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  • user warning: Table './web69_db1/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire FROM cache_filter WHERE cid = '1:20091e1166140a38cde6200e0cacee21' in /var/www/web69/web/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 172.
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  • user warning: Table './web69_db1/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p><a href=\"http://www.vedegylet.hu\">Védegylet</a><br />\n<a href=\"http://www.glopolis.org\">Glopolis</a></p>\n', created = 1529505932, expire = 1529592332, headers = '' WHERE cid = '1:20091e1166140a38cde6200e0cacee21' in /var/www/web69/web/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 172.

Sozialverantwortlicher öffentlicher Einkauf in der Praxis

WEED - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 22:00
09.10.2018: In dieser Schulung an der VAK Berlin erfahren interessierte Beschaffungsverantwortliche wie sozialgerechter Einkauf praktisch umgesetzt werden kann.
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6th conference on socially responsible procurement of IT products

WEED - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 22:00
21.06.2018: Stuttgart, 21 & 22 June 2018
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IT-Fachkonferenz 2018

WEED - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 22:00
21.06.2018: Am 21./22. Juni 2018 findet in Stuttgart die 6. bundesweite Fachkonferenz für sozial verantwortliche IT-Beschaffung statt
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Questioning Amnesty International's “New Evidence” on ARSA's Brutal killing of Hindu Rohingyas in Kha Maung Seik

Alternatives International - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:16

On May 22, 2018, Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International released a briefing note titled, “Myanmar: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State”. It may be seen at https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/myanmar-new-evidence-reveals-rohingya-armed-group-massacred-scores-in-rakhine-state/.

In the briefing note, Amnesty International stated “A Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords is responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men, and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017, Amnesty International revealed today after carrying out a detailed investigation inside Myanmar's Rakhine State.”

From the statement of the Amnesty International it appears that they have gathered enough evidence to implicate the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in genocidal massacres. Apparently, the evidence against ARSA is more clear and convincing than the evidence against the armed forces of Myanmar and the Buddhist mobs. While releasing the briefing note Tirana Hassan also refuted Myanmar government's criticism that the international community was being one-sided while at the same time denying access to northern Rakhine State. Tirana Hassan added that, “the full extent of ARSA's abuses and the Myanmar military's violations will not be known until independent human rights investigators, including the UN Fact-Finding mission, are given full and unfettered access to Rakhine State.”

Two versions of Massacre at Kha Maung Seik

According to Amnesty International it appears that one of the most prominent alleged massacres of Hindu Rohingyas in Kha Maung Seik (also known as Fakira Bazar) in Maungdaw Township was done by ARSA activists on August 25 and 26. Amnesty International claims that ARSA had abducted the eight Hindu women survivors, forcefully converted them to Islam, compelled them to marry and cohabit with the murderers of their husbands, parents and brothers. Amnesty International also claims that the eight Hindu women told the fabricated the story of Myanmar army and Buddhists killing of some 93 Hindu civilians to cover up their genocidal killing of Hindus, fearing for their own lives and the lives of their children who were also abducted by ARSA.

Hindus from Myanmar had joined streams of Muslim Rohingyas to seek refuge in Bangladesh after the killing of 86 people from their community in the ethnic violence in the neighbouring Buddhist-majority country. According to a news story in the First Post, a Bangladeshi government official had said that “a total of 414 Hindus from (Myanmar's) Rakhine state took refuge at a Hindu village in Cox's Bazar.” However, Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council President Rana Dasgupta, who visited the village, had claimed that the figure of Hindu refugees was 510, mostly women, children and the elderly, who were crammed into a wooden barn. Dasgupta said ordinary Rohingya Muslims escorted them to borders from where these Hindus entered Bangladesh along with thousands others. [https://www.firstpost.com/world/after-muslim-rohingyas-hindus-from-myanmar-seek-refuge-in-bangladesh-4008439.html]

Recalling the First Version of Kha Maung Seik Massacre

Kha Maung Seik was home to a mixed community, with Rohingya Muslims in the majority along with about 6,000 Rakhine Buddhists, Hindus and others. The relations between the Muslim Rohingyas and Hindu Rohingyas was cordial. However, the relations had been strained after Myanmar government had decided to grant citizenship to the Hindus. Because of the tension between the two communities, since October 2016, more soldiers were posted near the village, with border police. Patrols went house-to-house arresting anyone suspected of having militant links.

It is worth recalling what was reported by the Reuters on September 7, 2017, about nine months ago. Reuters had interviewed about 20 Muslims and Hindus in which they had recounted how they were forced out of their village of Kha Maung Seik in Myanmar's Rakhine State on Aug. 25. Kadil Hussein, a refugee sheltering in Kutupalang camp said, “The military brought some Rakhine Buddhists with them and torched the village. … All the Muslims in our village, about 10,000, fled. Some were killed by gunshots, the rest came here. There's not a single person left.” Villagers from Kha Maung Seik and neighbouring hamlets had described killings and the burning of homes in the military response to the attacks by ARSA

The villagers of Kha Maung Seik interviewed by Reuters said that they heard shooting at 2 a.m. on Aug. 25. A military source in Maungdaw town and two Muslim residents said militants attacked a police post near the village that night. Four Rohingya villagers separately gave Reuters accounts of how, at about 5 a.m., soldiers entered the village, firing indiscriminately. Thousands fled. Abul Hussein a 28 year old Rohingya refugee said, “I was at the front of a big group running for cover, but I looked back and could see people at the back getting shot”

Later, According to Hussein and three other villagers grenades and mortar bombs were fired into the forest. Husain had said, “I saw a mortar hit a group of people. Some died on the spot.” From the forest, residents had watched military and civilians loot and burn houses. Body Alom, another refugee said civilians were helping the army to gather bodies. Body Alom and two other villagers claimed, “they collected the bodies, searching for belongings. … They took money, clothes, cows, everything. Then they burned the houses.”

A group of Hindu women refugees in Kutupalong said they saw eight Hindu men killed by Buddhist Rakhines after they refused to attack Muslims. Anika Bala, who was six months pregnant told Reuters, “they asked my husband to join them to kill Rohingya but he refused, so they killed him.” She said Muslims helped her get to Bangladesh.

