India’s Hypocritical ‘Democracy’

Sylvia Villalobos (Philippines) | PKKH:

The “largest democracy in the world” does not have clean human rights records. Every year, thousands of people are imprisoned for political reasons, often without charges of trials. Torture and ill-treatment are common, and hundreds have died in custody. Hundreds more are victims of extra-judicial executions or forced “disappearances”. Armed groups commit grave human rights violations, including killings, tortures and rapes, with impunity.

Each day the survivors are denied their rights to knowledge, justice and reparation, their anguish are compounded, their nightmare prolonged, and their alienation deepened. Until India ends impunity for these genocidal killings,”, “it will continue to be a nation ruled by men, and not the law.”

Innumerable attacks on Indian Buddhists — shame on democracy There are 231 rapes and 51 murdered last year. The families are helpless, only hope is help from world community !



“Thousands of mothers await their sons even though some may know that that the oppressor has not spared their sons’ lives on this earth. A mother’s heart is such that even if she sees her son’s dead body, she does not accept that her son has left her. And those mothers who have not even seen their children’s dead bodies, they were asking us: at least find out, is our son alive or not?”

In the typical scenario, police take into custody a suspected militant or militant supporter without filing an arrest report. If the detainee dies during interrogation or is executed, officials deny he was ever in custody and claim he died during an armed encounter with police or security forces. Alternatively, police may claim to have been ambushed by militants while escorting a suspect. Although the detainee invariably dies in “crossfire,” police casualties in these “incidents” are rare. The said practice is also known as “fake encounter killings“

In the majority of cases, the police abducted the victims of extrajudicial executions or “disappearances” in the presence of witnesses, often family members. Family members of the victims further experienced multiple forms of abuse. A recent study conducted by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Bellevue/NYU Medical Center Program for Survivors of Torture revealed that family members of the “disappeared” were also tortured in over half of the cases they investigated.


-Jaswant Singh Khalra, human rights activist, killed October 1995 see report

In early 1995, human rights activists Jaswant Singh Khalra and Jaspal Singh Dhillon, of the Akali Dal political party, used government crematoria records to expose over 6,000 secret cremations by the police in just one of then 13 districts in Punjab. They focused their investigations on illegal cremations, putting aside other possible ends of the victims’ bodies, such as dismemberment or dumping in canals. Jaswant Singh Khalra described how the hesitation of family members to report “disappearances” led him and Dhillon to the cremation grounds: “countless mothers, countless sisters weren’t ready to say that their loved one has “disappeared”]. They said, “[I]f you take this issue further, and our son is still alive, they [the police] will kill him.” Thus, Khalra and Dhillon went to the cremation grounds:

“We went and asked the employees: ‘During this time, how many dead bodies did the police give you?’ Some said we burned eight to 10 everyday. Some said there was no way to keep account; sometimes a truck full of bodies came, and sometimes two to four dead bodies came [T]hey told us we could get the account from one place: ‘The police gave us the dead bodies, and the municipal committee gave us the firewood.’”

As Khalra began collecting information from the municipal records which gave the number of dead bodies brought by specific police officers and the amount of firewood purchased to burn the bodies, he also began to receive threats from the security forces. Eventually, the Punjab police abducted Jaswant Singh Khalra on September 6, 1995, secretly detained and tortured him for almost two months, and murdered him in late October 1995. His body was dumped in a canal.

Photo essays

Punjab Mass cremation

Custodial Violence and Rape Cases

While rape may take the form of individual violence of men against women, often, as disturbingly, rape occurs as an instrument of repression, and is used as a political weapon. It then becomes a potent instrument for the intimidation of whole sections of people in which women are specifically the victims of a peculiarly brutal and dehumanizing form of violence. Violence by individual men on individual women is itself a serious violation of women’s rights but in the context of civil liberties it is important to highlight the growing incidence of custodial rape by agencies of the State such as forest officials, army personnel, and especially by policemen.

Custody deaths, torture in custody and custodial rape have been subjects of much concern. of state violence, and the defence of the state has been that they were hardened militants.

