All posts by Chinmoy Banerjee

Rally for Pluralist India

Rally for Pluralist India

Sunday, July 30, 5.00 PM

Surrey City Hall Plaza

13450 104 Avenue, Surrey, BC

There has been a systematic attack on the rich pluralist society and culture of India since Narendra Modi came to power with a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) majority in 2014. A secular, democratic republic with guaranteed citizenship rights and constitutional protection of minorities is in the process of being converted to a fascist theocratic Hindu Rashtra, a state serving a majoritarian agenda that is identified with the “nation.” Institutions are subverted, education commandeered, dissent suppressed through violence and intimidation, and Dalits and minorities increasingly subjected to mob violence encouraged through impunity. A spate of recent lynchings of Dalits and Muslims has generated a resistance movement in India under the banner of “Not in My Name” that has held demonstrations across India as well as in London, Boston, and Toronto.

Progressive South Asians in the Vancouver area came together recently in Surrey to form “Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI)” to raise our voice in solidarity with the resistance in India. We invite everyone to join us for a rally at the Surrey City Hall plaza next to the Surrey Central Library on Sunday, July 30 at 5 pm.

For more information call Gurpreet Singh at 778 862 2454 or Parshottam Dosanjh at 604 512 8371.

Conference on nuclear threat

Poster Neuclear Conference 2017-2

Gathering in the Shadows of a Nuclear Winter

Conference

 Saturday Sept 9, 2017 Rm. 1700 SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St,   Vancouver, BC (Unceded Musqueam, Sqamish, and Tsleil-Waututh  Territories)

no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.” Albert Einstein

There is an urgent need to attend to the crisis of the nuclear threat in the world today. 2017 began with  the Doomsday Clock being set forward by 30 seconds to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. Currently both the US and Russia are expanding their arsenals and new players are entering the field. Donald Trump’s statements have increased the threat of nuclear proliferation. One hundred and twenty countries met at the UN on March 27 to push for a ban on nuclear weapons though the nuclear-armed nations led by the US refused to participate.

The principle of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” with the apt acronym of MAD, which has been the basis of human security since the Soviet Union challenged the US monopoly of terror in 1948 has been destabilized by the current US superiority in first strike capability. The answering Russian progress in the development of hypersonic missiles only accelerates the race toward destruction. Within this global situation the escalating militarism of nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, locked in hostility since birth in 1947 and engaged in  daily border skirmishes poses an imminent danger. Apart from the increasingly shrill rhetoric of nationalism in both countries, there is evidence that India is reconsidering its policy of No First Strike, about which Pakistan has always been deeply skeptical in any case.

There is also the growing concern that the logic of development and the demands of climate change will lead to greater dependence on nuclear power plants, whose benign promise is belied by the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. India is moving rapidly in this direction despite protests from from environmentalists and people living in the coastal areas.

The goal of the conference  is to focus on the existential threat facing us by bringing together in conversation nuclear scientists, scholars, writers, and anti-nuclear and peace activists from India, Pakistan, Canada, and the US The purpose of the conference is to situate the extremely dangerous nuclear stand-off and hostility between India and Pakistan within the global concern with militarism and the nuclear threat, to address the dubious value of nuclear power as an answer to climate change, and to contribute to developing people’s initiative for peace and sustainable development.

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) with generous financial Support from  Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation and Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University. Co-sponsored by Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC)and School for International Studies, SFU.

Admission is free but registration required. RSVP Chin Banerjee, cbanerjee@telus.net

Lunch will be provided for presenter and organizers. Others who wish to share catered lunch should send cheque for $10.00 to SANSAD at 906-608 Belmont Street, New Westminster, BC V3M 0G8.

PROGRAM

September 9: Room 1700 SFU Harbour Centre

9.30 AM: Welcome

9.45 AM: Rap music by Jovian Radheshwar

10.00 AM – 1.00 PM: Session 1: Moderator: John Hariss. Presenters: Admiral Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas: “The UN Treaty: Nuclear Haves and Have-nots … What Next?”; M V Ramana,  “Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Disarmament: Can the two co-exist?”; Sirish Rao, Wanpovi Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez,”What we do to mother earth we add to our soul wounding”.

1.00 PM -2.00PM: Lunch

2.00 PM: Music Sejal Lal

2.15 – 5.00 PM: Session 2: Moderator: Sid Shniad. Presenters: Pervez Hoodbhoy: “Nuclear Instability in South Asia”; Robert Anderson; Annie Ross: “They have taken our Land and used it to destroy the rest of the World”; Paul Meyer: “The Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty and the pursuit of Nuclear Disarmament”; Derrick O’Keefe.

PARTICIPANT PROFILES

John Harriss is Professor of International Studies at Simon Fraser University. He was Director of the School for International Studies from 2006 until 2013 and again in 2016.