Reuters reported that a military official denied that Buddhist civilians were working with authorities and instead accused Muslims of attacking other communities. Anika Bala and other Hindu refugees subsequently changed their story. https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKCN1BI0EZ

As we seen earlier, these Hindu survivors, particularly the women survivors had told journalists, aid workers and other Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh that their men were killed by security forces and armed men from the Mogh, local Rakhine. Their interviews were broadcast and they were quoted in newspapers all over the world. At the request of some Hindu leaders, these Hindu women were removed from the Muslim dominated camp by Bangladesh security forces to a camp for only Hindus. After reaching the Hindu only camp, the women changed their story. In late August 2017, all the eight Hindu Rohingya women had told Reuters and other international media persons that it was Rakhine Buddhists who had attacked them. But later on, after being shifted to the Hindu only camp in Ukhiya, three of them changed their statements to say the attackers were Rohingya Muslims, who brought them to Bangladesh and told them to blame the Rakhine Buddhists. They insisted that it was in fact the Muslim Rohingya activists belonging to ARSA who had carried out the massacre of the Hindus in the village of Kha Maung Seik (also known as Fakira Bazar) in Maungdaw Township.

The Women return to Myanmar

From the Hindu only camp in Cox's Bazaar, the eight Hindu women survivors, subsequently returned to Myanmar at the intervention of U Kyaw Tint Swe a Minister in the office of the State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. Now they are being sheltered with other remaining members of Hindu community, still living in Rakhine state, by Myanmar authorities. When these survivors returned to Myanmar, their story changed for a second time. According to a news story in the Guardian of October 12, 2017, some of these returnees claimed that the attackers were masked and they did not know who was responsible.

In their video interview which may still be accessed on YouTube, the women did not explain how they knew the killers were Rakhines. As a matter of fact in some of the accounts, they unclear about that detail. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1xrk89bjlw 1:50) In the interview, Rekha Dhar described those wearing black outfits with “faces covered so we could not identify them.” Anika Dhar a Hindu woman survivor told Dhaka Tribune of “a group of men wearing black uniforms … armed to the teeth with guns and long knives” but they did not explain why they thought that the attackers were Buddhist.

The second Version: The killers were Rohingya Muslims belonging to ARSA

The earliest known media report about the second version of the killing in Kha Maung Seik was published on September 5, 2017 in The Irrawaddy, a pro Myanmar government news portal. The story said how an 8-year-old girl from the area was luckily away on the August 25 working in another village. Her family had been killed, except an older sister, who was among the eight kidnapped women living in a camp with Muslims in Bangladesh. She also learnt that her sister and other kidnapped women were rescued from the Muslim camp and had already made contact with home. She had already heard from others that “more than 80 members of their communities in Rakhine State had been killed by unidentified armed men … reportedly … Muslim militants.” In an interview on September 16, 2017 the sisters claimed they were now quite sure that the killers were genuine Islamists with ARSA, shouting Allahu Akbar behind their ski masks as they attacked. They massacred the girls' families and husbands, and called the bloodletting their way of celebrating the feast of Eid al-Adha (feast of sacrifice), something they said they had been wanting to do for three years.

After the women returned to Myanmar around the end of September, they ostensibly provided a fuller account of the happening in their village to state run, Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM), on October 5, 2017. The report quoted one of the women saying, “[A] group of about 500 Muslims terrorists led by a foreigner in black clothing and one Noru Lauk from Khamaungseik Village – attacked their village of Ye Baw Kya claiming this “is our territory. … We will murder Buddhists and all of you who worship the statues made of bricks and stones.” (https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/dozens-hindus-killed-maungdaw-relatives.html)

What the Amnesty International claims

Amnesty International believes the second version of women's story. It also claims that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has links with Islamic Jihadi organisations and that ARSA has a large following and it was able to mount a well organised and a coordinated attack on 30 army and police stations/camps on August 25, 2017. I propose to examine these findings of Amnesty International in the light of what has been extensively reported by many reporters, news agencies, human rights groups, the UN agencies and independent researchers.

Amnesty International says that early in the morning of 25 August 2017, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya armed group, attacked around 30 security force outposts in northern Rakhine State. Amnesty also claims that the attacks, were carefully planned and coordinated and in the days that followed, ARSA fighters, along with some mobilized Rohingya villagers, engaged in scores of clashes with security forces. Based on it interviews conducted in Sittwe and Yangon, Myanmar during April and May 2018 and a report of the ICG, “Myanmar's Rohingya Crisis Enters a Dangerous New Phase”, Amnesty International has concluded that on 25 August, ARSA had mobilized a large number of Rohingya villagers – likely around several thousand with bladed weapons or sticks.

Various news reports that was published during August and September 2017, and particularly the Reuters report that I have quoted above, establish that Myanmar government has been following a dual policy towards the Rohingya. While it had offered to grant citizenship to the Hindu Rohingya, it had told the Muslims Rohingyas that they would get identity cards which would designate them as “foreigners”. This had created dissension among the Muslim in the village of with border police. The Myanmar army was aware of this tension between the two religious communities and as a result, they had deployed additional soldiers with border police near the village. Since October 2016, army and police patrols conducted house-to-house confiscating knives and axes and arresting anyone suspected of having militant links. Yet, on August 25, the ARSA militants were able to walk into the village, round up all the Hindu men and women, take them to the paddy fields, slaughter them, burry the bodies and stay with the captured women in the village for two days. The question that remains unanswered is where the Myanmar soldiers and the border police which was already deployed in this village.

In its briefing on May 22, 2018, the Amnesty International claimed that it has documented serious human rights abuses committed by ARSA during and after the attacks in late August 2017. This briefing focused on serious crimes – including unlawful killings and abductions – carried out by ARSA fighters against the Hindu community living in northern Rakhine State. In the refugee camps in Bangladesh in September 2017, Amnesty International conducted 12 interviews with members of the Hindu community who left Myanmar during the violence. In April 2018, Amnesty International conducted research in Sittwe, Myanmar on ARSA abuses and attacks, interviewing 10 additional people from the Hindu community and 33 people from ethnic Rakhine, Khami, Mro, and Thet communities, all of whom were from northern Rakhine State. Six more people from an area where Hindu killings occurred were interviewed by phone from outside the region in May 2018.

Not much is known about the Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Army (ARSA), formerly known as Harakatul Yakeen. It had first emerged in October 2016 when it attacked three police outposts in the Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships, killing nine police officers. According to information given by Myanmar government, ARSA has been operating inside Arakan. On May 15, 2017, in a video uploaded to social media, Ataullah Abu Amar Jununi had claimed that they were mobilizing people for "Our legitimate self-defence is a necessary struggle justified by the needs of human survival." Mr. Phill Hynes, an expert on insurgency in the region had told CNN that he had information that “up to 150 foreign fighters were involved in the ARSA movement”. [http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/asia/myanmar-rohingya-militants-arsa-intl/index.html]. ARSA has denied all charges of foreign help and publicly rejected offers by Al Qaeda, Islamic State and others to send fighters. [http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/arsa-group-denies-links-al-qaeda-isil-170914094048024.html]

Contrary to what Amnesty International's claim the ARSA had mounted a well organised coordinated attack on about 30 Myanmar army and police posts, Rohingyas living in Maungdaw Township had told Al Jazeera that the ARSA men, numbered only a few dozen. They had, stormed the outposts with sticks and knives, and after killing the officers, they fled with light weaponry. [https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/myanmar-arakan-rohingya-salvation-army-170912060700394.html]

Clearly, the hitherto small ARSA movement had become surprisingly strong band of well organised fighters to be able to manage such a huge offensive on some 30 security posts at once. And yet clue to this mobilization we have is a WhatsApp audio message reportedly issued by the leader of ARSA on August 24 which asked all Rohingya men above 14 to participate in the attack on August 25. International Crisis Group (ICG) quoted this WhatsApp message perhaps to indicate a massive new recruitment at the last moment, bucking all prior estimates of the group's strength. The theory that they might also have teamed up with other groups to boost their power, but has not been substantiated till date.

