Posts Tagged ‘independence’

Johann Hari: Palestinians should now declare their independence

March 13, 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to the US request with a big concrete slap

Johann Hari, The Independent/UK, March 12, 2010


CHRIS COADY/ NB ILLUSTRATION

Could the Israeli government make it any more obvious they have no intention of sharing the Over-Promised Land with its other inhabitants?

This week the Obama administration – who give Israel $3bn a year, more than they dole out to any other nation on earth – made a meek and craven request for Israelis to simply have a pause in seizing even more land, and to sit down with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a big concrete slap: the announcement of 1,600 more homes to be built on occupied Palestinian land from which Arabs will be forcibly kept out. He has made it plain he will not loosen his grip by an inch, announcing: “Even if [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen comes along and says he’s ready to sign a peace deal on the spot, we will restore settlement construction to its previous levels.” No compromise. Never.

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U.S. “would veto” Palestinian state move: Senators

November 17, 2009

Reuters, Nov. 16, 2009

By Douglas Hamilton

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United States would veto a Palestinian declaration of statehood in the United Nations Security Council, U.S. senators visiting Israel said Monday.

They said the threat by Palestinian officials to take the issue to a United Nations resolution was a waste of time and would go nowhere. They urged Arab states to stop it. “It would be D.O.A. – dead on arrival,” Democratic Party Senator Ted Kaufman (DE) told a news conference in Jerusalem. “It’s a waste of time.”

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Raina: Kashmir Ripe for Endgame?

October 1, 2009

By Badri Raina, ZNet, Oct 1, 2009

Badri Raina’s ZSpace Page

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I have before me the full text of the report on Kashmir prepared by Beersman Paul, President, Human Rights Council, Geneva, submitted to the Council at its 12th session, 14th Sept.,-2nd October, 2009.

The report, which is titled “Belgian Association for Solidarity with Jammu & Kashmir: Solution Under the Indian Constitution,” encapsulates the interactions and findings of Mr. Beersman during his “study tour through Jammu & Kashmir State from June 30-July 27, 2009.

After a brief, factual introductory, Beersman lists the individuals and organizations he interviewed during what must clearly have been an exhausting job of fact-finding, covering all three provinces of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and most shades of opinion, although I do not find any entries either for Syed Ali Shah Geelani (the only separatist leader who holds fast to the objective of accession of the state with Pakistan, via, no doubt the formality of self-determination), for Yaseen Malik (JKLF, who steadfastly espouses “independence” from both India and Pakistan) or any interview with a Kashmiri Pandit spokesperson (remembering that the Pandits, at the other end of the spectrum, want the state’s accession to India to be unambiguously cemented.) The text can be accessed at http://basjak.org.

Hereunder is a bullet-point summation of the significant points made by some significant Valley leaders other than those whose allegiance to the accession with India remains firmly in place, often referred to as the “mainstream” parties and political groups. My catalogue is clearly not intended to reproduce the full text of what each individual/organization is recorded to have said in Beersman’s report, but to highlight what seem to me the chief concerns of each.

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The Uighurs and China: lost and found nation

July 9, 2009

Yitzhak Shichor, Open Democracy, July 6, 2009

The broader roots of the eruption of protest in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang lie in the experience of the Uighur people under Beijing’s rule, says Yitzhak Shichor.

The reports of violence and deaths in the city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province in northwest China, draw renewed attention to this comparatively neglected region of China and of central Asia. The exact details of what happened there on the night of 5-6 July 2009 are unclear and (inevitably) disputed, though the background may include the assaults on Uighur migrant workers at a toy factory in Guangdong province on 26 June (in which two are reported dead and dozens injured).

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Terror Indian Poll in Kashmir: A Vote for Independence

November 19, 2008

Dr Abdur Ruff Colachal, Nov 19, 2008

The larger world is quite unimpressed by the Indian polls in Kashmir by keeping the terror military threat more active. Unlike the great powers around, Kashmiris could be easily fooled by India and its agents in and around country by keeping them under its terror control and feeding false promise of freedom and development and also democracy to them. But Kashmiris have voted for both re-independence and development and they have hinted they would not like to antagonize India after achieving freedom from hegemonic India.

