Monday, July 14, 2014

Face of Defense: Soldier Born in Senegal Returns for Exercise

Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:01 PM
"I actually enjoy doing my job" 
By Army Sgt. Takita Lawery
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

Army Spc. Lassana Traore, right, translates during a conversation between Army Pfc. Cody Anderson, center, and a Senegalese soldier during exercise Western Accord 14 at Camp Thies, Senegal, June 25, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Takita Lawery 
THIES, Senegal, July 14, 2014 - After joining the U.S. Army two years ago, Spc. Lassana Traore, a food service specialist with 1st Infantry Division's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, couldn't have imagined he would find himself back in his native land of Senegal as an Army translator for Exercise Western Accord 14.
"It is a great learning experience for him to be serving his native country and the U.S. Army," Wingfield said. "I think he will gain a lot of knowledge from interacting with both nations simultaneously during the exercise."Staff Sgt. Murquitte Wingfield, food service noncommissioned officer in charge, Company E, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, said Traore's a "super soldier" who is always motivated to do more than what is asked or expected of him.
Traore grew-up in Pikine, a small city outside of Dakar, Senegal, with his parents, four brothers and three sisters. He graduated from Seydou Nourou Tall, a multigrade school, in 2000. Following an injury to his leg that stopped him from playing professional soccer, Traore said, he decided to travel to France to attend college and study business management.
He later traveled to Italy to help in running his father's fishing company, and it was there where he met his wife, who also serves in the Army.
Traore joined the Army in 2012, and chose to be a cook because choices were limited for him at the time.
"I actually enjoy doing my job," he added. "And now, I am happy to be here, because I can serve both my countries at the same time."
Traore's duties during the exercise were limited at first to the food service team. But things quickly changed when his unit hit the ground in Senegal. In addition to working in the dining facility, he soon was translating for various African nations throughout Camp Thies.
The 32-year-old said helping soldiers to overcome language barriers has been one of his favorite parts of Western Accord 14 was. Knowing he helped soldiers better comprehend the training they received so they could apply it to what they already knew was what he enjoyed most about the experience, he added.
Infantry parachutist Sgt. Birame Faye of the Senegalese army concurred.
"It is easier for us to understand Traore, rather than civilian translators, because he is in the U.S. Army and he knows how to explain their tactics better," Faye said.
Traore said he has appreciated playing a major role in the exercise and wants to continue serving in any way he can.
"I plan to retire out of the U.S. Army, because it's a great organization and it provides people with great opportunities to do whatever they put their minds to," he said.
Related Sites:
U.S. Army Africa
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
U.S. Africa Command
Special Report: U.S. Africa Command

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Face of Defense: Father, Daughter Share Afghanistan Deployment

Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 6:59 PM
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, left, and her father, Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo, pose for a photograph at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 1, 2014. Both are assigned to Task Force Signal and deployed from the Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez 
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AfghanistanJuly 8, 2014 - (AFPS):  The military becomes a tightly knit family for people who are away from home. Service members share many unique experiences, and when the time comes to deploy, they need "family" support that much more.
 For Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo and Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, the support network is available not only from their unit, but also each other, as this father and daughter share their first deployment together here.
Trujillo and Buzzell are both deployed from the Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine, and are natives of Turner, Maine.
Trujillo, a cable antenna team chief, has served for 26 years. Buzzell has been in the Air Force for five years and is a radio frequency transmissions technician. Both are deployed with Task Force Signal.
For them, the Air Force, deployments and moving always have been a normal way of life.
"My wife retired from active duty about nine years ago," Trujillo said. "We have traveled and lived everywhere, and now that my daughter is older, I think she appreciates the opportunities we had being a military family."
Five years ago while Trujillo was deployed to Afghanistan, Buzzell enlisted in the same unit as her father. Trujillo came home to the surprise that his daughter was in the Air Force and part of his unit.
"My dad had mentioned the military, and I always wanted to join," she said. "Other plans happened. I got married and had kids, so a few years later, I just decided to join."
Though he was surprised, Trujillo said, he was proud of his daughter.
"I never pushed her to join. I would have supported her in any decision she made," he added. "I always thought that the Air Force would be a good choice for her. I think the Air Force is very family oriented, and it helps give you an idea of what you want to do with your life."
While Buzzell was originally tasked to deploy, Trujillo was not. Because it was Buzzell's first deployment, her father volunteered to join her in Afghanistan.
"My mom originally did not want him to volunteer," Buzzell said. "But when she found out I was tasked, she immediately changed her mind and was telling my dad he 'had' to volunteer."
Trujillo said he wanted to volunteer because he didn't think an opportunity like this would come by again. He also wanted to make sure he was there for his daughter on her first deployment.
"I think it relaxed my wife a little more, because she knew I was going to be here with my daughter," he said. "I now realize I don't really need to be here for her. She is doing great and has a great attitude about being here."
Originally, Trujillo was tasked to go to Kandahar Airfield, but when the unit switched teams around, it allowed the two the opportunity to work together.
"We don't always work together every day, but we do get to spend time together," Trujillo said. "It is good to be apart sometimes. It keeps her dad from always being on her."
Buzzell said she enjoys having her dad around and likes to tell people she is here with him whenever she gets the chance.
"He is always sticking up for me, even though he doesn't have to," she said. "The experience of having him here is one that many people will not have. It will be something that [he] and I will always share and look back on."
Having been with the unit for a few years, Buzzell said, she has found it to be a close group, so even if her father wasn't here, she knows they would take care of her.
"None of them would replace my dad, of course, but most of the people from my unit are high school friends," she said. "The airmen also see him as a father figure, and we are just happy he is here."
Trujillo and Buzzell celebrated Father's Day last month with a 5K race and a lunch date.
"One thing I didn't think I was going to miss were hugs," Buzzell said. "My daughters at home hug me all the time, so the best thing about having my dad here is that I get to hug him whenever I need a hug."
Related Sites:
Air Forces Central

