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DHAKA-DELHI TIES
Geopolitical exploitation under economic pretexts

M. Shahidul Islam

It’s time to comprehend the reasons behind Delhi’s staunch backing of a political regime in Dhaka that is devoid of legitimacy and is accused of destroying the very democratic fabrics of the nation, including the judiciary and the media, which must remain independent of authoritarian interferences in any functional democracy.
The visit last week to Dhaka of India’s junior external affairs minister, General VK Singh, and a host of other dignitaries from the Indian Northeast states occurred at a time of increased Pakistan–India tension and amidst looming threats against the incumbent Awami League-led regime from the BNP-led 20 party compact that enjoys much more popularity within the voters, according to the outcome of a series of local elections.

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M. Shahidul Islam

It’s time to comprehend the reasons behind Delhi’s staunch backing of a political regime in Dhaka that is devoid of legitimacy and is accused of destroying the very democratic fabrics of the nation, including the judiciary and the media, which must remain independent of authoritarian interferences in any functional democracy.
The visit last week to Dhaka of India’s junior external affairs minister, General VK Singh, and a host of other dignitaries from the Indian Northeast states occurred at a time of increased Pakistan–India tension and amidst looming threats against the incumbent Awami League-led regime from the BNP-led 20 party compact that enjoys much more popularity within the voters, according to the outcome of a series of local elections.

Focus on Bangladesh
VK Singh is a former army chief and considered to be an expert on the geopolitical dynamics of Bangladesh and the Indian Northeast vis a vis China. The visit came on the heels of Delhi cancelling the August 25 scheduled meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan on the pretext that the Pakistani High Commissioner to Delhi, Abdul Basit, had met with Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.
Basit maintains his meetings with the Kashmiri leaders aimed at building confidence to resolve the Kashmir dispute while Indian external affairs ministry accused Basit of acting contrary to the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Agreement that had identified the stakeholders in the Kashmir dispute none other than India and Pakistan.
As the ceasefire violations in the disputed Kashmir border increased many folds in recent weeks, Delhi has begun to focus more on Bangladesh to remove any shred of threat from this benign neighbour which occupies its geo-strategic under valley in the Northeast.
Experts fear that the increased skirmishes at the disputed Kashmir borders could fizzle into an accidental war between the two nuclear armed South Asian neighbours who had fought three major wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
A nuclear holocaust may be looming in the region, but we must exercise caution about what we write and say. Bangladesh’s new broadcast and media policy has a vague clause that allows interpretation of any writing critical of a friendly government as an offense.
Then again, who shall talk for the interest of this nation when the parliament is bereft of opposition forces; judiciary is under the squeeze of the judges facing the prospect of impeachment by the law makers of a virtual one-party rule; and, the media is being bulldozed to silence? Last week, another journalist named Rabiul (from the Daily Inquilab) has been arrested, taken to remand, tortured and charged of fuming communal hatred for penning the corruption of a Hindu police officer.

Geopolitics on the agendas
However, curiously, General Singh’s visit to Dhaka was touted as a ‘private one’ although much is learnt to have occurred behind the scene. Under the rubric of attending a business seminar, organized by the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (IBCCI). Singh and his team have had all the state protocols and the ostentations, culminating into a series of meetings on the sideline with all the concerned government officials, including PM Sheikh Hasina.
More so, it’s as yet unclear why Singh’s entourage had to include so many dignitaries from the Northeast states - including Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, Tripura’s industry minister Tapan Chakravarty, Meghalaya’s Parliamentary secretary Kennedy Khyriem, among others.
Sources say the IBCCI seminar and the visit by such a high power delegate aimed at propping up a number of geopolitical agendas undertaken by the Indian ministry for the development of the Northeast. No wonder that the seeming importance attached to Bangladesh - Northeast trading during the publicly-made utterances made little reference to the lopsided status of the bilateral trade in which Bangladesh’s paltry $563.9 million exports to India in the last fiscal stood nakedly exposed against a staggering, and recurring, $4.5 billion worth of exports India had pitched in the Bangladeshi markets; aside from the smuggled goods worth equal amount if not more, pouring into Bangladesh simultaneously.
Instead of addressing such an unacceptable, diabolic status of the existing bilateral trading, Delhi has been continuously harping on the agendas that are aimed more to improving India’s geopolitical advantages and have little to do with improving bilateral trades with Bangladesh. Over 36 items of Bangladeshi export to India face lingering tariff and para-tariff barriers while sharing of waters from common rivers is not an issue deserving Delhi’s focus and attention.

