Monday, March 07, 2011

Amnesty Calls for Investigation Into Reports Police Beat

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 10:14 PM

Amnesty International Urges Saudi Arabia to Allow Peaceful Protests, After Government Bans Right to Legitimate Demonstrations and Detains 24 People 
Organization Also Calls for Investigation Into Reports Police Beat and Kicked Protesters in city of al-Qatif 
New York : Amnesty International today called on the Saudi Arabian government to allow peaceful protests, saying a ban on all demonstrations in the kingdom was “outrageous.”  The organization also called for an investigation into the detention last week of about 24 people after peaceful protests and assaults by police on others.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Interior said security forces would take “all necessary steps against those who attempt to disrupt order.” Authorities confirmed the ban on protests, which was first referred to in 2008.Further protests are planned for Friday amid growing calls for reform in the country. “The Saudi Arabian authorities have a duty to ensure freedom of assembly and are obliged under international law to allow peaceful protests to take place,” said Philip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.“They must act immediately to end this outrageous restriction on the right to legitimate protest.”Some 24 people were detained last Thursday and Friday following protests in the city of al-Qatif, denouncing the prolonged detention of Shi’a prisoners.Police in al-Qatif kicked and beat with batons at least three of the protesters, who were taking part in an apparently peaceful demonstration supporting nine Shi’a community members who have been detained without trial for over 14 years.The arrests came a week after prominent Shi’a cleric Sheikh Tawfiq Jaber Ibrahim al-’Amr was arrested following a sermon calling for reforms in Saudi Arabia. He was released without charge on Sunday.“The Saudi authorities must investigate reports of beatings of protesters by security forces. They should also ensure that those detained are either charged with recognizable offenses and tried fairly or released,” said Luther.“While in detention they must be protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and given regular access to their family, lawyers and medical,” he said.Most of the protesters are believed to be held in a police station in al-Dhahran, a city in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.Among those arrested are Shi’a activists Hussain al-Yusef and Hussein al-‘Alq, who have written for the Shi’a website, which often details arrests of and discrimination against members of the Shi’a community.The nine members of the Shi’a community in prolonged detention were arrested in connection with the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military complex in al-Khobar in which 20 people were killed and hundreds injured.According to reports, they were interrogated, tortured and denied access to lawyers and had no opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention.Calls for reform, including for a constitutional monarchy and greater political freedoms, and for the release of people detained without charge or trial in Saudi Arabia have grown louder in recent weeks amid protests spreading across the Middle East and North Africa.BackgroundIn 2008, following a protest against Israel’s military action in Gaza, the Ministry of Interior, was reported to have said that protests in Saudi Arabia were banned.Those who defy this ban are often held incommunicado without charge and denied access to the courts to challenge the legality of their detention.Critics of the Saudi Arabian government face gross human rights violations at the hands of security forces under the control of the Ministry of Interior.They are often held incommunicado without charge, sometimes in solitary confinement, prevented from consulting lawyers and denied access to the courts to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.Torture or other ill-treatment is frequently used to extract confessions from detainees, to punish them for refusing to “repent”, or to force them to make undertakings not to criticize the government. Incommunicado detention in Saudi Arabia often lasts until a confession is obtained, which can take months and occasionally years.Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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I declined Officer's job offer because....!

Comrade Parduman Singh
I was born on March 7, 1924 at Jehlum (now in Pakistan). I was educated at various district headquarters in Punjab due to regular transfers of my father. I graduated from the prestigious Government College Lahore (Capital of West Pakistan) in 1944. During my student days, I was active in the student movement as also in the freedom movement. While I was in 10th class, I organized a strike in my School (Balmukand Khatri High School) in Amritsar on January 26, 1940, which is now celebrated as Republic Day. Further I took part in various strikes in College days at Layalpur (now in West Punjab) on students demands. 1 was very active during great Bengal Famine in 1943-44 in collecting funds for rendering help to the distressed people.

After completing my studies, I joined the Sarvodya Programme of Gandhi Ji alongwith a friend by going to a village and cleaning the streets and by dispensing medicines for elementary diseases to poor people in a village near Amritsar.

During the days of partition in 1947, I worked actively for amelioration of sufferings of refugees from and to Pakistan and saved the lives of many innocent victims. After this, both of us were offered Officer's jobs by the Government but I declined because Congress had accepted partition of the Country.My friend accepted the job and retired as DPI in Punjab Government.

I joined the Communist Party of India and became a whole timer of the party. The life of party whole timers was very hard. I alongwith other whole timers in the CPI/AlTUC used to get monthly wage at the rate of Rs. 20 per month during the fifties. Any of us who got monetary help from family members or friends had to deposit it in the party fund.

To live in a monthly wage of Rs. 20 was quite difficult even in those days when we were young. What I did was to eat four chapatis with free dal at Dhaba at 10 AM and eat four chapatis at 6 PM. There was no money for tea or break fast. Rs. 5 was spent on other necessary items. This went on for many years. The wage was raised to Rs. 30 per month which the minimum wage for unskilled workers fixed by the State Government. None of us was satisfied because we had dedicated our lives for the revolution to bring socialism in the country. It was a question of dedication to the cause of socialism.

