She began working at the Trade Union Library in 1990 and spent the next 20 years doing information provision, research and education for trade unions and developing programmes, projects and publications for what is now the Labour Research Service. In 1996, she joined the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Worker Education Associations (IFWEA) and was elected General Secretary of IFWEA at the 20th General Conference held in Ahmedabad, India in 2007. She stood again for election at the 2011, 2015 and 2019 General Conferences. This will be her last term before retiring.

Sahra holds a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Liverpool and is an adjunct instructor for the Labor Studies and Employment Relations department of the School of Management and Labour Relations at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA. She has produced research for the department and teaches a course for their labour studies degree on Social Movements, Social Change and Work.

Ghairo Daniels

No single event motivated Ghairo Daniels to become politically active, though singular events were key factors. The consciousness into which she was born, predisposed her to participate in correcting social injustice. She was aware of the inequalities and injustices between her mother and father; within her extended family; and within the community of District Six, before she could speak.

Forced removal from District Six to the barren Hanover Park on the Cape Flats, based on colour, made an enormous impact on her young mind. This became the transition point from a sad, frustrated child-observer of wrongs to an ardent and hardworking activist. Being teargassed and baton-charged and finding solace in St. George's Cathedral during 1976, then her later detention and torture under Section Six of the Terrorism Act, added fuel to fire. The experience of solitary confinement and interrogation in prison cells gave her an opportunity to understand the minds of the oppressors better. This, in turn, led to her belief that the organisation of groups of people acting in a rational, disciplined and consensual way was crucial in confronting oppression.

As a student activist in the Congress of South African Students (Cosas), the Azanian African Students Organisation (Azaso the precursor to the current Sasco); in the Committee of 81, which spearheaded the 1980 student insurrection; and her continued community activism in Grassy Park/Lotus River, the area which she moved to in her later years, she gained awareness of her skills in coordination, administration and communication. She also possessed talent in seeing the macro-picture and translating this into feasible strategies, objectives and plans. Throughout her life as a political activist, as well as within her professional career, those were the skills most used, besides her inherent strong intuition.

As a young mother, it also saddened her that her young daughter was tagged along to all kinds of political meetings at all hours of the day and night. She was brought home from hospital into a house which harboured MK cadres and where they lived without electricity. Though, on the upside, her daughter could sing "The Internationale" at two years old.

Professionally, she worked in large national non-governmental organisations, notably SACHED Trust and Idasa, at the executive level, before joining Parliament post the 1994 elections to set up the Office of the Leader of Government Business, being instrumental in developing the legislative flow system and controlling the parliamentary programme. Serving the first Parliament under Madiba was both a privilege and a humbling experience. She left national Parliament both by default and divine design to commence an awesome journey of soul-searching. This included community work on farms in small towns, solitary meditation for a couple of months in the Knysna forest and her training as a healer, peace consultant and meditator.

Natalie McAskill

Natalie McAskill has been a life-long community activist. Her ambition has always just been to serve. She is committed to social justice and believed that apartheid was wrong. Accordingly, she sought to do her bit to get rid of it, using every platform that she could, focusing on media and campaigns to ensure that the voices of the marginalised were heard.

Preferring to remain in the background, she applied her astute mind and warm personality, to precisely assessing a situation and firmly guiding us on strategy, tactics and even self-correction during the most dangerous periods of our liberation struggle. Her quiet reserve was certainly not an indicator of weakness, for her courage in those times were immeasurable and her resolve as solid as steel.

Her principles unflinching and her course steadfast, she remains as committed to social development as she did in during the days of her fight against apartheid. Her interest remains communications and using the medium of film to empower young people, particularly those from low-income communities, to elevate their voices, tell their stories, and to let their needs be known. Environmental justice and food sovereignty are also among current her priorities.

Charlene Houston

Though not much older than us, Charlene Houston was the role model for every young militant activist who had the privilege of being in her presence. Having been taught to think critically, or as they said back then think for yourself from a young age; being exposed to the racism that emanated from a simple trip to Kalk Bay beach, labelled non-white, via St James beach, labelled whites-only, and inevitably being chased off; reading Anne Franks Diary; and accompanying her mom to meetings of the Garment Workers Union, formed the backdrop to the makings of a dynamic revolutionary.