Physical connectivity stressed
According to the Indian ministry of development of the Northeast region, the agendas being pursued aggressively in Bangladesh include (1) Building of inland container port at Ashuganj (2) Widening of Ashuganj-Akhaura road to establish connectivity with Tripura (3) Building Akhaura-Agartala rail link (4) Identification and inclusion of additional routes in IWTT Protocol (5) Building bridge over river Feni (at Sabroom, Tripura), and, (6) Upgrading of infrastructures at all border crossings to facilitate fast moving of heavy vehicles and marine transports through Bangladesh to the seven Northeast  Indian states.
Since 2009, a number of MoUs and agreements have been signed between the AL-led regime in Dhaka and the Indian provincial and federal governments to execute this grand vision, which, in reality, had already relegated Bangladesh’s geopolitical stature to an Indian hinterland.
Now look from the geo-strategic prism the ultimate intent of Delhi in attaching little importance on bilateral trade while focusing aggressively to getting a plethora of binding international agreements signed by Dhaka. The law requiring such international treaties’ ratification by the Bangladesh parliament, the main reason behind the stubbornness of the AL regime in holding an inclusive election lay in the same geo-strategic scheme pursued by Delhi.
India’s scheme aims at overcoming the handicaps that Delhi has been encountering since independence. During the 1962 Indo-China war, Chinese troops moved near Tejpur, Assam, while Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the entire Arunachal Pradesh remains un-relinquished.
This geo-strategic handicap is caused by the lack of space/depth for a lateral movement of troops of the Indian Eastern Command based in Kolkata. Reinforcement from the mainland is also blocked by a constricted Siliguri Corridor straddling between Nepal and Bangladesh that is the only land connectivity under Delhi’s sovereignty.

Northeast: Delhi’s military nightmare
As the Northeast India remains a military nightmare to Delhi, the remedy lies with Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s subservience is viewed as of utmost importance by the Indian strategists and the government alike. Few might be aware that, of the three corps stationed under the Eastern Command (3, 4 and 33 corps), Delhi had disposed all of them against other perceived enemies, not Bangladesh.
And, this paradigm shift occurred since the AL’s coming to power in 2009. The Siliguri (West Bengal)-based 33 Corps is responsible for Sikkim and Western Bhutan while the Tejpur (Assam)-based 4 corps is tasked to focus on Western Arunachal Pradesh and Eastern Bhutan. The 3 corps, based in Dimapur (Nagaland), is positioned to aim at Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Indo-Myanmar border. 
In totality, Delhi has 11 divisions forces stationed in the Northeast, mostly known as mountain divisions (MDs), while another new Striking Mountain Division (SMD) has been added to the force lately.
Any future war with China having the prospect of severing the Siliguri corridor to starve Indian forces of reinforcements, only a pliant regime in Dhaka can help Delhi avoid that grisly prospect by offering a lateral depth to its forces in the Northeast. That being the main preoccupation of Delhi, India-Bangladesh bilateral trade is likely to remain lopsided, and in the backburner, unless Dhaka changes its foreign policy stances.


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House of cards of the Neo-Baksalite regime

Sadeq Khan

In an article in the Express Tribune, sister publication of the International New York Times, David B. Milam, former US ambassador to Bangladesh and now an international scholar brought up the bad example of the current regime in Bangladesh to forewarn Ukrainian secessionists.

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Sadeq Khan

In an article in the Express Tribune, sister publication of the International New York Times, David B. Milam, former US ambassador to Bangladesh and now an international scholar brought up the bad example of the current regime in Bangladesh to forewarn Ukrainian secessionists.

He wrote: “Authoritarian states have forcefully prevented would-be breakaway provinces from leaving their embrace despite the will of the people to secede. But even successful secession, in which much blood and treasure were expended in a struggle for political and economic freedom, is no guarantee against a subsequent reversion to indigenous authoritarianism. Bangladesh is an example, and perhaps, a lesson. Almost 45 years after its bloody secession, the governing party appears to be heading towards a one-party authoritarian system. Its introduction of a press-gag law is simply the latest step in that direction. A law constraining NGOs is in the works. The voices of opposition are being silenced. At some point, the question of choice will be moot unless a coherent and inclusive opposition comes together. We wait for signs of that.”

