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Friday, June 24, 2011

Troubling delay in autopsy of alleged abused woman

Karnataka Forum for Dignity men abducted, killed Hunsur boys for ransom

The Central Crime Branch has cracked the sensational case of abduction and murder of two BBM students — Sudheendra, 21, and his friend, Vignesh, 20 (both residents of Hunsur in Mysore district) — on June 8.
They were kidnapped from Mahajan College premises in Mysore while on their way to write their 2nd BBM examination on June 8, and their bodies were found in a field near Chikkaballapur on June 12.
The probe has exposed the direct involvement of six active members of Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), who sought ransom of ¤5 crore to raise funds for their organisation, home minister R Ashoka announced on Wednesday.

The KFD, said to be an outfit of “progressive thinkers”, merged with the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI) on November 22, 2006, following a massive crackdown on Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi).

Ashoka said the police have arrested the alleged KFD members Adil alias Adil Pasha, 23, Athavulla Khan, 23 (both residents of Hunsur), Ameen alias Syed Ameen, 23, Rehman alias Shabbir Rehaman (25), Kouser alias Mohammed Kouser, 26, and Safeer Ahmed alias Safeer, 34 (all four residents of Rajiv Nagar in Mysore).

They targeted Sudheendra as he was the son of Mohan Kumar, a wealthy businessman and cousin of Hunsur MLA HP Manjunath.

The home minister said one person (whose name has been withheld by the police) – who is supposed to be the brain behind the kidnapping, demand for ransom and the murder of the two boys – is yet to be arrested.
The police claimed that the six were nabbed on Wednesday morning near Bangalore University (Jnanabharathi) when they were driving in two cars. The police, acting on a tip-off that the gang would be passing that way, intercepted the two cars. On being interrogated, they confessed to have committed the ghastly crime.

‘Datuk T’ mengaku bersalah tayang video lucah

Shazryl dan Shuib didakwa dibawah Seksyen 292(a) Kanun Keseksaan Akta 574 atas kesalahan menayangkan video lucah secara terbuka. Abdul Rahim untuk kesalahan bersubahat.
FMT ALERT
KUALA LUMPUR: Trio ‘Datuk T’ hari ini didakwa di Mahkamah Majistret atas kesalahan penayangan video lucah yang dikatakan mirip Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Mereka bertiga mengaku bersalah atas tuduhan.
Datuk trio yang terdiri daripada ahli perniagaan, Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, bekas Ketua Menteri Melaka, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik dan Bendahari Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa), Datuk Shuib Lazim hadir berbaju kot hitam hadir di Mahkamah Tinggi Jalan Duta kira-kira 9 pagi tadi. Shazryl dan Shuib didakwa dibawah Seksyen 292(a) Kanun Keseksaan Akta 574 atas kesalahan menayangkan video lucah secara terbuka.

Seksyen tersebut memperuntukkan hukuman penjara maksimum tiga tahun atau denda atau kedua-duanya.
Manakala Abdul Rahim didakwa atas kesalahan bersubahat dengan Shazryl dan Shuib serta turut didakwa dibawah akta yang sama.

Selepas trio Datuk T mangaku bersalah, mahkamah kini mendengar fakta kes and menanda eksibit.
Majistret juga mengambil keputusan untuk melihat tayangan video lucah yang dirakam menggunakan empat kamera dalam mahkamah, disaksikan peguam and orang ramai.

Tayangan kira-kira 20 minit itu bagaimanapun dilajukan.

Sementara itu, kira-kira 200 penyokog Perkasa dan badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) lain hadir diperkarangan mahkamah membawa sepanduk menunggu sejak pagi bagi memberikan sokongan terhadap trio terbabit.

WIKILEAKS: Update on the use of 'Allah' and the church attacks


As of January 11, there have been eleven attacks on churches, and one on a small mosque, in Malaysia since the first three attacks overnight on January 7 (ref A).  Over the January 9-10 weekend, eight more churches and a small mosque were attacked, raising the total to twelve. Unlike the first few attacks on January 8, which only took place in Kuala Lumpur and nearby Selangor, incidents over the weekend occurred in other parts of the country: in addition to one more in the KL area, there were three in Perak, one in Malacca, one in Penang, one in Negeri Sembilan, and one in Sarawak (on Malaysian Borneo). 
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000014

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

FOR EAP/MTS AND INR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PREL, MY
SUBJECT: MALAYSIA: UPDATE ON THE "ALLAH" ISSUE AND CHURCH ATTACKS

REF: A. KUALA LUMPUR 11 -- THREE CHURCHES ATTACKED OVERNIGHT
     B. KUALA LUMPUR 03 -- COURT RULING ON THE USE OF 'ALLAH'