Monday, June 30, 2014

Face of Defense: USS Pennsylvania Sets Patrol Record

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 6:49 PM
By Navy Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes
Commander, Submarine Group 9

BANGOR, Wash., June 30, 2014 - The Trident strategic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania manned by its "Gold" crew returned home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor here June 14 following a 140-day, record-breaking patrol.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Rear Adm. Dietrich Kuhlmann, the commander of Submarine Group 9, right, congratulates the USS Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew commanding officer Navy Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, left, following the Pennsylvania's successful 140-day strategic deterrent patrol, a new record for the longest strategic deterrent patrol completed by an Ohio-class strategic missile submarine. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes
Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. The Pennsylvania set a new record for the longest patrol completed by an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.
The Ohio-class submarines have two crews, called Blue and Gold, which rotate patrols. One crew is at sea usually for 60 to 90 days, while the other trains ashore. In this way, the vessels can be employed at sea 70 percent of the time, when not undergoing scheduled maintenance in port.
The Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew patrol, which began in January, is not only the longest for an Ohio-class submarine, but the longest since beginning of the Poseidon C3 ballistic missile program in the early 1970s, according to records maintained by the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Weapon System Evaluation program.
"It's an honor. It was a challenge. The job kept calling for us to stay at sea but we were ready, willing and able. So we stayed at sea and finished the mission," said Navy Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, the Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew commanding officer.
"I'm incredibly proud of my crew," Pittman added. "I've been amazed by their resiliency throughout the entire time, and not only the crew, but the families. We leave and we serve, but they stay home and they serve as well."
Trident submarines -- nicknamed "Boomers" -- carry as many as 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, they are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory.
The Pennsylvania's Navy hull classification symbol is SSBN 735. The SS denotes "Ship, Submersible." The B denotes "ballistic missile," and the N denotes "nuclear powered."
As Pennsylvania emerged from an extended maintenance period in 2013, the patrol had originally been planned to be longer than is considered normal for Trident strategic missile submarine. The crew spent nearly the entire patrol underway, since unlike most other Navy vessels, Trident submarines don't make routine port visits except when returning to home port.
"USS Pennsylvania 'Gold's' patrol is an exceptional example of the flexibility and capability of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine. We had always expected this to be a longer than normal patrol and a highly-capable crew made it happen," said Navy Capt. Mark VanYe, chief of staff at Commander, Submarine Group 9. "When operational commitments changed, we knew the exceptional sailors serving on Pennsylvania and their families back home were up to the task.
"They have excelled across their entire mission set," VanYe added. "We are glad now to have them home and congratulate them on a job well-done."
Upon their return home, Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew was greeted by Commander of Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, who wanted to personally thank them and congratulate them on a job well-done.
"The SSBN strategic deterrent patrol is the most important unit mission in the submarine force and vital to the defense our nation," Sawyer said. "The Pennsylvania 'Gold' crew was on the front line of deterrence, conducting critical missions from the time the ship got underway until returning home and I couldn't be prouder of what they have accomplished."
The USS Pennsylvania, part of the nation's strategic deterrence forces, is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines home-ported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

Related Sites:
Commander, Submarine Group 9
Related Articles:
Tight-knit Trident Submariners Conduct Strategic Deterrence Missions

Thursday, June 26, 2014

NEPAL: The police state quite likes torture

Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 11:09 AM
A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission
Courtesy image from AHRC
Nepal is a country where torture and ill-treatment are widely practiced by state and non-state actors. Torture haunts detention centers, and there is no mechanism for the investigation of allegations of torture in the country. The culture of impunity strengthens its hold in Nepal, despite the armed insurgency having ended, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed, in 2006.
The police have been using torture as if it is the most credible form of investigation. Both the police and the courts are under resourced and suffer from lack of training. The incapacity of the police to investigate a case scientifically and the abuse of power in Nepal restrict the liberty of Nepalese citizens.
Impunity and the incapacity of the Nepal police to investigate cases have been exposed continually. Earlier this year, the police brutally tortured Kalu and Hikmat Chaudhari for trying to teach them about law and jurisdiction. The Nepal police have even tortured children aged 9 and 11. The police are shrewd and try to cover up their tracks. They frequently torture victims when victims are detained in police stations. After releasing them, the police often call them back to torture them again. In some cases that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has helped document, such instances of serial torture have continued for over a year.
Nepal has acceded to the Convention against Torture (CAT) on May 14, 1991. In 1996, the Government of Nepal promulgated the Compensation relating to Torture Act, 1996, also known as the Torture Compensation Act (TCA), which demonstrates a lack of understanding of torture and fails to match the standards of the CAT. Nevertheless the TCA prohibits torture, provides for compensation to victims of torture, and prescribes departmental action against government employees who inflict torture.
The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, penalizes torture. Apart from the TCA and the Interim Constitution, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Act, 2012, the Evidence Act, 1974, the Draft Criminal Code and Country Code, 1963, also contain important provisions against torture. However the NHRC is restricted to only receiving complaints of torture and making recommendations to the government; the government has been turning a deaf ear to these recommendations. And, laws and provisions have not safeguarded more and more Nepalese from falling victim to torture.
None of the provisions and laws related to torture criminalizes the act in Nepal. The government has failed to criminalize torture despite a 2007 Supreme Court order directing it to do so.
The government prepared a bill to criminalize torture; it was tabled in Parliament in 2012. However, Parliament was dissolved before the bill could be passed. The AHRC has learned that the police have expressed strong resentment to the proposed law. Threats have been made that if the government were to pass such a law, the police would not be able to maintain peace and order in society.
Torture and ill-treatment are widely practised on victims who have no connection to the crime being "investigated", in particular to help fabricate charges and extract confessions. And, virtually no perpetrators of torture and fabrication of charges have been tried and punished in Nepal.
When there is an allegation of torture, the allegation is not investigated, forget about being tried and proven, as both the perpetrators and investigators are police officers, often working in the same police station. Consequently, torture remains unaddressed by the institutions of the Nepal State.
The Government of Nepal has to not taken steps to reduce the incidence of torture. It continues to express commitment to criminalize torture, to investigate cases of torture, and to reform the functioning of security forces. These commitments remain unfulfilled.
There is need for an anti-torture law in Nepal, in line with the definition stipulated in Article 1 of the CAT. The Government should also ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and become a state party. There is also need to bring a Witness Protection Act with robust mechanisms. And, separate mechanisms should be introduced in order to provide trauma counseling services to torture victims.
However, simply promulgating such a law or laws will be insufficient; as such laws are not enforced in practice. To address the core problem, the country will need to strengthen its criminal justice institutions. A legal framework needs to be developed so investigations and prosecutions are possible in the cases of human rights violations, including torture. Unless Nepal strengthens its criminal justice institutions, the practice of torture is going to remain a tool for "investigation".
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Closer Look: Year of Change

