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Human Rights

Myanmar bombing civilians: Air raids ‘that killed children amount to war crimes’

Myanmar is bombing its own people, according to Amnesty International. The human rights watchdog says it has evidence that indiscriminate airstrikes by Myanmar’s military, also known as the Tatmadaw, are killing civilians, including children, amid a worsening armed conflict in the country’s Rakhine and Chin States.

Myanmar’s military has killed civilians, including children, in indiscriminate air attacks amid worsening conflict in the country’s western Rakhine and Chin states, a prominent rights group said, urging the United Nations Security Council to launch a war crimes investigation.

In a report on Wednesday, Amnesty International said it collected new evidence showing Myanmar’s military – also known as the Tatmadaw – bombed several villages in Chin state in March and April, killing more than a dozen people.

One witness who was interviewed remotely told the group that an air raid in Paletwa Township on March 14 and 15 killed his uncle, his brother and his brother’s 16-year-old friend.

Two people from another family in the same village cluster said nine people, including a seven-year-old boy, were also killed in the bombardment.

“Our family is destroyed,” the boy’s father told Amnesty.

Myanmar SittweVillagers arrive at a temporary camp with their belongings on June 29, 2020, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar [AP Photo]
In another round of aerial raids in Paletwa on April 7, seven people were killed and eight wounded, the report said, citing testimony from a farmer.

The indiscriminate attacks, which Amnesty said amounted to war crimes due to civilian deaths, came amid a surge in fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group seeking greater autonomy for the Buddhist Rakhine people who make up a majority of Rakhine state’s population. The region is also home to the mostly Muslim Rohingya, and borders Chin state, whose people are mostly Christian.

The conflict escalated in January last year following an AA attack on police posts and worsened in March after Myanmar’s government officially labelled the group a terrorist organisation. The AA posed “a danger to law and order, peace and stability of the country and public peace,” it said.

The attacks, and other serious human rights violations, are taking place in towns and villages where internet communication has been cut off for over a year. Locals have been kept in the dark over the threat of Covid-19 and denied information about humanitarian assistance. Rakhine State has been largely free of the coronavirus, but cases were on the rise in June.

Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific regional director says that whilst Myanmar authorities were urging people to stay at home to help stop Covid-19, in Rakhine and Chin states its military was burning down homes and killing civilians “in indiscriminate attacks that amount to war crimes”.

“Despite mounting international pressure on the military’s operations in the area, including at the International Court of Justice, the shocking testimonies we have collected shows just how deep impunity continues to run within Myanmar military ranks.”

In May and June, Amnesty interviewed more than 20 ethnic Rakhine and Chin villagers affected by military operations, which included airstrikes and shelling; analysed satellite images of burned villages, and verified video footage showing violations by the Burmese military.

The conflict has escalated since the January 4 2019 attack by the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group, against several police posts in northern Rakhine State. The incident prompted a retaliatory order to ‘crush’ the AA and marked a turning point in the escalation of the conflict, which has since displaced tens of thousands. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that in recent days an additional 10,000 people fled their homes as a result of heavy fighting and warnings of advancing military operations.

Myanmar officially labelled the AA an unlawful organization on March 23. Fighting surged between March and May, while Myanmar also faced its first Covid-19 cases. More than 30 civilians were killed or injured in May alone, according to the UN. The victims were predominantly from Buddhist and Christian ethnic minorities, though media reports have also documented violations against Rohingya civilians.

The military’s airpower has inflicted immense damage and human suffering. Soldiers also appear to regularly confiscate or destroy civilian property and commandeer monasteries as bases. Amnesty documented the use and confiscation of civilian property by soldiers in Rakhine State and northern Shan State in 2019.

Residents say soldiers took rice, firewood, blankets and clothes, mobile phones and personal documents, gold bracelets, and necklaces. Livestock was slaughtered or taken. Myanmar soldiers also knocked down doors, broke windows, and damaged small Buddhist shrines kept at home.

Amnesty also documented incidents of the burning or destruction of villages in different townships in Rakhine and Chin States. Satellite imagery of several affected villages shows widescale burning consistent with Myanmar military tactics. The military and the AA have blamed each other for the burning.

They say they have not been able to document operations and abuses by the Arakan Army in the reporting period due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and limited access to affected areas and witnesses. But reports suggest the army has continued a pattern of abuses previously documented including endangering the lives of civilians during attacks, intimidation of local communities, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

Call for war crimes probe
Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes in the unrest, and much of the fighting is taking place in communities where the internet has been cut off for more than a year, and against the backdrop of the new coronavirus pandemic.