SUMMARY
1. (SBU) Summary: Following three separate attacks on churches over the night of January 7-8 (ref A), unknown individuals made another nine attacks on churches and a mosque over the weekend, according to senior police officials at a special briefing for the diplomatic corps on January 11 at the Ministry of Home Affairs. 
Police briefers stressed that the incidents were sporadic and not planned, and that the Government was committed to protecting religious facilities across the country and to ensuring civil order.
The police and senior Home Affairs officials clarified the government's position in the 'Allah' case (ref B) and stressed how sensitive the issue is to ethnic Malays.  They indicated investigations into the attacks are ongoing but that no concrete leads have been developed.  They also provided details of the church attacks but stressed that the actual damage, except in the first attack, was relatively minor. 
Both the Prime Minister and Home Minister issued statements over the weekend committing the government to tough actions against perpetrators of these crimes.  The Prime Minister also promised assistance to rebuild and repair damaged churches, the Prime Minister's Department said interfaith dialogues would be held, and Muslim NGO groups offered help guarding churches.
While many weekend editorials expressed dismay at the attacks, some continued to defend the right of Muslims to demonstrate and express anger about the High Court's December 31 ruling that the GOM's prohibition on the Catholic Herald's use of the word 'Allah' was unconstitutional.  End Summary.
ATTACKS CONTINUE OVER THE WEEKEND
2. (SBU) As of January 11, there have been eleven attacks on churches, and one on a small mosque, in Malaysia since the first three attacks overnight on January 7 (ref A).  Over the January 9-10 weekend, eight more churches and a small mosque were attacked, raising the total to twelve. 
Unlike the first few attacks on January 8, which only took place in Kuala Lumpur and nearby Selangor, incidents over the weekend occurred in other parts of the country: in addition to one more in the KL area, there were three in Perak, one in Malacca, one in Penang, one in Negeri Sembilan, and one in Sarawak (on Malaysian Borneo). 
According to police, most of the attacks involved hit-and-run tactics, whereby the attackers would throw poorly made Molotov cocktails, bricks, or plastic bags full of paint on the churches.  None of the additional attacks caused damage valued at over 1,000 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) (approximately $300 USD), and only one person was lightly injured: a pastor, when confronting three attackers who stormed into his church, was pushed to the ground.
BRIEFING THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
3. (SBU) Home Affairs Secretary General Mahmood Adam led a government briefing of the diplomatic corps on January 11 at the Home Ministry.  The DCM, Poloff, and RSO attended from the Mission.  SecGen Mahmood began by stressing that "things are under control", noting that no incidents had occurred over the last 12 hours. 
(Note: There was another attack that took place during the previous night, but news of the attack was not released until after the briefing.  End Note.
He emphasized the government's commitment to protect religious facilities.  Mahmood and the briefing team devoted a significant amount of time to laying out the background and government's position with regard to the 'Allah' case and its appeal to the Court.  Mahmood commented that the government's case was focused on "publication" of the word Allah by non-Muslim groups and not on the casual oral use of the word.
He asserted that this is a very sensitive issue among Muslim Malays that foreigners would find difficult to comprehend. He downplayed the damage of the attacks, noting that with the exception of the very first attack which gutted a church in Kuala Lumpur, none of the incidents resulted in damage greater than 1,000 RM ($300 USD). 
A police inspector provided details of each incident, noting that most of the attacks had no witnesses, and very little forensic evidence that was usable in identifying the perpetrators.  With one exception, the police think that all of the incidents were carried out by different parties, commenting "these attacks were not planned or organized.  There were no big groups involved.  They are expressions of dissatisfaction."
4. (SBU) Following the briefing, several questions were posed by members of the diplomatic corps.  Most notable was a query posed by the French Ambassador as to why use of the world "Allah" by non-Muslim groups in Malaysia was such a controversial issue, when in Indonesia and several Middle Eastern countries it is not. SecGen Mahmood replied that Malaysia was different and that "to be fair, you have to compare an apple with an apple."   
Mahmood went on to say that just like Christianity has different branches such as Catholicism, Protestants, etc., so does Islam, and that Malays follow "Ahli Sunnah wal Jamaah". 
(Comment: "Ahli Sunnah wal Jamaah," is simply the Arabic term for Sunni Islam, which is not different from Islam as practiced widely in the Middle East nor neighboring Indonesia.  End Comment.)
GOVERNMENT WORDS AND ACTIONS OVER THE WEEKEND
5. (SBU) Prime Minister Najib visited the site of the most serious church attack on January 8 and pledged RM 500,000 (about USD $130,000) in government funds to repair the affected churches.  A chorus of ministers joined Najib in condemning the attacks. 
Home Affairs Minister Hishamuddin Hussein (PM Najib's nephew) was quoted on the front page of the January 11 Malay-language Utusan Malaysia saying that he would not hesitate to implement the Internal Security Act (ISA), because if these incidents were left unchecked it "could disrupt peace and harmony" in Malaysia. 
(Comment: Hishamuddin also stressed that other laws -- arson, vandalism, etc. -- would be used to charge anyone involved with these attacks, implying that the Najib administration could selectively arrest people whose statements might otherwise provoke discontent.  His mention of the ISA is seen by some as a thinly-veiled warning to the opposition to cease accusing the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party of being the root of the problem.  End Comment.)
MEDIA RESPONSE
6. (SBU) Parallel with this law-and-order approach to the church attacks has been another narrative in the vernacular papers suggesting that Catholic/Christian use of the word 'Allah' is the root of the problem, and that the Catholic Herald and others -- mainly Christians in Sarawak and Sabah -- should gracefully stop using the word. 
The front page editorial cartoon in the January 11 edition of Utusan Malaysia (the ruling party's Malay language mouthpiece) cites a statement from the Christian head of the Sabah Development Institute, Clarence Bongkos, who suggested over the weekend that Christians voluntarily stop using Allah, which he said would be no problem.  "That would be the best solution," the cartoon's straight man concludes.  Other articles have made clear that the Allah controversy feeds into national politics. 
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim commented "Much of the blame for the recent attacks can be placed at the doorstep of the UMNO-led BN (National Front) ruling party. Its incessant racist propaganda over the Allah issue and the inflammatory rhetoric issued by government-controlled mainstream media, especially Utusan Malaysia, are reprehensible." 
Citing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's charge, an op-ed writer counterattacked in Utusan's weekend edition, saying that it was Anwar who was trying to "burn up the masses" by accusing UMNO of racism.  The ironies include the fact that in the 1980s Anwar was instrumental in forming one of the Malay student organizations, ABIM, that is now vocally asserting that non-Muslims may not use "Allah."
NO REPORTS OF INCIDENTS INVOLVING AMCITS
7. (SBU) As of January 11, 2010, American Citizen Services (ACS) has not received any reports of Americans who have been hurt or effected as a result of these religiously motivated attacks.
KEITH

Evil stalks the brave and threatens the peace

by P Ramakrishnan - President Aliran


Today, at around 1.00pm, I received an sms from +601119732179. The message conveyed to me was in Bahasa Malaysia and read:

Members of the Bersih steering committee at the launch of Bersih 2.0
Korg ni buta hati ke?? buat apa sokong ambiga keling paria haramjadah tu? dia ni kapir laknat. korang tau tak dia ni jadi alat anjing2 politik untuk musnahkan keutuhan melayu. dia kata je nak BERSIH kan SPR. bersih kepala bapak dia.

Puak2 PAS n PKR pun buta tuli n pekak badak.. kalau SPR tak bersih, boleh ke diorang menang kat Sgor, Kedah, Penang, Kelantan n perak dulu? DAP cina sial tu pulak lagi haram jahanam. dia tengok je melayu bertekak. hujung2 dia perintah negara ni dan kristiankan kita semua. aku nak kasi amaran kat korang semua.
Kalau perhimpunan ni jadi, aku dan org2 aku akan bunuh ambiga dan korang2 keliling dia satu persatu, termasuklah orang2 politik bangang yg bersekongkol ngan kafir laknat tu.. ini amaran aku. Korang tengokla nanti.


