Category Archives: Solidarity Links

BDS: Israel doesn’t get a pass on human rights

Vancouver Sun        October 30, 2016

Independent Jewish Voices believes in human rights for everyone

A section of Israel’s controversial separation wall. AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is an organization comprised of Jewish Canadians who share a commitment to social justice and universal human rights. IJV has challenged other organizations that represent Jewish Canadians to engage in public debate about the ongoing crisis in Israel-Palestine. Instead of agreeing to publicly debate their positions, these groups have chosen instead to vilify us.

The Vancouver Sun published an editorial opposing the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. When IJV objected to how it was characterized in the editorial, the Sun apologized and withdrew the editorial. While we are pleased that The Sun’s parent organization, Postmedia Network, agreed to remove this editorial from its websites and apologize for mischaracterizations of IJV, readers deserve an explanation of what this dispute is about.

We believe that the human rights of everyone, including Palestinians, deserve protection. We believe that Israel has been violating Palestinians’ human rights for decades by maintaining an illegal occupation, expanding its illegal settlements, and that Israel refuses to address what we consider is the institutionalized discrimination experienced by its Palestinian citizens. In our opinion, the Canadian government’s support for Israel reinforces Israel’s sense of impunity and its intransigence with regard to these issues.

Canadians should be aware of our view that the three demands of BDS are: ending Israel’s illegal occupation and tearing down the separation barrier that takes away portions of Palestinian territory; providing equal rights for Israel’s Palestinian citizens; and promoting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation for having been forcibly displaced, as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. IJV believes that we must use BDS to apply pressure on Israel until it complies with international law and respects Palestinians’ human rights.

IJV encourages all forms of public debate and discussion on contentious political issues relating to the situation in Israel and Palestine, including the Green party of Canada’s debate on the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada. We believe this issue warrants further public debate and discussion.

Opposition to Israel’s violations of international law and its mistreatment of Palestinians does not make us “anti-Israel.” Furthermore, the notion that IJV is anti-Jewish is absurd. Far from being anti-Jewish, IJV is proudly Jewish, being grounded in Jewish values that promote social justice for all. These values guide our demand that Canada stop enabling Israel’s endless subjugation of the Palestinians.   

Finally, we — as well as the Palestinian leaders of the BDS movement — insist that there is no justification for any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, and that the battle against real anti-Semitism is undermined when Israel’s supporters label those who criticize Israel’s discriminatory laws and policies as anti-Semitic.

Submitted by Independent Jewish Voices Canada.

Mahasweta Devi’s work offends sentiments

OCTOBER 21, 2016
Following is the text of a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Central University of Haryana, sent by some academics protesting the attacks on Dr Snehsata Manav and Dr Manoj Kumar regarding the students’ production of the play ‘Draupadi’:
To the Vice Chancellor,
Central University of Haryana
Dear Vice Chancellor:
We write in support of Dr. Snehsata Manav and Dr. Manoj Kumar of the Department of English and Foreign Languages who have recently come under attack for their sponsorship of a student production on your campus of the play “Draupadi” based on a story by Mahasweta Devi who, as you know, is universally recognized as a towering figure in contemporary Indian literature. Her writings, translated into most Indian languages, have highlighted the struggles of oppressed and marginalized women and men. Her story “Draupadi”, whose dramatized version has been highly acclaimed and performed all over India, deals with the sensitive but enormously important question of the ethics of deploying the armed forces in dealing with civil disturbances within the country. This question, along with specific instances of rapes committed by army personnel in different parts of India, continues to be debated in the Indian public media and has engaged the attention of political leaders as well as the courts.
We strongly believe that it is both unjust and unwise to accuse intellectually responsible teachers of hurting the sentiments of some sections of opinion. The recent demise of Mahasweta Devi was a perfect occasion to engage university students in a serious discussion on why some of the greatest writers and artists of India have been concerned about the excesses of state violence carried out at the behest of those in power, no matter what their party or ideology.
We hope you will convey our views to those who have accused Dr. Manav and Dr. Kumar of being hurtful and unpatriotic. The university campus needs to be fostered as a place where difficult questions can be debated in a spirit of intellectual openness and without fear of censure.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, New York
Akeel Bilgrami, Stanley Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, New York
Gauri Viswanathan, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York
Partha Chatterjee, Professor of anthropology, Columbia University, New York
Romila Thapar, Professor Emeritus in History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Ramachandra Guha, author, Bengaluru
Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Emeritus Professor, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
Sumanta Banerjee, author, Hyderabad
Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Samik Bandyopadhyay, Tagore National Fellow, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Sobhanlal Dattagupta, Former S. N. Banerjee Professor of Political Science, University of Calcutta
Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
Lakshmi Subramanian, Professor of History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Nivedita Menon, Professor of Political Theory, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
B. Ananthakrishnan, Professor of Theatre Arts, University of Hyderabad
Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Nirmalya Mukherjee, Professor of Philosophy, University of Delhi
Janaki Nair, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Manabi Majumdar, Professor of Political Science, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Neeladri Bhattacharya, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Moinak Biswas, Professor of Film Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
Udaya Kumar, Professor of English, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Aditya Nigam, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing societies, Delhi
Dwaipayan Bhattacharya, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Sudipto Chatterjee, Professor of Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Aniket Alam, Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad
Anand Teltumbde, Goa Institute of Management, Goa
P. Sanal Mohan, Associate Professor, School of Social sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam
Kiran Kesavamurthy, Assistance Professor of Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Garga Chatterjee, Assistant Professor Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
Pralay Majumdar, Assistant Professor of Biology, Presidency University, Kolkata
Trina Banerjee, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Baidik Bhattacharya, Assistat Professor of English, University of Delhi
Maidul Islam, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
Anup Dhar, Associate Professor, School of Human Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi

India prevents rights activist from going to UNHRC

Khurram Parvez prevented from attending UN Human Rights Council Session by India

Press Statement
14 September 2016

Early this morning, at 1:30 a.m., Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights defender- presently the Chairperson of Asian Federation Against involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) – was prevented from leaving Delhi at the Indira Gandhi International airport Delhi. He was leaving to visit Geneva, Switzerland to attend the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session.