In view of prevailing mood of the Kashmiris seeking complete re-independence from occupier India, Indian poll action in JK on Nov 17 does not reflect the realities, though India keeps asking the USA and other powers to take note of the changing realities to accommodate its concerns. The state elections are being staggered over seven phases to allow authorities to mount a huge security operation to contain the freedom movement’s anti-poll campaign. In the first stage of elections, voting has been held in ten of the 87 state assembly segments.

India used force against the anti-poll campaign by the freedom leaders and tries to reduce the impact of the freedom struggle started form the Muzaffarabad March where several freedom strugglers including a major leader were killed by Indian terror forces. Indian agencies have made the poll possible as it feared international shame if polls are not held. Indian media is focused on the very conduct of polls. Turnout in the 10 seats contested across Jammu and Kashmir state was above average, but as expected by India. More surprising perhaps was a turnout of 59 percent in three seats contested in the Kashmir Valley, up from around 55 percent in the same seats in 2002. Previous elections have seen freedom fighters threatening violence to enforce their call for a boycott, and Indian soldiers trying to coerce people to vote. This time the freedom fighters did not resort to anti-state terror measures and said they would not interfere.

On the eve of the polls, the Indian government arrested and tortured freedom leaders and activists and terrorized the Kashmiris to vote. By conducting polls against the will and wishes of the freedom loving people and the freedom fighters by police and military threats, India has in fact killed democracy in Kashmir. The freedom fighters resisted from counter-force and the polls were “thus peaceful”. Four freedom activists and two army men were killed in two separate encounters on poll day in the State while another soldier was abducted after a gunfight in Poonch.

However surprising the turnout in Bandipora, voters in this picturesque Township insist their vote should not be misconstrued as “the vote against the movement”. Not just voters but the contestants also sought to reiterate that they did not seek vote in favour of any ideology but “exclusively for development. At least 42 people were shot dead by police when hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims took to the streets this year shouting “Azadi” (freedom).

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the people are yearning for revival of the golden era of governance that the state had witnessed under the stewardship of Mufti Sayeed between 2002 and 2005. PDP says the people have decided to teach the National Conference, a pro-Hindutva party, a lesson for the power-hungry politics of deceit practiced by the party over the years and they came out in large number yesterday to do so

State Terror and Violations

Human rights and poll monitor groups are not spared by the forces. Those who had gone to monitor the “freeness and fairness of polls” are behind the bars. Prominent human rights activist Parvez Imroz, the president of Coalition of Civil Societies, was beaten and arrested by police at Bandipora. Bar association struck its work in high court and other courts here in protest against the beating and arrest of Imroz. That apart – the man has been of late been in news for his Coalition’s interest in monitoring elections in Jammu and Kashmir and India has been focused on his torture and silence.

Important here is the history of detentions that Imroz has faced in the past. Since 2002, J&K CCS has been monitoring elections in the state. Their 2002 Assembly election report and later the 2004 parliamentary election report was not taken well by the powers-that-be because it contained several references to how the police and the Army had coerced people to vote. Significantly, the coalition even lost one of its volunteers during the 2004 elections when the vehicle, in which she was traveling, was targeted in a mine blast. Kurram Pervez lost his leg in the accident. He had to get it amputated. The leader of human rights campaign in the valley, he has long been espousing the cause of the voiceless especially those killed in custody and those who disappeared over the past several years of conflict in the valley. Very recently, Imroz’s house was under attack from people who are yet to be identified and punished.

They voted for Re-independence

Independence is a separate issue from the need for a better life, which a good administration can provide. While it is too early to draw firm conclusions from Monday’s first stage in a seven-part election across a very diverse state, the turnout in parts of the mainly Muslim Kashmir Valley was a surprise for separatists who had heatedly called for a boycott. This year has seen some of the biggest anti-India protests in the Kashmir Valley since an insurgency began in 1989, but a 70-year-old man said they wanted to cast their ballots even though they had taken part in protest marches

A good turnout at the start of Indian Kashmir state elections may mean freedom fighters don’t want to cause death to Kashmir by Indian terror forces under guise of tackling the opposition by the ‘separatists’. In fact of late freedom leaders showed inclination for Kashmir development while gaining freedom back from India. However, talk of democracy is something neither Kashmiris nor Indians know for sure. For Kashmiris it is state terrorism that is shown to them as democracy. An effective poll mechanism of promising life and development of Kashmir along with pressure tactics have brought a lot people to vote for a new government, but they say in voice that they don’t vote for India.

