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DAGAinfo

28 March 2002
No. 130


In this issue:
  1. FEATURE
    THE WAR ON TERROR - Making the World Safer for Globalization
  2. NEWS in Brief
    China - China Strikes Back at U.S. Through Human Rights Report
    Korea - Declaration of Peace by the Korean YMCA
    West Papua - Kofi Annan Urged to Examine UN's Misconduct
    Philippines - Poverty to Worsen with War on Terrorism
    Burma - Jets Arrive in Burma
    Burma - Economic crisis raises real fears
    India - NGO Statement on Dams
    Vatican - Pope Sends Assisi "Decalogue" to World Leaders
  3. Urgent APPEALS
    Thailand - Mass murder - deficient police investigation and impunity
  4. ANNOUNCEMENT

 

1. FEATURE - top
 

THE WAR ON TERROR
Making the World Safer for Globalization

by Ninan Koshy

The War on Terror - a War in Asia

It is likely that the present period of history may be called the period of the War on Terror. After the end of the Cold War commentators and historians were finding it difficult to give a name to the period of history and simply called it the post-Cold War period. Many Western leaders have stated that the War on Terror (WOT) may be as long as the Cold War.

President George W. Bush made two declarations of war. The first one was soon after the September 11 events. He declared a war on terrorism. He did not name the enemies. He said that the immediate aim of the war was to bring Osama bin Laden to justice or bring justice to him. But he added that it would not stop with that. The second declaration of war was made by the President in his 'State of the Union Address' on 29th January when he spoke of the 'next stage' of the WOT against the 'axis of evil' including Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

For a body like the Christian Conference of Asia, it is important to take into account the significance of all these for Asia. There are direct consequences of the WOT for Asia. The first stage of the war was in Afghanistan, in Central Asia. It is followed by heavy military presence of the USA in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some Central Asian republics. This presence is likely to continue for a long time. The US military has moved into South East Asia, in the Philippines re-establishing its presence in the region. By including North Korea in the 'axis of evil' justification is sought for reinforcement of US military presence in North East Asia. Tensions have increased in all these regions of Asia. There has been heavy US military presence in West Asia for a long time.

There are other implications too. The WOT brought India and Pakistan almost to the brink of war. The continuing tension between these two countries possessing nuclear weapons is made use of by the USA, for intervention in the region. Russia and China gave support to the USA in the WOT mainly because of terrorism within their own borders. They were made to understand earlier that the US military presence would not continue after the war against Afghanistan. Now they realise that the US military presence in the region will continue indefinitely. China is specially concerned about the new developments.

It is most likely that the US had plans for intervention in Afghanistan for some time. It was known that the new Bush administration had already decided to make a major policy shift in order to have a strong military presence in Asia. The events of September 11 provided enough justification for these.

Understanding September 11

The WOT is sought to be justified as a reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. The terrorist acts of that day in the USA have to be condemned in the strongest terms. There can be no justification whatsoever for taking the lives of innocent people and causing such destruction.

The events of that day have to be seen in a historical perspective and with a sense of proportion. The attacks were on carefully selected symbols of the economic strength and the military might of the USA. They were the first attacks on the US soil. Security policies, threat perceptions, defence strategy and intelligence of the biggest military power failed. The events challenged many assumptions of the New World Order.

When the attacks occurred two claims were made. One was that it was an attack on justice, freedom and democracy all over the world. So the whole 'civilised' world had to respond. When something happened in the United States it was projected as a concern for all the world. But when atom bombs killed hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was a matter for the Japanese. The Rwanda genocide was a Rwandan affair. The East Timor massacres and pillage were only concerns for the East Timorese. The universalist claims of events in the USA seem to suggest that the destinies and tragedies of other nations and peoples are insignificant. There are serious ethical issues involved in such claims. Every human life is precious and every nation is under God's judgement. No special claims have validity.

The other claim was that September 11 began a new era in international affairs. Yet, Stanley Hoffman pointed out (New York Review of Books, November 1) that this is misleading. It did not change power relations. It was used to reinforce the military superiority and hegemony of the USA.

Who are the terrorists?

It is difficult to define terrorism or a terrorist. States revise their definitions of terrorism and the lists of terrorist organizations. The classical description that 'one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter' has a lot of truth in it. Former terrorists have become leaders of nations and some of them have joined the WOT.

