Free Kashmiri Political Prisoners, End the Occupation of Kashmir

We send you this request in hopes of garnering your crucial and valuable support for the letter attached below. This letter is a response to the dire conditions of thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners, both adults and minors, under the Indian Occupation. Your support will help bring global attention to this critical and urgent issue.

Indian Occupation Forces and their 'Fearsome' Targets: Young Kashmiri Boys
Indian Occupation Forces and their ‘Fearsome’ Targets: Young Kashmiri Boys

Greetings,

We send you this request in hopes of garnering your crucial and valuable support for the letter attached below. This letter is a response to the dire conditions of thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners, both adults and minors, under the Indian Occupation.  Your support will help bring global attention to this critical and urgent issue.

On the ground, in Kashmir and elsewhere, we have a concurrent month-long campaign, the “Fast for Freedom,” first initiated via Facebook, which involves optional fasting, sit-ins, protests, lectures, and film-screenings.  This will culminate in civil protests, fasts and sit-ins by various organizations – including the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons(APDP) – and campus events in Srinagar, Delhi, and Berkeley et al, from 9th to 11th February 2014.  It is an opportunity not just for Kashmiris but for all people of conscience to show solidarity with an oppressed people, to protest an illegal military occupation, the illegal detention and torture of thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners, and incessant human rights abuse, including mass graves, fake encounters, forced disappearances, mass and gang-rapes, and daily humiliation under the ongoing military occupation.  (Please see the linked report Alleged Perpetrators for more details.)

Your endorsement of the attached letter will help bring urgently needed political attention to this long-festering issue, as well as help to generate intellectual energy to begin necessary conversations on military occupations with regard to power and privilege, coloniality and postcolonialism, sexual assault as a weapon of war, imperial and decolonial feminisms, the colonial politics of prisons and capital punishment, post/colonial tourism, the construction of the “terrorist,” Islamophobia and other forms of racialization in the context of Kashmir.   Continue reading “Free Kashmiri Political Prisoners, End the Occupation of Kashmir”

The Eerie NGO Phenomenon in Kashmir

“Conflicts have always allowed very suitable ecosystems for Non Governmental Organisations or NGOs to flourish in. Embroiled with armed insurgency for about two decades now, Kashmir has attracted a plethora of organizations. But going by the numbers, the region seems to have become a heaven for NGO activity.”

By Parvaiz Bukhari

(This article was first published by The Honour Magazine, April 2010, (pg. 16-20).)

Kashmir as an Integral Part of India.  Cartoon by Mir Suhail Qadiri
Kashmir as an Integral Part of India. Cartoon by Mir Suhail Qadiri

Conflicts have always allowed very suitable ecosystems for Non Governmental Organisations or NGOs to flourish in. Embroiled with armed insurgency for about two decades now, Kashmir has attracted a plethora of organizations. But going by the numbers, the region seems to have become a heaven for NGO activity.

There is no central register for the NGOs operating here, no guidelines or any overt accountability. Various estimates put the figure of existing NGOs up to 16,000. Apart from the office of the Registrar of Societies, NGOs are registered for various non-profit activities as trusts and voluntary groups in the district courts. Besides, many NGOs from across the country operating in Kashmir are not registered here.

All you need is five persons and a draft of bylaws along with a declaration of supposed objectives that is then registered in any district court where no count is maintained.

Just what is this huge mass of NGOs doing and who are the people who run them? What is the real intent and incentive for this NGO boom in a region that is still considered business ‘unfriendly’? Where is the funding coming from? A superficial enquiry reveals a dizzying range of unclear activity bordering on subterfuge.

Government employees, close relatives of bureaucrats, politicians, well-off families and people who have been a part of counter insurgency think tanks, run a number of NGOs in the Valley. Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Developmental Studies (KFPDS) run by a former militant commander, Firdous Sayeed Baba alias Babar Badr, has been on the scene for many years now. Babar and four other former militant commanders were the first to enter into dialogue with New Delhi in 1995. He is also known to be very close to the former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief A S Dullat, who for many years earlier and during NDA regime served as New Delhi’s point man on Kashmir affairs. Continue reading “The Eerie NGO Phenomenon in Kashmir”

More on “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir”: India and Zubin Mehta’s Psyop Concert in Indian Occupied Kashmir

We appeal all sections of Kashmiri society to join the Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir event to express their solidarity with the resilience and suffering of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Live Aid, Live Ammo: India and Zubin Mehta's Psyop Concert in Kashmir
Live Aid, Live Ammo: India and Zubin Mehta’s Psyop Concert in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Organizing Committee, Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir

Press release, 5 September 2013

On 22 August 2013, the German Embassy, New Delhi, issued a press release that Zubin Mehta would be conducting an orchestra on 7 September 2013, at the Mughal Garden, Shalimar Bagh, in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. On 26 August 2013, civil society members of Jammu and Kashmir – from lawyers and businessmen to poets and scholars – registered a strong protest against the proposed concert and concerns were communicated to the German Embassy and the people of Germany – from political representatives to artists and activists.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir take immense pride in our rich history of resisting oppression. We also have historically cultivated a sublime tradition in, and love for, music. Music – which appeals to the higher values of love, justice, dignity, and peace; which genuinely acknowledges the long-suffering, yet bravely resisting, Kashmiris; and which is performed for the actual public – is wholeheartedly welcome.

However, legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented in history, is put to horrific use across the world. Art as propaganda in Jammu and Kashmir is unacceptable. The Zubin Mehta concert is organized and controlled by Government of India and the German Embassy, with extensive corporate sponsorship. It serves to build on the State narrative that seeks to dilute the reality of Jammu and Kashmir and peoples’ aspirations. It seeks to promote an image of a “peaceful” and “normal” Jammu and Kashmir. The pain, suffering, courage and bravery of the resistance will find no place in this concert. Indian State operations that seek to support the occupation must be resisted. To build this Statist narrative of Jammu and Kashmir, an estimated Rs.100 crores [INR 10 billion or USD 16 million] is reported to being spent, and invitations have been sent to corporate India (Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Bajajs, CII, FICCI..), the film world (Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Katrina Kaif…) and sportsmen (Sachin Tendulkar, Boris Becker…). It is most condemnable that the Government of Germany has chosen to be party to the Indian States’ continued political machinations in Jammu and Kashmir. So far Indian army and various Indian institutions have been organizing psychological operations which are termed by Indian military as Sadbhavana Operation. We protest German government’s joining the efforts of Indian army. It appears an attempt by the Indian State to outsource its military psychological operations to the international community. Continue reading “More on “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir”: India and Zubin Mehta’s Psyop Concert in Indian Occupied Kashmir”

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir [The Reality of Kashmir]: A Journey of Counter-Memory

On Sept 7, we invite EVERYONE to come join us at noon, at the Municipal Park (near GPO), Srinagar, as we mark the “dark times” of the military occupation, and commemorate the luminosity of AZADI: the light of faith, of freedom, of our blood-soaked struggle for justice, dignity, and true peace. Luminosity that cuts through the deep darkness of the “dark times” and reflects the resilience of human spirit in all its grace.

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir: The Reality of Kashmir
Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir: The Reality of Kashmir

A Cultural Aesthetic Tribute to the Resilience and Struggle of the People of Jammu & Kashmir

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
~ Bertolt Brecht

On Sept 7, we invite EVERYONE — and not just a handpicked 1500 — to come join us at noon, at the Municipal Park (near GPO), Srinagar, as we mark the “dark times” of the military occupation, and commemorate the luminosity of AZADI: the light of faith, of freedom, of our blood-soaked struggle for justice, dignity, and true peace. Luminosity that cuts through the deep darkness of the “dark times” and reflects the resilience of human spirit in all its grace.

We invite EVERYONE to send in cultural aesthetic texts: poetry, paintings, photographs, multimedia, performance art, songs, et cetera on the ABOVE THEME to haqeeqatekashmir@gmail.com

Continue reading “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir [The Reality of Kashmir]: A Journey of Counter-Memory”

History will not be kind to the Syrian regime…

The great Palestinian philosopher and former MK Azmi Bishara on the Syrian revolution.

1) Let’s suppose that impoverishment of the people and the suppression of their freedoms are marginal when placed in the context of a grander goal, such as defending the homeland. That would only make sense, however, during limited periods of time, such as during wars. Anyway, such claims do not justify the way in which the people have to share out the misery between them, while the rulers enjoy the riches. Nor does such sloganeering justify the institutionalized, systematic denial of the rights of their people. There is no justification for the tyranny and corruption of the rulers, and their appropriation of the fruits of the masses’ labour. Trying to exploit a cause held dearly by both the people and the regime to achieve this is the beginning of demagoguery, and it is a tool used solely to preserve the existence of the corrupt, tyrannical regime. None of this, of course, takes away from the righteousness of the cause being exploited, but it does serve to bestow legitimacy on an illegitimate regime. Rebellion against this tyranny will necessarily place the removal of that regime as its first target, but the sanctity of the just causes which the regime exploits must also be preserved. This applies when the question comes to US plans to dominate our region, seeking to design the policies of Arab states with Israeli interests at heart, as well as the question of Palestine and the duty to resist the occupation at every turn.

2) No people, anywhere in the world, would accept torture, false imprisonment, financial corruption and the muzzling of the media for generation after generation, regardless of the justification. Nor does anybody to have the right that those being persecuted remain quiet for the sake of grander concerns, without hopes for a change, all to placate commentators who seem to think that the suffering of the people is secondary to the “Central Question”, especially as all the evidence that no progress on that same “Central Question” in the first place.

Continue reading “History will not be kind to the Syrian regime…”

Planning for the Day After: The Hopes and the Challenges

This is an edited translation from Azmi Bishara’s Arabic facebook page.