If Hindu-terrorists are harassed by the state, the Hindutva forces come to their rescue. Breaking his silence over the Maharashtra anti-terror squad (ATS) probing the September 29 Malegaon bomb blasts that killed six persons, Lok Sabha Opposition leader LK Advani on 17Nov expressed “shock and outrage” over the way Sadhvi Pragya was “physically and psychologically tortured and abused in obscene language by her interrogators.” Advani should not realize the way the Muslims of India and Kashmir are being ill-treated by Indian forces and jail authorities. This is main reason how Kashmir poll was peaceful so far.

Illegal Indian Polls

Current Indian poll in JK is ilegal and immoral. The chairmen of Hurriyat factions, senior freedom leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that the sanctity of elections have been lost in presence of 7 lakhs troops. Reacting to the statement of authorities that 55 per cent people voted in first phase of election, Geelani said that the claim of free and fair elections ‘is a sheer joke’. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference which had called for a boycott, questioned the official figures and said free and fair voting was impossible in the presence of hundreds of thousands of troops. But more mainstream political parties appeared to have won some listeners by arguing that the need to choose good government that can build roads and improve civic amenities would not necessarily undermine the independence movement. Many voters said they still wanted independence as firmly as ever, but experts said a successful election across Kashmir would give the state and central government the chance to offer better governance and defuse the independence movement to some extent.

Some Observations

One does not clearly know if the current governor Vohra has difference of opinion over the poll show when he met the big bosses in New Delhi recently, but as an appointed agent of New Delhi as governor of JK, he still continues to work for Indian case in JK by ensuring the poll at any cost by using the terror forces taking positions street by street.  It was a common knowledge that the occupying Indians would go all about presenting a pro-India image for the watching world and with the waste resources wasted on poll machinations in JK, the task would not have been a total flop given a sort of neutral posture adopted by the freedom leaders. But the trend would fast change.

US president-elect Obama’s passion for a free Kashmir must have given the Kashmiris and their freedom leaders a fresh boost in pursuing their goals in non-confrontational manner. But, the unexpected turnout in 10 assembly constituencies that went to polls on Monday has given a boost to the pro-India so-called “mainstream” parties. Each party in JK wants to claim some credit for the polls. They believe massive participation of people will set a trend for the rest of the polling, especially in Srinagar and will give a confidence to candidates as well as voters. That is the joke being played out by New Delhi’s strategists, quit tragically, if not pathetically.

Does it all mean that India would not surrender sovereignty back to Kashmir in a peaceful manner? Does it mean Kashmir is permanently under Indian brute control? As a mark of support for Kashmir vote for re-independence, six mini trucks carrying goods from Pakistani Kashmir crossed the border in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, it is quite clear that Kashmiris have voted not for Indian terrorist-rule in Kashmir, but, on the contrary, to get rid of India oppression and gain freedom. Kashmiris have showcased their strength once again in making the vote as a declaration for gaining independence from India. India should read the message quite correctly and not to day-dream about keeping JK under its terror custody forever!

Kashmir Freedom seems to be fast approaching!

What freedom means in Kashmir

September 16, 2008

By Soutik Biswas
BBC News, Srinagar

A pro-freedom procession in Kashmir

People have raised Pakistani flags in recent demonstrations

The newspaper headlines in the mainly Muslim valley in India-administered Kashmir say it all.

‘Freedom is sweet, no matter how it comes’, says one. ‘People pray for freedom,’ chimes another, reporting on Friday prayers in the valley.

A row over transferring land for a Hindu pilgrimage escalated into a nationalist upsurge in the valley in recent months. Some 30 people have died after security forces fired on protests here. Many say the relative calm at present is just the lull before another storm.

In the eye of the storm is the demand for azadi (freedom) for people living in the valley; the latest bout of unrest has brought the contentious issue back into the limelight again.

For many Indians the demand strikes at the heart of the ‘idea of India’, of a nation that is capable of handling diversity and staying united.

State of mind

But for many of the majority Muslims living in the valley, freedom is the only way to get their pride back. It is the only way, they say, India can redeem itself in the hearts and minds of the Kashmiri.

No wonder, the streets in the valley were agog with cries for freedom during the huge protest processions that the recent crisis triggered off.

People have waved Pakistani flags and belted out pro-Pakistani slogans although, as Booker-prize winning writer Arundhati Roy says, it “would be a mistake to assume that the public expression of affection for Pakistan automatically translates into a desire to accede to Pakistan”.