“While Myanmar authorities were urging people to stay at home to help stop COVID-19, in Rakhine and Chin states its military was burning down homes and killing civilians in indiscriminate attacks that amount to war crimes,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director.

“The reliance on air strikes and internet blackouts may be new, but one constant is the military’s remorseless neglect for civilian life,” Bequelin said, calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a war crimes inquiry.

“This relentless pattern of violations is clearly a matter for the ICC. The Security Council must act,” he added.

Zaw Htay, spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, did not respond to calls for comment. But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement addressing concerns over the internet blackout, saying access was restricted to “prevent the AA from exploiting mobile internet technologies to detonate” bombs and landmines.

Internet will be restored once the situation “stabilises”, the statement said, adding that the government is taking measures to ensure the shutdown does not hinder efforts to combat the virus. Such action include disseminating COVID-19 information through SMS messages, the ministry added.

UN envoy: Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi failed as humanitarian (2:58)
Media access to Rakhine is heavily restricted, and prearranged visits with government minders are the only way foreign journalists can report from the area.

Myanmar is already under investigation in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its treatment of the Rohingya, hundreds of thousands of whom fled Rakhine following a brutal military crackdown nearly three years ago. The government had defended what happened then as a legitimate response to attacks by Rohingya fighters from a small armed group, known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

In January, the court said “irreparable damage” had been caused to the Rohingya and ordered the government to take immediate steps to prevent genocide. Some Rohingya still live in the area, often in squalid camps.

Beatings, threats
In its latest report into the situation in the troubled region, Amnesty said it collected testimony from witnesses who recounted arbitrary detention and torture, and verified video footage showing abuses by the Tatmadaw. One woman whose husband was arrested in February said soldiers had tied up the detained man and beaten him for four nights and five days.

“He wasn’t given food or water … They kicked and hit him with rifles in the back and kicked his chest as well,” she said, recounting what her husband had told her. “Before this, he was tall and big, but when I saw him … he was visibly thin.”

The beating of detainees appears to be widespread, Amnesty said, noting that the military had admitted its soldiers punched and kicked blindfolded detainees in May after a video of the incident went viral.

Reporting from Rakhine: Surveillance, fear
The group, citing satellite imagery of conflict-affected villages, also reported widescale burning consistent with Myanmar military tactics. The Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army have previously blamed each other for the village burning.

Separately, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said more than 500 Chin people were currently stranded in Paletwa after the army turned them back as they were returning to their villages by boat. The group – all local administrators – had travelled to the town for a meeting.

The military “stopped us and told us that we cannot go back to our villages,” one of the village administrators told CHRO. “When we asked them why we are not allowed to return having already allowed us to enter, the soldiers at the security post shouted, ‘Do not ask any questions or say anything in return. We were given orders from above.’ No one dares to go since some boats were even shot at in order to threaten us.”

Amnesty said it was not able to document operations and abuses by the Arakan Army in the reporting period due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and limited access to conflict-affected areas and witnesses.

But reports suggest the Arakan Army has continued a pattern of abuses including the endangering the lives of civilians during attacks and intimidation of local communities, the group added.

Human Rights

CAA and NRC affects Assam’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy

Washington: Democratic presidential nominee and former US vice president Joe Biden wants India to take necessary steps to restore the rights of Kashmiris, and has expressed disappointment over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the implementation of the NRC in Assam.

According to a policy paper – Joe Biden’s agenda for Muslim American community’ – posted recently on his campaign website, these measures (the CAA and the National Register of Citizens) are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy.

A group of Hindu Americans has reached out to the Biden campaign expressing resentment to the language used against India and urged it to reconsider the views. The group has also sought a similar policy paper on Hindu Americans.

The Biden campaign did not respond to questions.

Observing that Biden understands the pain Muslim-Americans feel towards what is happening in Muslim-majority countries and countries with significant Muslim populations, the policy paper clubbed together Kashmir and Assam in India with the forced detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims in western China, and discrimination and atrocities against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir. Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet, weakens democracy.

Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act into law, the policy paper said.

Also read: For the Modi Government, Trouble Is Still Brewing in the US Congress

India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution on August 5 last year and bifurcated it into two Union territories – Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

India has defended its move, saying the special status provisions only gave rise to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. It has asserted that the reading down of Article 370 is its “internal matter”.

The Indian government maintains that the CAA, which was passed by Parliament, is an internal matter of the country and stressed that the goal is to protect the oppressed minorities of neighbouring countries.