People are averse to authoritarianism
Within Bangladesh itself, informed public opinion is more concerned about the virtual collapse of governance, under the “declared elected” unrepresentative “unity” government, than about its “benign authoritarian” postures of dynastic neo-Bakshalite kind. By their very nature and age-old spirit of egalitarianism and righteousness, common folks of Bangladesh are averse to authoritarianism and dynasticism. Sooner than later they will get rid of neo-Bakshalites the same way they put up strong resistance to Baksal power elite in the countryside and finally did away with old Baksalites from the centre of power in the capital.
The fate of the neo-Bakshalites are being sealed by colossal increase in rampant corruption and rent-seeking by a select chain of loyalists of the dynastic power centre down the ladder at every level of the polity. That scourge has already alienated most of the traditional following and fellow travellers of the ruling party and its collaborators in government and feigned opposition. Crony capitalists’ support for the regime is only skin-deep. Their sole purpose is to make black money and launder their accumulation to safe bank deposits or properties abroad. At the first signs of gathering storms of overt public resistance, violent or non-violent, whether spontaneous or organised by “a coherent and inclusive opposition” coming together, these crony capitalists and may be even oligarchs deeply involved with the government will abandon the bandwagon of the ruling party, many of them queuing for flights to second homes abroad. The core group of the ruling elite and its advisers know this, and have therefore systematically shifted the posts and pillars of the architecture of obedience of the public to their dictates. In the mofussil districts, in ports and cities, and also in the outlying parts of the capital, it is not any more the ruling party structure that secures public acquiescence of malfeasance, but a network of socalled MP fiefdoms of mafia outfits capable of cowing the constituents.

‘Death squads’ reign supreme
Some of these MP overlords have successfully promoted themselves to the pedestal of zonal godfathers wielding covert power of life and death over common folks in their zone of influence. Others are paymasters of criminal dons who are allocated specific turfs for extortion and intimidation of residents, transports, shops and establishments, and cargo traffic in their respective areas of operation under informal state protection. Contagion of such systematic criminalisation of political power has resulted in burgeoning abuse of police powers both for political repression to serve the political masters and criminal extortion to fill their own private coffers.
Of late, abductions and contract killings for a fee allegedly by RAB and police teams as well as police torture, manhandling and maiming by bullet injure of detainees for heavy ransom demands on pain of “cross-fire” killing has assumed such horrifying proportions that Human Rights Watch of New York has characterised such teams of law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh as “death squads”.
While foreign observers like diplomat-scholar Milam are expressly waiting for signs of coming together of a coherent and inclusive opposition capable of reversing “the drift backwards towards authoritarianism”, we in Bangladesh are already aware of the syndrome of infighting and deadly conflicts over turfs of influence amongst aspirants within the ruling party hierarchy in Dhaka city and in various districts. The same syndrome of infighting, murders and revenge killings within the ruling party hierarchy were noticeable at the time of introduction of BAKSAL scheme of “Mujubbadi” regimentation during in 1974-75. The obvious question, therefore, is how long can the regime’s house of cards standing on stumps of demagogy, police raj and godfather gangs withstand the test of time.


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Govt. coercing judges into submission

Faruque Ahmed

The democratic space is rapidly shrinking in the country. After the draconian move to gag the freedom of the media – both print and electronic – by limiting the free flow of information, the government is now working to control the higher judiciary by empowering the rubber stamp Parliament with a proxy opposition to remove the judges of the Supreme Court. The question of the move’s legitimacy is now open for discussion.

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Faruque Ahmed

The democratic space is rapidly shrinking in the country. After the draconian move to gag the freedom of the media – both print and electronic – by limiting the free flow of information, the government is now working to control the higher judiciary by empowering the rubber stamp Parliament with a proxy opposition to remove the judges of the Supreme Court. The question of the move’s legitimacy is now open for discussion.