I was elected secretary of the Punjab State Committee of A.I.T.U.C. during that period. I was elected a member of All India General Council in 1953 and its all India Vice president in 1994. I wrote my first book on History of Trade Union Movement in Amritsar in 1980.

In the Communist party I was elected the secretary of Amritsar City Committee of CPI and subsequently of state council and state Executives of the party. The Amritsar Unit of the party took part in elections to the state Assembly and Municipal Corporation. I also took up all national and International issues.

During the period 1980-1992, when terrorism held sway in punjab, I was among those who mobilised and involved not only the workers but all the people against terrorism and separation inspite of all the dangers involved. An all party committee was formed for this purpose.

We organised Prabhat Pheris and Mohalla Meetings in various parts of the city. The committee including CPl(M), Congress, BJP, Janta Dal and Akalis was formed at my initiatives and as the secretary of the city committee of CPI I acted as convener of this Committee.

During eighties and beginning on nineties Amritsar was the epicenter of terrorist activities in Punjab. The Communists took on their activities very bravely without caring about their own safety. I give below a few instances:

On the day Punjab police DIG Atwal was shot dead at the steps of Golden Temple Complex, we were having a previously fixed general meeting of textile workers. One of our Comrades was having meetings of Brick Kiln workers. We heard the news of Atwal's murder. We consulted the leaders and the workers of both groups and decided to take out a protest march in the city. With Red flags and about two hundred fifty workers and their leaders raised the slogan of "ATTWAD WAKH AND MURDAbaad... Na HINDU RAJ Na KHALISTAN JUG JUG JIVE HINDUSTAN." We marched to the Hall Bazaar upto Kotwali and returned to Katra Jaimal Singh and then to Pink plaza Hall Bazaar, the shopkeepers got up from their seats and praised the bravery of communists and Fruit venders distributed their fruits freely amongst the processionists and praised the bravery of the Communists.

Some Communalists destroyed the model of Golden Temple situated at the Railway Station and a crude bomb was exploded by terrorists near Shiwala Bhaian. We organised a Keertan Darbaar in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib at the Railway Station. We invited the leaders of other parties to come and address the gathering. From there we organised a procession upto Shivala Bhaian. The Parbhandhak Committee of Shivala Bhaian arranged the Langer and sweets for the processionists.

Some Terrorist tried to muddle in Trade Union work. The AITUC and the CITU Left Trade Unions gave a call for General Strike in the City on 31 st May, 1984, we- requested the workers to bring sticks, hockeys, kirpans alongwith them. Thousands of workers came from Chheharta, Haripura, Batala Road, came in processions to Putlighar Chowk where a big rally was organised. Afterwards we came to know that some young terrorists had collected in the Gurdwara Pipli Sahib, Putlighar with an intention to attack the workers. One religious minded person who was also sympathetic towards the workers told them that you are a few people whereas there were thousands of armed workers in the Putlighar Chowk. Hearing this the terrorists ran away. Another aspect of this strike and rally was that the then S.S.P was inimical towards the communists. Although previously he was informed about the strike and the rally, he sent only two constables and a head constable with sticks to guard the rally. Actually he wanted a clash.

After that the rally took out a procession to the Hall Bazaar and Kotwali and Jallianwala Bagh, to the Golden Temple complex and returned via Katra Jaimal Singh to Pink Plaza.

We brought out thousands of hand bills and posters. We held Prabhat Pheries and Mohalla meetings, throughout the city and organised rallies and processions at different places. The result was that inspite of throwing cow's tales and Heads of Pigs before the temples and Gurdwaras there was no communal incident in Amritsar throughout the ten years of terrorism in Punjab.

Ekta Bhawan Putlighar
It was announced from Darbar Sahib that Ekta Bhawan Putlighar which was the Headquarter of Communists should be attacked and destroyed. Some sympathisers told us.
I asked the whole timers and some other close Comrades to come and guard Ekta Bhawan. About 15 Comrades collected and stayed for about 15-20 days. One illegal Pistol and a few Kirpans were procured and stones and bricks were collected at the top of Ekta Bhawan. Comrades gave 24 hours guard duty. Food for them brought from their homes and houses of other Comrades living nearby.

As per decision of the All Parties Committee, many public meetings and processions were organised in which the leaders of all parties participated. The result of all these activities was that the people of Amritsar got involved in the fight against terrorism. The proof is that inspite of throwing of Cows' tales and heads of pigs by communalists, no Hindu Sikh clash took place during the entire period.

During this period CPI contested Punjab Assembly elections from Amritsar west constituency. In 1967, CPI candidate, Comrade Satya Pal Dang won by more than ten thousand votes by defeating the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir. In 1969, he defeated veteran Congress leader Jai Inder Singh. CPI won this seat five times. In all these elections, I was the chief organiser of the party. I was elected a member of Amritsar Municipal Committee in 1967. Subsequently I was nominated by the party for the District Grievance Committee and District Planning Board. I did Commendable work in these above mentioned bodies for development of poor abadis and all aslums in Putlighar, Haripura, Chheharta and Purani Jail area. Achievements in development of other areas was impressive.