The ARSA attack of August 25, 2017 was reported widely all over the world. The most detailed story was published by the Irrawaddy, a pro-government news portal bases in Yangon. As we will see, even the news story published by Irrawaddy does not support Amnesty International's claim of large scale mobilization armed insurgents by ARSA. It is interesting to recall that quoting from a statement issued by Myanmar Army Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the Irrawaddy had reported that about 10 police and one Myanmar Army soldier were killed in attacks on 24 border guard posts, police stations, and army bases by Muslim militants in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in northern Rakhine State on Thursday night and Friday morning, according to on Friday. According to the same report, five firearms were looted by the attackers and the bodies of 15 suspected militants were found. It was the largest attack by Rohingya Muslim militants since assaults on border guard posts in October 2016. In an earlier statement on the official Facebook page of the State Counselor's Office Information Committee had said that “the extremist Bengali insurgents attacked a police station in Maungdaw region in northern Rakhine state with a handmade bomb explosive and held coordinated attacks on several police posts at 1 a.m.”

Though it has been said that thousands of armed Rohingya had joined the ARSA in attacking the army posts, the Irrawaddy story, quoting from the statement of the commander-in-chief had said that, “some 150 men allegedly attacked Infantry Base 552 and an explosive device was used in an attack in Maungdaw”. According to the State Counselor's Office statement, “another 150 men allegedly attacked a police station at Taung Bazaar at 3 a.m. and the bodies of six suspected attackers were found”. The government statement had listed not 30 but the 24 locations that had come under attack—including Koe Tan Kauk in Rathedaung, which were also attacked by militants in October 2016. It said attacks were ongoing at the time of the statement's release early Friday morning. The New York Times on August 25, 2017 had carried a similar story quoting from a statement from the office of Myanmar's de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi claiming that in the attack at least 12 members of the security forces and at least 59 Rohingya insurgents were killed. The New York Times story also said that according to a statement. Myanmar's armed forces the militants used knives, small arms and explosives in the early-morning attacks on several police and military posts around Buthidaung and Maungdaw, near Myanmar's border with Bangladesh. [https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/muslim-militants-stage-major-attack-rakhine.html]

On September 13, 2017, Ms. Anagha Neelakantan, the Asia Programme Director at the International Crisis Group, had told Al Jazeera that there was no clear ideology underpinning the group's actions. "From what we understand the group is fighting to protect the Rohingya and not anything else," she said. Neelakanthan told Al Jazeera that she was unclear as to how many fighters the group currently has, Neelakantan explained, adding that there was "no evidence that ARSA has any links to local or international Jihadist groups, or that their aims are aligned".

Amnesty given Access to Northern Rakhine

Since 25 August 2017, the government Myanmar had blocked access to northern Rakhine State by the UN and most other humanitarian actors. The International Committee, International Federation, and Myanmar Red Cross Society were permitted to work, although they faced delays and restrictions as well as enormous logistical challenges in reaching populations in need. They made repeated requests to the government for grant of access to the communities in need in Rakhine state. It was only on 6 November, the World Food Programme was able to resume food aid to Rohingya and non-Rohingya communities through the government but with no staff access to monitor distribution directly.

Yet Amnesty International claims that it was able to send its investigators to Yangon and Sittwe and talk to the survivors independently. Ashley S. Kinseth a human rights lawyer who worked with a humanitarian NGO in Rakhine and had lived in Rakhine for several months before the August 25 ARSA attack, was told to move out on August 24 by the government. She has said that in Myanmar all movements were restricted and monitored by the army and security forces. Amnesty claims that their investigators met some of these women in Sittwe. Amnesty has not disclosed how they got access to these women and other witnesses to Sittwe. We have also not been told whether Amnesty team examined the three or four graves/pits from which the bodies were recovered and whether those narrow graves/pits could hold so many bodies. It is important for Amnesty International to clearly state its position on the graves/pits, as the photos of the mass graves or pits were publicized by Myanmar army and they exist in the public domain. Adam Larson of The Indicter Magazine had collected and analyzed the photos of the graves to assess whether so many bodies could have been buried in those narrow graves. According to Larson all three graves/pits were remarkably small in area, or narrow – one body wide at most. He concluded that to hold 12, 16, and 17 corpses each, as reported by Myanmar army, these had to be very deep, almost like well shafts. The bodies had to be piled in vertically, perhaps three bodies across and several layers deep. Furthermore, the way each of the pits were tucked into the edge of the brush, it suggested that the killers wanted these to stay hidden. If it weren't for the survivors' tips, they might have never been found. These were found by Myanmar army after the Hindu survivors gave them the location. Yet all the women in their statements have claimed that the black clad Rohingya killers had tied up the captured men and women away from the village to kill and burry the bodies in some place which they did not see. [http://theindicter.com/fake-news-and-massacre-marketing-in-the-rohingya-crisis-part-i-questioning-the-massacre-stories-1/]

Amnesty International's regional director James Gomez needs to look into this chain of contradictions. It is important to remember that an evolving story that adapts to shifting public perception is a sign of repeated falsification. Sloppy accusations of brutal killing of Hindus and Buddhists against ARSA, betray intuitive attachment to a country performing violence rather than empathy for those on its receiving end.

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PM: Bundesregierung muss Blockade bei Steuertransparenz endlich beenden!

WEED - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 22:00
18.06.2018: Das Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit, WEED und andere Organisationen fordern anlässlich des Deutsch-Französischen Ministertreffens öffentliche länderbezogene Berichterstattung von Konzernen
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Bundesregierung muss Blockade bei Steuertransparenz endlich beenden!

WEED - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 22:00
18.06.2018: Deutsch-französisches Ministertreffen am 19. Juni 2018
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Blutige Rohstoffe für neue Technologien?