The cabinet has approved the recent decision to hand over the power of impeaching the Supreme Court judges to Parliament by a two-thirds majority on charges of misconduct and failing to do the job properly.
Meanwhile the government is working to pass the 16th amendment to the constitution to drop the provision of Supreme Judicial Council and restore the authority of Parliament to impeach the judges.

Executive’s control over judiciary
The government claims that the Supreme Judicial Council was introduced by Ziaur Rahman by a military decree in 1977 taking away the right of Parliament to remove the judges. It became part of the constitution later on. But it appears surprising that while passing the 15th amendment of the constitution, the present Sheikh Hasina government did not drop it because of its merit while dropping many other martial law decrees that subsequently became part of the constitution. The government has now taken the move to drop it to make its control over the judiciary absolute.
But in doing so it claims that it is returning the power of impeaching the judges to Parliament and by doing so they are in fact correcting a historic wrong perpetrated by former military ruler Ziaur Rahman who was later elected president of the country.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Law Minister Anisul Haq and host of other government leaders are justifying the move saying they are restoring the 1972 constitutional provision on removal of judges by this act of amendment.
Political observers, however, point out two critical aspects that need to be evaluated in this case. In the first place one should see whether the scrapping of the Supreme Judicial Council comprising of the Chief Justice and his two senior most Judges is a right step and coming with an honest intension. 
People generally believe that the Supreme Judicial Council has its own merit as far as the reviewing of the conduct of the judges and their physical and mental capacity to hold the post. They also tend to believe that it has been a right step to keep the higher judiciary free from fear and intervention of the executive branch of the government.

Zia rescued judiciary
President Ziaur Rahman had in fact wanted to make sure that judges should be allowed to work independently beyond any pressure and fear of losing jobs which may come from the two other branches of the government, that is from the executive and the legislature.
Moreover, he had acted to rescue the judiciary from the grab of the president as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had taken over the right of appointment and removal of Supreme Court Judges in his own hand abolishing the 1972 constitutional provision in this regard. He passed the 4th amendment to establish the one party BAKSAL rule in Bangladesh and vested all such powers in his own hand.
Sheikh Mujib had even deleted the provision of ‘consultation’ with the Chief Justice while appointing other judges in the Supreme Court. President Zia had thus salvaged the independence of judiciary by taking away the unilateral power of the president in removing the Supreme Court Judges by handing over the task to the Supreme Judicial Council. 
Now it appears that Awami League leaders are purportedly shielding the suppression of the higher judiciary by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to make his one party rule safe. Moreover by blaming former president Ziaur Rahman for setting up the Supreme Judicial Council, the ruling party appears once again trying to shield their new strategy to make the higher judiciary hostage again in its hand. They are so desperate in their move that they are not ready to tolerate any protest by the opposition and civil society organizations against this illogical move.

Opposition protests subverted
Major opposition BNP and its allies sought to hold a protest meeting in the city on Wednesday last to denounce the move but police foiled it by pushing them into the National Press Club premises. Protest by Supreme Court Bar Association and Bangladesh Bar Council members have similarly  been Thwarted.
Political observers fear that democracy is fast losing ground by this singular act to control the higher judiciary followed by similar crunch on free flow of news and views that may not be friendly to the government. Some political scientists fear that the country is slipping into an authoritarian system and it may have disastrous consequences in domestic politics.
They said separation of Judiciary, executive and legislative branch of the government is also rapidly disappearing where Parliament now runs without an opposition and the executive branch of the government tends to dictate everything. 
It appears that the ruling party is at work to transform the whole system of governance in a way where the opposition political parties and people suffering from the repression of the ruling party leaders and workers will hardly have any place to seek justice.
In a talk show, a participant voiced scepticism on seeing the improvement in peace index for Bangladesh which stands at the forefront in comparison to many other regional countries. He wonders what kind of peace this may be saying whether public silence should be accepted as equivalent to peace. If people’s democratic rights in public life are muzzled, it can’t be said the city streets are peaceful, he said.


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Punish Israel for evil crimes against humanity

William Hanna

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie, former Emperor of Ethiopia (1892-1975).

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William Hanna

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie, former Emperor of Ethiopia (1892-1975).