The CPI in Amritsar also took part in all national and international events. During wars with Pakistan, we organised canteens for the Army personal going towards the border.

During Vietnam war we organised processions against imperialism.

During the American inspired attack on Chief and murder of its president, we organised a two hours strike in all factories and took out a procession.

During trade union activities, I got interested in the field of social Security which was a neglected field at that time in the country. This interest was heightened when I was nominated to participated in various ILO National and International seminars, in one which I was elected chairman of the drafting committee. I was also made Chairman of a group of social security experts which drafted a comprehensive law on social security Experts Labour Law Association and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Project. I was nominated by AITUC to the Regional Board of Employees State Insurance Corporation and remained a member for nearly 20 years. I was nominated by AITUC as a Trustee in Central Board of Trustees of Employees' Provident Fund in 1977 and continues to be a Trustee of that all India high level body till date. The entire corpus of nearly over Rs. 166,000 crores of rupees, vestes in this Board and it manages the Employees Provident Fund Organisation throughout the country. This fund has a membership of 42.74 crore workers- being one of the biggest social security organisations of the world.

In the 80s, I conceived an old age, disability and survivor's pension scheme for industrial workers who are members of Fund. I put my proposal before the Central Board of Trustees and eventually the Government of India promulgated such a pension scheme for nearly 40th crore private and public sector employees on 16.11.1995. In India apart from Government employees in the other employees in industry or in Public Sector could dream of getting pension after retirement. This pattern was subsequently adapted by Bank and Insurance employees, Journalists and University Teachers.

In a function held on 23.11.95 on completion of one year of the scheme, I was hailed as Father of Pension Schemeby P.A. Sangma, the then Labour Minister, Dr. L. Mishra, Secretary to Government of India, Department of India and at that time Secretary General, Lok Sabha said that I should be awarded a Golden Scroll of Honour for my contribution in evolving the Pension Scheme and making it acceptable to the workers.

At present nearly 35 lakh retired workers or in case of death during employment their widows and children are getting pension.

I felt that not enough was being done for development and extension of Social Security in India, even by the Trade Unions as well as by the Govt. I mooted the idea of forming the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) which was to be a non partisan organisation. At my initiative and with the active help of R. K. A. Subramania, former Chairman of the Central Board of Trustees of Employees Provident Fund and Addl. Secretary Labour, Social Security Association of India was formed in 1991 and was inaugurated by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister, government of India.

I continued to be founder President of this organisation. I gave up this office of my own 2- 3 years back. The governing body elected me as Emeritus President of life. This organisation, is a body of high level social security experts academics, Labour economics, former functionaries of International Social Securities Association and International Labour Organisation, Officers of Social Security Organisation.

The two biggest Social Security Organisation i.e. Employees Provident Fund Organisation and Employees State Insurance Corporation are its international members. This association is devoted to research, study, training and development and extension of Social Security in India. It has already held many seminars, workshops, training camps, round tables in all parts of the country as well as an Asian seminar and has brought out many publication. The association has won National and international recognition in a short period of ten years.

I have authored many books on Social Security in India. Asia Pacific and in developing countries of Asia, Africa and South Africa. These publications include: -Social Security and struggle for human dignity in the developing countries, published in 1988 in English and French by world federation of Trade Unions. -A report on exempted Provident Funds as Chairman of a Committee of CBT. A manual of Social Security in India. -Social Security in Asia and Pacific.

�New approach to minimum wages as measure of social protection in three volumes. (Co-authored with R. K. A. Subramanya, Secretary General, Social Security Association of India.

*A monumental comparative study of Social Security System in 36 developing countries of Asia, Africa and South Africa.

*Protection for the elderly, the disabled and the survivor�s in India at the threshold of 21st century.

*Two booklets on Employees Pension Scheme in English and Hindi as well as in many regional languages.

*UN year for the elderly 1999 -towards a society for all ages. (as Editor) -Health protection in India in the year 2000.

*Unemployment Benefit schemes in Developing Countries. A case for unemployment scheme in India.

Five of the above mentioned books have been published by the German foundation Friendship Ebort Stiffling, copies of these books were sent to ILO and ISSA and these both level organisations have praised my research work in Social Security. Some of the books have world wide circulations.

I used to send two copies publication to International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Security Association (ISSA). Dalmer D. Hoskins, Secretary General of IS SA wrote to me:

*I should like to extend to my sincerest congratulations on this comprehensive volume which constitutes an excellent compendium on the historical background and features of the wide range of old age, invalidity, and survivor's schemes existing in India at the National, State and Enterprise levels. It also pin points some of the crucial issues being faced in this field of Social Security. This publication will therefore be an important addition to our library and I am sure will be widely consulted by those wishing to have a complete picture of the various types of Social protection in India for the elderly, the disabled and the survivors.  
With my renewed thanks and wishing you continued success in your excellent efforts at disseminating information of Social Security in India, I remain. 

--Comrade Parduman Singh

From the New Age Central Organ of the Communist Party of India (CPI)(issue dated Saturday, August 05, 2006.)