In 1985 when organizations like the PLO and even the African National Congress were in the list of terrorist organizations for the US State Department, one morning a reception was given in the White House by President Reagan to a group of Afghan 'Mujahideen' leaders. Reagan described them as freedom fighters 'who uphold the ideals of the founding fathers of the USA'. In 1986 the CIA supported an ISI (Pakistani intelligence) plan to bring Islamic militants from different parts of the world to be trained and armed to fight with the 'Mujahideen' against the Soviet Union. Osama bin Laden was one of those who came. The USA thus was responsible for the founding of the terrorist organization which has now become its enemy No.1

Terrorism in all forms should be condemned. It is an act of violence aimed primarily at unarmed civilians. Terrorism does not promote the cause of freedom or liberation. When reference is made to terrorism it is usually about organizations and individuals. But states also indulge in terrorism when they exceed the legitimate use of force. This is 'state terrorism'. In fact more acts of terror have been perpetrated by states than by organizations or individuals.

How did the WOT become a war against Afghanistan?

The United States began bombing of Afghanistan on October 6. In an article in the 'International Herald Tribune', William Pfaff asked the question 'How did the war against terror become a war against Afghanistan? Not a single Afghan was involved in the attacks against the US. Those listed by the FBI were all Saudi citizens. There was no claim even by the US that they acted under instructions from the Taliban government.

The USA says it invaded Afghanistan because the Afghan government refused to extradite bin Laden. After all, the declared aim of the war was to bring bin Laden to justice or bring justice to him. By the third week of October the aim became to dislodge Taliban from power and install a new government in Afghanistan. The aims of the war were changed from time to time. This served two purposes. One was that success against al Qaeda could be claimed even when bin Laden was not caught and success against Taliban could be claimed even when its leader was at large. The other purpose was to hide the real aims of the WOT. Equating WOT with war on Afghanistan helped to simplify the issues. The US military can tackle Afghanistan. It cannot deal with terrorism or its root causes.

The US interest in oil and natural gas in the region has been known for several years. America had no particular objection to Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan with the direct support of Pakistan. In fact it seriously considered recognizing the Taliban regime. The US corporation UNOCAL had negotiations with the Taliban government regarding pipelines for oil and gas from Central Asian republics through Afghnistan. The US government was involved in these as well as other negotiations with the Taliban government. At that time UNOCAL and the US government thought that Taliban had brought stability to Afghanistan. The situation changed with the attacks on US embassies in East Africa which the US believed were planned by bin Laden. Then it became necessary to replace Taliban with a pro-US government in Afghanistan. As was the case in the Gulf War the US eyes in the Afghanistan war were also on oil.

The war, the United Nations and International Law

Important issues in international law have been raised by the WOT. There is nothing in the UN Charter or Security Council decisions that make the US war on Afghanistan legitimate. The claim of the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter is not valid in the absence of any attack or threat of attack from Afghanistan. There were two Security Council resolutions on the September 11 events and terrorism. Neither mentions Afghanistan. The letter given by the US Ambassador to the UN on 7th October, the day after launching the attack on Afghanistan said, "We are at an early stage of our inquiry. If necessary, we will take an action against other organizations and countries". This had nothing to do with self-defence. It was an open defiance of the UN and international law.

Was there another route the US could follow? Yes. The horrific attacks on September 11 were 'a crime against humanity'. If there was evidence it was committed by bin Laden he should have been brought to trial. A special international criminal court could have been established by the Security Council. If Afghanistan refused to extradite bin Laden, the Security Council could have taken action against Afghanistan. The action could have extended from total sanctions to use of force. Even the US could have been authorised to use force. For all these of course evidence against bin Laden would have been required.

At one stage, the US Secretary of State said that the government would publish evidence against bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The next day it was 'clarified' that it would not be made public but only shared with allies. The only 'evidence' given in public was a document the British government placed before the Parliament in October. The 'evidence' had seventy clauses. Only nine of them related to the September 11 events. What was significant was the opening statement of the document. "This evidence is not sufficient to bring Osama bin Laden to trial in a court of law". Yet it was sufficient to go to war against a country, resulting in the deaths of at least 3000 civilians. The US claimed that it could not release the evidence since it would endanger some of the agents who gave the information. The 'security' of a few agents was more important than the lives of thousands. This raises not only legal questions, but moral issues.

The WOT and the New World Order

It was Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister who actually spelt out the broader aim of the WOT. In his speech to the Labour Party Conference at the beginning of October, he said, "The war on terror should be a war for a wider new world order". Tony Blair in his speech to the Chicago Economic Club in 1999 had explained his views on the new world order. In that speech he linked the war on Kosovo to economic changes in the world and stated that globalization is not just about economics but also about politics and security. He defined security in terms of military security for globalization to be provided by the US led NATO. Consequently, NATO was extended to Eastern Europe as a guarantee of security for the big corporations which were moving in.

