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Editor : Nagaraj.M.R…………vol.3…issue.02………….24/03/2007
Editorial : WAKE-UP ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA
Former chief election commissioner , mr.T.N.sheshan brought respect to ECI by doing his duties sincerely against all pressures . he didn’t have any special powers , whatever laws were there since 1950 ie our constitution of India came into being , he used it in letter & spirit efficiently and upholded the sanctity of elections. You can just imagine what his predecessors & successors were & are doing ?
Recently , in the media we have seen reports that a 3 time member of parliament & main fund contributor of a national political party – Mr. M.S.SUBBA is a foreigner , a nepali citizen . how can a foreigner become a law maker of India ? we have seen media reports of MPs & MLAs , cabinet ministers who are wanted by police in serious crimes but absconders , not available to arrest as per police records . but they are very much present in the government & running the show ? what a mockery of law ? recently , we have seen reports where certain MPs extracted money to raise questions in parliament , to sanction money under MPLAD scheme , we have seen media reports about union communications minister mr.pramod mahajan receiving reliance company shares to the tune of crores in return for favourable ruling to that company . In various ways people’s representatives misuse their office for personal gains.
While joining government service in India , from peon’s job to gazetted officer’s rank police inquiry / confidential reporting about the candidate’s antecedents is mandatory. In case of sensitive departments like space , atomic energy , defence , etc, apart from police enquiry concurrent investigation is conducted by Intelligence Bureau , before appointing a candidate to any rank in government service whether as peon or as officer. Whereas , in the case of the people’s representatives who get elected as MPs , MLAs , MLCs , etc, no investigation is conducted about their antecedents , the affidavits they file before ECI at the time of nomination ( eventhough full of lies ) is taken at it’s face value. The ECI doesn’t bother to sincerely cross-check those affidavits . in 2004 general elections , our publication requested for deatails about antecedents of 4 VVIP candidates , the ECI replied that they don’t have information about them. In this way , ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA is favouring the criminals to get elected as MPs , MLAs and eventually to become cabinet ministers. When a criminal becomes a law maker , the first thing he does is to cover-up his own crimes & that of his cronies. In the second step he permits officials to indulge in criminal deeds for a cut in the deal. He formulates laws which are favourable to his rich cronies , based on those inherently flawed criminal intentioned biased laws the courts of justice judges over cases before it. Can a common man hope for justice , what a shame ?
The same criminals who are in constitutional offices become privy to very sensitive informations with respect to national security , economy , etc , it is the same criminals who decide over the national policy matters relating to defence , economy , national security , etc , don’t that criminals sell our national security to our enemies for a price ? are we truly safe under such leaders ?
Hereby , we urge the election commission of India to give information as per RTI ACT with respect to following :
- how many convicted persons , absconders as per police records are there in present loksabha , rajya sabha & all state legislatures as members of the house ?
2.. how many convicted persons , absconders as per police records were there in previous loksabhas , rajya sabhas & all state legislatures as members of the house since independence ?
- how many foreigners , persons of foreign origin & persons having foreigners as their spouses are there in present loksabha , rajyasabha & all state legislatures , as members of the house ?
- how many foreigners , persons of foreign origin & persons having foreigners as their spouses were there in previous loksabhas , rajyasabhas & all state legislatures , as members of the house since independence ?
- give the details like the number of charges , cases against sitting MPs , MLAs throught India & against ex-MPs & ex-MLAs.
- are you cross-checking , verifying the affidavits filed by candidates at the time of nomination for elections ? how ? is it fool-proof , then how come some criminals have entered parliament & state legislatures as members ?
- in some instances , when MPs or MLAs are found of some wrong doings , they are just removed from the membership of the house , but no criminal prosecution against such is proceeded , why ?
bottom line : still there are are honest persons in politics , in parliament & in state legislatures striving for public welfare & upholding the law. Our publication pays our whole hearted respects to those honest few . However , criminalization of politics is an acknowledged fact by vohra committee report , acknowledged by cabinet ministers themselves & this is an appeal to the honest few MPs , MLAs to book their corrupt colleagues. JAI HIND. VANDE MATARAM.