According to the CAA, members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, following religious persecution there will get Indian citizenship.

India has said that the updation of the NRC in Assam is an “entirely internal” process carried out at the direction and under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

Reacting to the policy paper, Biden supporter Ajay Jain Bhutoria told PTI that Biden as the US Senator for decades and as the vice president under previous president Barack Obama for eight years has been known as one of the best friends of India and Indian-Americans.

He played a key role in the passage of the India-US civil nuclear deal and as vice president, he advocated increasing the bilateral trade to USD 500 billion per annum, he said, adding that Biden regularly hosted Diwali at his vice-presidential residence and is well-connected with the Indian-Americans.

Biden understands the issues impacting India, issues of cross border terrorism, the influx of terrorism across borders in Kashmir, issue of Hindu minorities sufferings in Kashmir, issues in the Indo Pacific region with China, and the rising role of India as stronger US ally in all areas including economic growth, counter-terrorism, fight for human rights, climate change and global security

Human Rights

WB provides Bangladesh $350m for Rohingya, host communities

Dhaka: The World Bank has approved $350 million in grant financing for three projects to help Bangladesh cope with one of the world’s largest ‘forced exodus’ of Rohingya from Myanmar.

These grants would help Bangladesh to address the needs of the host communities and the displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar regarding health services, response to gender-based violence, social protection, basic services and infrastructure, said a press release issued from Washington on Tuesday.

‘Bangladesh has shown great leadership by providing shelter to around 1.1 million Rohingya, which is about three times of the local population in Teknaf and Ukhia upazilas. Naturally, this has placed immense strain on existing infrastructure and social service delivery, and increased health and disaster risks,’ the release quoted Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, as saying.

‘The three grants will cater to the needs of both the host and Rohingya communities. At the same time, they will strengthen the country’s service delivery capacity and increase resilience to natural disaster and climate change,’ he added.

The $150 million Health and Gender Support Project for Cox’s Bazar District will enable 3.6 million people including the Rohingyas to have access to health, nutrition and family planning services as well as address gender-based violence through preventive and response services, it said.

The infant mortality rate and prevalence of stunting in Cox’s Bazar is higher than national average. The project will renovate and upgrade health facilities in Cox’s Bazar, including district sadar hospital and the mother and child welfare center in the localities and the women friendly spaces inside the Rohingya camps.

Within the Rohingya camps, the project will provide psychosocial counseling, immunisation, tuberculosis screening and treatment and nutrition services.

The $100 million additional financing to the Emergency Multi-Sector Rohingya Crisis Response Project will scale up access to energy, water, sanitation and disaster-resilient infrastructures for the Rohingya and the surrounding host communities, said the release.

The project will benefit about 780,800 people, including 140,800 local people with better public infrastructure, it mentioned.

The $100 million additional financing to the Safety Net Systems for the Poorest Project will help provide livelihoods and income support to poor and vulnerable households in the host communities using an existing national safety net program, Employment Generation Program for the Poorest and scale-up social assistance coverage to the Rohingya under the Emergency Multi-Sector Rohingya Crisis Response Project.
Source : New Age Bangladesh

Human Rights

5 Investigates undercover finds prostitution, ‘human trafficking

In the shadows of Boston’s old red-light district sex may not be for sale on the streets, but when 5 Investigates went undercover they found offers of sex for a fee happening behind closed doors.

The neon signs for massages glow in the windows of the second floor of 40 Harrison Ave. in the heart of Chinatown.

With cash in hand our producer hit two businesses, Diva Beauty Spa and Lotus Massage, on different nights.

When the massage ended, he said, “At a certain point with her hand on my private area she asked me if I wanted her to finish and made a hand gesture. In the old days you would see prostitutes on the street, now I just stepped into a doorway, went upstairs and found the same thing.”

Weeks later, two women were taken into custody and evidence was hauled out of Chinatown massage parlors during a Boston Police raid targeting alleged houses of prostitution and human trafficking.

Two of the businesses raided were part of our investigation at 40 Harrison Ave.

The detective sergeant who heads up the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit told 5 Investigates police had received community complaints that people were going in not just for massages but to get illicit sex, illegal sex for a fee.

Investigators said in many cases what’s happening in Chinatown is more than just women working as prostitutes in massage parlors.

They believe it’s part of the underground sex trade involving human trafficking.

“Many of the women I’ve talked to who have come to this country have left very abusive situations back in China. They thought they were going to work in a restaurant or be domestic help and the next thing they know they’re involved in the sex trade,” said the detective.