Globalization and militarisation are the two sides of the same coin. On one hand, globalization creates conditions for unrest and war by promoting injustice, inequality and insecurity. On the other, bodies like the WTO which allow massive subsidies for the weapons industry facilitate the production of the instruments of war. The enormous growth in arms industry in the US and several countries after the declaration of the WOT highlights this issue. The WOT is really about providing military security for globalization.

Until the Kosovo crisis, globalization was explained as a new form of colonialism without the conquest or even control of territories but with the capturing of the markets and the minds of the ruling elite. Kosovo showed that control of certain territories through US military presence was also necessary for globalization. The war on Afghanistan has reinforced the territorial dimension of globalization. It is significant to note that there are new doctrines justifying the 'occupation' or changing the regimes of some countries, to protect the interests of the US and big corporations.

From the time of the G8 Conference in Genoa, the proponents of globalization want to claim that those who are opposed to economic globalization are using violence. So when they say that globalization needs security, they also mean that they will use force against those who oppose it. In the wake of September 11 events many countries have introduced new 'anti-terrorist' laws substantially curtailing civil liberties. The aim is to ensure the climate for investment through 'law and order'. The new measures in the name of WOT are meant to make the world safe for globalization. Globalization is the main project of the new world order. Tony Blair is right, "the war against terror is a war for a wider new world order".

[Source: CCA News, March 2002. Presentation at a CCA staff seminar on February 20, 2002. Dr. Ninan Koshy is formerly Director, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches and formerly Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Programme, Harvard LawSchool.]

 

2. NEWS in Brief - top
 

CHINA

China Strikes Back at U.S. Through Human Rights Report

Summary

China's State Council on March 11 issued a report critical of the United States' human rights record. The report reveals Beijing's growing insecurities with Washington's expanding anti-terrorism campaign, and it shows how few options China has in responding to its concurrent diminishment on the international stage.

Analysis

The Chinese State Council released a report March 11 titled "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2001." In covering topics such as personal safety, law enforcement, racial discrimination and the so-called infringement on the human rights of other countries, the 10,000-word document cites U.S. government statistics and international media reports to build a case-by-case indictment of human rights practices in the United States.

The paper was a response to Washington's annual human rights report on China, and it was published not coincidentally on the six-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. China's leaders are feeling increasingly constrained by Washington's global war against terrorism and its new emerging foreign policy. As China struggles with a myriad of internal challenges and the growing presence of U.S. military forces around its periphery, the increasingly desperate government in Beijing is lashing out at the United States the only way it can without risking Washington's ire.

Looking at China now, it is hard to believe that less than a year ago, Beijing was gloating over the damaged U.S. reconnaissance plane sitting on a military runway on southern Hainan Island. That self-confident China, which was well on its way to winning both World Trade Organization entry and the right to host the 2008 summer Olympics, is now dealing with deep economic and social pressures and facing a United States that has little time for posturing or games. Insecurity within the Chinese regime is growing at a critical time, as the long-anticipated change in generational leadership is expected to begin in October.

The final section of the State Council report -- an indictment of perceived U.S. unilateralism and double standards when it comes to dealing with other nations -- represents the real meat of Beijing's argument. The report says the United States ranks first in the world "in terms of military spending and arms exports," and first in "wantonly infringing upon the sovereignty of, and human rights in, other countries." It highlights the spread of U.S. military bases overseas, the use of depleted uranium rounds without consideration for the countries being attacked -- or even for Washington's own allies -- and claims that the Bush administration's unilateral stance is demonstrated by it its non-accession to international agreements.

[Source: Stratfor]

KOREA

Declaration of Peace by the Korean YMCA

[The following is a statement issued by the YMCA in Korea on the occasion of President Bush's visit to Korea]

Declaration of Peace by the Korean YMCA
on the occasion of President Bush's visit to Korea

Having suffered a half-century of colonialism and a divided nation, we hoped tat the 21st century shall bring a new beginning and opportunity for the transformation from war to peace. After the past half-century of the division the two Koreans' South-North Summit Conference and June 15th South-North Joint Declaration have been hopeful signs of sprouting peace in Korea.

However, the peace initiatives in progress have been seriously damaged by the threatening comments about the North Korea by President Bush in his 2002 State of the Union Address as well as the other officials' strong comments. We are seriously concerned that Bush's harsh stance against the North Korea has directly attributed to the heightened tension which in turn may increase the possible danger of war in Korea.