WEED - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 22:00
16.06.2018: Global Justice and New Technologies: Is the increasing need of raw materials a blessing or a curse for the exporting countries? Vortrag und Diskussion mit Dr. Claude Kabemba (auf englisch)
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Event in Hamburg: Conflict minerals

WEED - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:00
15.06.2018: Conflict minerals and supply chain responsibility of companies - The regulatory approaches of the EU, US and China and their impact
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Regierungsansätze zu Konfliktrohstoffen

WEED - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:00
15.06.2018: Hamburg, 17:00-19:30 Uhr: Vorträge und Podiumsgespräch
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India: Widespread Arrests and Harassment of Civil Liberties Activists and Lawyers

Alternatives International - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 19:58

In the early hours this morning, three Dalit rights activists, a professor and a social activist from across three cities – Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi were arrested — Surendra Gadling, who is the General Secretary of the Indian Association of People's Lawyers, conducted a raid on the house of Professor Shoma Sen, Head of Department of English, Nagpur University, Sudhir Dhawale, Dalit activist, Republican Panthers and Editor Vidrohi from Mumbai, Rona Wilson, Public Relations Secretary, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners and Mahesh Raut, anti-displacement activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and former Fellow at Prime Minister's Rural Development (PMRD) for Gadchiroli District.

The arrests, purportedly made in response to what started out as First Information Report (FIR) filed with police on 8th January with regard to violence that occurred at a Dalit commemorative event in the Indian state of Maharashtra, on 31st December, 2017. The event had been organized by the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan [the Dalit, Campaign for the Celebration of Bhima Koregaon Victory]. The FIR was converted to the much more serious “conspiracy case” in March 2018 and now has had sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) added to it. All these are repressive measures that the Indian state has routinely used to suppress democratic and people's movements. The arrests today have thus been made under UAPA, which has several draconian provisions which ensure long detention and makes it difficult to obtain bail.

These arrests come in the wake of the mass demand by Dalits, several political parties, human rights organizations and activists for the arrest of the leaders of Sangh Parivar [Hindu ethno-nationalist] organizations, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who were actually responsible for the violence on 1st January, 2018 at Bhima-Koregaon. However the government of Maharashtra, which is a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)] government, has been protecting the actual perpetrators of the violence and has been attempting to create a false narrative that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was caused by the (Dalit) Elgar Parishad and that banned Maoist organizations are involved.

More importantly, Advocate Surendra Gadling has been defending people in political cases, and has been handling many important, crucial cases. Arrest of Surendra Gadling is clearly linked with case of Profesoor Saibaba2[2]. Mr Gadling was constantly being intimidated by police, so as to make him give up doing these cases. Saibaba's bail matter is listed for hearing this Friday.

The Dalit coalition — Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan which includes around 260 mass organizations had organized the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon in which Dalits had played a major role in vanquishing Peshwa rule. The Abhiyan had organized a mass meeting on 31st December, 2017 at the historic Shaniwar wada in Pune, with several prominent speakers. The Elgar Parishad was organised with the stated objective of fighting the Nav-peshwahi (New Peshwas – Hindu ethnonationalists-. The program was hugely successful and attended by thousands from across the state. However on the following day, those commemorating the event at Bhima-Koregaon were attacked by a mob carrying saffron flags (symbol of Hindu-ethnonationalists) and instigated by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, two right wing activists who are closely connected with the ruling BJP and this attack was part of a pre-meditated plan.

It is also no coincidence that the arrests and repression are happening at a time when there is a judicial enquiry headed by Justice J. N. Patel (Retd) into the January violence, to ensure that submissions from the victims of the Hindutva and State violence are suppressed. It has also happening at the time of forthcoming elections in the State as well as in 2019. The BJP government needs to polarize Dalit and Bahujan [non-Dalit marginalized castes] votes. And also to create a terror narrative thereby protecting the real terror culprits Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote who will ensure votes for the BJP.

We strongly condemn this open show of State terror and complete bypassing of the Rule of Law by the BJP governments in the State and the Centre and demand the immediate release of Advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut forthwith .


Montreal, 6th June 2018

* Those arrested have been involved in struggles for civil liberties, in defence of political prisoners and for the end of caste oppression. The arrests come at a time of political manoeuvring by Hindu ethnonationalists seeking to establish their hegemony with a view to sweeping upcoming elections. These arrests have come in the wake of marginalized and oppressed castes who mobilized for an event of historical importance at the start of 2018. During the event violence broke out, instigated by Hindu ethno-nationalist leaders. However the BJP government of the state of Maharashtra where all this is happening , have been protecting the perpetrators and mounting false cases against those who are working for civil liberties, equality and justice. The government is using the power of the state to suppress popular, progressive movements and bolster their conservative, right-wing, ethno-nationalist agenda. [CERAS]

* Professor G..N. Saibaba, is a wheelchair-bound former English professor of Delhi University who was convicted in March 2017 for his Maoist links and for “waging war” against the country.

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PMRS Volunteer Medic Killed by Israeli Sniper in Gaza Yesterday

Alternatives International - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 14:31

Ramallah, Saturday 02 June 2018

Today the Palestinian Medical Relief Society mourns the loss of one of our own. 21-year old volunteer medic Razan Al Najjar was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper yesterday in Gaza as she was attempting to provide first aid to an injured protester. She was shot to the chest, the bullet ripping through the white vest with red emblem and PMRS logo that was marking her as medical personnel.

Yesterday, 3 other PMRS first aiders were injured by live bullets: Rami Abu Jazar, Mahmoud Fa'wur and Mahmoud Odeh. In total, Israel has injured 223 paramedics since the end of April, 29 of them with live ammunition.

Shooting at medical personnel is a war crime under the Geneva conventions, as is shooting at children, journalists and unarmed civilians.

We demand an immediate international response to Israeli humanitarian law violations in Gaza. We call on our international friends and partners to publicly condemn Razan's killing and to demand that Israel be held accountable for its crimes under international law.

We grieve with her family and our colleagues in Gaza during this tragic time. We ask our partners who are in the country to please join us tomorrow at 12pm at the Manara circle in Ramallah to honor Razan's memory and demand an end to the bloody oppression of Gaza. We will be receiving condolences later that day from 3 to 7pm at the PMRS headquarters in Al Bireh.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is the President of PMRS

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Success of Trans-Sectarian ‘Sairoun' Alliance in Recent Iraqi Elections

Alternatives International - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:23

The following is a recent interview with Comrade Salam Ali, member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party, published by ‘Nameh Mardom', the central organ of the Tudeh Party of Iran, on 28 May 2018. It was also published by the Morning Star on 31 May 2018.

The interview deals with the outcome of the parliamentary elections in Iraq on 12 May 2018, and the political significance of the success achieved by the ‘Sairoun' alliance which includes the Iraqi Communist Party, the Istiqama Party which is backed by the Sadrists, and other groups. The alliance contested the elections on an anti-sectarian and anti-corruption platform calling for a democratic civil state based on the principle of citizenship and social justice. It managed to secure the largest number of seats.