Custodial rape has found an expanded definition – in terms of power rape – in the Penal Code, 1860. However, these provisions have hardly been invoked. In the meantime, most often, judicial perceptions of the victim of custodial rape have in significant measure, discredited the victim’s version, and blamed the victim resulting in reduction of sentence for policemen convicted of rape to less than the minimum prescribed in law. Read more of this post

US drone terrorism

The US is raining drones on Pakistani soil with a vengeance. On Tuesday alone the drones’ death toll has reached 30. Despite having proven counterproductive in the so-called ‘war on terror’, the drones have primarily killed innocent Pakistani civilians, including women and children, including over one hundred in January this year alone. The fallout for Pakistan is dreadful, Not only does it show that the Pakistani government is allowing its citizens to be killed by the US on Pakistani territory, it also creates more recruits for the extremists and militants and makes the job of winning over the tribals so as to isolate the hardcore militants that much more difficult. It would appear that that is the US insidious design against Pakistan, since they also know that such strikes not only add to the locals’ resolve to fight the Americans, but they also undermine the credibility of the Pakistan military and the state. At a time when the Pakistan Army is managing to win over the local tribes into committing to handing over militants, the drone attacks are undermining this critical effort to ending terrorism and extremism in the country.

Admiral Mullen, Chairman US JCS, has informed Congress that the Taliban are gaining influence in Afghanistan and in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His argument was to convince Congress to give financial support for the US effort in Afghanistan. But if he and the US Congress were to ponder rationally as to why this is happening they would realise that the military factor is a major cause, especially the drone attacks. Instead, simply continuing to accuse Pakistan of being the “epicentre of global terrorism” is now becoming a costly cop out. The reality is that it is the misguided and deathly US policies, especially vis-a-vis the Muslim World that have become the root cause of fanning militancy and extremism globally.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government has to take a stand on the drones beyond simple declaratory statements as these lack credibility. After all, as has been demonstrated by the Pakistan Air Force, we certainly have the technical capability to target the drones. So, if the US is not prepared to accept our demand and stop violating our sovereignty with the drone attacks, then we need to demonstrate intent and will through actions. Especially a democratic government needs to realise that it cannot justify the killing of its own people by a supposed ally on its own territory. In any case, one has to make a distinction in the punitive actions by a state against alleged terrorists and the violence perpetrated by the latter. The state must abide by legal norms and rules of engagement, otherwise they descend to the level of the terrorists. (The Nation)

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Now Yemen, what next?

YEMEN has launched a major operation against Al-Qaeda after reports that the organisation was taking foothold in its lawless areas and the militant group had threatened for strikes on embassies in that country. Al-Qaeda for sometime past had been building its capacity in Yemen and no responsible government can afford to allow sanctuaries to terrorists and particularly if such elements are waging war against other countries.

US has been warning of Al-Qaeda threat from Yemen after an attempt to blow up an airliner on Christmas day outside Detroit and a Yemeni based affiliate of the group claimed responsibility for planning the failed plot. After this incident and threats to embassies, thousands of Yemeni forces launched operations in three Provinces and detained five suspected fighters. In view of increasing threats the Yemeni forces have tightened security around the airport and foreign diplomatic missions in Sana. Stepped up pressure on militants by the US and its allies in Afghanistan has forced Al-Qaeda to relocate in Yemen. Yemeni government estimates that there could be up to 300 Al-Qaeda militants in the country planning attacks on Western targets. Yemen is an ideal place for Al-Qaeda for a number of reasons including armed tribal groups in outlying areas, porous borders and other factors. Thousands of Yemenis fought in Afghanistan or trained in Al-Qaeda’s camps there. Yemeni prisoners make up one of the largest contingents of detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo. In our view the way the menace of terrorism is being tackled is giving birth to more terrorism and one can say that today it is Yemen and tomorrow it may be Somalia or another country where such actions can take place. Therefore the Government of Yemen and all those who are engaged in combating terrorism should give a serious thought how to stop the breeding grounds for terrorists. We are of the firm belief that the US should consider holding in-depth interaction with the OIC, the Arab League and the UN to ponder over the causes of terrorism and come out with a unified strategy to address the issues that motivate the people to adopt the path of extremism and terrorism as that is the only way to eliminate the menace. –Pakobserver

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