After more than sixty years of being paralysed into silence by the Zionist venom — the stigma of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial — that prevented condemnation of incalculable cheating, lying,  stealing, murdering, and ruthless violation of the legal and natural human rights of the Palestinian people by a nation devoid of conscience, humanity, or any of the noble principles of the religion to which it claims to belong, the world in general and the West in particular have once again been witness to Israel’s latest arrogant, barbaric, and contemptuous assault on international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“This country exists as a fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.” Golda Meir (Israeli Prime Minister 1969-1974), Le Monde, 15 October 1971
The concept of legitimacy cannot be claimed on the basis of some Biblical narrative written thousands of years ago by scribes (ancient Jewish record-keepers) intent on inventing a Jewish people and creating a Jewish nation. Genuine legitimacy, like respect, cannot be feigned, fabricated, purchased or purloined: it has to be earned with commendable conduct and well intentioned cooperation in the affairs of all humankind. Israel should be accountable
Genuine legitimacy for a Zionist Apartheid Israel, therefore, cannot be established by the silencing of demands for accountability for contemptible and illegal behaviour with impunity; it cannot be established by devilish duplicity, rambunctious denial of obvious criminality, or the deprivation of human and political rights for others; it cannot be established by numerous self-serving false flag operations such as the 1954 Lavon Affair http://whatreallyhappened .com/WRHARTICLES/lavon.html, the 1967 USS Liberty Incident http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/ussliberty.html, the 1968 Operation Trojan http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/deception.html, and even the frequent and deliberate targeting of Jewish people and organisations with a view to laying the blame on various groups ranging from radical Muslims to even harmless environmentalists; it cannot be established by a Fascist ideology based on the “supremacy” of a “chosen people” whose colonial Apartheid objectives include the savage military ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine; it cannot be established by the continual bribing and corrupting of the elected representatives of other nations; and it cannot be established by forever committing crimes against humanity to legitimise the illegitimate because the time will certainly come — as it did for the Nazis — when there has to be a reckoning that demands justice and punishment.
In view of Israel’s latest diabolical and devastating spree codenamed Operation Protective Edge —  some 17,000 homes bombed and destroyed, over 2,000 civilians killed including 500 children, and over 500,000 people made homeless — the time for that reckoning has to be now! People everywhere, including all those Americans who are either politically illiterate or naively oblivious to reality and the true facts, have to be resolute in deciding that goodwill towards Israel and tolerance for its crimes against humanity can no longer permitted because of regret over the Holocaust. Jews do not have a monopoly on suffering as is witnessed by the fact that — and that is not counting the millions of injuries and fatalities resulting from Israeli-induced conflicts — twelve million children under the age of five die annually from preventable diseases and malnutrition.
People must determine that “never again” shall be equally applicable to Palestinians as it is to Jews; that Israelis, like the Nazis, must be made accountable and punishable for their war crimes; and that collective cowardice, criminal cooperation, and culpable complicity with regards to Israel are an irresponsible dereliction of duty to all humanity.

Collective cowardice, immoral reaction
The collective cowardice resulting from the fear of being stigmatised as anti-Semites or Holocaust deniers is an irrational and immoral reaction to the well financed and orchestrated Zionist campaign for the promotion of guilt-inducing reminders of the Holocaust — otherwise known as the Holocaust industry. Current and future generations cannot be held hostage in perpetuity by zionist Israel for crimes committed by past generations. Furthermore, past persecutions of the Jewish people does not grant Judaeo-Zionism the automatic right to now ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people. Shrill and constant cries of anti-Semitism to silence criticism of Apartheid Israel are now so commonplace that they have — like the child who cried wolf too often only to be ignored when there actually was one — have become meaningless and rightly irrelevant.
Criminal cooperation is the provision to Israel of preferential access to U.S. and European Union markets including the latter’s failure to enforce laws prohibiting the import of Israeli goods produced in the Occupied Territories; criminal cooperation is investment in Israel which in 2012 alone rose 14.5% to $73.9 billion with American investors accounting for $19.7 billion followed by $9 billion from the Cayman Islands — a global tax shelter that serves as corporate headquarters for many companies such as Coca-Cola, Oracle and Intel http://www.veooz.com/news/YH2aPHB.html; criminal cooperation is the acceptance by politicians of pro-Israel political action committee contributions which in the U.S. alone are quite astronomical  http://www.huffingtonpost .com/2012/08/22/super-pac-contributions_n_1822290. html .
Israel’s ability to bribe and corrupt politicians does not extend to the people, therefore it is up to the people to show their disapproval in the only possible and peaceful way: they must effectively boycott Israeli goods by joining the BDS campaign at  http://www.bdsmovement.net; they must boycott companies who invest in Israel; they must crusade against individuals or organisations that associate with, or support Israel; and they must continually lobby their politicians especially those that have accepted the accursed Israeli new shekel and demand justice and respect for the human rights of Palestinians.