Translated into English, the message meant:
Don’t you have any sense? Why should you support that pariah keling haramjadah Ambiga? She is a scorned infidel. Don’t you know that she is a tool of those political dogs who are out to destroy the Malays. She claims she wants to clean up the Election Commission. Clean up her father’s head.
These PAS and PKR lots are deaf, dumb, blind and illiterate. If the EC is not clean then how did they win Selangor, Kedah, Penang, Kelantan and Perak? The damned Chinese DAP are even more despicable. They just watch the Malays go at each other’s throats. In the end, they will rule the country and Christianise all of us.

I am warning you. If this rally takes place, my people and I will kill Ambiga and those around her one by one, including these stupid politicians who are hand-in-hand with this scorned infidel… this is my warning. You watch.” (Malaysiakini translation)

What I received is apparently the same as those received by the steering committee members of Bersih 2.0.

Aliran is part of Bersih 2.0 and is represented on its steering committee, and we are committed to free and fair elections, which are crucial to the democratic process.

The message in the sms is full of venom, threatening death to Ambiga and warning to kill all those around her one by one. It reeks with racial hatred and blatantly concocts lies that have no basis. It seeks to communalise an issue that concerns free and fair elections, which is supported by a wide spectrum of our civil society.

It is intended to arouse passions and disrupt our improving communal harmony, which is seen as an impediment to communal parties that are striving to hold on to their political power through evil means.
The perpetrator of this heinous crime must be brought to book urgently. We cannot brook this criminality and we cannot condone any inefficiency in getting to the bottom of this threat. It should not be difficult as there is a telephone number which can be traced to the culprit.

This is a challenge to the police and they should rise to the occasion to convince Malaysians that they are capable of looking after our national interests and safeguarding our peace and harmony.
Anything short of this expectation is totally unacceptable.

DPM Reminds Youths Not To Join Illegal Demonstration On July 9

PAGOH, June 23 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin Thursday reminded the nation's youths not to join the illegal street demonstrations planned by a group of trouble-makers on July 9.

He also reminded them not to fall for calls to join the illegal street demonstrations made over the telephone and the short-messaging system (SMS).

"Do not get involved...the planned street demonstrations are against the law," he told the "Belia 1Malaysia Parlimen Pagoh" gathering here.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister and the MP for Pagoh, said youths would be better off using the time to improve themselves and helping society.

He also told the gathered youths that although Pagoh was considered a rural constituency, it was developing rapidly since the last several years and invited them to play their part in ensuring it became the most advanced area in the Muar district.

At the function, Muhyiddin also announced an allocation of RM3,000 for each of the 96 youth organisations in the constituency and that plans were afoot to build a motorsports centre for its youths.

Later, when opening Pagoh MCA's annual general meeting in Panchor near here, he said plans to develop a 1,000-hectare site in Pagoh into an education hub would be implemented before year end with completion expected in two or three years.

With a number of universities to make the hub their home including a branch campus of the International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM), besides polytechnics and vocational schools, it would serve as a new growth area for Pagoh, he said, adding that private universities had also been invited to set up branch campuses there.

On another matter, Muhyiddin, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) deputy chairman, expressed concern that Malaysians were becoming easily offended when race-related issues cropped up especially with certain quarters out to sow racial discord.

"I fear the foundation of inter-racial harmony built by our forefathers has started to weaken. This is not a good trend. To avoid this we must go back to our earlier struggle," he said.

He also urged MCA members to continue supporting the party as it had risen up again to be the voice of the Chinese community.

In SLIM RIVER, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the ministry would leave it to the police to act against university students who joined the July 9 illegal street demonstrations.

As the demonstrations did not have police permits, university students would have to face the consequences if they broke the law, he told reporters after opening a students outreach programme at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pos Bersih in Ulu Slim, near Slim River.

Demi Moore sees plight of sex slaves

Actress Demi Moore partners with CNN Freedom Project for a compelling documentary. A passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking herself, Moore travels to Nepal to meet 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and some of the thousands of women and girls Koirala’s organization has rescued from forced prostitution. Premieres Sunday, June 26 MORE DETAILS & TIMES

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) - Dawn breaks in Nepal, a nation whose natural beauty brings tourists from across the globe.

Sun glints off the Himalayas and in the ancient capital, Kathmandu, trekkers gear up for a day of sightseeing and adventure.

Amid the beauty is devastating poverty which provides fertile ground for one of man’s horrors – human trafficking and sexual slavery.

Nepal is a major hub for traffickers luring girls into brothels in India with promises of well-paid - or at least better paid - jobs.

Fighting the traffickers is a small, dedicated band whose limited resources are stretched.
They work with border guards trying to stop women being taken across the border, and in India’s red light districts rescuing women from prostitution, and in Nepal’s villages educating girls about the dangers.

Today is one of hope. Tulli is returning to her home village after being abducted into sexual slavery for several weeks and another six months at a halfway house after her rescue.

She is excited but nervous at how the villagers will treat her because sometimes the shame is directed at the trafficked, not the trafficker.

She was rescued by the Maiti Nepal organization and has spent time readjusting in the group’s halfway house while efforts were made to bring her traffickers to justice.

Maiti Nepal - which translates roughly to mean Mother’s Home - is run by CNN Hero winner Anuradha Koirala, who has made it her mission to help thousands of rescued women.

For this report movie star Demi Moore traveled from Hollywood to Nepal with CNN to see how the group works and how it can help her own organization The DNA Foundation, which works with girls forced to work in the U.S. as prostitutes.

At the Maiti Nepal complex Tulli is packing her bag as other girls pray or eat breakfast while others are busy sweeping.

Tulli gets to say goodbye to her best friend in the facility and jumps into a minivan for the six-hour drive into the mountains to her home village.

For parts of the journey, the road is the same one where she first met the man who trafficked her into India. It’s also the same road that has her favorite tea restaurant.

Koirala said the town was particularly bad for trafficking because it's a key stopping point for buses heading to Kathmandu. She explained traffickers are able to lure girls with promises, drug them and spirit them away.

Koirala said: "Tulli was looking after her brother's shop in the village and one day she met a man who said it's better in a bigger place and he said I will find you a better job.”

She went into town to buy supplies for the shop and did not return.

"At first they (her family) thought she was in the relative's house and they looked there and could not find her.

"Then afterwards they knew she had disappeared somewhere. They didn't tell anyone, they just waited and then later they got the message that she had been trafficked."

Despite knowing where Tulli was, it took the help of two volunteer groups and would be months before she was ready to make the return home.

Maiti Nepal also operates at 10 of the 26 border crossings with India, trying to identify suspicious travelers and stopping girls from being trafficked out of the country, which is about the size of Greece or the U.S. state of Tennessee.