We have lived in the fear of war for a long time, and finally the Korean people found a glimpse of hope for peace. Now however, President Bush's declaration has brought another hopeless despair to our people. We, the Korean YMCA members the peaceful disciples, urge President Bush the followings:

Firstly, the U.S. government should recognize that Korea's South-North issues are the life and death issues for the Korean people, and furthermore that the U.S. government should dismantle the policies of the Cold War stance in Korea and change to the policies of promoting peaceful resolutions. The U.S. government should initiate a dialogue for mending the frail relationships between the North Korea and the U.S. We vividly remember how closely we have been to the brink of war during the period of the nuclear dispute in 1994. If the U.S. pursues the hard-line policy toward the North Korea, the U.S. would face the international criticism that the U.S. is intentionally heightening tensions in Korea to promote the increased armament sales, thereby threatening the peace in the North Eastern Asia as well as the would peace.

Secondly, the nations should assure and respect the Korean peoples' self reliance and self determination for the peaceful unification of the two Koreas. As clearly proclaimed in the July 4th, South-Korea Joint Declarations and the June 15th, South-North Joint Declarations the basic principle is: "the unification" should be achieved by self determination, not by the foreign interventions nor by the external influences. Also, the principle embodiment of the Korean Unification is the seventy million Korean people. Therefore the leaders of the two Koreas should approach the South-North issues with self determination while overcoming the differences in political ideologies, beliefs, and systems.

Thirdly, we firmly believe in Christ's peace which is achieved by justice and liberation. We also believe that it is a false peace to maintain the peace by the physical force military might. The Korean YMCA members wish that the peaceful unification of Korea is to establish the Kingdom of God, "shalom" by loving, caring and nurturing the human lives. We have witnessed too many incidents in history that the nations are pretending to seek peace yet they are destroying the peace. We sincerely hope that the U.S. government does not commit such an error. We hope that the U.S. should be reborn as the nation of "shalom' seeking the true peace, not the false kind.

In closing, we the Korean YMCA members along with the world YMCA leaders and members, who are "to associate their effort for the extension of his kingdom amongst young men", shall make tireless efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement in Korea.

 

WEST PAPUA

Kofi Annan Urged to Examine UN's Misconduct in West Papua

Human rights activists from around the world, including representatives of West Papua’s leading human rights organization, ELSHAM, submitted a petition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to conduct an investigation into the United Nations' endorsement of a sham referendum held over 30 years ago endorsing Indonesia's take over of West Papua. After the so-called "Act of ‘Free’ Choice, the UN General Assembly removed West Papua from its agenda, consigning the people of West Papua to decades of brutality and mass murder under Indonesian rule.

Military repression in West Papua has intensified in the past year in many parts of the territory, culminating last November in the assassination of pro-independence leader, Theys Hiyo Eluay. Human rights organizations in West Papua are convinced that the assassination was perpetrated by elements within the Indonesian military.

Under an agreement brokered by the UN in 1962, the international body assumed responsibility for supervising the Act which should have been conducted in accordance with international practice, requiring all adults to participate. In fact only 1,022 persons, handpicked by the Indonesian military, voted without a dissenting voice to accept integration into the Indonesian Republic.

West Papua is extremely rich in minerals, which have been exploited for four decades by foreign companies, in particular the New Orleans-based mining multinational, Freeport-McMoRan, inflicting untold hardship on local communities.

Investigations undertaken by researchers in the past two years have revealed that the UN mission turned a blind eye to manipulations by the Indonesian military to ensure that the vote would secure the territory as Indonesia’s 26th province.

The Act, which West Papuans contemptuously call the "Act of NO Choice," took place under conditions of violent repression, under the very noses of the UN mission. UN documents reveal that the mission stood by as the faked vote was held.

In November 2002, the former UN deputy Secretary General, Chakravarthy Narasimhan, who was in charge of the UN mission’s work throughout, admitted that the Act was a ‘whitewash’.

The petitioners lobbied several important institutions in New York concerned with the situation in Indonesia and met representatives of some South Pacific missions at the UN.

Carmel Budiardjo of the London-based Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, TAPOL, who is currently in New York to present the petition, said: "The UN is responsible for a grave betrayal of the West Papuan people’s right to self-determination. Its failure to ensure a proper referendum has resulted in decades of suffering. The UN should re-open the question and rectify one of the worst breaches its commitment and duty to uphold the right of peoples to determine their own future."

Issued in New York by the West Papua Association UK, on behalf of the International Solidarity Movement for West Papua.

Additional background can be found at http://westpapuaaction.buz.org/unreview/index.htm#briefing-document

PHILIPPINES

Poverty to Worsen with War on Terrorism

An independent research think-tank, IBON, has questioned President Arroyo's recent statement that, "the fight against terrorists is also the fight against poverty." Arroyo made the comments recently in Baguio City to the graduting class of the Philippine Military Academy.