Criminality takes many forms
Culpable complicity with Israel’s barbarous criminality takes many forms including nations who either abstain or vote against UN resolutions condemning Israel’s persistent persecution of the Palestinian people — the U.S. has used more vetoes on behalf of Israel than it has on behalf of itself  http://www.projectfreethought.org/2013/09/vetoes-in-the-un-security-council/; culpable complicity includes the provision of military-related equipment to Israel with the knowledge that it will be used for the continued oppression of the Palestinian people in the illegally Occupied Territories — From 2009 to 2018, the U.S. is scheduled to give Israel (the largest recipient of U.S. assistance) $30 billion in military aid  http://aidtoisrael.org/ section.php?id=379; and culpable complicity includes the hypocritical double standards by which Israel’s criminality is either judged or just completely ignored as compared to other less useful international law violators whom Western nations do not regard as being within their sphere of influence.

Israel doesn’t want peace
If what has just occurred in Gaza is not unconditionally condemned and punished, then it will most certainly reoccur as it has been doing for over 60 years. Israel’s parasitic inclinations will not be satisfied until every drop of drinkable water which it has not already stolen, becomes too contaminated for Palestinians to drink; Israel will not be satisfied until its air, land and sea blockade of the Occupied territories — that prevents the import of vital food and medical supplies — has induced malnutrition, disease and death amongst the imprisoned and persecuted population; Israel will not be satisfied until all Palestinian children have been traumatised by the experience of seeing their parents being hounded, humiliated, imprisoned without due process, and in many cases simply murdered; Israel will not be satisfied until those same children are further traumatised by being arbitrarily arrested, interrogated without adult or legal council support, beaten, terrorised, and forced into signing confessions (written in a language they do not understand) that incriminate parents and relatives who are then held indefinitely under the misused Administrative Detention Order http://www.btselem .org/topic/ administrative_detention; Israel will not be satisfied until every Palestinian home, hospital and school has been reduced to rubble with bombs supplied by courtesy of U.S. taxpayers; and Israel will not be satisfied until every drop of Palestinian blood has soaked into the stolen Palestinian lands on which more illegal Jewish settlements will be built. And no, this is not an anti-Semitic exaggerated rant, it is a fact that has been endlessly reiterated by racist Israeli leaders who want Palestine and not peace http://electronicintifada.net/ blogs/ali-abunimah/concentrate-and-exterminate-israel-parliament-deputy-speakers-gaza-genocide-plan.
Any western leaders — especially U.S. presidents — who may have ever thought that Israel wanted peace, must have been faint-hearted, foolish or complete frauds. So far most political and religious  leaders including the Pope and apart from retired Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu have failed to unconditionally condemn Operation Protective Edge. Justice and retribution will only be achieved by the people. The people of the world have to inform the criminal Zionist Apartheid state of Israel in the strongest possible terms that finally it is now definitely very much a case of “ENOUGH ALREADY!”
Countercurrents.org. William Hanna is a freelancer with a recently published book the Hiramic Brotherhood of the Third Temple.


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Uproar in Assam State Assembly over illegal migrants

Shamsuddin Ahmed

Assam State Assembly of India has witnessed chaos and uproar on the issue of ‘illegal migrants’ from Bangladesh, a burning issue that fomented agitations, communal riots and massacres in the state. It erupted when PPF member Promila Rani Brahma on August 26 said in the House that illegal migrants have encroached vast tracts of land.

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Shamsuddin Ahmed

Assam State Assembly of India has witnessed chaos and uproar on the issue of ‘illegal migrants’ from Bangladesh, a burning issue that fomented agitations, communal riots and massacres in the state. It erupted when PPF member Promila Rani Brahma on August 26 said in the House that illegal migrants have encroached vast tracts of land.