Its uniformed border guards work with, but separate from, the border police and Koirala says every day, on average, they intercept 20 girls at risk of being trafficked. All of the Maiti Nepal guards are rescued sex slaves.

Koirala said: "They watch every girl and they watch the men as well and every vehicle. As soon as they catch someone, (one) takes the boy and (another) takes the girl and they cross-question them. If after questioning they find what they are saying is not true they hand over the boy to the police station and they take the girl to the transit home."

But the odds are stacked in favor of the traffickers. Maiti Nepal estimates it has rescued more than 12,000 women in its 20-year history. That's about the same number of Nepalese women and girls believed to be trafficked to India each year.

The Maiti Nepal guards interrogate travelers looking for inconsistencies - is that old man really the young girl's grandfather; is that woman really taking her daughter for a family reunion? - and suspicious signs that could identify a trafficker.

The police officers who largely take a back seat during the questioning will respond when Maiti Nepal guards believe they have found a trafficker but police Inspector Birenda Godra said they simply don't have the resources themselves to actively look for offenders.

Koirala said: "Cooperation between the police and Maiti Nepal has always been very good ever since 1994. Officially there are 26 borders between Indian and Nepal. Sometimes we have problems with police but you can't put them all in the same basket."

Godra said the biggest problem was not having the manpower to properly work the 2,500-kilometer (1,700-mile) border which Nepalis and Indians can cross without a passport or ID card.
Tulli was one of those shipped across the border and taken to Kolkata. Delhi and Mumbai are other popular destinations for traffickers.

She spent about six weeks at the brothel and says was forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day, before getting up the courage and the chance to try to escape.

Knowing she was taking a huge risk, Tulli asked a Nepalese client to help get word to her brother in Nepal. He agreed to make the phone call and then the brother, with Maiti Nepal's help, traveled to Kolkata to help rescue her.

Maiti Nepal put the family in touch with an Indian group called Rescue Foundation, which joined Indian police in an operation to free Tulli.

Almost every rescued woman spends time, like Tulli has, at Maiti Nepal's Kathmandu facility, receiving counseling and training.

It also helps build legal cases against the traffickers and has a school for about 300 children – some of whom were trafficked with their mothers, some of whom were rescued from living rough on the streets.
And there's a separate hospice building, about 12km north of Kathmandu, which looks after survivors with HIV.

Gita's story is depressingly familiar. She was an orphan lured to India by the false hope of finding her parents.

Koirala said Gita spent two years in a brothel before being rescued and she's been at Maiti Nepal for the seven years since her rescue - living with HIV because condoms were not allowed in the brothel.
Gita said: "Sometimes I think it's just hopeless. Then at other times I think Maiti Nepal is there and they are teaching me a craft then I think I can survive with."
Women in both centers also have to learn to live with the mental scars left by their ordeals.
Now Tulli is ready to return home. She says she knows her family will treat her kindly but she does not know about the wider community.

At 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level the view from the cluster of metal-roofed shacks is breathtaking.

Although emotions run high, Tulli's reunion with her parents maintains the traditional, respectful formality of her culture, and her brother thanks Koirala for bringing Tulli home.

But among those waiting is a small girl - Tulli's daughter - who has not seen her mom for several months.
Tulli no longer holds back and the tears flow as she holds her daughter.

Tulli is one of the lucky ones - rescued and now home with her family - but Koirala's crusade is to protect the thousands of other girls who will fall prey to the traffickers every year. Her work never stops.

Bersih: Death threat the work of cowards

(Malaysiakini) Bersih 2.0 today slammed the “cowardly” move of those behind the death threat SMS targetting its chief Ambiga Sreenevasan, in relation to its planned July 9 rally.

NONE“This is unacceptable, the SMS is not only life-threatening, but also has connotations of racism,” said Maria Chin Abdullah (centre in photo), a Bersih 2.0 steering committee member.

“Let's be brave enough to come out and talk, instead of being so cowardly as to send threatening and racist SMSes. Let's talk,” Maria told a press conference after lodging a police report at the Travers police station in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

Maria also urged the sender to stop such moves.

At least six reports were lodged against the death threat SMS, the earliest of which was sent last night and continued into the morning.

They were lodged by, among others, Bersih steering committee member Wong Chin Huat, PKR Youth deputy chief Khairul Annuar Ahmad Zainudin, Ambiga and PKR legal bureau chief Latheefa Koya.

NONEAmbiga (right in photo) also appeared at the police station this afternon.

“The threat will not change our plan (to rally),” said Ambiga.

However, Ambiga said she and other members will take precautions to ensure their safety.

She said if the police were operating efficiently, she had no reason to fear for her safety.

She welcomed Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein's statement that police would investigate the SMS, saying she has confidence in the police to locate the sender.

“The police have all the means to find the senders,” she said.
Nothing racial in Bersih rally
To a question, Ambiga said that some groups are seeking to turn the Bersih rally into a racial issue.
“As far as we are concerned, we are going to do this peacefully. There is nothing racial about it.”

She said she also hoped that the force of law would be used against those who used racism and threats.

Just as "there is no point if anybody wants to give advice to me,” Ambiga said she also has no advice for Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali.

When asked on the progress of the police to call up the leaders of Umno Youth, Perkasa and Bersih who are organising rallies on the same day, Ambiga said the police has yet to contact her.

Ambiga said Bersih would give its cooperation to the police.

“Since (Hishammuddin) had said no permit will be issued, we will not apply,” she said.

Nazri denies lying to Parliament on PI Bala

Law Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz has challenged opposition MPs to refer him to the Rights and Privileges Committee if they insist that he had lied to the Dewan Rakyat.

p balasubramaniam private investigator altantuya murder case 040708Nazri said that Batu MP Tian Chua and Subang MP R Sivarasa should act, rather than make press statements on allegations that he had wrongly interpreted the law when replying to a question on why the attorney-general's chambers did not charge private investigator P Balasubramaniam for perjury.

“If I had lied in Parliament they should know what to do - they should refer me to the privileges committee. I want them to do that,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

Nazri criticised the duo for failing to research the matter carefully as a similar answer was given to Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang last year and the matter was never contested.

“I debated with him (Lim) and in my reply, I gave the same answer as to why Balasubramaniam was not charged for perjury.