1) After a legendary show of resistance in the face of an unprecedented onslaught of savagery, the Syrian revolutionaries can now almost touch their main aim: a change of regime. As I have said elsewhere, a lack of wisdom at this stage could lead to a complete destruction of the very country of Syria.

2) This progress would not have been made without the sacrifices of millions of Syrians, and tens of thousands of the armed rebels. Yet it must be said that some of the members of these armed groups used the opportunity to carry out personal vendettas, and others are clearly infiltrators into the Syrian cause. It is patently clear that foreign operatives have exploited the revolutionaries’ needs for financial and logistical support, not to mention their understandable grievances against the regime, to try and effect the course of events. In this regard, the assassinations of six Syrian scientists (including a missile expert) is a threatening development. The same can be said of the attempts of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani to try and control some of the Kurdish-populated areas of Syria; bear in mind that the Syrian Kurds’ National Council is now well armed, whilst not having taken part in the revolution itself. We cannot assume that the Israelis and the CIA will stand backk and just watch. (Put another way: was the removal of the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence service a mere coincidence?) The recent statements made by Israeli and American statesmen on the question of Syria’s chemical weapons is to be taken seriously: their efforts are already underway. Anybody who doesn’t understand this point, clearly does not understand the way in which world powers and their regional counterparts attempt to achieve their aims, and does not understand the reality of the enmity [between the Israelis and the other countries in the region], nor does that person understand the strategic significance of Syria.

Continue reading “Planning for the Day After: The Hopes and the Challenges”

Boycotting the White City: Good for Tel Avivians

rev·o·lu·tion noun \ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən\

2
a : a sudden, radical, or complete change
b : a fundamental change in political organization; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed
c : activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation
d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm <the Copernican revolution>
e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology <the computer revolution> <the foreign car revolution>

~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

Almost a year ago a wave of massive popular protests began within the state of Israel. Though my initial criticisms still stands, I’d like to add that over the past year, at least in the south of Tel Aviv, there’s a constant learning about egalitarian politics, co-ops and community projects. People are changing and that can’t be a bad thing. Still, on the Palestinian liberation front there’s little change. The protests have remained Jewish-centered and protesters are still hostile to the mere mention of Arabs (Palestinians are people from another country, of course).

Dr. White City and Mr. Tel Aviv

Continue reading “Boycotting the White City: Good for Tel Avivians”

Robert Fisk on the Damascus Showdown

The Syrian resistance has struck a major blow. In a targeted attack, it has killed Defence Minister General Daoud Rajha and his deputy, Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat. The blast also killed Hafez Makhlouf the head of interrogation in the general security services and Hasan Turkmani, the head of the crisis committee set up to crush the revolution. Robert Fisk comments:

The Economist has a good report on the vanishing support for the regime inside Damascus.

While the capital’s inhabitants are viewed with contempt by people from Homs and Hama for not joining the revolution with gusto, many Damascenes are working behind the scenes. Businessmen fund food for displaced Syrians. Others open their doors to them, often cramming several families into a single flat. Traders have held strikes. Activists work to keep dialogue going between different sects.

Also, the courgeous Razzan Ghazzawi is liveblogging from Damascus’s Midan district. Visit her blog for the latest.

Showdown in Damascus

According to friends and contacts in Damascus, the clash between the Syrian resistance and the regime has intensified. The regime is using artillery and gunships, and, according to latest video reports, bombers too. The brave Razzan Ghazzawi, who is reporting from Damascus, has gone offline. The regime has cut electricity to the city and her batteries have died. Assad’s jets are bombing the oldest capital in the world. Simon Assaf gives this overview:

 Armed rebels took control over key neighbourhoods and are now surrounded. Yesterday regime troops failed to overrun these neighbourhoods and are attempting to put them under siege. But the fighting is now very mobile, and has spread to many areas of the city. Meanwhile every major front across the country is now in battle with orders to hit all regime positions and call for the surrender of troops. The FSA are attempting to cut off the reinforcements to the capital, and stretch regime forces.

Meanwhile, here is the story of survivors from the regime’s earlier assault on Homs.

Hillary receives warm welcome in Egypt

From Reuters:

Protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade on Sunday during her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

A tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armored cars carrying Clinton’s delegation in the port city of Alexandria.

A senior state department official said that neither Clinton nor her vehicle, which were around the corner from the incident, were struck by any of the projectiles.

Protesters chanted: “Monica, Monica”, a reference to Former President Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affair. Some chanted: “leave, Clinton”, Egyptian security officials said.

It was not clear who the protesters were or what political affiliations they had. Protesters outside Clinton’s hotel on Saturday night chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of backing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.

The assault on her motorcade came on a day Clinton spoke at the newly re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, addressing accusations the United States, which had long supported former President Hosni Mubarak, of backing one faction or another in Egypt following his ouster last year.

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