The use of words ‘illegal migrants’ angered AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front), the main opposition in the State Assembly. The party is led by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, a member of the Lok Sabha. Taking exception, AIUDF members stood up in one voice to challenge Brahma Rani. Sherman Ali wanted her to prove that the encroachers were actually illegal migrants and demanded of the chair to expunge the word ‘illegal migrants’.

Modi’s ‘Hindutva’ fomenting riots
BJP and its Hinduvata allies have been alleging of influx of migrants from Bangladesh into Assam and the consequent perceptible change in the demographic pattern, raising it as a burning issue in the state.  It was also the core issue behind the Assam Agitation, frequent communal riots and the prime contributing factor behind the outbreak of insurgency in the State. No other word has been so pronounced in Assam as the word ‘illegal migrant’.
“This word has been creating unrest in the State. Pramila Rani should produce evidence as to how she detected the illegal migrants,” Sherman Ali said. Soon, BJP and BPF members launched a counter­attack claiming that illegal migration has been happening in Assam. Rebutting AIUDF members said that one particular community (Muslim) was being targeted in the name of ‘illegal migrants’.
Forest minister Rakibul Hussain intervened and said the issue was being politicized to meet the narrow political purpose. Who is an illegal migrant and who is not will be decided by the court and not the House. The stand of the Assam government is clear ­ on all those who have entered the State after March 25, 1971 are illegal immigrants. In reality no Bangladeshi went to Assam after independence to live there.  Life and living is no better in Assam infested by militant groups fighting with heavily deployed army and paramilitary forces for independence from India.
Meanwhile, the Hinduvata issue whipped up by Narendra Modi in India has given rise to communal riots in a number of states of India, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Assam witnessed the maximum number of casualties in communal violence during January-June leaving at least 77 people killed, mostly Muslims. An official report carried by daily Sentinel said 35 people were killed in 2013, 27 in 2012 and 18 in 2011 in communal violence in Assam.

AIUDF reaches new height
In view of rising insurgency of about a dozen outfits in northeastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura who are fighting for independence from India and deteriorating law and order situation, the central government in Delhi is supplementing efforts of the state governments by deploying additional paramilitary forces for counter­insurgency operations.
A few words about AIUDF. Founded by Islamic cleric and business tycoon Badruddin Ajmal in 2005 the party has emerged as key political player in the state of Assam. A common perception in Assam is that the AIUDF’s support base, Bengali-speaking Muslims, are all illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The party dismissed the charge saying it is groundless and made by rivals for political gain. This added to the party’s challenges. The charge or perception is something the AIUDF will perhaps have to live with for some time, said sociologist ANS Ahmed.
Maulana Ajmal has dismissed suggestion that his party is pro-Muslim and polarizing voters on communal lines. The party’s current working president is a non-Muslim. In the first elections contested in 2006 the AIUDF had put up 73 candidates, 34 of whom were non-Muslims, In the Lok Sabha elections in May this year the party nominated six non-Muslims out the 11 seats contested. Ajmal has taken the AIUDF to new heights by winning three seats in the Lok Sabha held. In 2009, the party contested elections to the Lok Sabha with Ajmal winning the seat of Dhubri, located close to the Bangladesh border, to become a member of parliament.

Ajmal thinks big
An unorthodox personality who is both a successful businessman and a Muslim cleric, Ajmal studied at the famous Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic school in Uttar Pradesh where he earned the equivalent of a master’s degree in Arabic and theology. He heads a unit of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a leading Muslim organisation in India. He leads a diversified conglomerate which has interests in textiles, real estate, leather, healthcare, education and a perfume business headquartered in Dubai. The group’s fragrances can be found on sale in luxury outlets across the Middle East and beyond, from Russia to Singapore.
Ajmals are now thinking big. “Mission 40 is our target for the state election in 2016 - we want to win 40 of Assam’s 126 assembly seats,” Badruddin Ajmal said, and extend the party in neighbouring states including West Bengal.


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Debunking Israel’s self-defence argument

John Dugard

Israel claims that it is acting in self-defense in Gaza, thereby portraying itself as the victim in the present conflict. President Barack Obama and both houses of the U.S. Congress have endorsed this justification for the use of force. But is it an accurate assessment?