“Now it comes in the (form of) a question from Tian Chua and I gave the same reply. One thing I want to tell you; the minister of law doesn't lie and worse, you don't lie in parliament,” he said.
'Was oppostion duo sleeping?'
In the written answer to Chua on Tuesday, Nazri repeated that the Attorney-General (AG) Chambers decided not to pursue the case further as the two conflicting statutory declarations (SD) would have had “no effect” on the Altantuya Shaaribuu murder trial.

NONENazri had explained, that the AG's decision was based on a precedent set in an earlier case involving the admission of a SD as evidence, in that it is only an offence to make a false statement in a declaration if it is used in a court of law.
Since the private investigator's SDs were not made for any court proceedings, action cannot be taken against him, Nazri added.

“Where were they (Tian Chua and Sivarasa) last year when (I gave that explanation)? Were they sleeping on the job?” he asked.

Sivarasa, who was also at Chua's press conference, took issue with the explanation and argued that Section 199 does not explicitly state that a SD must be made with the intention of using it in court.
However, Nazri demanded that Chua and Sivarasa explain how he “misinterpreted” the law.
'Nazri creating additional elements'
Speaking to reporters later, Sivarasa, who is a practising lawyer, argued that Nazri's interpretation of the law was flawed and that the SD was admissible in court.

“The word is 'received' in Section 199. It can be received in court. He is saying that it is not admissible in court, which means it cannot be produced in court.

“I'm sure there is no such thing. That is the difference between people who practice law and lawyers who don't practise and become politicians,” said Sivarasa, taking a jibe at Nazri who is a graduate of UK's prestigious Lincoln Inn.

The MP added that Nazri had “created additional elements” in saying that the SD must be made with the intention of it being used in court.

“That is a misleading interpretation, that is a copout, I stand by what I said,” said Sivarasa, adding that he will discuss further action against Nazri with Chua.

The Netherlands to Abandon Multiculturalism

The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.

A new integration bill (covering letter and 15-page action plan), which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: "The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society."

The letter continues: "A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands. The integration will not be tailored to different groups."

The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants to ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.

The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner, "it is not the government's job to integrate immigrants." The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress. More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013.

If necessary, the government will introduce extra measures to allow the removal of residence permits from immigrants who fail their integration course.

The measures are being imposed by the new center-right government of Conservatives (VVD) and Christian Democrats (CDA), with parliamentary support from the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), whose leader, Geert Wilders, is currently on trial in Amsterdam for "inciting hatred" against Muslims.

As expected, Muslim organizations in Holland have been quick to criticize the proposals. The Moroccan-Dutch organization Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkaanse Nederlanders, which advises the government on integration matters, argues that Muslim immigrants need extra support to find a job. The umbrella Muslim group Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid says that although it agrees that immigrants should be better integrated into Dutch society, it is opposed to a ban on burqas.

But polls show that a majority of Dutch voters support the government's skepticism about multiculturalism. According to a Maurice de Hond poll published by the center-right newspaper Trouw on June 19, 74 percent of Dutch voters say immigrants should conform to Dutch values. Moreover, 83 percent of those polled support a ban on burqas in public spaces.

The proper integration of the more than one million Muslims now living in Holland has been a major political issue ever since 2002, when Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Muslim immigration, and since 2004, when Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam.

Muslim immigration to the Netherlands can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when a blue collar labor shortage prompted the Dutch government to conclude recruitment agreements with countries like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. In the 1980s and 1990s, Muslims also arrived in the Netherlands as asylum seekers and refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia.

There are now an estimated 1.2 million Muslims in the Netherlands, which is equivalent to about 6 percent of the country's overall population. Moroccans and Turks comprise nearly two-thirds of all Muslims in the Netherlands. Most Muslims live in the four major cities of the country: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

As their numbers grow, Muslim immigrants have become increasingly more assertive in carving out a role for Islam within Dutch society. For example, a documentary aired by the television program Netwerk in June 2009 reported that Dutch law was being systematically undermined by the growth of Sharia justice in the Netherlands.

In December 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report titled From Dawa to Jihad. Prepared by the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, the report says that the Netherlands is home to up to 50,000 radical Muslims whose key ideological aim is to target the Western way of life and to confront Western political, economic, and cultural domination.

The report concludes that Dutch society is poorly equipped to resist the threat of radical Islam because of "a culture of permissiveness" that has become synonymous with "closing one's eyes" to multiple transgressions of the law.

As for Interior Minister Donner, he has undergone a late-in-life conversion on the issue of Muslim immigration. In September 2006, while serving as justice minister, Donner provoked an outcry after saying that he welcomed the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in the Netherlands if the majority wants it. He also said Holland should give Muslims more freedoms to behave according to their traditions.

After applauding Queen Beatrix for respecting Islam by not insisting that a Muslim leader shake hands with her during a visit to the Mobarak Mosque in The Hague, Donner said: "A tone that I do not like has crept into the political debate on integration. A tone of: 'Thou shalt assimilate. Thou shalt adopt our values in public. Be reasonable, do it our way.' That is not my approach."

Fast forward to 2011 and Donner now says his government "will distance itself from the relativism contained in the model of a multicultural society." Although society changes, he says, it must not be "interchangeable with any other form of society."

Bersih Rally- Letter to International Organisations to make representation to Malaysian Government.

William J.Burns
The Under Secretary for Political Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520


Rt.Hon.  William Hague MP
Foreign Secretary
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
London.
SW1A 2AH


Ms Heidi Hautala
Chair of the Human Rights Sub Committee
European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
Wiertzstraat
B-1047 Brussels


Richard Ottaway MP
House of Commons
Foreign Affairs Committee
4 Millbank
City of London SW1P 3JA


Ms Navanethem Pillay
High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

+41 22 917 9656
civilsociety@ohchr.org

Mr. Githu Muigai
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: racism@ohchr.org


Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org


Gay McDougall
Independent Expert on Minority Issues
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland 

Fax: + 41 22 917 9006

Mr. Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: freedex@ohchr.org 



Gabriella Habtom
Human Rights Officer and Secretary of the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Human Rights Treaties Division
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41.22.917.9193 - Fax +41.22.917.90.08
e-mail: ghabtom@ohchr.org / tb-petitions@ohchr.org
Palais Wilson - 52, rue des Pâquis, CH-1201,

Geneva, Switzerland

Frank William La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

UNOG-OHCHR 
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Tel: +41 22 917 93 32 
Fax: +41 22 917 90 22



 Amnesty International
1 Easton Street
London
WC1X 0DW, UK

Telephone: +44-20-74135500
Fax number: +44-20-79561157
Email: activism@amnesty.org.uk