The businesses and the services they offer can be easily found on websites popular with men on the hunt for sex.

Documents obtained by 5 Investigates show there’s been a history of problems at Diva Beauty Spa over the past few years. A complaint was filed in April with the state about alleged illegal sex at Diva Beauty Spa. They were also cited in 2012 for having an unlicensed masseuse.

The current owner of Lotus, Sophia Wang, was charged with sexual conduct for a fee back in 2008 and maintaining a house of prostitution in 2010. Both charges were dropped. Last year police obtained a search warrant after a massage therapist at Lotus told an undercover officer she would perform a sex act for $40.

Police don’t target the women providing the sex, who in most cases, are brought in from New York.

They focus on the business owners, the johns who provide the demand and pimps trafficking the women.

The head of the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit said, “As you can imagine there’s a great demand and that’s the big problem. There’s a lot of money being made by pimps because guys are willing to pay two to three-hundred dollars for services at lunch.”

Both owners will be summonsed to court for maintaining houses of prostitution.

The state fined Lotus Massage last year for licensing and labor law issues. Diva Beauty Spa was issued a stop-work order last week, but that’s under appeal.

Because it’s difficult to prosecute these cases, city, state and federal investigators use a multi-pronged approach which includes looking at labor laws, immigration laws and inspecting the businesses.

Human Rights, Human Traffiking

New law to counter human trafficking in India

The Modi government is introducing a new law to fight this rising problem, affecting many thousands of boys, women and girls every year

 

For years India has remained the “top destination” for human trafficking in South Asia, according to the United Nations Office on Organized Crime (UNODC). This is a major problem in South Asian countries because of their porous borders, it says.

South Asian children continue to be trafficked for multiple forms of sexual exploitation. The abuse includes prostitution, sex tourism, child pornography, pedophilia – and to get them to work in factories, agriculture, domestic servitude and begging, for forced marriage, adoption, military recruitment and debt release.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures, the state of Bihar ranked third just behind Rajasthan and West Bengal in 2017, when 362 boys and 33 girls below 18 years of age were rescued from the clutches of traffickers.

In February 2018, the Indian Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill for introduction in the parliament. The bill, if passed, will lead to the creation of a national anti-trafficking bureau, to comply with a December 2015 Supreme Court order that an investigative agency be established to counter human trafficking. It will criminalize aggravated forms of trafficking with the intent of preventing this crime, and rescuing and rehabilitating victims.

The NCRB reported that in 2016 the government had identified 22,955 victims of trafficking – a significant increase from 8,281 victims the previous year. The NCRB said about half of the victims (11,212) were subjected to forced labor, while 7,570 were exploited in sex trafficking, 3,824 exploited in an unspecified manner, and 349 victims were subject to forced marriages.

But the government did not specify the age, gender or nationality of victims who suffered this exploitation. It included a small number of other crimes involving another 162 victims.

Boys most affected

The Indian government identified 8,651 boys, 7,238 women, 5,532 girls, and 1,696 men as trafficking victims. The great majority were Indian – 22,932 victims, while the other people affected were Sri Lankans (38), Nepalis (38), Bangladeshis (36) and 73 from a range of other countries, such as Thailand and Uzbekistan.

Most of the statistics and data on trafficking is gathered in relation to cases of cross-border trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. So, there is less information on the extent of trafficking linked to other purposes and trafficking of boys. In some countries, it is a custom or ritual to detain trafficked boys for some form of labor or pleasure.

Some boys from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are subjected to forced labor in embroidery factories in Nepal, while Burmese Rohingya, Sri Lankan Tamil, and other refugee populations continue to be vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor in India, according to US State Department estimates.

People are mostly trafficked from countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, Indian officials say. Often refugees are targeted by local people. Victims of natural disasters are also targeted. Displaced Rohingya were at great risk of human trafficking from the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, experts said.

The scope of information available on trafficking in different countries varies widely. Bangladesh, India and Nepal compile limited data, while the lack of data in Bhutan and the Maldives makes it difficult to analyze trafficking patterns in those countries, researchers said.

Human trafficking was last addressed at the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, but SAARC is often sidetracked due to disputes between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, or accusations that Pakistan has interfered in Afghanistan.

The SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution was held in 2002, but few changes have occurred in South Asian nations due to the lack of legislation or enforcement of anti-trafficking initiatives.