05/29/2014 01:53 PM CDT                               Fri, May 30, 2014 at 12:37 AM                                    

Courtesy:Department of Defense//YouTube
Published on May 29, 2014
In this edition Gail McCabe talks to LTG Joseph Anderson about the changes that have occurred in the last year.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Exercise Ssang Yong 14

Exercises between the U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces

Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 6:38 PM

08-04-2014 पर प्रकाशित
Ssang Yong 14 is the culmination of a multitude of training events and exercises between the U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces, which take place across the Asia-Pacific region throughout the year. This year's evolution was the largest in its storied history and was comprised of three Expeditionary Units: two US and one ROK. The exercise was led by the 3rd MEB based in Okinawa Japan and showcased both interoperability and sea based operations in the Korean Peninsula.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Face of Defense: Marine Brothers Reunite in Afghanistan

 Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 6:18 PM                                                03/17/2014 08:35 AM CDT
By Marine Corps Cpl. Cody Haas
Regional Command Southwest

CAMP LEATHERNECK, AfghanistanMar. 17, 2014: After being separated for more than a year and a half, two brothers were reunited while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Donald Rucker, left, a maintenance administration clerk with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, Marine Aircraft Group - Afghanistan, and Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ian Smith, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, pose for a photo after reuniting at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, March 11, 2014. The brothers reconnected for the first time after being separated for more than a year and a half while serving in the Marine Corps. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cody Haas
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Donald Rucker, a maintenance administration clerk with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, Marine Aircraft Group - Afghanistan, Regional Command Southwest, and his brother, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ian Smith, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regional Command Southwest, reconnected with one another here March 11.
"It's definitely cool having a brother in the military," said Smith, a 20-year-old native of Edmond, Okla. "Having shared pretty much everything growing up: sports, food, parents, the Marine Corps, it's just one more thing."
The two were not always so close. Rucker was adopted at age 15 and moved in with Smith's family. The brothers really got to know each other as teens and have been great friends ever since.
"I found myself going in the wrong direction and wanted guidance and discipline in my life," said Rucker, a 21-year-old native of Edmond.
"I can definitely see the difference in him," Smith said. "He's disciplined, patient and all-around a great Marine. Our parents couldn't be prouder of our decision to be Marines, and we couldn't be happier."
Though the brothers both wrestled in high school, Smith also played football and Rucker practiced martial arts in his spare time. The two grew up in a rural Oklahoma town where the ideals of love and service to country were instilled at a young age. Both joined the Marines straight out of high school.
"I think we both knew we were joining the military at some point after high school," said Smith, regarding his decision to serve despite football scholarships to Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University. "My father and grandfather were Marines, and I wanted to be the third-generation Marine in my family. Tradition is very important to the both of us, which made the decision of what branch we were going to join an easy one."
Reuniting in Afghanistan has been bittersweet; Smith is four days away from completing his first tour while Rucker just started his.
"He's given me a lot of tips," Rucker said of his brother. "It was great seeing each other again. I'm looking forward to my deployment, and I couldn't be happier."
Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Thursday, February 06, 2014

SOUTH KOREA: Sexual harassment

February 06, 2014                                                                                                                              Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
Sexual harassment in workplace is organised violence 
In a meeting held on February 4, organised by the Korean Women’s Development Institute where around 500 so-called women ‘leaders’ participated, President Park Geun-hye delivered a speech that her administration will strive for the keeping of good maintenance of systems so that women of capacity will not be barred from achieving their dreams. President Park further promised to create various programmes that explore women’s capability which will contribute to the society. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family sponsored the meeting.
The top official’s strong affirmation of a national policy on women was welcome and her promise was appreciated by those ‘leaders’ at the meeting. Obviously, such speech means hardly anything to women who are not leaders but who have been discriminated against in ordinary workplaces. For them, it is only an assembly of words. Ironically, one day after the delivery of the speech, a group of civil society organisations in support of the victim of sexual harassment in workplaces held a press conference and released how they have been discriminated against for seeking justice in their workplace.
According to their testimony a woman employee, a decade long work experience at Renault Samsung Motors Co. who was assigned to a research team in January 2012 had been sexually harassed for about a year by her superior who joined as a team leader in March 2012. The team leader has the power of evaluation of merits on the staff in the team. Due to unbearable suffering, she decided to resign and informed the situation to the company in March 2013 but was encouraged by an executive not to resign. Soon after, however, the executive advised her to resign. Two months of international investigation concluded that the team leader received two weeks of suspension of work and was discharged from his position on ground of sexual harassment on 13 May 2013. Meanwhile, a sudden rumour roamed around in the company that she seduced the team leader.