The parliamentary election in Iraq a week ago propelled the Iraqi CP to one of the most visible forces in the media not only in Iraq but internationally. What was special to the Sairoun Alliance that attracted the support of those participating in the election?

The Sairoun alliance — a trans-sectarian electoral alliance — which won 54 seats out of 329 in parliament. The victory is the outcome of co-operation between civil democratic activists, including Communists, and the Sadrist movement in the popular mass protests that have continued since July 2015 against the corrupt political system of sectarian-ethnic quota-based power sharing.

The Sairoun Alliance's electoral programme embodied the aspirations of hundreds of thousands of people who were looking for an alternative and an end to sectarian politics that had catastrophic consequences and even threatened the existence of Iraq itself.

Sairoun and its political platform and discourse called for building a civil state based on the principle of citizenship, where all Iraqis are equal irrespective of their ethnic, religious, confessional or ideological affiliations.

Combating corruption — financial, administrative and political — which is endemic in Iraq is also a top priority as are tackling high unemployment, especially among young people, poor education and health and reviving the national industrial and agricultural sectors.

The electoral sloganeering of the ruling political blocs was exposed as empty words that can no longer deceive the people and the shameful record of the ruling elite has long been exposed as about £226 billion of state revenues plundered over the past 13 years.

When the current prime minister Haider al-Abadi took over from his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki in late 2014, he publicly revealed that he inherited empty coffers.

Sairoun presented a concrete plan for combating corruption, that includes enacting a host of legislative, executive and oversight measures and bringing to account the titans of corruption. Reform and rebuilding the state, and providing security and stability, social equality, economic development, defending women's rights and support for culture were also key features of Sairoun's political platform.

One distinguishing feature of the alliance was its emphasis on upholding Iraqi national identity, building state institutions and firmly rejecting foreign interference — both regional and international — in the country's internal affairs.

Ruling blocs have been shamefully subservient to foreign powers — the US, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia — serving their interests at the expense of Iraq's independence and sovereignty, including direct interference in the formation of previous governments.

Importantly, nearly 99 per cent of the candidates fielded by Sairoun were new faces, individuals who had not previously held posts in parliament or government and were not tarnished by corruption and mismanagement. This was in contrast to the “old faces” of the ruling blocs, many of whom were not re-elected.

Thus Sairoun had national and civil character, and was presented to electorate and people as both anti-sectarian and anti-corruption.

Given that electoral blocs favoured by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the US — Amiri, Al-Maliki and Haidar Al-Abadi — didn't do as was expected by their backers, could this be a starting point to significantly limiting the influence and interference of external regional and global forces in Iraq's affair?

The voter turnout was 44.5 per cent — the lowest since 2006. In 2014, it was 60 per cent.

This is indicative of widespread resentment, disillusionment and disaffection with the corrupt ruling elite and their policies and was particularly clear in areas that had been regarded as strongholds of Islamist parties — urban centres, Baghdad and other provinces in central and southern Iraq.

It is an important feature as it marks a change in political awareness and a movement away from identity-based and sectarian politics.

Thus boycotting the vote by these sections of the population was an expression of resentment — a protest vote.

The State of Law bloc, led by Nouri al-Maliki, was the biggest loser, with its seats reduced from 92 in 2014 to 26 seats in 2018. The second biggest bloc, however, was Al Fateh (Conquest), led by Hadi al-Amiri, with 47 seats. Supported by members of the Popular Mobilisation Units (Hashd al-Shaabi), it sought to capitalise politically on their role in the battle against terrorist Isis. Prime Minister Abadi's bloc, Nasr [Victory] Alliance came third, with 42 votes.

As pointed out above, the ruling groups had opened the door to foreign interference in Iraq's internal affairs, but, despite their electoral losses, they are not expected to give up their dominant positions of power or the enormous privileges easily or voluntarily.

They will seek the support of their external backers in their political manoeuvres in forming the new government. US and Iranian high-level envoys Brett McGurk and Qasem Soleimani visited Iraq soon after the elections attempting to influence this process.

The US and Iran continue to be major players in Iraq and the whole region, along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The recent escalation of tension as a result of Washington's decision to pull out of the Iran international nuclear deal will further complicate the Iraqi political scene and impact on its stability and security.

The Sairoun alliance has openly rejected such blatant interference. It has stressed the need for a strong independent Iraqi national will, coupled with a principled and rational political discourse that would ensure good relations with all Iraq's neighbours based on mutual respect of national independence and sovereignty.

Putting an end to foreign interference requires concrete steps to remedy the fragile internal situation and strengthening the societal fabric and national unity.

Are the Sadrists really committed to the slogans advocating a civil, non-sectarian, forward-looking democratic and federal Iraq? Muqtada al-Sadr seems to have reinforced his political position through this election and being seen as the de facto leader of Sairoun Alliance, but, as a leader of one of the largest Shia movements, would he be willing or capable to play an effective role in building non-sectarian political system?

On the political level, all the parties of the Sairoun alliance have generally adhered to its programme during the electoral campaign. In the aftermath of the elections, there is close coordination with regard to the next steps, dialogue and negotiations with other blocs.

These negotiations are still in their initial stage and are aimed to explore a common ground regarding the formation of the largest bloc in parliament that would be assigned the job of forming the new government as there was no outright winner with a majority in parliament.

Sairoun, as well as the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al Sadr, have reiterated their commitment to the election campaign promises. The alliance will not accept a return to sectarian-ethnic quota-based power sharing in the formation of the new government. It must be based on an anti-sectarian and anti-corruption platform, in line with basic tenets of Sairoun's programme.

Agreement on the government programme comes first, before discussing who would be the nominee to the post of prime minister and other details. If these objectives are not achieved then, as already publicly declared, Sairoun will become the main opposition force in parliament.

Its main components and the civil democratic forces will also continue be active participants in the mass protest movement against sectarian politics and corruption, defending human and democratic rights, and mobilising for political reform and change.

What is your assessment of the Iraqi Communist Party's (ICP) performance in this election? According to news released there were only two successful candidates — openly members of the ICP — out of more than 54 seats won by Sairoun Alliance. What were the key factors in limiting its winning more seats? Did this election coalition help the ICP attract more popular attention and visibility in the Iraqi society?

The party organised a big electoral campaign, inside Iraq and abroad, that had a positive impact on its status among the people and enhanced its political prestige. Party activists managed to reach remote areas and mobilise for the alliance as well as presenting the party views and analysis.

It enabled the party organisations and cadres to get closer to the popular masses, develop close links and build a solid base for future political work and campaigns in defence of fundamental democratic rights and for our national, democratic alternative.