Rather than war being a solution to poverty, it is precisely the government's skewed priorities of beefing up the military and defense budget that is taking away from critical funds for basic social services and poverty reduction measures.

A recent IBON research paper points out that the biggest budget allocation increase since last year is for defense. Allocations for social services actually grew by only seven percent compared with defense, which grew by 41 percent and debt interest payments, which grew by 12 percent.

While the government talks about poverty reduction, they increase the budget for defense and the so-called war on terrorism. Meanwhile, funding for basic social services like health, education and housing are being reduced. The hardest hit by these cuts will be the poor.

The paper also said that poverty will continue to rise with the government's continued adherence to neo-liberal policies of globalization. Liberalization, deregulation and privatization are negatively impacting the poor. And the move towards the privatization of hospitals and medical services as well as housing services will only mean that the poor will carry more of the burden for expenditures on health, education and housing.

BURMA

Jets Arrive in Burma

Burma's new fleet of twelve MIG-29 jet fighters arrived at Methtila Air Base in central-Burma last week, according to military observers on the Thai-Burma border. Russia sold the MIG-29s to Burma last year in a highly controversial deal.

"Russian air force officials are ready to train twenty Burmese pilots at the base," defense analyst U Htay Aung told the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). He added that Burmese Air Force Chief Maj Gen Myint Swe also visited Russia in late February for special training.

Burmese observers' have criticized Burma's cash starved regime for spending an estimated US $130 million on the jets.

Meanwhile, five Russian missile experts believed to be assisting Burma in the building of a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Battery arrived in Burma's southern coastal region last week. An unknown member of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) reportedly accompanied the group to Alechaung Village in the Tenasserim Division's Mergui District, according to the DVB.

"Since last year, they (Burma's government) have been reinforcing their air power and they have also built new air defense mechanisms along the Thai-Burma border," said U Htay Aung.

According to reports in the Thai media, Thai military officials and the United States are both concerned over the recent increase in military ties between Russia and Burma. [Top]

[Source: Irrawaddy]

ANALYSIS

Economic crisis raises real fears

The Burmese economy is in deep trouble. People across the classes are suffering as the prices of the most basic of goods continue to rise. And as the prices rise so, too, does the threat to social order and the ruling regime.

LARRY JAGAN

Burma's economic crisis continues to deepen. Unemployment is rising dramatically every month while the prices of consumer goods are spiralling out of control. The value of the local kyat on the black market continues to tumble.

"People are growing more and more dissatisfied every day," said a Burmese businessman in Rangoon who asked not to be identified. "And if it continues like it is, it could easily reach boiling point in the coming months."

The value of the kyat has fluctuated wildly in the past few weeks. "It's depreciated by some 15% in the past two weeks," a local money changer said. Economists and businessmen in Rangoon predict the kyat is going to decline even further.

Economic analysts in Rangoon say the run on the kyat is the result of the increased domestic demand for dollars. "Many local people need more dollars at the moment to pay for the new batch of mobile phones that has been released on the market," said one financial analyst, "while others need dollars to buy gems in the government sponsored auction."

The fall in the kyat has also caused the prices of many imported goods to rise, especially dairy products and medicines. "The cost of medicines are so prohibitive now that many people are not seeking medical attention because they know they can't afford the prescriptions," a Rangoon doctor said.

The prices of meat, eggs and palm oil are all rising steadily. Analysts in Rangoon estimate that palm oil - essential for cooking and imported from Malaysia - has risen by more than a 50% in the last six months.

Western diplomats in Rangoon estimate that onions have more than doubled in price in the past year and fermented fish paste has also doubled in that time.

Now even the price of rice is rising. Local residents complain that rice in the market has risen by more than 20% in the past month. In some rural areas, residents report a three-fold increase in the rice price over the past three months. "This is largely because of the government's obsession with meeting its export target of a million tonnes by the end of next month," said a financial consultant with a foreign investment firm in Rangoon.

In the past, the generals kept the price of rice relatively stable by controlling the supply. But it is more than six months since they last released stocks from the government reserves to keep the price down. And with their export drive they are not likely to do that again soon.

Petrol prices are also skyrocketing. In the past few weeks, they have risen by nearly 15%, according to Rangoon's taxi drivers. This appears to be partly seasonal. With the Water Festival - the Burmese New Year - approaching, many people are hoarding petrol so they can visit their families during the festive period in mid-April. As a result, the minimum taxi fare in Rangoon has almost doubled. Bus fares have also risen.