The victim filed a civil suit against CEO of the company. In June 2013, human resource team of the company warned Ms. Jeong, whose name was found as one of witnesses in the law suit filed by the victim, not to associate with the victim. Since Ms. Jeong refused, the company made punitive disciplinary action for negligence in July. The company also took disciplinary action against the victim on the ground of obtaining testimonies from her colleagues. It is reported that the process of the internal investigation was unfair. The Gyeonggi National Labor Relations Commission ruled on December 4 that the disciplinary actions against the victim and Ms. Jeong were unfair. Nonetheless, the company suspended Ms. Jeong and the victim from work on December 6 and 11 respectively. It also filed a criminal suit against them on charge of theft (removing classified documents) in revenge.
Disconnected from the speech and promises made at the ‘leaders’ meeting, the type of routine and ordinary case of sexual harassment in a workplace appears not a matter of concern for them. Not only by superiors in a company, but also by prosecutors against female journalists is it a routine form of practice of sexual harassment, followed by very lenient disciplinary action. The Korea Women link, a non-governmental organisation released a report in 2013 saying that more than half of the counselling cases (56.35% ) were related to sexual harassment issues within the company (which has increased by 12% compared to the year before). In particular, cases that were reported as a disadvantage action were 79 incidents and this contributes to 35.59% of the counselling cases. It is believed that actual unreported or undocumented number of case is still at large.
National policies always matter either to promote or demote protection of rights of women in particular as to the violence against women. It is indeed welcoming remarks that the administration is planning to develop various programme for women’s economic participation. However, as the case of Renault Samsung Motors Co. indicates, if the victim of sexual harassment is instead discriminated for seeking justice in a workplace and an organisation of profit or non-profit encourages others to discriminate against the victim, it is nothing but a place of organised violence that the victims will suffer. Without this practice being changed, President Park’s words retain just an assembly to ordinary women in the workplaces and it will only gear to corner them to a place of organised violence requiring their obedient submission to sexual harassment in return.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jobat Satyagrahis stand vindicated

Sat, Jan 11, 2014 at 5:33 PM
Alirajpur Collector withdraws Sec 151 cases against 40 adivasi oustees
Intense dialogue with Collector, SP, Addl. SP for 4 hours: Offer of Land and house plots, fishing rights, fresh surveys from 20th January
 Jail Bharo Andolan in February, if promises are not kept
New Delhi: 10th January, 2014: (The Eagle Eye News Bureau): 
Surrounded and questioned by hundreds of adivasis for a second time yesterday, at the gates of the Collectorate, Alirajpur, the District Collector, Mr. N.P. Deheriya announced that he would immediately withdraw the charges of Sec 151, 107 and 116 (3) of Cr.P.C filed against 40 adivasis (including many elderly and 6 women) on the alleged and completely unsustainable ground of ‘breach of peace’ at the site of the Zameen Hak Satyagraha, Jobat.
Joined by Mr. Akhilesh Jha, SP and Mr. Saitaram Sastiya, Addl. S.P, the officials finally conceded that there was no disturbance to the peace by the oustees at Jobat. As the end of 4 hours long debate and dialogue with the Collector, the oustees and Medha Patkar convinced him that the occupation of government land at Jobat Farm was not in any way to disturb the peace of the locality, but was a measure undertaken, as a last resort, to assert the right to land and rehabilitation, which has been seriously affected, since more than a decade, when they have been facing the severe impacts of submergence. 
The following commitments were made by the Collector at the end of the dialogue:
Cases of preventive detention under Sec. 151 would be immediately withdrawn.
·        The State would facilitate the process of seeking bail in the FIR of 2011 and the charge sheet in the same has also been filed.
·        The R&R Officer to begin showing land to the oustees from the 20th January and will ensure before this date that the land to be shown is cultivable and free of encroachment.
·        House plots will be offered in lieu of Rs. 20,000 given many years ago, without consent.
·        Surveys to be conducted in all the 13 villages once again to assess the actual and left our affected persons and properties.
·        Immediate registration of the proposed co-operatives of the displaced fish workers from Machliya, Umda, Bhiti and Chhota Khattali villages.
·        Assistance for irrigation facilities in the original villages by grant of 100% subsidized motor pumps.
The oustees also informed the authorities that the charges in the FIR of November, 2011 such as destruction of public property are completely false and fabricated and we shall fight this out in the court and also claim compensation for the losses caused due to crop destruction at the satyagraha.
The oustees asserted that this was the beginning of their struggle and expect the officials to keep up their promises, otherwise a massive Jail Bharo Andolan would start from February, 2014, with hundreds of women, children and cattle as well.  Later in the evening, many of the oustees, along with Medha Patkar went to the District Jail and met thesatyagrahis and also conveyed  to them the developments of the day. The 40 adivasi oustees shall be bailed out byMonday. A brief chronology of the events in enclosed.

Idibai            Surbhan Bhilala            Kamla Yadav                  Meera (09179148973)
pertaining to the unlawful arrest of the Jobat Satyagrahis
24th November, 2011: Hundreds of Sardar Sarovar and Jobat dam-affected adivasis, farmers who have not been rehabilitated as per law and judicial orders, begin their indefinite Zameen Hak Satyagraha at the Govt. Agricultural Farm, Dehedla, Jobat.

30th November, 2011: Jobat Police register an FIR against ‘100 to 150 unknown persons’ under Sections 447, 147, 353, 332 of the IPC and also under Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.