This time, the call for Kashmiri freedom is coming from a generation of young and restless men and women who grew up during the troubled 1990’s when the valley was wracked by separatist insurgency.

On Kashmir streets, the yearning for freedom is a state of mind.

In a middle-class neighbourhood in Budgam where two young men were killed by security forces during recent protests, Sheikh Suhail, a 24-year-old mass communications student, makes no bones about it.

“We want azadi,” he says, days after he buried a friend who was shot down in the protest.

A Srinagar resident being frisked by Indian troops

People say they want ‘freedom’ from Indian forces

“Nobody quite knows what it will mean for us. We don’t know whether we will survive it. I only know that we want freedom from both India and Pakistan,” he says.

Across town, in the bustling Dalgate area, Sayed Zubair, a government school teacher, is seething after the security forces shot down his elderly neighbour during a recent curfew.

“We live in fear. A free Kashmir is the only solution to make us feel safe,” he says.

His neighbour, Hilal Ahmed, a bank manager, says freedom can help Kashmiris get rid of a twin “stigma”.

“India says it is the biggest democracy in the world. Living in Kashmir, we do not get any sense of that. Being a Kashmiri is a curse, being a Muslim is a crime. So we are doubly disadvantaged in these troubled times.

“The only way to set things right is to India get out of our lives and leave us free.”

So what does freedom mean for most Kashmiris?

Does it mean a sovereign state? Or does it mean greater autonomy? Many people here say that they prefer a form of self-rule. Does freedom from India mean accession with Pakistan? Or does freedom mean India pulling out its half a million or so troops in the state?

Eroded autonomy

For people like Suhail freedom is an intense sentiment. It is, they say, a breaking off from the “oppressive shackles” of the Indian state. For others like political scientist Dr Noor Ahmad Baba and women’s activist Dr Hameeda Nayeem, it is something more substantial.

Many analysts say that the autonomy that Kashmir enjoys under the Indian constitution has been eroded considerably and it is time that the Indian government worked out a new deal for its people.

Dal Lake in Srinagar

Tourism is a big draw in Kashmir

Dr Noor Ahmed Baba says that when most Kashmiris say they want freedom, they do not necessarily mean seceding from India.

“The overwhelming people here want independence. But it does not mean a sovereign state. It could be a higher degree of autonomy rooted in a larger understanding with India and Pakistan, both of whom who would pledge not to interfere.

“For us freedom also means more choices about reviving our old trade, cultural and economic roots. We want to come out of seclusion,” he says.

Dr Hameeda Nayeem says Kashmiris want self-governance and great internal sovereignty – that is what freedom could essentially mean.

“Let us define self-governance. Whether it will be more autonomy or self-rule. Our borders could be jointly managed by India and Pakistan. We want soft borders and free flow of goods.”

She points to the example of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan and wonders why Kashmir cannot have the status of a “protected state” of India like Bhutan.

How could a beautiful valley – with an approximate area 15,520 sq km, only a sixth of the size of Bhutan – cope as an independent country?

‘Not realistic’

Omar Abdullah, head of the mainstream National Conference party, admits that that “freedom sentiment” is serious, but has grave doubts about its feasibility.

“How realistic is it? Will Kashmir ever be really free even if it becomes independent, surrounded as it is by India, China and Pakistan?” he wonders.

A pro-Kashmir protest in Kashmir

Pakistan and India have fought two wars over Kashmir

“How free can it be? What happens to Pakistan-administered Kashmir?

“Freedom is not an option. I have yet to see a model of freedom which convinces me that Jammu and Kashmir as a viable independent entity”.

The irony is that nothing that is being debated in the valley is new.

The builder of modern India and its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, spoke about a plebiscite in Kashmir and independence for the state with its defence guaranteed by both India and Pakistan.

And Mr Nehru’s letter to the maharajah of Kashmir four months after India’s independence in 1947 was also chillingly prescient.

“It is of the most vital importance that Kashmir should remain with the Indian Union,” he wrote.

“But, however much we may want this, it cannot be done except through the goodwill of the mass of the population.

“Even if military forces held Kashmir for a while a later consequence may be a strong reaction against this.

“Essentially, therefore, this is a problem of psychological approach to the mass of the people and of making them feel they will be benefited by being in the Indian Union.

“If the average Muslim feels that he has no safe and secure place in the Union, then obviously he will look elsewhere. Our basic policy must keep this in view, or else we fail.”


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