India: Deaths in West Bengal due to police firing during protests against new industrial project
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at reports of the use of excessive and unnecessary force by police in West Bengal (Eastern India) against farmers protesting proposed displacement by the state government for a new industrial project, which has resulted in deaths of at least 14 persons and injuries.
Several reports say that, on 14 March, at least ten people were reportedly shot dead by police and at least 150 persons were injured in the shooting and other incidents of violence. This was after more than 4,000 officers of the West Bengal state police, aided by supporters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which leads the ruling Left Front in the state, cordoned off Bhangabehara and six other nearby areas of protest at Nandigram in Eastern Midnapore district, and sought to clear the area of protestors and barricades put up by them to prevent the entry of government officials.
The reports said the police, facing groups of demonstrators armed with sticks and pelting stones, reportedly fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters to clear them, but later also fired live rounds at the protestors. According to several reports, the police continued to shoot at protestors even as they were fleeing.
Some reports say that 23 bodies of villagers were brought to various hospitals. Human rights activists have reported that local residents have brought 47 persons with bullet injuries including women and children to hospitals in Nandigram, Tamluk and Kolkata for treatment. The police, while admitting that several protestors were killed in the firing, have, however, claimed that four of the protestors died in clashes and when a home-made bomb they were preparing exploded. The police have also stated that among the injured were 42 policemen.
Apart from the police firing, reports speak of several persons injured in clashes between protesting farmers led by Krishjami Raksha Samiti (Save Farmland Committee) and the police who were being aided by supporters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which leads West Bengal’s Left Front government.
Human rights activists have reported that both the CPI (M) supporters and police continue to conduct raids on homes and have detained an unspecified number of persons. Reports also say that the CPI (M) supporters prevented media persons and opposition leaders from reaching the area on March 14 and illegally detained two media persons covering the violent events on that day.
In this context, Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal to:
- order a prompt, impartial and independent inquiry into the Nandigram police shootings and violence and make the findings public;
- ensure that all state officials, including police personnel, who are suspected of perpetrating human rights violations are prosecuted;
- release those detained without any criminal charges at Nandigram and
- ensure that, while law and order should be maintained, those who are engaged in peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of assembly and speech are able to do so without fear of violence, harassment or false accusation of involvement in criminal activities.
Moreover, Amnesty International believes that full consultations about the human rights impact of economic decisions with those to be affected are vital means through which human rights are safeguarded in the context of development. In this respect, the organisation reiterates its January 11 demands that the Government of West Bengal should:
- announce and implement a consistent policy of full consultation with local populations before any development which could affect their livelihood can take place and
- ensure that, where it is proposed to resettle populations, there is just, adequate and culturally-sensitive rehabilitation, resettlement and reparation for those affected.
Since December 2006 Nandigram has witnessed frequent violence after farmers started protests against possible displacement following a notification issued by authorities at the neighbouring Haldia port identifying their lands as sites to be acquired for a new chemical production project.
The project reportedly requires at least 4,000 hectares of land for setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which would be jointly developed as a chemical hub by the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation and the Indonesia-based Salem group of companies. Another SEZ promoted by the same group is also reportedly planned in the Haldia area.
In January this year, six persons were killed in violent clashes involving members of the Save Farmland Committee and persons linked to the CPI (M) which is seeking to accelerate industrial development in West Bengal. Following this, the state government announced the withdrawal of the notification and stated that it would “exercise caution” while going ahead with this project. Nevertheless, in February, Nandigram witnessed frequent violent protests. A state intelligence official was killed and a woman CPI (M) supporter was allegedly subjected to sexual assault and murdered by a section of the protestors. These events have yet to be fully investigated.