19th June, 2012: Dr. Afroz Ahmed, Director, Rehabilitation, Narmada Control Authority, visits the Satyagraha and engages in dialogue with the oustees. Dr. Afroz Ahmed also assured to raise the matter with the Rehabilitation Sub-Group, Delhi, after which a direction was issued by the Sub Group in its meeting on 12th September, 2013 to the Govt. of M.P. to offer Government farm lands in rehabilitation.
21st June, 2013: Physical Attack on the oustees at Jobat Satyagraha, in the presence of the SDM and Tehsildar, by the Farm Officer, his son and many outsiders. FIR registered, but no action taken.

12th November, 2013: The administration consents for a temporary electricity connection to the oustees at the Jobat Farmland.

24th December, 2013: Tehsildar, Jobat issues notices to 26 oustees, asking them to voluntarily remove themselves from the occupation / encroachment at the government land by 11 a.m. on the 27th December, otherwise the encroachment would be removed with the help of police force and that the oustees would be responsible for any economic loss during the eviction.

26th December, 2013: Oustees reply back to the notice dated 24-12-2013, narrating the sequence of events over the past 21/2 years and the legal grounds for their cultivation. The oustees also express willingness for a detailed dialogue with all the officials, but there was no response from the Tehsildar.

28th December, 2013: Collector, Alirajpur visits the Satyagraha site and threatens the oustees to vacate the land. He also proposed that land would be provided to the oustees at Pangula (Jobat). The same day, two oustees are taken by the local revenue officials, but the said land is already under encroachment since long time and the encroachers are fiercely resistant to give away the lands.

31st December, 2013: Tehsildar, Jobat issues second notice to the oustees, asking them to voluntarily remove themselves from the occupation / encroachment at the government land, otherwise the encroachment would be removed with the help of police force and that the oustees would be responsible for any economic loss during the eviction.

3rd January, 2014: Oustees reply to the second notice of the Tehsildar, Jobat describing that the land shown at Pangula has been encroached and no other land was shown to them, thereafter.

5th January, 2014: Collector deploys a huge contingent of police force and forcibly gets the adivasi oustees, including many elderly, 6 women and 2 children arrested. The tents were uprooted and all other belongings were seized. The oustees were arrested under provisions of Section 151, 107 and 116 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. All of them were taken to Alirajpur directly and were produced before the SDM, Alirajpur. They were later sent to the Alirajpur District Jail. The oustees were not produced before the SDM, Jobat and were also not lodged at the Jobat Jail ! The police prays the SDM to heavily fine the oustees, so that they do not repeat the ‘offence’ of occupation again!

6th January, 2014: Oustees march to the office of the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Akhilesh Jha and question the arbitrary manner of arrests.  He was convinced that the contentious issue is lack of rehabilitation and that the police has no role to play, but had to act on the basis of the FIR. The oustees also submit a complaint under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 demanding legal action against all the concerned officers for arresting the adivasis, evicting them from the land, causing destruction of the standing crop at the Satyagraha and submergence of their lands and homes, without lawful rehabilitation. The same day, police file an application before the SDM stating that these 39 oustees are the same persons wanted in the FIR filed in 2011. The SDM grants permission and the oustees are ‘formally’ arrested inside the jail.

7th January, 2014: Hundreds of oustees gherao the office of the Collector, Alirajpur. In his presence, the R&R Officer, agrees to show land to the Jobat oustees. Since no assurance regarding the unconditional release of the oustees was given, the protestors cautioned that the struggle would intensify after 3 days.

8th January, 2014: Arrested oustees are produced before the Judicial Magistrate (Second Class), Jobat and sent back to the District Jail, Alirajpur.  Charge sheets / Challan is filed by the police. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

NRI Sammelan of BJP proved a great success

 Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 8:11 AM
NRIs should be given the right to vote
Rajnath Singh raised the demand for Indian embassies 
Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal and Hon'ble NRIs and PIOs at
OFBJP Global Meet - 2014 with BJP Investor Cell Itlay
President Satish Kumar Joshi, OFBJP Mahila Morcha Norway
President Madam Arundeep Plaha, President Vancover
Canada Gurtej Singh and Hartirath Singh+ view of 
New Delhi, 6 January 2014: (Punjab Screen Bureau):
Bharatiya Janta Party ( BJP ) will get a clear majority in this year's Lok Sabha election, party president Rajnath Singh asserted in NRI Sammelan.
Inaugurating a meeting organised by the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) here, Rajnath Singh gave credit to overseas Indians for providing economic stability after India's 1998 nuclear tests.
"The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has hurt the country's credibility in its 10 year rule, If any party has a firm commitment and strong leadership, it is the BJP," Rajnath Singh told the NRIs.
"The country believes that a government is going to be formed with a clear majority of the BJP," he said, adding that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deserved to be the prime minister.
Rajnath Singh said NRIs should be given the right to vote in Indian embassies.
"The only party that has succeeded in having a stature bigger than that of the Congress is the BJP," he said.
Claiming that the BJP had a target of winning 272-plus seats in the Lok Sabha, Rajnath Singh told the delegates: "The BJP will succeed in making the country a superpower with your cooperation."
Vijay Jolly convenor of OFBJP urged overseas Indians to make telephone calls and send out 10 e-mails to their relatives and friends in India every day soliciting support for the BJP.
In NRI Sammelan Hon'ble Shri Rajnath Singh honoured Lord Raj Loomba CBE from United Kingdom for commendable work for the Welfare of Widows, Shri YP Reddy from Fiji for commendable work for the Welfare of Girmitiyas, Indentured Indian Labor and Shri Mahendra Chaudhary Former Prime Minister of Fiji for Global Fight for Democracy.
In this NRI Sammelan, Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal said that the meeting called upon overseas Indians to make extensive use of modern days communication. Grewal stated that Delegates from Australia, USA, UK, Canada, China, Nepal, Norway, UAE, Israel, Qatar, Mexico, Macau, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Italy, Vietnam, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Oman attend the Sammelan at Central BJP office.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