Two party candidates were successful. Comrade Raid Fahmi, the secretary of the central committee, came second in Baghdad and Haifaa al-Amin came third in Thi Qar province in the south. Other party candidates were unfortunately unsuccessful despite an effective election campaign. There were 58 party candidates in 14 provinces.

Initial evaluation and assessment of the party performance and its election results indicate that the overall number of votes for its candidates has increased in comparison to 2014. A further analysis of the results, by the party leadership and all organisations, will help to identify weaknesses, as well as highlight successes and suggest new initiatives.

This will also include the party media campaign, which worked hard despite limited resources, and had to compete with ruling blocs that own dozens of TV stations and spend vast amounts of money on their publicity campaigns.

As confirmed by independent and civil society monitors, the elections were marred by irregularities and there were also accusations of manipulation of final vote counts by the Electoral Commission. This has taken place despite the introduction of electronic vote counting devices to speed up the process and prevent rigging.

Serious questions were raised about the separate “special vote” for members of the armed and security forces who number about 700,000, as well as for Iraqi communities abroad numbering 179,000. It took a week to declare the final results.

Two very important factors adversely affected the whole process. The first is the so-called Sainte-Lague system [it's a highest quotient method for allocating seats in party-list proportional representation]. Despite a big campaign by civil democratic forces to amend it, the parliament — dominated by the ruling blocs — kept the same formula with a high divisor of 1.7 [that sets a high threshold for allocating seats]. The second, is the fact that the Electoral Commission itself was set up on the basis of the sectarian-ethnic quota-based system.

It is therefore one of the priorities of the Sairoun alliance, and of its agenda for a new government, to reform the whole electoral system including the electoral law.

How do you evaluate Ayatollah Sistani's actions and role in this election?

The role of the Shiite religious leader Ayatollah Sistani has been positive. Long before the elections he distanced himself from the corrupt politicians in power and on several occasions declared, through his official spokesmen, his support for the just demands of the peaceful protestors in their demonstrations in Baghdad and other provinces across Iraq, against corruption and poor services.

He also refused, in recent months, to receive any of the leading political figures of the ruling blocs at his house in Najaf — as a sign of his disapproval of their policies.

It is noteworthy that the message from Ayatollah Sistani, before the elections, that “He who was tried should not be tried' was interpreted by his followers as advising them not to re-elect corrupt rulers.

He also stated that it was up to Iraqi citizens to decide to vote or not. On previous occasions he had preached that it was the duty of every Iraqi to vote, which was used by Islamist parties as a pretext to mobilise voters and legitimise themselves as defenders of the sect against its presumed enemies.

Why was Sairoun successful and how has the experience of building alliances for election purposes affected the deep sectarian divide in Iraq?

In addition to the factors contributing to the success of the Sairoun Alliance mentioned above, it was effectively the only new development in political alliances before the elections on May 12.

All the other blocs were a product of previous alliances of sectarian and ethnic identities. Some even attempted to camouflage their real identity by adopting civil titles and slogans.

Sairoun was also able to maintain its unity while other blocs suffered splits and fragmentation.

It can be said that this trans-sectarian approach has been a unique development in an otherwise bleak political landscape. The fact that it actually emerged from the mass protest movement adds to its political significance, as a grassroots dynamic in the formation of alliances.

It has enhanced an all-encompassing Iraqi national identity and contributed to rebuilding Iraq's national unity.

Based on this coalition experience, would the Iraqi Communist Party consider continuing cooperation or further joint activities with the Sadrists and other coalition members and, if so, on what platform?

The party will continue to work with the Sadrist movement and other members of the Sairoun Alliance on the basis of its programme which has adopted and clarified the demands of popular protest movement. It also converges with the party's national democratic programme that calls for putting an end to the system of political sectarianism and establishing a democratic civil state based on the principle of citizenship and social justice.

Achieving this objective requires new forces and alliances that can bring about a real change in the balance of forces. Therefore, the success of Sairoun, as a big trans-sectarian bloc of a national and civil character, is a first step in the struggle to break the existing monopoly of political power.

The party will also continue to work with the Democratic Current movement all other civil and democratic forces.

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Vortrag "Konfliktrohstoffe - Hintergründe und Handlungsoptionen" in Hamburg

WEED - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 22:00
31.05.2018: Vortrag, Film und Diskussion bei den Aktionstagen Nachhaltigkeit an der Universität Hamburg
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Say Hello To Justin Trudeau, The World's Newest Oil Executive

Alternatives International - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 18:16

The Canadian prime minister presents himself as a climate hero. By promising to nationalise the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he reveals his true self

In case anyone wondered, this is how the world ends: with the cutest, progressivest, boybandiest leader in the world going fully in the tank for the oil industry.

Justin Trudeau's government announced on Tuesday that it would nationalize the Kinder Morgan pipeline running from the tar sands of Alberta to the tidewater of British Columbia. It will fork over at least $4.5bn in Canadian taxpayers' money for the right to own a 60-year-old pipe that springs leaks regularly, and for the right to push through a second pipeline on the same route – a proposal that has provoked strong opposition.

That opposition has come from three main sources. First are many of Canada's First Nations groups, who don't want their land used for this purpose without their permission, and who fear the effects of oil spills on the oceans and forests they depend on. Second are the residents of Canada's west coast, who don't want hundreds of additional tankers plying the narrow inlets around Vancouver on the theory that eventually there's going to be an oil spill. And third are climate scientists, who point out that even if Trudeau's pipeline doesn't spill oil into the ocean, it will spill carbon into the atmosphere.

Lots of carbon: Trudeau told oil executives last year that “no country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave it there”. That's apparently how much he plans to dig up and burn – and if he's successful, the one half of 1% of the planet that is Canadian will have awarded to itself almost one-third of the remaining carbon budget between us and the 1.5 degree rise in temperature the planet drew as a red line in Paris. There's no way of spinning the math that makes that okay – Canadians already emit more carbon per capita than Americans. Hell, than Saudi Arabians.

Is this a clever financial decision that will somehow make Canada rich? Certainly not in the long run. Cleaning up the tar sands complex in Alberta – the biggest, ugliest scar on the surface of the earth – is already estimated to cost more than the total revenues generated by all the oil that's come out of the ground. Meanwhile, when something goes wrong, Canada is now on the hook: when BP tarred the Gulf of Mexico, the US was at least able to exact billions of dollars in fines to help with the cleanup. Canada will get to sue itself.

No, this is simply a scared prime minister playing politics. He's worried about the reaction in Alberta if the pipe is not built, and so he has mortgaged his credibility. His predecessor, Stephen Harper, probably would not have dared try – the outcry from environmentalists and First Nations would have been too overwhelming. But Trudeau is banking on the fact that his liberal charm will soothe things over. Since he's got Trump to point to – a true climate denier – maybe he'll get away with it.