Human Rights Watch
Address: 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
Tel: +1-212-290-4700
Fax: +1-212-736-1300
email: spiegem@hrw.org


Minority Rights Group International
54 Commercial Street
London E1 6LT, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7422 4200
Fax: +44 (0)20 7422 4201

Email: minority.rights@mrgmail.org

Front Line –
The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Head Office, Second Floor, Grattan House
Temple Road, Blackrock
Co Dublin, Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)1 212 3750 
Fax: +353 (0)1 212 1001
E-mail: info@frontlinedefenders.org


OSCE Secretariat
Wallnerstrasse 6
1010 Vienna
Austria
Tel: +43 1 514 36 6000
Fax: +43 1 514 36 6996
E-mail: info@osce.org



NAACP
Washington Bureau
1156 15th Street, NW Suite 915
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 463-2940
Fax: (202) 463-2953
Email: washingtonbureau@naacpnet.org


European Union External Action Service
Menara Tan & Tan, Suite 10.01 
207 Jalan Tun Razak 

50400 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel.: +6 03 2723 7373
Fax: +6 03 2723 7337

 E-mail: delegation-malaysia@ec.europa.eu

US Embassy Malaysia
Mr Brian D. McFeeters - Political Counselor
376 Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  
Tel No:   (03) 2168-4946,
Fax  No : (03) 2168-5165,
Email : mcfeetersbd@state.gov


Rainbow Push Coalition
National Headquarters
930 East 50th Street
Chicago, IL 60615
Phone: 773-373-3366
Fax: 773-373-3571
Email : info@rainbowpush.org

National Action Network
House of Justice
106 West, 145th Street,
Harlem ,NY 10039
Tel No: (212) 690 3070
Fax No ( 877)-  626  4651
Email : rachel@noerdlingermedia.com

23rd June 2011.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Urgent Request to make Representations to the Government of Malaysia on the possible violence by PERKASA, UMNO sponsored NGO on Human Rights Advocates and the general public on the BERSIH 2.0 public rally for free and fair election in Malaysia on 9th July 2011.
 
I write to you with the utmost urgency for your attention on the above matter.

BERSIH is a coalition of NGOs’  that  advocate   free and fair elections  and intend to march peacefully  with the public in Malaysia on July 9, 2011 in line with the fundamental rights  contained in the  Malaysian Federal constitution under Article  10.The purpose of the march is to express the collective desire of the malaysian people for a free and fair election in the forthcoming General Election.

PERKASA is a Malaysian NGO and is a tool used by the UMNO led Malaysian government in extending its ugly hands into politically extreme policies topped up by fear inducing methods to ensure that whatever is sacred in the Federal Constitution for the good of the multi-ethnic polity is  compromised through this fear and state sanctioned threats from a seemingly independent organisation -PERKASA..

Malaysiakini, one of the few independent online news  portals reported on June 19th 2011 quoting  PERKASA as saying,  “Imagine, ladies and gentlemen, if the Bersih rally is not called off and they go ahead with it - if they don't cancel it on July 8 or 9 - I believe the Chinese community, many of them, will have to stock up on food at home."Anything can happen on that day”

On 13th of June 2011 Malaysiakini  quoted PERKASA chief as saying said they are ready to "fight to the end" (lawan habis-habisan) to stop the rally if the organisers insist on taking to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on July 9. "(If they proceed) there will be a clash (pertembungan). If that happens, it is for the better," he told a press conference in the Parliament lobby.”

The insinuations above falls short of an orchestrated attempt to riot or to promote some form of violent action by UMNO sponsored PERKASA against the public for their participating in this peaceful march on July 9, 2011 just for free and fair elections.  

The fear of the Malaysian community is real and should not be underestimated or downplayed at this crucial moment as state sponsored gangsters PERKASA and its allies PEKIDA (another organization of ex-police and army personnel) & 3 Line ( a known large street gang) blatantly come forward in this aggressive and belligerent manner against what is a natural and legitimate grievance of the people. This march is nothing other than an expression of a collective voice of Malaysians. 

The international community whilst accepting Malaysia as a member of the United Nations cannot sit in silence when such threats and fear mongering methods are pursued by fascist elements in the ruling party with the implicit sanction of the UMNO led government.



Your public statement in opposing this tendency of state sponsored violence against its people is of paramount significance as it is a fundamental human rights issue and not just political theatre. The minorities, marginalized and discriminated face these kind of human rights abuse daily through the racist and fascist agenda of the Malaysian government..   

I write to urge you to make urgent representations to the Malaysian government that the BERSIH rally should be allowed to proceed unhindered and the peaceful protesters be provided protection from any untoward violent reactions by the state sponsored PERKASA, PEKIDA and other fringe elements..

P.Waytha Moorthy
Chair
HINDRAF
+447502289313 (Mobile)

Bersih to go global with July 9 rally

People shout slogans during the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur, November 10, 2007. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Election watchdog Bersih today confirmed that overseas rallies will be held simultaneously with its upcoming July 9 event, and that these will be spearheaded by Malaysian citizens living abroad.


Rallies will be held in Seoul (South Korea); Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney (Australia); Osaka (Japan); Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York (US).

“All the overseas solidarity rallies held were initiated by Malaysian citizens living abroad who supported the demands for Perhimpunan Bersih 2.0. They personally contacted Bersih 2.0 and expressed interest in organising [rallies] where they were.

“We regard this wide interest by the Malaysian diaspora as an indication that Malaysians from all walks of life believe in the need for electoral reform and the upholding of democracy,” said a statement from the group’s steering committee today.

The committee comprises of chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Andrew Khoo, K. Arumugam , Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard YW Yeoh, Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin, Dr Subramaniam Pillay and Arul Prakkash.
“Malaysian citizens living abroad should rise to the occasion and demand for their right to vote via postal ballot in the upcoming 13th General Election,” added the statement.

Bersih will also be conducting several roadshows nationwide prior to July 9, starting tomorrow at Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor and Johor Baru on June 25, and in Sungai Siput, Perak the day after.

A death threat was sent to Bersih 2.0 chairman Ambiga earlier today, ostensibly for planning the July 9 rally calling for free and fair elections. She has stressed, however, that the rally will carry on as planned.
The first rally in 2007 saw up to 50,000 people take to the capital’s street before they were dispersed by police armed with tear gas and water cannons.

Hisham: I take Ambiga death threat seriously

The home minister says that in current circumstances, the threat is serious

KUALA LUMPUR: Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today said that he takes the death threat to Bersih 2.0 chairperson, Ambiga Sreenevasan, seriously and that he will be getting the police to investigate the SMS which has been making its rounds.