Her boundless passion and energy to end injustice, inequality, racism and sexism, saw her initially becoming active in Cosas, raising awareness amongst students, arranging alternative education activities during the 1980s school boycotts, and organising solidarity campaigns around schools who had poor or no resources. She also facilitated the formation of a Cosatu local in support of workers fighting injustices and was active in the formation of the UDF.

Areas like Grassy Park were neglected by national and regional leaders who prioritised working-class areas with resources like pamphlets and the deployment of charismatic speakers. They mistakenly viewed the Grassy Park community as less likely to be mobilised because they were not as oppressed as those living in council flats or township hostels.

This led her to develop a range of community service programmes that filled the gap where local government was not delivering as a member of the Logra Advice office and the Logra civic association, an affiliate of the Cape Housing Action Committee (CAHAC). The programmes were designed to bring people together in groups to learn about rights and justice and to promote action in the form of projects or campaigns. Most of the activities were illegal even when they were not political.

In response to the state brutality that was unleashed with the State of Emergency, she joined uMkhonto weSizwe in 1985, at the age of 19. She operated in deep secrecy because she already had a public profile due to her political work in the community but coordinated a small group to continue mobilisation in schools, among youth and within the religious sector. She also led a womens group which was the forerunner to the unbanning of the Womens League and assisted in setting up ANC and Womens League branches when the organisation was unbanned.

As the political atmosphere post-1990 was shifting dramatically, she immersed herself in transitional politics. She facilitated the establishment of the Western Cape Youth Forum which brought youth from the right and left of the political spectrum together to explore the future. As part of the secretariat at the Consultative Business Movement, she supported dialogues towards building social compacts post-apartheid. In 1994 she set up the Western Cape chapter of the independent observer network for our first democratic elections.

She also worked in the Western Cape Government, where she led some transformation initiatives in the museum sector. Of note is the development of the first provincial policy on sacred human remains held in museums. She also led the very first reburial of remains to happen in the country where remains from 3 museums were returned to associated indigenous communities and reburied in 2018.

Since then, various projects related to good governance and poverty alleviation strategies dominated her time. She has also developed her passion for storytelling into a skill of film making and is currently developing a documentary about Coline Williams with a grant from the National Film Foundation. She is also currently on the Human Remains Working Group of Iziko Museums of South Africa. Having been expelled from high school due to her political work, she has since completed her studies and is now a PhD student.

Conclusion

The few women profiled are just a sample of the innumerable competent women that exist in South Africa. The collective possesses knowledge and skills in public and corporate management, accounting, legal affairs, technological and natural sciences, and many more.

It should not be difficult to locate these skilled women activists from the 1980s; to compile a database of their competencies; and to deploy them once again to serve our country, this time for reconstruction rather than resistance.

It can be assured that they will serve as diligently and honestly today as they did back then, without costing us an arm and a leg.

* Reneva Fourie is an analyst specialising in governance, development and security and currently lives in Damascus, Syria.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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South Africa needs the skills of the women who led resistance in the 1980s - IOL

How the major events of 2020 are changing education in Ontario – Post City

School will look a little different in the coming years for students across Ontario, due to some major curriculum changes in response to COVID-19 and international action addressing systemic racism within institutions and beyond.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, school boards have been trying to adapt to online teaching. Now, with the knowledge that the threat of coronavirus will still be present come September, the Ministry of Education said it has advised boards to plan for multiple scenarios.

Conventional delivery with enhanced safety protocols, adapted delivery that may include blended models of in-person and remote learning and full remote learning, the implementation of these scenarios are dependent on health advice at any point in the school year, wrote Ingrid Anderson, senior media relations coordinator for the Ministry of Education, in an email.

Kristen Clarke, dean of teaching and learning at Bishop Strachan School, says that BSS will be switching its high school students to a semestered schedule rather than full-year courses. Most courses will be semestered, with the exception of math in Grades 9 and 10, activity-based health and physical education courses, and a few others that are better suited for full-year learning.