Despite having invitation, valid visa and other necessary documents, Khurram Parvez was detained for one and a half hours, and subsequently told that due to orders from the Intelligence Bureau, he cannot travel to Geneva. Despite repeatedly asking for written orders that he was forbidden to leave the country, he was denied the same. And despite repeatedly asking for reasons, grounds or the basis for the decision to disallow his travel, he was not provided the same. He was only orally informed that immigration officers had instructions that he was not to be ‘arrested’, but that he should not be allowed to leave the country. It appears that Khurram Parvez is not being allowed to travel because he has been – in his capacity as the Chairperson of Asian Federation Against involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) – highlighting violations of human rights Preventing Khurram Parvez from travelling is an attempt to criminalize the human rights campaign and documentation work which JKCCS has been involved in for the last several years.

Khurram Parvez alongwith Mary Aileen Diez Bacalso, Adv. Parvez Imroz, Adv. Kartik Murukutla and Ron de Vera were part of the AFAD & JKCCS delegation which is visiting Geneva from 14th to 24th September to attend the 33rd UN Human Rights Council session.

The Kashmiri members of the delegation, besides attending the UNHRC session are scheduled to brief UN bodies including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly over the last two months. JKCCS was also to participate in India’s Universal Periodic Review [a four year review process of UN States by the Human Rights Council] to be held in April/May 2017. JKCCS has already submitted a report on the role of the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir as a part of that review process.

This travel ban is a part of the widespread and systematic violence that the people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to face. Over the last 68 days, Fundamental Rights have been curtailed through the imposition of continuous State curfews and restrictions, 80+ civilians have been killed and 10,000+ injured through State forces action with 800+ having received eye-damage including by the use of pellet shotguns and 100+ civilians are partially or permanently blinded. Peaceful gatherings and marches, including funeral processions and public prayers, are met with violence as telecommunication services remain by and large curtailed. Political activists and protestors, including minors, are illegally detained [estimated at 1000+]. The Indian State seeks to isolate the people of Jammu and Kashmir at all costs, and disallowing human rights activists access to the UN is a part of this attempt to isolate and ensure impunity for violence and denial of human rights.

India has staked a claim to a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, and is presently a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Yet, in absolute disregard to its own laws, it denies Kashmiris basic fundamental rights. The international community, particularly the UN, must condemn the attempts of the Indian State to deny the people of Jammu and Kashmir their right to resist, including through human rights work, and urgently intervene through a UN fact-finding mission in Jammu and Kashmir.

Adv. Parvez Imroz
President, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society

Press freedom threatened in Bangladesh

Committee to Protect Journalists


Bangladesh journalists could face 14 years in prison for refuting rumor

New York, August 12, 2016 — Bangladeshi authorities should drop all criminal proceedings against three journalists from the news website banglamail24, release them immediately, and restore press credentials to nine of their colleagues, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The three journalists could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison if charged and convicted under a law governing online publication.

Police on Sunday night arrested banglamail24 Executive Editor Maksukul Alam, acting Editor Shahadat Ullah Khan, and reporter Pranta Palash after the website published a report refuting a rumor that the prime minister’s son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, had died in a plane crash, according to press reports. A government statement also said that nine banglamail24 journalists’ accreditation had been revoked, according to the news website

Police Lt. Col. Khandker Golam Sarwar told the news website BenarNews that the journalists could face charges under article 57 of Bangladesh’s 2006 Information and Communication Technology Act, which criminalizes publishing material online that is “fake and obscene” or creates a possibility of threatening “law and order.” CPJ has joined other organizations in criticizing the law as an obstacle to press freedom. A Dhaka court on August 9 agreed to a police request to hold the three for seven days. The journalists’ lawyer, Mubinul Islam, told this was because the Information and Communication Technology Act requires those charged under its provisions to stand trial before a special court.

“Jailing anyone for even a day under a law as broad, vaguely worded, and restrictive as Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act is an injustice,” CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said. “Arresting journalists for refuting a false rumor reaches the point of absurdity. Bangladesh should release Maksukul Alam, Shahadat Ullah Khan, and Pranta Palash without delay.”

Sarwar, the police officer, allowed that the banglamail24 story reported the rumor as false in his interview with BenarNews, the website reported.

“They criticized the rumor, but…they also became part of spreading rumors on the death of the Honorable Prime Minister’s son, who holds an important government post,” the news website quoted Sarwar as saying.

Separately, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission last week blocked access to 35 news websites for publishing “objectionable comments” about the government, Shahjahan Mahmood, who chairs the Commission, told BenarNews. Leaders of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and the Dhaka Union of Journalists protested the moves, according to press reports.


August 12, 2016 4:53 PM ET

Short URL