MoEF Expert Committee visits ISP and OSP canal area

Sat, Jan 4, 2014 at 9:28 PM
Listens to farmers:Visit to continue tomorrow as well: 
Serious issues and impacts exposed
Khargene and Khandwa districts: 4th January, 2014: 
The Expert Committee appointed by MoEF to appraise and approve the environmental works related to the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar Canals visited the villages in the Khargene and Khandwa districts today. Dr. B.P. Das, Chairman, Mr. T.K. Nair, Bio Diversity Expert, Dr. B.B. Director, Director, (River Valley Projects), MoEF, Mr. Lakhwinder Singh, Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhopal were the Committee members who visited the villages to inspect the progress and problems related to construction of canals, the on-farm development works and other works as a part of command area development carried out in both the projects as well as the water logging, salinization due to seepage and canal breaches in various villages.
The Committee was accompanied by tens of senior officials of NVDA in more than a dozen vehicles as also tens of villages in the canal affected and command areas. The field level assessment of the progress of canal and CAD works in the Phase-I areas of OSP and ISP brought out vividly that while each distributaries in this Phase are built and have waters released, to cover the command area upto a few thousand hectares in each, it is also seen that there are large chunks of lands falling outside the command area, which are benefitted and while many land holdings in the command area also not irrigated in the command, but by pumps and pipelines put up directly on the canals.
It was also seen that while in certain areas, without canal irrigation, large tracts right from the beginning of the command area are also seriously affected and losses worth crores of rupees are borne by the farmers, without compensation being paid. The Committee was given details lists of farmers, whose land was affected even without acquisition and the farmers expressed their anguish and anger, as in Mokhangaon, Toklai, Chhota Kelva and Gujarkhedi. While the NVDA officials showed certain areas where distributaries or minors were built, committee observed that lining was non-existent for main canals from 58 to 65 kms at least and in almost all distributaries, the lining was not of cement, but of cement blocks, not properly joined. The Committee reiterated that lining is a must and water should not be released without full lining. NBA has warned that the problem of water logging would be worst as was anticipated in many expert Committee reports and as happened in Bhakra Nangal, where 2 lakh hectares of land was affected and huge losses occurred. 
At few places, the chairmen of the Water Users Associations which were formed in the command area villages long back tried to belittle the issues of the canal-affected farmers and questioned their demanding compensation and completion of the pre-conditional works. However, at the end of the day, people in village after village and even the committee accepted that losses to the title holder farmers must be assessed and paid. In the concluding heated discussions the Committee has to accept that a number of recommendations in its earlier reports remain to be fulfilled and once again entrusted the responsibility to the NVDA officials. These include compensation for muck deposited illegally on un-acquired lands, review of already irrigated areas in the villages on the banks of Narmada, affected by Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar dams, 
The Chairman also admitted that the Back Water Levels of Sardar Sardar Project are yet to be finally calculated and this needs to be considered so as to ensure no overlap of BWL and command area. Committee would continue to visit villages in the second phase of OSP and if possible, ISP tomorrow. This will include visit to villages where nothing short of disasters occurred in the monsoon of 2013 due to massive canal breaches. The affected farmers would also follow the Committee and give them a concluding brief tomorrow. NBA also notes that there is an interim order on the ISP and OSP canals passed by the Hon’ble High Court. A detailed repose to the same shall follow soon. 
Deven Tomar                 Mukesh Bhagoria                     Jamsing Richa 
Phone: 09826811982 

Friday, January 03, 2014

INDIA:Press Statement on the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar (UP)

Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 12:28 PM
A Statement from Mohan Rao, Ish Mishra, Pragya Singh and Vikas Bajpai, a team of independent academics and journalist received via Kafila forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Press Statement on the Report  prepared by Mohan Rao, Ish Mishra, Pragya Singh and Vikas Bajpai,                                                                            December 30, 2013
A team of independent academics and a journalist carried out an inquiry into the communal violence that shook Muzaffarnagar district in UP this past September. The report is based on the findings of the team during its visit to Muzaffarnagar district on the 9th and the 10th of November and again on the 27th November. The members of the team were:
  • Dr. Mohan Rao, Faculty, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU.
  • Mr Ish Misra, Faculty, Department of Political Science, Hindu College, Delhi University.
  • Ms.Pragya Singh, Journalist, Outlook, and
  • Dr. Vikas Bajpai, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU.
The team also drew upon the assistance of Dr. Subhash Tyagi, Professor of Geography, Machra College, Meerut, and Praveen Raj Tyagi, Principal Greenland Public School, Duhai, Ghaziabad, in the collection of some data and the conduct of the visit.
  1. To investigate the role of state agencies in either preventing or containing violence, in taking appropriate punitive actions against the guilty and also to investigate some incidents of communal violence.
  2. To investigate the role of the government in providing relief and rehabilitating the displaced and the progress made in displaced people going back to their villages and homes.
  3. To understand economic, social and political reasons that led to the recent spate of communal violence in this area of Western Uttar Pradesh.
Role of the agencies of the State
The fact that India is Constitutionally mandated as 'Secular' State makes it obligatory on the agencies of the State to uphold secular values. However, the communal incidents in Muzaffarnagar, its aftermath and the continuing tragedy of the riot affected persons have been the undoing of the Indian State in this regard. Regrettably, this has been the outcome of deliberate and calculated decisions at different levels as is evident from the findngs:
The affidavits riot victims were made to sign for availing monetary compensation
The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has made the riot affected Muslim families in relief camps to sign an affidavit (copy attached as annexure) that enforced following conditions on the signatories in order to avail of financial relief:
  • "That myself and members of my family have come leaving our village and home being terrorized due to violent incidents in ......... village and we will not now return to our original village and home under any circumstances".
  • "That the lumpsum financial help being given for my family by the government will only be used by me to rehabilitate my family. By this money I will live with my family voluntarily arranging for residence at appropriate place elsewhere".
  • "That in the condition of receiving lumpsum financial help amount, myself or members of my family will not demand compensation relating to any damage to any immovable property in my village or elsewhere".
The State thus sought to impose a demographic change in the riot affect villages through a legal instrument. The monetary relief being disbursed was not to rebuild the damaged property or lost means of livelihood. This has served to reinforce the terror of communal violence in the minds of affected families besides driving a schism in the composite culture of the area which mars the possibilities of gradual healing. Muslims are now being ghettoized in towns and localities dominated by them.
These aspects were pointed out by the team members to the district administration, The officials however denied that the government was preventing people from going back to the villages and told of an order stating that those who wanted to return to their villages were free to do so. But a copy of the said order could not be provided by the administration.
Nepotism, complicity and inaction of the police in incidents of violence
The shallow credibility of the law and order machinery in Muzaffarnagar is best reflected in the statement of senior police officials that – "both the Jats and the Muslims are complaining against us, so the police must have done something good." Police itself is at pain to enumerate pro-active and positive actions taken by them against the wrong doers. Establishing credibility in the eyes of minorities becomes all the more difficult when in a region with around 27 percent Muslim population, as per senior police official of the district, the representation of Muslims in police force is less than 3 percent. The officer however maintained that "this did not matter for a policeman is a policeman and religion was not a factor in discharge of his duties."
The residents at the camps however said that they did not want to go back to their villages as their tormentors were still roaming free and that the government had done little that would have them repose their faith in the law and order machinery. The frequent transfers of the senior police officials in the district have not helped matters either. In 2013 the SSP of the district has been changed five times.
In Qutba village, where from single largest number of Muslim killings has been reported (8 Muslim were killed) a picket of PAC (provincial armed police) was posted in the village at the time of riots. These policemen were having tea in the Pradhan's house when mobs started rampaging Muslim households. The three Muslim men who rushed to seek their help were said to have been locked up by these policemen in the Pradhan's house.
The second incident of killings that took place with the police in vicinity was at the Mohammepur Raisingh village on October 30. Three Muslim youth from the neighboring Hussainpur village were abducted from the fields and killed by the Jats even as a picket of the state police was posted in the village. The Hussainpur villagers on learning of the abduction of youth repeatedly rang the SHO of Bhaura Kalan police station, but their calls went unanswered. It was told that the SHO had switched off his phone.
Pradhan of Hussainpur village later told that despite their best efforts many of those accused by name in the killings have still not been arrested and are roaming free in Mohammedpur Raisingh. He further alleged that the police has "declared rates" (of bribe) to weaken the cases against the accused or even let them go scot-free.
It appears from the sequence and the circumstances of the incidents of violence in Muzaffarnagar that had the police and the district administration acted with alacrity and a fair sense of judgment in the immediate aftermath of the incidence of alleged "eve teasing" and related murders in Kawal village, the subsequent turn of events could have been entirely avoided.
Outsourcing of relief to the Muslim communal organizations by the State
It would have been best if the State machinery was seen by the riot affected Muslims as a dependable, sincere and caring source of succor and a guarantor of their safety. The State instead chose to outsource relief measures to Muslim communal organizations, principally the Jamiat-Ulema e Hind of Deoband though some other NGOs were also involved.
On being quizzed – why no state agency has a visible presence at the relief camps, the district administration told us that this was in accordance with the policy of the state government. The Shiv Pal Singh Yadav committee set up by the state government post riots had recommended that all relief be provided through community organizations.
This reflects redoubtable wisdom. Communal community organizations cannot be expected to be credible foot soldiers for Secular ideals. The impact of this was evident in the camps. Apart from apprehensions regarding security upon return to their villages, the people also said that they would prefer to live "amidst the security of their own people."
Different reports before ours have graphically highlighted the pitiable conditions at the camps. We would only reiterate that even the least courtesies like essential medical or civil amenities such as drinking water or functioning toilets have not been provided to the people in the camps despite visits by the mightiest VIPs in the country.