Most analysts estimate that inflation is running at more than 50% a year. Even bribes, like that necessary to keep a phone line, have risen. But the real problem is that wages and salaries are not rising as prices increase.

Local economists estimate that an average family of five needs more than 80,000 kyat a month to live, covering food, medicine and transport but not luxury goods. The average monthly income of a professional worker - teacher, university professor or civil servant - is less than 10,000 kyat. "People are really feeling the pinch," a Western diplomat based in Rangoon said. "Comparisons are being drawn with the situation more than a decade ago that led to the events of 1988. The difference though is then everyone suffered."

Many families, especially those living on the outskirts of Rangoon or in the poorer rural areas of the country, cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day. In the poorest parts of Rangoon the most desperate are surviving on rice water _ water in which rice is cooked - which they buy for 15 kyat a bottle and have for their evening meal.

The living standard of many Burmese is declining rapidly. UN officials fear a massive humanitarian crisis is looming. They estimate that one child in three under the age of five is already suffering from malnutrition. If the situation remains unchecked, they fear this could double within the next 12 months.

"People are getting increasingly dissatisfied with the situation," said a Burmese economic analyst close to the military. "They are tolerating it at present, but if the situation continues to deteriorate over the next 12 months then there is a very real risk of massive social unrest."

Many in the government seem to understand this, and that is one of the main reasons the generals have started to talk secretly to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Even the deputy foreign minister, Khin Maung Win, privately admits that only political reform can save Burma from economic ruin.

 

INDIA

 

Statement of the Three Day National Seminar on Dam and the People
Held at The Ecumenical Christian Center, Bangalore 15-17, March 2002.

The National Seminar on 'Dam and the People' organised by the Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore was attended by about 37 participants representing various Universities, NGO's, People's Movements, Colleges, Churches, Social Science Institutes and Media. The deliberations were on the following topics namely Sharing of water and Inter-state relations; Problems of Displaced people in the irrigated areas; Large dams : Impact on ecology and Environment ; Alternatives to Large dams; Big dams and Rehabilitation Issues and Big Dams and Seismic effect.

According to official estimates more than 100 million people have been displaced due to development projects around the world over the past decade. The international dam industry itself has over the last 50 years displaced over 30 million people. It is not well known that India has one of the highest rates of development induced displacement in the world.. During the last fifty years, some 3300 big dams have been constructed in India. Many of them have led to large-scale forced eviction of vulnerable groups. The situation of the tribal people is of special concern as they constitute 40-50% of the displaced population. As a result of misguided policy, project-affected communities have been subject to sudden eviction, lack of information, failure to prepare rehabilitation plans, low compensation, loss of assets and livelihoods, traumatic relocation, destruction of community bonds, discrimination and impoverishment

There are no official statistics on the numbers of people displaced by large projects since independence. According to official figure in1994, about15.5 million internally displaced people were there in India and the Government acknowledged that some 11.5 million were awaiting rehabilitation. However, calculations based on the number of dams constructed since independence indicate that as many as 21 to 33 million persons are likely to have been displaced. These estimates do not include persons displaced by canals, or by the construction of colonies or other infrastructure. Neither do they include those who have been subjected to multiple displacement.

It is widely accepted that the forced displacement has adverse impact on the affected population. It creates a condition of homelessness, landlessness, joblessness and food insecurity as well as severe environmental imbalances and disruption of eco systems. This miserable state of affairs is due to the present pattern of development which considers displacement as inevitable part of development. Thus it is hightime to think about least displacing (of not non-displacing) alternatives to the development. We put forward following recommendations to the Central Government, State Governments, Policy makers and other implementing agencies:

  1. Alternatives to major dams namely minor irrigation projects, check dams, tank irrigation, ground water enrichment and use, rain water harvesting, drip irrigation contour bunding structures, sub-surface dykes and medium irrigation projects should be 'worked' out as strategies for better irrigation management. In the case of hydrel projects, projects based on waves and solar energy can be depended.
  2. Right to information regarding the projects at all the stages should be ensured.
  3. The planning and implementation of dams should be in consultation with the population affected as they are the would be victims.
  4. Multiple displacement which further marginalise the affected population should be avoided at any cost
  5. Strict stage wise monitoring of the projects is essential to avoid cost and time escalations.
  6. It is identified that women and children among the displaced families suffer a lot. Hence their issues should be given special attention.
  7. Rehabilitation should be a right of the affected population and should be provided even before the beginning of the project.
  8. The affected should be provided with adequate compensation to the assets lost.
  9. The affected population should be the first beneficiaries of the project. This can be done by providing land in the command area itself. Thus they can be "project benefited people" instead of project affected.
  10. No reliable database is available regarding numbers of displaced, and project affected People as well as details on rehabilitation. So a strong and reliable data base is required for policy implementation and for the use of people concerned.
  11. A national policy on Resettlement and Rehabilitation of people displaced by dams should be formulated. A national commission on dams is suggested in this regard comprising representatives from affected population, NGOs, Social Scientists, and Govt. officials.
  12. All the irrigation works should be legitimately authorised by ensuring accountability to the people.

