Thursday, May 19, 2011

Release or Charge Teenage Protester

Thu, May 19, 2011 at 10:04 PM                                                                           Thursday, May 19, 2011
Amnesty International Calls on Jammu and Kashmir Authorities to Release or Charge Teenage Protester
Washington, D.C.: The Jammu and Kashmir authorities must immediately release or charge a teenage anti-government protester who was rearrested this week after spending three months in administrative detention, Amnesty International said. 

Murtaza Manzoor, 17, was briefly released from prison on Wednesday after the High Court found that his administrative detention was unlawful. He was immediately rearrested by police. 

Amnesty International said it is likely that a repeat administrative detention order for Murtaza Manzoor will be passed, allowing police to detain him without charge or trial for up to two years. 

"The police in Jammu and Kashmir are playing a game with the judiciary. Courts order a person's release only for the police to wait outside prison to re-arrest them. This farce should stop," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. 

"Murtaza Manzoor must be released immediately, unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offense," said Zarifi. "If so, he should be remanded in custody by an independent court and his rights as a child should be recognized. The authorities must not order his repeat administrative detention." 

Although he is 17 years old Murtaza Manzoor is being treated as an adult because the laws of Jammu and Kashmir define boys above the age of 16 as adults. This contravenes both Indian law and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has said that the laws will be amended to make them consistent with international law and standards. 

"We can clearly see the need to amend the law in Jammu and Kashmir because teenage boys are held in jails with no special facilities for juveniles," said Zarifi. 

Police arrested Murtaza Manzoor on January 21 in the state capital Srinagar. He was accused of attempted murder, assault and rioting, based on allegations that he led a June 2010 protest against the Indian government that turned violent and resulted in protesters rioting and pelting police with stones. 

On February 8, fearing that Manzoor would be released on bail, police placed him in administrative detention under the highly problematic Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows for up to two years’ detention without charge or trial. 

On May 13 the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir found Murtaza Manzoor's detention to be unlawful and ordered his release. 

On May 18, instead of being released to his father who was waiting outside the Kot Bhalwal Jail, Murtaza Manzoor was escorted from the prison by four policemen of a specialist counter-insurgency team and taken to the Joint Interrogation Center at Jammu. 

Police told his father that Murtaza Manzoor would be kept at the interrogation center for a few days before being handed over to a police station in Srinagar. 

"Murtaza’s case illustrates the 'revolving door' nature of detentions widespread in PSA cases, as documented in Amnesty International’s recent report, A Lawless Law,” said Zarifi.   

Murtaza Manzoor's family was not given any information on the alleged offenses for which he is being held. Amnesty International said it believes his detention may be unlawful. 

At least 322 people are reported to have been detained without trial under the provisions of the Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir from January to September 2010 alone. 

A number of them, including children, have been detained on similar grounds of stone pelting and rioting during various protests against the Indian government throughout the summer of 2010. 

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 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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Mullen Honors Past, Present VMI Graduates

By Lisa Daniel 
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2011 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today paid tribute to past and present graduates of Virginia Military Institute, telling the Class of 2011 that a grateful nation is cheering them on for all they will accomplish.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, congratulates Cadet W. Wayne Cunningham during commencement exercises at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., May 16, 2011. DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
At VMI's commencement in Lexington, Va., Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the Class of 2011 that the "ghosts of greatness" of the storied institute will live on in them through their moral courage and selflessness.
The chairman spoke of Gen. George C. Marshall, VMI Class of 1901, who was Army chief of staff during World War II and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his post-war work in restoring Europe. Mullen told the graduates to be ambitious, as Marshall was, but not to put their personal desires above the greater good.
"If there is ever a choice between personal advancement and what is best for the institution," the admiral said, "you are expected to – you must – choose against your own self-interest."
Though the Army was facing its most austere times in modern history, Mullen said, Marshall kept faith in it, even as his own advancement through the ranks was slow. Marshall knew he was in line to lead the allied effort against Nazi Germany, the chairman noted. But knowing he was most needed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's side, Mullen said, he allowed the younger Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to have that opportunity.
"By giving up what he most desired, General Marshall served where his nation benefitted most," Mullen said. He quoted then-Defense Secretary Charles Stimson as telling Marshall after the war, "No one who is thinking of himself can rise to true heights. You have never thought of yourself."
The chairman said he believes Marshall would be proud of the service of so many Americans today who "worked silently and selflessly to support our operations."
"They embody a culture of persistence, of working together, and remembering that when it comes to serving our nation, it can't be about you," he said.
Mullen reflected on the 1,500 VMI graduates who already have given of themselves in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 13 who "rendered the ultimate sacrifice." Just two weeks ago, the chairman said, and his wife, Deborah, witnessed the return of Air Force Capt. Charles Ransom, VMI Class of 2001, who was one of nine Americans killed in a shooting at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan, he said.
"His story reminds us that this generation has been profoundly tested, and that VMI has risen to the challenge," the chairman said. Despite the risks, he added, 150 VMI graduates – the highest rate in 20 years – were commissioned in the military services yesterday.
In the image of Marshall, Mullen said, young leaders should have the moral courage to offer and welcome loyal dissent. In World War I, he noted, Marshall was the only major who would stand up to Army Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing.
"Few things are more vital to an organization than a leader who has the moral courage to question the direction in which the organization is headed, and the strength of character to support whatever final decisions are made," he said. "That's real loyalty. And it only gets more important the higher you rise in the ranks."
Mullen also told the graduates it is important for the United States to stay engaged around the world, no matter how difficult that may be.
"As challenging as engaging others with different views may be, the alternative of abandoning these partners and these regions is far worse," he said, noting that he has been to Pakistan 24 times as the top U.S. military leader. "We've gone down that road before, and it is one that leads to isolation and resentment, ultimately making our nation less secure as we deceive ourselves into believing that ignoring these challenges will somehow make them go away."
Mullen encouraged the graduates to carry on in the spirit of those VMI graduates who have come before them.
"The ghosts of greatness, so ever-present here in Lexington, now look down upon you, the Class of 2011, and all of us are counting on you, cheering you on, and eternally grateful for who you are, and all that you will do in service to our nation," he said.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Related Sites:
Virginia Military Institute