In a text message sent to Ambiga and the press at 1.57am today, the unknown sender, referring to the “Walk for Democracy” rally planned for July 9, said:
“If the rally takes place my people and I will kill Ambiga and all those around her one by one including the idiot politicians who are in cahoots with this infidel. This is my warning. You watch out.”

Hishammuddin, who was speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, said that the death threat was serious.

“I take it very serious, especially to Ambiga whom I know well from my legal days,” he said.
“A lot of things go on SMS. I get death threats, too, but in the circumstances of Bersih, it is serious,” he added.

He also said that he will be heading to Bukit Aman to further discuss the matter.
“I will get police to look at this to ensure that the SMSEs making the rounds are not real and where they originate from,” he said.

The message written in Malay had also questioned if the people were blind in that they did not see that Ambiga was being used as a tool to destroy Malay unity.

“The PAS and PKR camps are are both deaf and blind. If the Election Commission wasn’t clean, could they have won Selangor, Kedah, Penang, Kelantan and Perak?”

Ambiga told FMT earlier today that she wil be lodging a police report on the threat.
The home ministry yesterday said that police permits will not be issued to Bersih 2.0, Umno Youth and Perkasa to conduct mass gatherings and marches on July 9.

At least 422 police reports have so far been lodged against the rally and its organisers condemning it as a plot to overturn the government.

Perkasa and Gerak Aman, a coalition of 57 NGOs, have announced that they will counter the Bersih rally. Umno Youth, meanwhile, is organising a march on the same day to hand over a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

PKR mahu tindakan diambil terhadap Hospital Serdang

Ini ekoran kegagalan hospital itu menjalankan bedah siasat ke atas mayat Paikiam Subramaniam yang dibunuh di Sungai Petani pada 12 Mac lalu.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR mahu pihak berkuasa mengambil tindakan terhadap pengurusan Hospital Serdang, dekat sini kerana gagaln menjalankan bedah siasat ke atas mayat Paikiam Subramaniam yang dibunuh di Sungai Petani pada 12 Mac lalu.

Ahli Parlimen Kapar S Manikavasagam mendakwa pihak pengurusan hospital berkenaan memberi alasan yang tidak munasabah iaitu ketiadaan alat pengimbas menyebabkan bedah siasat tidak dapat dilakukan.

“Mahkamah telah mengarahkan bedah siasat bebas dibuat tetapi sehingga ini……setelah 147 hari mayat masih disimpan di Hospital Serdang. Saya percaya ia cuba dihalang oleh pihak hospital dan polis,” katanya dalam sidang akhbar di lobi Parlimen hari ini.

Paikiam, 24 tahun dan baru lima bulan berkahwin disyaki dibunuh oleh suaminya James Balan 31 tahun. Keluarga mangsa menemui mayat mangsa ketika dibawa ke Hospital Kulim.

Sementara itu, Ahli Parlimen Ampang Zuraida Kamaruddin menyifatkan pembunuhan itu sebagai satu perbuatan yang kejam dan mendakwa tidak ada pihak yang datang membantu keluarga yang malang itu.
Sehubungan ini, Ketua Wanita PKR itu menghantar memorandum kepada Kementerian Dalam Negeri, Kementerian Kesihatan dan Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat bagi membantah kejadian itu.

Kimma wants Ambiga's Datukship to be stripped


(Bernama) - The Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) a.k.a Mamak Association has asked the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to revoke the datukship of former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan for planning an illegal gathering on July 9.

Kimma Youth chief Amir Hamzah Abdul Rajak said the action should be taken against Ambiga for defying the authorities by planning to go ahead with the rally.

Kimma' call for the withdrawal of the state award was made in a memorandum submitted to Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Shamsul Baharin Hasan at Istana Iskandariah here today.

Speaking to reporters after handing over the memorandum, Amir Hamzah claimed that that Ambiga tried to instigate the people, especially youths to take part in an illegal assembly, which could cause chaos and threaten public order.

Yesterday, Perkasa, a Malay right wing group also called for Ambiga's datukship to be stripped.

Afghan Women Fear Taliban Talks

Image(Asia Sentinel) They fear despotic, misogynous Islamic fundamentalists likely to return them to the dark ages


The report Wednesday from Washington, DC   that US President Barack Obama has set in motion a substantial withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan is hardly good news for Afghanistan’s women.  Withdrawal of 10,000 NATO troops is expected by the end of the year. Women in the country are hearing rumors that talks with the Taliban are already taking place in secret.

This is alarming. Without the representation and participation of women there can be no assurance that their rights will be upheld after the peace process and that could spell disaster. Women risk losing liberty, education and employment if the fundamentalist Taliban were to win a significant place in the Afghan government.
 
The presence of foreign troops has caused significant issues, too. For example, a recent errant NATO strike killed at least nine women and children. But women say this tragedy should not be used as a reason for a troop withdrawal. The Taliban are responsible for the majority of civilian deaths during the war and intolerable abuse of women.
 
In May, Safia Siddiqi, a women's activist and former member of the Afghan National Economy Committee, said on a national radio broadcast that nothing had improved for women in rural areas and that women need each other and the international forces to attain peace and security. 
Female activists recall that in 1948 Afghanistan was a signatory to the Declaration of Universal Human Rights and in 1953 ratification of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women afforded them all the political rights - including the right to vote in elections and to hold public office - that men enjoyed.
 
Women's rights are not a recent western import but freedoms taken away by successive regimes that waged war with foreign interference, they say. Even with these rights, in the past educated women were the elite few and the majority lived enclosed within the confines of the home, often uneducated. This is true today, too, but with a key difference: Most women now know precisely what they should still have.
 
Before Sept. 11, 2001, Afghan women begged the international community to help them. I interviewed many myself in 2000 and 2001 while reporting on aid programs for a UK-based non-governmental organization. Educated or not, rich or poor, all the women appealed to me to ask my government to save them from the Taliban.
 
They told me: "All we want is security so that we can have education for our children and to be able to work." They feared and dreaded the Taliban and many had been widowed by this very movement with whom the US and UK governments are considering negotiating. 

Many are anxious about their economic rights. They need to be able to work, to earn money to feed and house their children.
 
When the Taliban were in power, the women of Afghanistan were denied those rights. Women were banned from working outside the home except in highly restricted areas. Widows only had recourse to living on the kindness of their neighbors, on charity, of which there was little during this time, and by begging. I saw many women pathetically holding out their hands from under their burqas in supplication for a coin, risking a beating if a Talib saw them alone in the street.
 