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy is currently Zohra and Z.Z.Ahmad Distinguished Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Forman Christian College, Lahore, having taught for 44 years at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He graduated from MIT with a Ph.D in nuclear physics. In 1968 he won the Baker Award for Electronics, and in 1984 the Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics. In 2003 he was awarded UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for the popularization of science. In 2010 he received the Joseph A. Burton Award from the American Physical Society and the Jean Meyer Award from Tufts University. In 2011, he was included in the list of 100 most influential global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. In 2013, he was made a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs, a position he currently holds.

Paul Meyer is Adjunct Professor of International Studies and Fellow in International Security at Simon Fraser University and a Senior Fellow with The Simons Foundation Vancouver. Prior to assuming his current appointments in 2011, Paul had a 35 year diplomatic career with Canada’s Foreign Service, including serving as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva (2003-2007). He teaches diplomacy at SFU’s School for International Studies, and his research interests include nuclear arms control and disarmament, outer space security and international cyber security.

Jovian Radheshwar is a rap artist, poet and recording artist.

Born in Bombay and raised in New York, Jovian taught Black Studies and Political Science in Santa Barbara, California. His musical inspirations include Outkast, Nas and Pink Floyd. He currently lives in Vancouver where he teaches Political Science at Douglas College. Jovian finds in rap a powerful medium for making a statement both personally and politically.

As MC Bitter Buffalo on the album “No Hooks” (2012), Jovian collaborated with Bobby Musgrave (Pensive Blue Polar Bear) and Ed Keenan (DJ California Condor) in exploring the endangered nature of existence in a technologized modern world. As part of the Endangered Species collective, he performed shows in Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Goleta, and Los Angeles, California.

Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1953, trained as a Communication Specialist at the Royal Naval Staff College, UK, and headed the naval academy at Kochi. He was prominently engaged in the Indo-Pak war of 1971. He received Vir Chakra, Param Vishist Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, and Vishisht Seva Medal. He was the Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy from 1990 till his retirement in 1993. Since his retirement he has been deeply engaged in anti-nuclear, peace, social justice, and democratic rights issues. He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2004 for his work on denuclearization and demilitarization of South Asia. He is in the forefront of the movement for peace between India and Pakistan. He is a member of the Citzens Whistleblowers Forum (CWF) formed in February 2017 to track corruption.

Lalita Ramdas is an activist in women’s rights, particularly women’s education, environmental issues, peace, Indo-Pak friendship and denuclearization. She is one of the founding  members of Greenpeace India and has served as Chairperson of Greenpeace International from 2007 to 2010. She launched the Rainbow Warrior II in 2011. She has worked as an informal educator in the slums of Delhi and founded “Ankur”, a society for alternative education. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as one of “1000 Peace Women” in 2005.

M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin Books, 2012) and co-editor of Prisoners of the Nuclear Dream (Orient Longman, 2003). He is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials and the Global Council of Abolition 2000. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Leo Szilard Award from the American Physical Society.

Annie Ross is an Indigenous (Maya) teacher and artist working along and with community in Canada. She teaches Environmental Ethics in First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Elder Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez  MA., is an activist/ organizer who believes in beloved communities in the transformative culture of peace . Her activism on nuclear non-proliferation, human rights, and the rights of our Mother Earth, brings spirit-rooted awareness into environmental justice advocacy and policy changes to end violence against women, girls and Mother Earth. She is currently the Environmental Health and Justice program manager for Tewa Women United, NM USA  www,tewawomenunited.org

Sid Shniad is a lifelong social justice activist who spent most of his working life as a trade union researcher at the Telecommunications Workers Union. He has been active in the anti-war movement and is a founding member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (www.ijv.ca), an organization dedicated to justice for Palestine, where he is currently a member of the national steering committee.

 

CERAS statement on Amarnath pilgrims

 

14 July 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — ATTACK ON HINDU PILGRIMS IN KASHMIR

CERAS condemns the fatal attack on Hindu pilgrims on their way to Amarnath, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, during this pilgrimage season. It also urges caution in ascribing blame.  The attack took place around 8.10 pm (IST) on Monday 10th July at Botengo village in Anantnag district in South Kashmir on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

Nobody has as yet claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack.  However, at least initially, unspoken assumptions and innuendo seemed to imply that Monday’s attack is the work of armed Kashmiri nationalists.  In this context, it is important to note that if indeed this were so, it would be a major aberration.

In fact Kashmiri nationalists have often publicly stated, and this year is no exception, that the pilgrims will not be harmed. A month ago well-known Kashmiri nationalist Syed Ali Shah Geelani stated: “The yatra [pilgrimage to Amarnath] has been going on for decades and the people here have treated the pilgrims with unique hospitality. They have always been hospitable, decent and received the pilgrims as their guests”.  And in the wake of yesterday’s attack, nationalist leaders have “expressed deep sorrow and grief over the killing of Amarnath Yatris in Anantnag … and strongly condemned it;” the attack “goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos”.