But it seems like a bad bet to me. Faced with the same situation – a revolt over the Keystone XL pipeline – Barack Obama delayed for several years to avoid antagonizing either side. He ultimately decided he couldn't defend the climate cost of building it, and so became the first world leader to explicitly reject a big piece of infrastructure on global warming grounds. Trudeau has made the exact opposite call, and now we'll see if pipeline opponents cave.

I was in Vancouver two weeks ago to help activists raise money for lawyers, and I would guess that the civil disobedience will continue – so far, two members of parliament have been arrested, an escalation we've never seen even in the States. Coast Salish elders have built a “watch house” along the pipeline route and, as at Standing Rock, other native activists have been pouring in – I'm guessing that making this petro-colonialism officially state sponsored will only harden people's resolution. The showdown will be powerfully symbolic: kayaktivists, for instance, have paddled peacefully around the pipeline's terminal, at least until Kinder Morgan put up an ugly razor wire barrier in the middle of the harbor.

Now it's Trudeau who owns the razor wire, Trudeau who has to battle his own people. All in the name of pouring more carbon into the air, so he can make the oil companies back at the Alberta end of his pipe a little more money. We know now how history will remember Justin Trudeau: not as a dreamy progressive, but as one more pathetic employee of the richest, most reckless industry in the planet's history.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/29/justin-trudeau-world-newest-oil-executive-kinder-morgan

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Need More Proof of Genocide in Myanmar? It's Being Born Right Now

Alternatives International - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 15:34

Nine months since the violent attacks of Aug. 25, 2017, the first of thousands of pregnancies as a result of rape are coming to term

Nine months since the violent attacks of Aug. 25, 2017, and thereafter forced 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, the first of thousands of pregnancies as a result of rape are coming to term.

For these women and girls, the ongoing crisis is inescapably urgent. The imminent births won't wait. Humanitarian organizations are exasperated by the inadequacy of responses to date. The foreseeable monsoon season is approaching and the already traumatized women and girls lack obstetric or gynecological care. Half of the refugee settlements still lack basic clinical services, so safe births of any kind present a challenge. There are concerns about possible infanticide as the conditions, suffering and implications overwhelm the refugees.

Safe births of any kind present a challenge

The problem is not limited to a handful of cases or to those from certain places. The cases of rape — often gang-rape by Myanmar soldiers — number in the many thousands and from across the Rohingya homeland. This was systematic and widespread. The resulting pregnancies, in addition to testimonies and remaining physical scars, provide the evidence.

The jarring report “Rape By Command” (Kaladan Press, 2018) sets out what happened according to victim testimonies from the camps. Even young girls were raped, some in front of parents, sometimes left for dead. The scale of sexual violence was obviously pursuant to a plan with unmistakable purpose. The matter has been addressed before the UN Security Council, and received widespread condemnation from the UN Secretary-General, governments and international civil society.

“Genocidal rape” or “rape as a weapon of genocide” is known from other situations, and has been internationally adjudicated, including the crime of “forced impregnation” which was, for example, a part of the strategy of dominance and conquest perpetrated by Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 1990s. “Genocidal rape” was also committed in Rwanda in 1994 according to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The character of the crime is especially heinous because of the uniquely lasting consequences — including children born of the attacks.

In this light, it is perplexing that the international community, including Canada, hesitates to name the crime. There is no shortage of evidence — testimonial, documentary and physical. Are we unsure what has happened or who is responsible? Are we unsure what is genocide?

It is perplexing that the international community, including Canada, hesitates to name the crime

At the time of the Holocaust, there was not yet a name for the crime or an international standard to apply. That changed with adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which Lester B. Pearson signed on behalf of Canada in 1949 (and Burma/Myanmar ratified in 1956). At least for the 149 parties to the convention, the law is clear.

“Genocide” is defined in Article 2 of the Convention as specified “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such” including: killings; causing serious bodily or mental harm; inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about destruction of the group in whole or in part; preventing births; or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Even a cursory review of the situation of the Rohingya makes clear that most if not all of the acts of genocide have occurred. And it is impossible for Myanmar to deny its own responsibility for the composite of its policies, laws, programs, practices, positions and statements that constitute the general and specific conduct that is the genocide. Myanmar has more than just failed to prevent or punish the acts proscribed under the Genocide Convention, but it has commissioned them by its laws and by the acts of its agents (primarily, but not exclusively, the military).

Matters of genocide demand clarity of mind, position and expression. We must know it when we see it and we must name it. That is the clear lesson of history. It is arguably the minimum of good faith for States Parties to the 1948 Convention, Canada included.

As a matter of general international law, the standard for naming genocide is “reasonable certainty.” Today there is abundant evidence, amounting to or surpassing reasonable certainty, establishing genocide committed by Myanmar against the Rohingya. We see it with our very eyes. It exists in part in the babies now being born in the Bangladeshi camps.

Myanmar is responsible — by its acts and omissions — for what has happened and is still happening. And only Myanmar can change its policies, laws and practices as well as its statements. But Canada and its allies should have no doubt that the now forcibly pregnant women and girls in the Bangladeshi camps are victims of genocide. We need to call this campaign of rape and slaughter what it is, and act accordingly.

John Packer is the Neuberger-Jesin professor of international conflict resolution at the University of Ottawa.

Source: http://nationalpost.com/opinion/comment-need-more-proof-of-genocide-in-myanmar-its-being-born-right-now

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Years of Civil Society Protest Bring Change to Iraq

Alternatives International - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 21:49

Forming a government, following the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq, will take time, but there is now hope for significant change and reform. The strong showing of the Saeroun Lil-Islah (“Marching for Reform”) alliance, which won 55 seats in the parliament, was a clear endorsement for ending government corruption by the appointment of qualified technocrats to head government agencies and refusing to award ministries on the basis of sectarian quotas.

The alliance, whose optimistic slogan is “To Build a Civil State, a State of Citizenship and Social Justice,” brought together communists, business leaders, and religious community activists under the leadership of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Saeroun's victory was a direct outgrowth of the massive protests that have taken place in Iraq, every Friday, since 2015. It was in the streets that activists learned to come together and build the alliances to inspire a new, non-sectarian, national project.

Jassim al-Helfi, president of a civil society research center in Baghdad, a leader of the Iraqi Communist Party, and one of the principal organizers of the Friday demonstrations, told the ICSSI that in 2015 the Iraqi civil society activists who launched the anti-corruption protests decided intentionally to open the protests to followers of Muqtadaal-Sadr. Many criticized this choice, accusing al-Helfi and others of having sold out to the Islamists. But the activists realized that only that Shiite movement would bring the poorest members of Iraqi society into the protests. This was vitally important, as a second major goal of the protests was government provision of basic services.