When people talk of reconciliation with the Taliban, should we not ask who they intend to include? Women need seats at the table when negotiations take place. Otherwise it's hard for women to believe that Taliban re-integration is sincere and not a charade for foreign observers that will dissolve the minute troops withdraw.

Women have made gains in the cities and there are many examples of girls now going to school. Yet, in some areas, like Helmand, they still risk their lives by attending school. Girls' education is often curtailed after primary school. Daughters are still used to settle disputes. The maternal mortality rate there is among the highest in the world.
 
Currently, Afghans neither support their government, because they know that many are corrupt, nor international forces, which do not appear to take enough care when launching attacks. Both must change before the Taliban can be isolated.
 
Without doubt though there needs to be reconciliation with men who are currently alienated from the Afghan government. And we know from Northern Ireland that it is sometimes possible for terrorists to become respected members of society and even the government. But this can only be achieved when all parties concerned can be confident that such men have renounced terrorist activity.
 
When asking for Afghan women's opinion on whether there should be negotiations with the Taliban and foreign troop withdrawal, Wazhma Frogh, a leading women's activist and an executive board member of the Afghan Women's Network, told me that among Afghan women there is no clear consensus. But there is a common call for ending all forms of violence.
 
Wazhma says it doesn't matter to a mother whether an international air operation or a suicide bomber killed her child. The pain of loss is the same and she must endure her suffering under cover and in silence.
 
British Army General James Bucknall, second in command of the International Security Assistance Force - the NATO-led security mission that has been in Afghanistan since 2001 - says "now is not the time to blink."  Major General Phillp Jones, the British director of International Security Assistance Force's Force Reintegration Cell, believes that the sight of bin Laden's picture - as a hunched, forlorn figure instead of a charismatic leader - will weaken his following and that now is the time to capitalize on this. Many foot-soldiers may turn away from al-Qaida and the Taliban, which could have a positive impact for reintegration. 

Unless the perpetrators of cruelty and inhumane actions – whether they are Taliban or criminal warlords – are stopped, the misery for women will undoubtedly continue. If the military chiefs' advice is taken - to keep troops in there to press the advantage - then there is a chance they will achieve true security for all Afghans.
 
By arrangement with Women’s eNews.  Jeanne Bryer, a British freelancer, has specialized in Afghaistan for more than a decade.  

Press Release: Respect the right for a clean and peaceful walk


Image Much has been said about the proposed BERSIH 2.0 rally calling for a clean and fair electoral process.  This is scheduled to take place on 9 July 2011.  Other groups have also announced their own plans for a rally to take place on the same day.  Police reports have been lodged against BERSIH 2.0 opposing the rally, and there have been calls to arrest the organisers of the BERSIH 2.0 march under the Internal Security Act 1960.

It should be recalled that it was the United Malays National Organisation (“UMNO”), led by Dato’ Onn Jaafar, the then-President of UMNO and the grandfather of our present Minister for Home Affairs, which led the public to the streets nationwide to protest the setting up of the Malayan Union.  Subsequent UMNO leaders have also led street demonstrations, for example to call for independence, and those in support of the Palestinians. 

Public rallies have therefore been very much a part and parcel of our history, whether to protest against the injustices of colonial administration, or other injustices, such as those we are currently experiencing with respect to our electoral system.  Those who say that street protests are not a part of our culture are clearly ignorant of our nation’s rich history.

A public march is very different from an event held in a stadium or other fixed venue.  The purpose of a public demonstration is to invite public attention to a particular cause or concern.  The right to advocate one’s views and opinions in the public arena in a peaceful manner is a foundational human rights principle.

The response in the past, and the response which ought to be adopted today, is to respect the right to assemble and walk in support of a cause.  This is a fundamental feature of democracy, contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”), which was passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.  Malaya in 1957, and Malaysia in 1963, embraced and accepted the UDHR when admitted to the United Nations.  Our Federal Constitution enshrines the right to freedom of assembly and expression in Article 10. 

The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (headed by Tun Mohd Dzaiddin), which reported in May 2005, recommended to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong that section 27 of the Police Act 1967 – requiring a permit for a public rally – be abolished.  The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, SUHAKAM, has made a similar recommendation to the government on several occasions.

The Malaysian Bar supports and defends this fundamental freedom, and calls upon the government to do likewise.  We point to the positive and salutary examples that the Polis DiRaja Malaysia (“PDRM”) demonstrated in cooperating with the organisers of the “Walk and Rawk for Change” (held on 26 March 2011), and the two anti-Lynas rallies (on 30 March 2011 and 20 May 2011).  In these three events, PDRM allowed a public rally and demonstration to take place, notwithstanding that no police permit had been applied for.  The police monitored the routes and managed traffic flows in order to allow those participating in these marches to walk and express their viewpoints in safety.

PDRM has therefore shown that it is possible for peaceful public rallies to take place when organisers of such gatherings and the police cooperate with each other.  This occurs regularly in more mature democracies, and it has happened in Malaysia.  We should allow such practices to continue. 

With proper liaising and co-operation, we feel that it IS possible for PDRM and the organisers of the BERSIH 2.0 march, and any other walks, to work together to allow for the public to exercise their fundamental rights in a clean, peaceful and responsible manner.  Let us use this opportunity to promote, enhance and celebrate democracy.

Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

Bersih 2.0: Aliran president Rama receives death threat

First Ambiga, then reportedly other members of the Bersih steering committee – and now Aliran president P Ramakrishnan has received a death threat via sms.
 
Aliran is a member of the Bersih coalition and is represented on the Bersih steering committee.
These threats are disturbing, but peace-and-justice-loving Malaysians will not cower in fear. We stand in solidarity with all those threatened with personal harm.

Rama responds as follows:
Today, at around 1.00pm, I received an sms from +601119732179. The message conveyed to me was in Bahasa Malaysia and read…

What I received is apparently the same as those received by the steering committee members of Bersih 2.0. Aliran is part of Bersih 2.0 and is represented on its steering committee, and we are committed to free and fair elections, which are crucial to the democratic process.
The message in the sms is full of venom, threatening death to Ambiga and warning to kill all those around her one by one. It reeks with racial hatred and blatantly concocts lies that have no basis. It seeks to communalise an issue that concerns free and fair elections, which is supported by a wide spectrum of our civil society. (Full statement on Aliran website)