The protests at Nandigram followed unrest in Singur (West Bengal), when opposition parties and a number of farmers threatened with displacement by a state government move to acquire farm land for a Tata Motors’ automobile manufacturing project staged demonstrations. The West Bengal state government plans to set up at least six other major industrial projects, including SEZs, in the state, necessitating the acquiring of at least 10,000 hectares of land.
In a bid to boost national economic growth, India has been promoting SEZs across the country. The policy of acquiring land for such industrial projects has sparked protests from local communities fearing land displacement and threats to their livelihood.
DOW-CHEMICALS CLEAN-UP BHOPAL
More than 7,000 people died within a matter of days when toxic gases leaked from a chemical plant in Bhopal, India on the night of 2/3 December 1984. Over the last 22 years exposure to the toxins has resulted in the deaths of a further 15,000 people as well as chronic and debilitating illnesses for thousands of others for which treatment is largely ineffective. Call on Dow Chemical to clean up the factory site and remove the stockpiles of chemical abandoned by the company. <!–
In acknowledgement of World Water Day, I am writing to express my concern about the devastating consequences to the health of the communities of Bhopal, India, posed by Union Carbide’s abandoned pesticide factory.
For more than 30 years the Bhopal plant has been a source of environmental pollution. After the disaster in 1984, which killed thousands of people, Union Carbide abandoned the factory without decontaminating the site and left behind large amounts of toxic waste. Stockpiles of contaminants continue to pollute the water and soil, on which entire communities rely, affecting the health of those living in the area.
According to numerous reports, contaminants have been found in vegetables grown near the plant and in breast milk samples taken from women in Bhopal. Water has been found to be unfit for consumption but, in the absence of any other source, most local people continue to drink it. The company has never done anything meaningful to clean up the site.
I therefore urge you:
— to ensure that the Bhopal factory site and its surroundings are promptly and effectively decontaminated, that the groundwater is cleaned up, and
— that the stockpiles of toxic and hazardous substances left by the company when they abandoned the site are removed;
— to co-operate fully with those assessing the nature and extent of the damage to health and the environment caused by improper waste disposal and contaminants at the abandoned factory site;
n to ensure that Dow Chemicals promptly provide full reparations, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for the continuing damage done to people’s health and the environment by the ongoing contamination of the site.
CHEVRON CLEAN-UP AMAZON RIVER
For over four decades, Indigenous communities have witnessed multinational oil companies cut through their ancestral lands in search of the country’s vast petroleum resources. According to the report “Amazon Crude”, Texaco (later to become ChevronTexaco and Chevron corporation) was responsible for dumping 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the region contaminating the drinking water of Ecuador’s Amazon communities.
In acknowledgement of World Water Day, I am writing to you to express my concern over the ongoing claims of human rights violations resulting from Texaco’s contamination in Ecuador.
As you know, between 1972 and 1992, Texaco and Petroecuador extracted over 1.4 billion barrels of oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon. As operating partner, Texaco designed, built and managed all exploration, extraction and transportation facilities. During this time, an estimated 19 million gallons of oil were spilled from the trans-Ecuadorian pipeline, almost double the amount of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. Texaco also systematically dumped an estimated 18.5 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into open, unlined pits, waterways and wetlands. By comparison, it was standard, safer practice in the U.S. to re-inject such waters into the ground. In 1998, Texaco conducted a limited cleanup through an agreement with the Ecuadorian government, but its effectiveness is being challenged. Meanwhile, several medical studies relate the devastating health impacts that this widespread pollution has had on the communities living near the areas operated by Texaco.
When Chevron merged with Texaco in 2001, the new company became accountable for Texaco’s liabilities. Shareholders have asked you to report on new initiatives by management to address the health and environmental concerns of the communities affected by oil-related contamination in the area where Texaco operated in Ecuador. As a Board Member, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that the company undertakes such a report.