In April of 2016, when thousands of protestors broke into the government's Green Zone, climbing over walls and fortified cement barricades, the people understood corruption and privilege in new terms: they saw drinkable water used for flower beds, fountains that ran continuously, lights that burned 24/7—meanwhile in Sadr City, houses lacked running water and had electricity at best only a few hours a day.

From this realization came rage, and a query, behind closed doors, from al-Sadr to the leaders of the Communist Party. They were few in number compared to his many followers, yet he respected them as political partners. ‘And now' he asked, ‘that we are in the Green Zone, what do you want? A coup?' ‘No,' was the response. ‘Now we leave, without destroying buildings or government vehicles—we begin to build a new political movement for the 2018 elections, and then, we win!'

And, win they did. It was a victory for sustained nonviolent protest, a victory that could end the years of strife that followed the imposition of a sectarian government by the United States. Saeroun's victory will for the first time, bring to the Iraqi Parliament several women from the Communist Party, including one from Najaf, a stronghold of conservative Islam, marked by its patriarchal, tribal society.

Still, the elections were not without problem. Long-standing dissatisfaction with the government kept many away from the polls; only 45% of those eligible to vote did so. In some locations there is great concern about election fraud. Opposition parties in the Kurdish region are particularly suspicious of the low number of votes they received, and most civil society organizations denounce electoral fraud. In Kirkuk, officials are already conducting a manual recount of the ballots. Depending on the outcome, there may be recounts elsewhere.

While the supporters of Saeroun were motivated to vote by the coalition's reform agenda, the work of forming a government that can implement those reforms will be complex. Saeroun's 55 seats fall very far short of a majority of the 329-seat parliament. Two other lists did almost as well at the polls: Al-Nasr list, identified with the current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, received 51 seats, and Al-Fatih list, a coalition of the militias that took up arms against Daesh, received 49 seats. Seven other lists won smaller numbers of seats. The large number of lists, or political blocs, and the relatively small number of votes any one list received was a hallmark of this election and a striking difference from past elections.

There must now be compromise, agreements, and the forging of even broader alliances to put together a stable, ruling coalition—undoubtedly a difficult undertaking. It is not clear which of the leading lists will be given the first opportunity to attempt to form a government. Muqtada al-Sadr is reaching out widely, stating a willingness to ally with all who support a government of competent professionals and technocrats. He is adamant, however, that he would have Saeroun play an opposition role rather than support a sectarian government.

The current situation, itself the result of an unlikely alliance of diverse groups within Iraq, and especially the tireless efforts of activists that the ICSSI has worked with for years, leads us to believe that another Iraq is possible, and that it is being built now.

May 18, 2019

Source: http://www.iraqicivilsociety.org/archives/8691

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Obituary: Ashok Mitra (1928–2018)

Alternatives International - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 00:50

For me, the greatness of Ashok Mitra, who passed away recently, lies in the fact that his contributions to the understanding of centre–state relations in India were most illuminating. What distinguished Mitra was his attempt to develop a Marxist framework on centre–state relations. This area of work is not popular among left-wing economists in India, partly due to the difficulty of empirical substantiation of centre–state relations (except in finance), but more due to the difficulty of working out the process by which the class interests get implicated in these relations.

Mitra's book Terms of Trade and Class Relations was a pioneering work on understanding the relations between agriculture and industry in the context of India's capitalist economy, while also providing brilliant insights on the implications of those relations for centre–state conflicts in India. This book still remains a unique work of its kind. When I was a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University I had the opportunity to listen to a series of lectures he gave on this book, and I have never forgotten the thrust of those lectures, especially relating to class dimensions in the working of Indian federalism. Later, when I was at Oxford University, researching centre–state relations and their implications on regional development—in order to understand Punjab's development pattern—I complained once to Meghnad Desai (who also takes interest in centre–state relations) that apart from Mitra, his generation of left-wing economists had not produced good, theoretically-informed work on this subject, which younger scholars could look to for further development. Desai agreed, with a somewhat evasive and yet challenging response that this academic void should perhaps encourage me to develop such theoretical work myself. With the view of meeting this challenge, I thought of getting in touch with Mitra.

A few years ago, when I was on sabbatical leave in India, I rang up Mitra to request a discussion on the subject. He was very friendly, but complained that his hearing was not good and, therefore, he had difficulty in holding a fruitful conversation over the telephone. He suggested that the best course would be for me to come to Calcutta where he would spend as much time with me as I wanted. I did think of going to Calcutta, knowing the importance of conversing with such a unique expertise on the subject, but it will remain one of my serious regrets that I did not make a great enough effort for our meeting to materialize.

Mitra consistently criticized the growing centralization in India under all central governments. In particular, he highlighted four key issues in his writings on centre–state relations. One, that increasing centralization leads to states not being responsible for financial management, since it increased dependence and financial lethargy in the states. This dependence tended to perpetuate further centralization.

Two, that a state's autonomy to chart a different path of development is hindered by concentration of economic policy decision-making at the centre. This aspect was highlighted when the neo-liberal turn in economic policy at the centre in 1991 was launched in one stroke, without states being given the opportunity to critically evaluate the new policy framework, or understand either the reasons or the full implications of this sudden policy turn. With the launch of this policy framework, the states also had to practice neo-liberalism and privatization, irrespective of whether they agreed or disagreed with this policy. This had a particularly devastating impact on the policymaking framework in West Bengal, where the CPI(M)-led government started following the policy of competitive privatization in order to industrialize, repressing its own peasant support base—which was resisting land acquisition for corporate business-led industrialization—in the process.

Three, that conflicting class interests were deeply implicated in the mode of functioning of centre–state relations, and within the matrix of those conflicting class interests, the big monopoly capital is dominant in the central decision-making processes. Four, increasing centralization weakens the modes of diversity and forces of democracy.

Despite the emergence of increased electoral power of regional parties in India, the intellectual discourse still remains hegemonized by pro-centralization tendencies. This becomes more glaring as even the parliamentary left parties in India and most intellectuals allied to these parties have become centralists or neo-centralists, in the name of strengthening Indian nationhood. Mitra's death is an immense loss to those who envision a decentralized reconstruction of India.

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Vergabebericht 2014

WEED - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 22:00
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Studie: Unternehmensteuern in Deutschland Rechtliche Grauzonen und zivil gesellschaftliche Alternativen

WEED - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 22:00
02.05.2018: Gemeinsam mit Christoph Trautvetter und Silke Ötsch hat WEED-Referent Markus Henn die neue Studie für die Otto-Brenner-Stiftung gebschrieben.
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Nachruf auf Elmar Altvater

WEED - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 22:00
01.05.2018: Wir trauern um unser langjähriges Mitglied Elmar Altvater, der am 1. Mai verstorben ist.
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