Jamiat dominated committees appeared to tightly control what the people said of the arrangements at the camps. At the Bassi Kalan camp when the residents complained against the government, members of the managing committee tried to stop them. Likewise at camp no 1 at Shahpur a local Maulvi expressed his displeasure when the residents complained of the conditions. We were told by families in the relief camps that up to Rs 20,000 had been taken from them by functionaries of the Jamiat for constructing alternative accommodation.
A close confidant of ours asked the leader of the Jamiat as to why they were not opposing the affidavits that displaced Muslim families were being made to sign. Reply was – "there is nothing to worry about this and that all of them will finally be allowed to return to their villages." Jamiat further claimed credit for getting handsome relief package for the displaced families. Silence of the Jamiat over the claims of the Samajwadi Party leadership that the Muslims in the camps were agents of the Congress and the BJP is equally deafening.
Any astute observer can note that the Samajwadi Party government of UP will now bank on the certifications of the mullahs to clean up its abominable record of a number of communal riots / disturbances in the state during its rule.
Local administration was categorical in stating that there are no refugees in any relief camp and government aid has stopped. Further insult to injury has been added by the statement of the UP home secretary that 'people do not die of cold.' These only undermine the secular credentials of the state.
The communal campaign and the Muzaffarnagar violence
The communal violence in Muzaffarnagar ought to be seen in the context of such violence in different parts of the country in 2013 beginning from Kishthwar (J & K), Masoori and Meerut in UP, Indore and Harda in MP, Bettiah and Nawada in Bihar and Rangpur in Cachar district of Assam. UP has witnessed a sustained campaign at communalization – may it be the 'chaurasi kos parikrama' or innovations like 'love jihad', ever since Amit Shah took over the reins of BJP in the state. This is pathognomonic of the communal forces represented by the Sangh Parivar. The approaching Lok Sabha elections in 2014 provide the leitmotif of this campaign.
However, equally abominable is the complicity of supposedly 'secular' forces in facilitating this communal campaign. The track record of the Akhilesh Yadav government in dealing with communal forces, its attitude towards common Muslims and history of hob-knobbing with Muslim communal forces is a case in the point.
The atmosphere in Muzaffarnagar has been vitiated over several months through sustained communal mobilization. Muslims have been the worst sufferers of communal orgy that swept Muzaffarnagar. Senior Superintendent Police informed that a total of 52 people died in Muzaffarnagar, of which 37 were Muslims and 15 were Hindus (in all likelihood these were all Jats). Unofficial sources put the number of displaced Muslims at 100,000 while by the time of our visit government acknowledged that 50,955 displaced persons had been accommodated in 11 relief camps. 540 FIRs have been registered in riot-related incidents, against approximately 6000 people.
There is an important distinction in the manner of Muslims and Jat deaths. Almost all the Jats who were killed were those who had participated in the Mahapanchayat at Nangla Mandaur village on September 7th. There were accounts of the Jats, in tractor trollies from different villages that went to take part in the Mahapanchayat, raising provocative slogans as they passed by Muslim habitations. Provocations like dogs being dressed in burqa and beaten with slippers were on display along with slogans like – "Musalmano ke do sthan – Pakistan ya kabristan'. Even the Jats we talked to admitted that "these youth have been taken in by the charisma of Modi and they raised slogans in his support" on way to the mahapanchayat.
Jats who died were killed in reaction to this deliberate provocation. Most of these deaths took place on the evening of September 7th in attacks on Jat trollies as they returned from the Mahapanchayat or were of those Jats who got injured in these attacks and died later. The only incident of a planned attack on Jats took place at Pur Baliyan on September 7th in which some Mulle Jats wanted to attack the trolley of Jats from Sohram village out of rivalry borne by a previous incident. However, in the melee of the violence the Jats in the trolley of Kakda village got killed. But none of the Jats from Pur Baliyan village itself were attacked by Muslims.
The attacks and deaths of Muslims have taken place as part of a sustained campaign in different villages. The victims were all innocent lower class Muslims who had no role in attacks on Jats. The handwork of the larger communal design and organization was evident in the well-rehearsed and similar arguments which the Jats from different villages forwarded to rationalize the killings and the displacement of the Muslims. A  Jat teacher in Kakda village described the communal violence in the region as – "Yeh hai Amit Shah ka jadoo." The Qutba village had been witness to a panchayat that was attended by the BJP president Mr Rajnath Singh about 6 months back. This points to the forces that have been at work in the area.
The Jats in villages like Kakda and Mohammedpur Raisingh put forth ludicrous arguments like – "the Muslims were willing to come back to their villages, but decided to stick to the relief camps ever since the government announced the 5 lakh relief package" and that they "themselves destroyed their property to claim inflated relief." Common communal myths propagated by the Hindutva forces against Muslims – "they have large families and do not believe in family planning"; "they are anti-national" and that "they will create a Kashmir like situation here as well" – were liberally put forth.
Is it Jat versus Muslims or Hindus versus Muslims?
It has been reported that lower caste Hindus also participated in attacks on Muslims along with the Jats in different villages. However, the Muslims whom we interviewed in the relief camps felt that wherever the lower caste Hindus acted against them it was under the pressure of the Jats as the lower caste Hindus had little option but to follow the diktat of the Jats. Distinct caste hierarchies were observed in the villages, and also in terms of the involvement of different castes in the decision making processes. For example in the 35 biradari panchayat that was convened in Mohammadpur Raisingh on the November 10, representatives of all the upper castes were invited but none from the lower castes.
It is however noteworthy that no communal violence has been reported from any of the Muslim dominated villages. Simultaneously, there were Jat dominated villages where the Jats took up the responsibility of protecting their Muslim brethren. Some of these villages were Kheda Gani, Garhi Novabad, Garhi Jaitpur and Kurawa.
Despite the constitutional and formal averments of the 'secular' character of the Indian state, the de facto reality remains that the state machinery has acted in a highly communal manner which undermines India's secular credentials. Even as the communal poison being spread by the Hindutva forces need be countered with full force, the role played by the Samajwadi Party government in UP in connivance with the Muslim communal forces and the latest act of forcibly evicting the riot displaced families from relief camps brings into question the advisability of forming alliances with such parties to counter communalism. The stark reality is that despite the fact that Muslims constitute a much larger share of UP's population as compared to Yadav's, the propensity of the Yadavization of administrative structure is much stronger while the Muslims can at best expect their lives to be spared in the name of secularism. India's secularism ostensibly sways between 'Hindu Rule' of the "secular parties" of the ruling classes and the 'Hindu Rashtra' of the saffron brigade.
Fighting communalism is not merely an electoral issue. The communal forces can be defeated only by ground struggles built by an alliance of the minorities, the working masses, the dalits, the tribals, other oppressed castes and progressive sections of the intelligentsia. In this regard the example held out by the people of HussainpurKheda Gani, Garhi Novabad, Garhi Jaitpur, Kurawa and other such villages is a ray of hope.
The following demands acquire top most priority in our opinion under the prevailing circumstances:
  1. All the accused named in the FIRs should be arrested.
  2. Decommunalize the state apparatus.
  3. Restore all villagers back to their homes.
  4. Scrap the affidavit which was taken against five lakh compensation amount.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.