"We cannot fail to take steps to protect and assist the displaced and prevent others from doing so".

 

 

VATICAN

Pope Sends Assisi "Decalogue" to World Leaders

Pope John Paul II has sent a letter to all of the worlds heads of state, enclosing a copy of the "decalogue" statement signed by the religious leaders who took part in the inter-faith day of prayer for peace at Assisi on January 24.

The Pope's letter-- issued one month after the Assisi event-- expresses his conviction that "these 10 propositions could inspire political and social action by governments." He writes that the 10 points are the product of "inspired interventions by men and women representing diverse religious confessions," and show their common desire to work for world peace. The "decalogue" was read aloud by various participants in the January 24 service, at the close of their meeting in Assisi. The Pope observes that the participants who signed this statement were united in "one common conviction: humanity must choose between love and hate."

The decalogue reads:
  1. We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion. We undertake to do everything possible to eradicate the causes of terrorism.

  2. We commit ourselves to educate people about respect and mutual esteem in order to achieve peaceful coexistence and solidarity among members of different ethnic groups, cultures and religions.

  3. We commit ourselves to promote the culture of dialogue so that understanding and trust may develop among individuals and peoples as these are the conditions of authentic peace.

  4. We commit ourselves to defend the right of all human beings to lead a dignified life, in accordance with their cultural identity, and to start their own family freely.

  5. We commit ourselves to engage in dialogue with sincerity and patience, without considering what separates us as an insurmountable wall, on the contrary, recognizing that facing our differences can become an occasion for greater reciprocal understanding.

  6. We commit ourselves to pardon each other's errors and prejudices of the past and present, and to support one another in the common struggle against egoism and abuses, hatred and violence, and in order to learn from the past that peace without justice is not true peace.

  7. We commit ourselves to stand at the side of those who suffer poverty and abandonment, speaking out for those who have no voice and taking concrete action to overcome such situations, in the conviction that no one can be happy alone.

  8. We commit ourselves to make our own the cry of those who do not surrender to violence and evil, and we wish to contribute with all our strength to give a real hope of justice and peace to the humanity of our time.

  9. We commit ourselves to encourage all initiatives that promote friendship between peoples, in the conviction that, if a solid understanding between peoples is lacking, technological progress exposes the world to increasing dangers of destruction and death.

  10. We commit ourselves to ask the leaders of nations to make every possible effort so as to build, at both national and international level, a world of solidarity and peace founded on justice.

[Source: CWNews]

 

3. Urgent APPEAL - top
 

THAILAND: Mass murder - deficient police investigation and impunity

"AHRC-UA-12-2002

SUMMARY

During the last week of January 2002, at least 17 persons of Burmese origin were massacred in a single incident on the Mae Lamao stream, Mae Ramat district, within the vicinity of Mae Sot, Tak province, Thailand. As none of the victims were Thai, the local authorities initially ignored the case, however were pressured to act after word of the terrible event spread. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has since became involved.

To date the case has been characterized by a lack of transparency, inconsistent accounts, and the absence of genuine effort directed towards capturing and bringing the murderers and masterminds to justice. Since early February it has virtually disappeared from public view.

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is issuing this appeal to keep attention focused on the event in an effort to bring pressure to bear on the authorities concerned to seek and hold responsible all those complicit.

You are urged to write to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand expressing their concern over the lack of a satisfactory outcome in this case to date. A sample letter follows.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Among the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, who have entered Thailand illegally from neighboring countries, the vast majorities are from Burma. Most of these people enter at various points on the border, and many again are employed in a multitude of industries and activities in border areas. These people are extremely vulnerable to all types of human rights violation, ranging from denial of wages and police extortion to assault, rape and murder.

Mae Sot region is one of the largest entry points and areas of employment for Burmese coming to Thailand. It is also an area where Burmese are murdered routinely: in the five districts around and including Mae Sot, four to five people of Burmese origin are killed weekly. As the police and immigration authorities are involved in the trade of Burmese across the border, as well being active participants in various human rights violations, they do not pursue the perpetrators of crimes against Burmese victims. The widespread mentality that crime need not be investigated unless the victims are Thai people is reinforced by a chauvinist mentality ingrained through distorted history teaching that Burmese are the historical enemies of Thai people.