I urge you to take a personal interest in this case to restore the health and environment of the communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon and ensure that this disgraceful chapter in the history of your company never repeats itself.
Please keep me informed of your endeavors in the matter.
AN APPEAL TO GOVERNMENT OF BANGLADESH
Mr. Iajuddin Ahmed
President and Chief Adviser of the Caretaker Government
Office of the Chief Adviser
Dear Chief Adviser:
I am very concerned for the safety of the journalist Sumi Khan, who has received death threats and been attacked as a result of her investigative journalism.
Sumi Khan, who is based in the city of Chittagong, has written investigative articles alleging the involvement of local politicians and religious groups in attacks on members of minority communities. She was stabbed in an attack in 2004, and her attackers remain at large. In March 2005 she received a written death threat telling her to retract articles she had written about Islamist groups.
I am aware that other journalists have also been subjected to death threats in the past few years. In December 2005, Sumi Khan and a number of other journalists from Chittagong, as well as police, government officials and magistrates from across the country, were reportedly threatened in a letter to the Chittagong Press Club. The letter, allegedly from the banned Islamist group Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, was believed to be part of a campaign by some Islamist groups to destabilize democratic society in Bangladesh. The government failed to investigate the death threats or the protection needs of those named in the letter, putting Sumi Khan and others at risk of attack. Sumi Khan has received further threats from unidentified sources, and attacks on journalists have continued nationwide.
I urge you to ensure that there is a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into the threats and attack against Sumi Khan and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. I ask you to take measures to protect journalists who have been threatened as a result of their professional activities.
AN APPEAL TO GOVERNMENT OF EL SALVADOR
President Elias Antonio Saca González
President of the Republic of El Salvador
Alameda Dr. Manuel Enrique 5500
EL SALVADOR fax: 011-503-2243-9947
I am deeply concerned about the safety of William Hernández, the director of the Asociación Entre Amigos, who has been receiving death threats in what appear to be attempts to discourage him from continuing his work on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in El Salvador. The threats followed approval by the Legislative Assembly of an amendment to the Constitution that would make it illegal for same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The Asociación Entre Amigos has been campaigning against this amendment.
On 1 June 2006 William Hernández was threatened at gunpoint outside the Asociación Entre Amigos office in the capital, San Salvador, soon after the police officer assigned to protect him had left him for the day. An unidentified man approached Mr. Hernández from behind and put a gun to his neck, threatening to kill him unless he stopped campaigning against the amendment.
I am aware that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) people in El Salvador regularly face attacks and intimidation. The office of the Asociación Entre Amigos had been raided two days earlier. Windows were broken, files searched and threatening notes left. The association has reported seven raids on their offices during the last five years. Official investigations into the incidents have proved superficial, and no one has been brought to justice for the raids.
I urge you to ensure that there is an immediate and thorough investigation into the death threats made against William Hernández and the raids on the offices of the Asociación Entre Amigos, and that those responsible are brought to justice. I further urge you to take steps immediately to ensure appropriate protection for the activists of the Asociación Entre Amigos to enable them to continue their legitimate campaigns on behalf of LGBT people in El Salvador.
AN APPEAL TO GOVERNMENT OF ERITREA
President Issayas Afewerki
Office of the President
P.O. Box 257
Dear Mr. President:
I am shocked and deeply saddened by recent reports that Fessahaye Joshua Yohannes, a prominent journalist and playwright, died in prison in January 2007. Joshua, as he was widely known, had been arrested along with many other leading independent journalists in September 2001. Shuffled among various secret detention centers, he was never brought before a judge or charged in a court of law. He was never allowed to see his family or meet with a lawyer.
Judging by what I have read about Joshua, he was a true son of Eritrea. He fought for Eritrea’s freedom during the country’s long battle for independence from Ethiopia. After the war, he organized a children’s traveling circus troupe to teach skills to Eritrean youth and to rally the country in its efforts to rebuild from the devastation of the war. He co-founded and co-edited the weekly newspaper Setit to reach more people who could help Eritrea realize its great potential as a nation. I do not understand how authorities could detain such a man, deny him every freedom, mistreat him, torture him, and allow him to die from lack of medical care.