Men or boys are usually considered an invisible population as the traditional discourse on human trafficking does not usually take them into account. They are usually seen as predators or buyers of women, who are considered to be more vulnerable than young men. Lack of opportunities or little support from families are usually given as reasons that led to young men becoming victims of human-trafficking rackets.

Experts say speedy trials need to be implemented and legal authorities given adequate funds and training to break the cycle of trafficking and rehabilitate the survivors, so they can access prompt and proper care, such as psychological counseling. (Asia Times)

 

Human Rights

Death toll rises to 27 from Delhi riots during Trump trip

NEW DELHI (AP) – At least 27 people were killed and 189 injured in three days of clashes in New Delhi that coincided with U.S. President Donald Trump’s first state visit to India, with the death toll expected to rise as hospitals continue to take in the wounded, authorities said Wednesday.

Shops, Muslim shrines and public vehicles were left smoldering from violence between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all major faiths in South Asia except Islam.

Twenty-four deaths were reported at two hospitals in New Delhi, officials said.

The clashes were the worst communal riots in the Indian capital in decades. The law’s passage in December earlier spurred massive protests across India that left 23 dead, many of them killed by police.

The dead in this week’s violence included a policeman and an intelligence bureau officer, and the government has banned public assembly in the affected areas.

Police spokesman M.S. Randhawa said 106 people were arrested for alleged involvement in the rioting.

Officials reported no new violence Wednesday as large police reinforcements patrolled the areas, where an uneasy calm prevailed.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval toured the northeastern neighborhoods of Delhi where the rioting occurred, seeking to assure fear-stricken residents including a female student who complained that police had not protected them from mobs who vandalized the area and set shops and vehicles on fire.

While clashes wracked parts of the capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a lavish reception for Trump, including a rally in his home state of Gujarat attended by more than 100,000 people and the signing of an agreement to purchase more than $3 billion of American military hardware.

On Wednesday, Modi broke his silence on the violence, tweeting that “peace and harmony are central to (India’s) ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times.”

New Delhi’s top elected official, Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal, called for Modi’s home minister, Amit Shah, to send the army to ensure peace.

Police characterized the situation as tense but under control. Schools remained closed.

Sonia Gandhi, a leader of the Congress party, India’s main opposition group, called for Shah to resign. She accused Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of creating an environment of hatred and its leaders of inciting violence with provocative speeches that sought to paint Muslim protesters against the citizenship law as anti-nationalists funded by Pakistan.

New Delhi’s High Court ordered the police to review videos of hate speeches allegedly made by three leaders of Modi’s party and decide whether to prosecute them, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The clashes escalated Tuesday, according to Rouf Khan, a resident of Mustafabad, an area in the capital’s northeast.

Khan said mobs with iron rods, bricks and bamboo sticks attacked the homes of Muslims while chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” or “Victory to Lord Ram,” the popular Hindu god of the religious epic “Ramayana.”

As Air Force One flew Trump and his delegation out of New Delhi late Tuesday, Muslim families huddled in a mosque in the city’s northeast, praying that Hindu mobs wouldn’t burn it down.

“After forcing their way inside the homes, they went on a rampage and started beating people and breaking household items,” Khan said of the mobs, adding that he and his family had to run and take shelter inside a mosque that he said was guarded by thousands of Muslim men.

“I don’t know if our house was burned or not, but when we were running away we heard them asking people to pour kerosene and burn everything down,” Khan said.

Some of the dead had bullet wounds, according to Dr. Sunil Kumar, medical director of the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.

Others came to the hospital with gunshot and stab wounds and head injuries.

Among them was Mohammad Sameer, 17, who was being treated for a gunshot wound to his chest Wednesday at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.

Speaking to The Associated Press after having an operation, Sameer said he was standing on his family’s apartment terrace watching Hindu mobs enter Mustafabad when he was shot in the chest.

“When Sameer was shot, I took him on my shoulders and ran downstairs,” said the boy’s father, Mohammad Akram. “But when the mob saw us, they beat me and my injured son. He was bleeding very badly. While they were beating with sticks, they kept on chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans and threatened to barge inside our homes.”

Akram said he managed to get his son into a vehicle, but they were stopped several times by Hindus demanding they pull their pants down to show whether they were circumcised before they managed to escape from the area and reach the emergency room. Muslims are generally circumcised, while Hindus are not.

In Kardampura, a Muslim-majority area where a youth was shot and killed on Monday, hundreds of police personnel in riot gear patrolled the area and asked people to stay indoors, while residents said they were living in fear.