Since 1989 with the increase in Kashmiri nationalist militancy, many Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus) fled.  But many also remained.  Repeated invitations from Kashmiri nationalist guerrillas to Pandits to return to the valley, subvert any communalist narrative of the situation.  Just last year the guerrilla leader Zakir Rashid Bhat stated: “We request Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes. We take the responsibility of their protection. They should look at those Pandits who have been living in the [Kashmir] Valley. Did they face any problems here?” The nationalists have always made it clear that their conflict is with the Indian state (which maintains one of the largest militarized presences in the world in Kashmir as a way of stamping out militant nationalism); that this is not a Hindu-Muslim conflict, nor is it a conflict where civilians are targeted.

In this context, the attack on the pilgrims yesterday raises many questions.  If it is not nationalist guerrillas who perpetrated the attack, then who is responsible?  And why? In the current state of affairs in India where there is steep escalation in Hindu nationalist rhetoric and actions, where fake news about Muslims killing Hindus has become standard operating procedure, and where Muslims have been attacked and killed by lynch mobs (7 in the last two years), the attack on the Hindu pilgrims to Amarnath has incendiary potential.

As details emerge there seems to be a somewhat better understanding of how the event unfolded.The bus had developed a flat tire and stopped so it could be fixed. Security forces cover the national highway from 4 AM to 7 PM for the Amarnath yatra  and there are definite time schedules for the movement of vehicles carrying pilgrims. The delay resulted in the bus being on the road after the 7pm curfew. The Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force (one of many government para-military forces in Kashmir) stated: “These yatris [pilgrims] had not registered themselves, as is advised, and did not even become part of the yatra [pilgrimage] convoy, which is escorted by security forces, both to and from Amarnath, everyday. They also violated the 7 pm curfew on movement of yatris.”

One of the pilgrims in the bus, Yogesh Prajapati said that an Army jeep had started following the bus at some point and the terrorists might have aimed at the jeep but ended up hitting the bus.  Some in the media are also making reference to another incident in 2000 when pilgrims and locals who serve them as porters and horsemen were killed in crossfire between Indian security forces unidentified armed fighters.  However it needs to be pointed out that in that instance civilians, including pilgrims to Amarnath were not the targets, but were killed in the crossfire.

As of now there are no answers about who carried out this attack.  For decades, Kashmir has been used as a political football within India and across the border by Pakistan.  While condemning this terrible act of violence, it is also important not to engage in an unsubstantiated blame game, to not conflate communalism and nationalism and to be cognizant that those responsible focus on their own objectives with cynical disregard for the people whose lives are destroyed by their actions.

-30-

cerasmontreal@gmail.com

 

Justice for Omar Khadr

http://ijvcanada.org/2017/ijv-on-omar-khadr/

 

Independent Jewish Voices Canada          13 July 2017

 

IJV Statement On Omar Khadr

Torture and hopelessness were standard operating procedures at Guantanamo when Omar Khadr was a captive.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada welcomes the apology and compensation made by the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau to Omar Khadr after years of shameful treatment meted out to him by U.S. and Canadian authorities, under both Liberal and Conservative governments.

Khadr endured years of horrific imprisonment in the notorious Guantánamo Bay prison, for a long time denied access to legal counsel, subject to torture, finally confessing to various charges in a military “trial” (a process declared illegal under U.S. and international law by the U.S. Supreme Court) under threat of indefinite detention. He was abandoned to his fate by three Canadian governments—the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. He was interrogated several times by Canadian CSIS agents, who only stopped as a result of orders from a Canadian court. The Harper government blocked Khadr’s transfer to a Canadian prison and his eventual release for as long as it could, even after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled several times in Khadr’s favour.

Canada’s active participation in Khadr’s mistreatment is part of a larger pattern of gross human rights violations in the course of the seemingly endless “war on terror” in which both Canada and the U.S. have been complicit in other ways, such as the handover of Afghan detainees for torture during the illegal war in Afghanistan.

The Harper Conservatives made Khadr the focus of a campaign of Islamophobia and xenophobia that has now been revived by the Conservatives and their supporters with vitriolic attacks on the recently announced compensation to Khadr. This campaign reflects a combination of ignorance, distortion and racism. These attacks mirror the xenophobic right-wing populist wave—dividing the world into the good West and evil Muslim/Arab east (with Israel counted as an honorary member of the former)–that swept the U.S. with Donald Trump’s accession to the presidency, and has been taken up by Canadian Conservatives, initially spearheaded by Harper and continuing under Andrew Scheer.

As a human rights organization that supports both Palestinian and Israeli rights, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) strongly opposes any public utterances that support or promote racism or bigotry of any kind, including Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism and anti-Semitism. We also oppose the widespread violations of human rights and their justifications which have been a hallmark of both the “war on terror” and the more recent wave of xenophobia in both the U.S. and Canada. We call on Canadians to resist this wave and to defend the human rights of all people, in particular marginalized peoples everywhere who are subject to racism, discrimination, occupation or military invasion and attacks.