I urge you to establish an impartial and independent judicial inquiry to investigate the reported death of Fessahaye Joshua Yohannes and that of other detainees who allegedly died at Eiraeiro prison. I ask you to publicly clarify what has happened to Joshua and other detainees. If Joshua is dead, I urge you to return his body to his family for burial. If he is dead, I also ask you to bring to justice those responsible for any criminal actions or negligence resulting in his death. If Joshua is still alive, I call on you to please order his immediate and unconditional release from prison and to do the same for all other prisoners of conscience now detained in Eritrea.
USA: Amnesty International calls on US government to abandon military commissions
The US government should abandon its proposed military commissions and bring any Guantánamo detainees it charges to trial in the ordinary federal courts, without recourse to the death penalty, Amnesty International urged today, releasing a new report on trials under the Military Commissions Act (MCA).
The first proceeding under the military commissions is due to take place on 26 March, with the arraignment of Australian detainee David Hicks. He was one of 10 detainees charged under the previous military commission system thrown out by the US Supreme Court last year.
In its report, Justice delayed and justice denied?Amnesty International reiterates its belief that trials under the revised military commission process will fail to comply with international standards. The organization is also deeply concerned that detainees could face execution after such trials.
“The pervasive unlawfulness that has marked the past five years of detentions cries out for the strictest adherence to fair trial standards. Instead, these trials threaten to cut corners in pursuit of a few convictions and add to the injustice that the Guantánamo detention facility has come to symbolize”, said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s Americas Programme Director.
The military commissions will operate in something approaching a legal vacuum. Defendants cannot turn to international human rights law, the Geneva Conventions or the US Constitution for protection. The military commissions are part of a universe absent of judicial remedy for detainees and their families. Even if a detainee is acquitted, he may be returned to indefinite detention as a so-called “enemy combatant”.
In the “war on terror”, detainees in US custody have been treated as potential sources of information first and potential criminal defendants a distant second. They have been subjected to repeated interrogations without access to lawyers or the courts. Interrogation techniques and detention conditions amounting to torture or other ill-treatment under international law have been authorized and used against them.
“The military commissions are patently tailored to fit the unlawful practices that have preceded them. Information coerced by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment will be admissible. At the same time, the government may introduce evidence while keeping secret the methods used to obtain it,” said Susan Lee.
In September last year, 14 detainees were transferred from years of secret CIA custody to Guantánamo for the stated purpose of trial by military commission. They have not yet been charged, and are being denied access to lawyers even as the government is building its case against them.
“We fear that the military commissions will lack the independence necessary to guarantee fair trials for those charged and to apply the relevant scrutiny to government misconduct,” said Jumana Musa, Amnesty International’s observer to military commission hearings at Guantánamo under the previous system. “Under such circumstances, justice will neither be done nor be seen to be done.”
Because of the absence of fair trial guarantees, and the trail of illegality that precedes the trials, Amnesty International is calling on other countries not to provide any information to assist the prosecution in military commissions.
Pentagon officials have suggested that 60 to 80 of the thousands of detainees it has held as “enemy combatants” may eventually face trial by military commission, while admitting that even this may be an overestimate. There are currently more than 350 detainees unlawfully held in Guantánamo and hundreds more in US custody in Afghanistan. It is not known if there are any detainees currently held in the USA’s secret detention program.
Amnesty International is campaigning for repeal of the MCA or its substantial amendment in line with international law. As well as providing for trials by military commission, the MCA strips the US courts of jurisdiction to consider habeas corpus appeals of any non-US citizen held as an “enemy combatant”, and further entrenches impunity of US personnel by narrowing the scope of the USA’s War Crimes Act.
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