CASE DETAILS

In the last days of January 2002, villagers from Wangpha, Mae Ramat district, came across 14 bodies in the Mae Lamao stream, close to their village. The bodies were in two groups of seven, and included males and females aged from around 14 to 45. They were stripped naked, hands tied behind their backs, with stab wounds to the bodies and necks. After encountering the first group the village head is understood to have reported the matter to the local police. As the police were unaware of the unusually large number of bodies involved they treated it as a "normal" killing of Burmese people, and suggested the villagers float the bodies away from the village, so that they would travel downstream into the Moei River. In this area the Moei forms the border between Thailand and Burma.

The villagers floated the bodies away as suggested, however due to the large number of victims and nature of their deaths news of the killings spread, causing the provincial police chief to order the local police to recover the bodies. Seven corpses were located in the Moei River on February 2, however contrary to reports that the bodies were subject to autopsy, it is understood that the police cremated seven bodies there. On February 4 and 6 another three bodies were encountered, and these were in fact sent to the Mae Sot hospital for autopsy, which is reported to have revealed nothing except that the people were certainly of Burmese origin and were killed some days before they were discovered. The three additional bodies brings the total positively identified to 17. However reliable sources indicate that another four corpses from the same massacre were found in another nearby stream, bringing the total to 21.

On February 8 a network of local NGOs urged the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand to take action on the case. A team from the Commission finally visited the area of the atrocity during the first week of March. To date it has not issued any public report on the case, however on March 17 the Commissioner who led the mission, Jaran Ditha-apichai, publicly urged the Ministry of Interior to investigate the deaths in order to lead to the arrests of those responsible.

Reports of the event have lacked clarity and consistency, and since early February have virtually ceased altogether. The number of victimsand circumstances under which they were foundhave fluctuated. The stories given by local officials have lacked consistency and credibility. The police have focused on emphasizing that Thai people were not involved. Media and official discourse has oriented towards the possible motive for the murders and speculation that the victims were involved in some kind of illegal activity and were killed lest they become witnesses. The business of actually catching those responsible for the killings has taken a back seat to all these subsidiary issues.

To date no move has been made on the part of the Thai authorities to seriously identify and apprehend the culprits of this atrocity. Although the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has investigated the case, it has not yet made any formal intervention. With every day that passes the possibility that those responsible for this mass murder will be brought to justice becomes increasingly remote. The urgency of the Commission's role in pressuring the relevant Thai authorities to take action must be stressed. A sample letter to its Chairman follows.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please send your letter to Professor Saneh Chamrik, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand by fax or email and also send copies of your letter to the Minister of Interior of Thailand and special rapporteur of the UNHCHR on extrajudicial executions.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear

Re: Massacre on the Mae Lamao

I am very concerned by the massacre of at least 17 persons of Burmese origin in Mae Ramat district, Thailand, during the last week of January 2002.

To date none of the perpetrators of this atrocity have been brought to justice. Reports of the case and police investigation procedures suggest numerous irregularities and inconsistencies. The reluctant official response to this case can only be presumed to be because the victims were of Burmese, not Thai origin.

I appreciate the role of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand in investigating this incident, and thank it for its efforts. However, with every day that passes mass murderers are going free and the likelihood of their ever being apprehended diminishes. I urge you to pursue this case as a matter of the utmost urgency and do everything within your powers to bring the culprits, whoever they may be, to justice before it is too late.

Yours sincerely,

 

SEND LETTER TO:

Professor Saneh Chamrik
Chairman
c/o Mr. Vasan Phanich
National Human Rights Commission
422 Phyathai Road
Patumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +662 219-2966
Tel: +662 219-2980-1
Email: c/o pairit_s@yahoo.com
SALUTATION: Dear Professor

SEND COPIES TO:

1. HE Purachai Piumsombun
Minister
Ministry of Interior
Thanon Atsadang
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Fax: +662 226-4371
Tel: +662 224-6320/6341
Email: webteam@moi.go.th
SALUTATION: Dear Minister

2. Dr Asma Jahangir
Special Rapporteur of the UNCHHR on extrajudicial executions
131-E/1
Gulberg-III
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 576-3236
Tel: +92 42 576-3234-5
Email: law@aghs.brain.net.pk
SALUTATION: Dear Dr Jahangir

* For more information, please contact AHRC Urgent Appeals: ua@ahrchk.org

 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT - top
 

HAPPY EASTER to ALL friends and supporters of DAGA

 


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