Its about manageability. Usually students in our school have eight courses Thats a lot to carry as a full load throughout the course of the year, so this way we can make sure they have fewer topics to focus on, she says. Clarke notes that Grade 9 and 10 students carry eight courses a year, and most Grade 11 students also have eight courses, whereas most Grade 12 students have seven courses.

Clarke also says the school learned from student responses to online teaching in the spring of this year.

Were moving into a blended environment where kids will be learning online and face to face, and we noticed that prioritizing positive, descriptive feedback, versus a whole bunch of evaluative grades, was really helpful, she explains. It sustained many students when they were experiencing stressors and kept them above water in many cases.

For those with students in elementary school, be prepared for a revamped math curriculum that will now include coding and financial literacy.

Our government is modernizing our schools, our curriculum, and the delivery of learning, to ensure students are set up to succeed in an increasingly changing world, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said according to a press release on July 23.

The curriculum changes also mean that students in Grade 3 and 6 will not be taking the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessment in the 20202021 school year, as the ministry works on adjusting the math component of the test to align with the new curriculum.

At TFS-Canadas International School, there will be a large focus on the use of technology as both a medium and a tool for effective teaching and learning, says Khalid El-Metaal, the deputy head of teaching and learning.

The educators will lever the use of Google Classroom as a teaching and learning platform in order to deliver curriculum content whether students are taking part in-person, online or through a hybrid class, he says.

Students at TFS will have the option to remain at home and learn through a distance learning model, and other students will take part in in-person sessions with teachers with small class sizes and hybrid classes that take place in online learning spaces on campus.

While the school is focused on delivering the curriculum effectively, we are also focusing on student wellness, and our first priority for the first few weeks will be forging strong teacher-student relationships, embedding routines and practices that are important in this new learning context, and helping students make sense of the changes, and what is happening around them, says El-Metaal.

There has also been a push for curriculum changes that better address issues of systemic racism within the school system and more broadly throughout the country.

Since international protests and discussions about racism were sparked after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police, advocates have been calling for better and earlier education around race and racism within the classroom.

In response, the Ontario government has looked at some common practices within the current school system that contribute to racism.

The government recently announced plans to end academic streaming [grouping students by ability] in Grade 9 in response to concerns that the practice has disproportionately affected educational outcomes for Black, Indigenous and low-income students. The government has also proposed a ban on suspending younger, elementary-school students, a practice that also disproportionately affects Black students, wrote Anderson.

Theyve also promised to strengthen sanctions for teachers who make racist remarks or perform racist actions.

Although that is a start, Karen Murray, the centrally assigned principal of equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression on the Toronto District School Board, says that the board is still working to do more in terms of the curriculum and the school environment for racialized students.

The intentional work has to happen within the classroom and not in just one specific subject, she says. If youre going to be culturally relevant and responsive, it embeds in all subjects.

She notes that, in her experience, students are more comfortable talking about racism than teachers, and thats something Murray says the board will have to work on.

What [kids] do is they bring their life into the classroom; they talk about what they see, what they lived through. So its the adults that have to push against our own hesitation.

Carl James, a York University professor whose research has focused on the experiences of racialized students in the education system, says bringing those lived experiences of students into the classroom is a necessary step to address some holes in the curriculum.

It [the education system] is very centered on the European experience, he says. Teachers must pay attention to the backgrounds of their students, whether thats race or gender or where the students come from, in order to prepare and effectively reach their students.

Murray says shes seen a positive response from many teachers so far.

More educators are willing to really begin to have those conversations in their classrooms. Before the year ended, you could see that, heightened requests to help support teaching and talking about race and racism as a result of the things kids are seeing in the news.

But the curriculum is provincially mandated, meaning Murray has to work within the wiggle room to incorporate more diverse content. The provincial government has yet to make any changes to the curriculum to directly add anti-racist requirements, though the Ministry of Education has said its proposing anti-racism and anti-discrimination training by the end of 2020.

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How the major events of 2020 are changing education in Ontario - Post City


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