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John Dugard

Israel claims that it is acting in self-defense in Gaza, thereby portraying itself as the victim in the present conflict. President Barack Obama and both houses of the U.S. Congress have endorsed this justification for the use of force. But is it an accurate assessment?

Gaza is not an independent state like Lebanon or Jordan. Israel accepts this but instead sees Gaza as a “hostile entity,” a concept unknown to international law and one that Israel has not sought to explain.

Gaza under illegal Israeli occupation
But the status of Gaza is clear. It is an occupied territory — part of the occupied Palestinian territory. In 2005 Israel withdrew its settlers and the Israel Defense Forces from Gaza, but it continues to retain control of it, not only through intermittent incursions into and regular shelling of the territory but also by effectively controlling the land crossings into Gaza, its airspace and territorial waters and its population registry, which determines who may leave and enter.
Effective control is the test for occupation. The International Court of Justice (IJC) recently confirmed this in a dispute between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The physical presence of Israel in Gaza is not necessary provided it retains effective control and authority over the territory by other means. Modern technology now permits effective control from outside the occupied territory, and this is what Israel has established.
That Gaza remains occupied is accepted by the United Nations and all states except, possibly, Israel.
Military or belligerent occupation is a status recognized by international law. According to the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 — to which Israel is a party — a state is allowed to occupy a territory acquired in armed conflict pending a peace settlement. But the occupation must be temporary, and the occupying power is obliged to balance its security needs with the welfare of the occupied people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited.
The occupation of Gaza is now in its 47th year, and Israel is largely responsible for the failure to reach an agreement on a peaceful settlement. Moreover, Israel is in breach of many of the humanitarian provisions contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention as a result of the siege it has imposed on Gaza since 2007. In short, Gaza is not only an occupied territory; it is also an illegally occupied territory.

Gaza’s war of resistance
The present operation in Gaza — Operation Protective Edge — must therefore not be seen as an act of self-defence by a state subjected to acts of aggression by a foreign state or non-state actor. Instead, it should be seen as the action of an occupying power aimed at maintaining its occupation — the illegal occupation of Gaza. Israel is not the victim. It is the occupying power that is using force to maintain its illegal occupation.
History is replete with examples of occupying powers using force to maintain their occupations. Apartheid South Africa used force against the people of Namibia; Germany used force against the people of France and the Netherlands during World War II. The rockets fired by Palestinian factions from Gaza must thus be construed as acts of resistance of an occupied people and an assertion of its recognized right to self-determination.
Before Israel’s physical withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian acts of violent resistance were directed at Israeli forces within the territory. This was during the second intifada. Since then, Palestinian militants have been obliged to take their resistance to the occupation and the illegal siege of Gaza to Israel itself. The alternative is to do nothing, a course no occupied people in history have ever taken.
It is unusual for an occupied people to take its resistance outside the occupied territory. But it is also unusual for an occupying power to maintain a brutal occupation from outside the territory. When the occupying power maintains its status through military force within the occupied territory because of these acts of resistance on its own territory, as Israel has done, it acts as the enforcer of an occupation — not as a state acting in self-defence.

Israel debunks accountability
A state seeking to enforce its occupation, like a state acting in self-defence, must comply with international humanitarian law. This includes respect for the principle of proportionality, respect for civilians and the drawing of a distinction between military and civilian targets, and the prohibition of collective punishment. Both Israel and Palestinian militants are obliged to act within the confines of these rules.
Sadly, Israel is in violation of all three of these basic tenets. Its action is a clear collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The numbers of the dead and wounded and the property damage inflicted on them are completely disproportionate to the few civilians killed and wounded and property damaged in Israel. It is also clear from its bombing of schools, hospitals and private homes that Israel makes little, if any, attempt to distinguish between civilian and military targets.
What is to be done? The United Nations is powerless to act in the face of the U.S. veto. This places a heavy burden on the European states to use their influence to stop the bloodshed. It is also incumbent on the International Criminal Court to act. Palestine, recognized as a state by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012, has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Under pressure from the U.S. and Europe, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court refuses to hold Israel accountable for its crimes. History will surely judge unkindly both the prosecutor and the institution that she serves if nothing is done.
Aljazeera America. John Dugard is emeritus professor of international law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.


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