“We are scared and don’t know where to go,” said one resident, Dr. Jeevan Ali Khan. “If the government wanted, they could have stopped these riots.”

Close by, black smoke still rose on Wednesday afternoon from a market that sold tires and second-hand car parts in Gokalpuri as fireman tried to douse the smoldering fire.

The violence drew sharp reactions from U.S. lawmakers, with Rep. Rashida Talib, a Democrat from Michigan, tweeting, “This week, Trump visited India but the real story should be the communal violence targeting Muslims in Delhi right now.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the killing of Muslims, saying: “Now 200 million Muslims in India are being targeted. The world community must act now.”

Trump told reporters Tuesday that he had heard about the violence but had not discussed it with Modi. Instead, Trump gloated about his reception in India.

India has been rocked by violence since Parliament approved the citizenship law in December. Opponents have said the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test, but Trump declined to comment on it.

“I don’t want to discuss that. I want to leave that to India and hopefully they’re going to make the right decision for the people,” he said.

It was the worst religiously motivated violence in New Delhi since 1984, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards, triggering a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 Sikhs in the capital and more than 8,000 nationwide.

In 1992, tens of thousands of Hindu extremists razed a 16th-century mosque in northern India, claiming that it stood on the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. Nearly 2,000 people were killed across the country in the riots that followed.

The religious polarization that followed saw the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party emerge as the single largest party in India’s Parliament. The Congress party and regional parties courted Muslim votes by portraying themselves as defenders of minority rights.

In 2002, the western Indian state of Gujarat erupted in violence when a train filled with Hindu pilgrims was attacked by a Muslim mob in a small town. A fire erupted – it remains unclear whether it was arson – and 60 Hindus burned to death. In retaliation, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the state.

Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister at the time. He was accused of tacit support for the rampage against Muslims, but a court ultimately cleared him of wrongdoing. Still, for several years the U.S. included him on a travel ban. Hosting Trump in Gujarat was important symbolically for Modi.

Violent large-scale clashes between Hindus and Muslims last took place in New Delhi in 2014, months after Modi’s party came to power, in a largely poor neighborhood close to where this week’s rioting occurred.

A Muslim-owned shop was set on fire, Hindus pelted a mosque with stones, and dozens of angry Muslim men attacked Hindu homes. About three dozen people were injured.

___

Associated Press journalists Ashok Sharma and Shonal Ganguly in New Delhi, and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

Family members of Rahul Solanki, who was killed during clashes between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a contentious new citizenship law, weep outside a mortuary in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. At least 20 people were killed in three days of clashes in New Delhi, with the death toll expected to rise as hospitals were overflowed with dozens of injured people, authorities said Wednesday. The clashes between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a contentious new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all major faiths in South Asia except Islam escalated Tuesday. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Human Rights

Gunman fires at anti-CAA protest rally in Delhi in presence of police

Image result for gunman fire on protesters in presence of police

A teenager today pulled out a gun and fired at students protesting against the citizenship law near Jamia Millia University in Delhi, injuring one student. Only after he fired the shot did the police, present in large numbers to keep a check on the protest, react.

The protests spiraled as hundreds more joined in, breaking police barricades as they tried to march towards Rajghat.

Home Minister Amit Shah said he had ordered stringent action in the shooting incident and “the culprit will not be spared”. The probe has been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police.

In a chilling video, the teenager is seen walking backwards as he points his gun at protesters. Dozens of policemen in riot gear are seen behind him, but none of them is seen trying to stop the shooter.

Yeh lo azaadi (here’s your freedom)” he sneers at the protesters. After he fires the shot, one police officer is seen walking towards him and grabbing him. Saying that he was a juvenile, police officials said that the attacker cannot be named.

While being taken away, he shouted “Delhi Police zindabad (Long live Delhi Police)”.

The shooter has been detained and is being questioned. “A crowd was coming from Jamia. The person came from the crowd,” senior police officer Chinmoy Biswal told NDTV as the police faced questions about their slow response.

The incident comes against the backdrop of hate speeches made during the campaign for the February 8 Delhi election; Union Minister Anurag Thakur has been banned from campaigning for 72 hours after he was caught on camera encouraging the slogan “Desh Ke Gaddaro Ko, Goli Maaro S***** Ko (Shoot the traitors)” at a rally.

The teenager is from Uttar Pradesh’s Jewar, near Delhi. Details on his Facebook page soon started emerging.

The man had gone live on Facebook minutes before he drew out his gun. Videos on his Facebook timeline showed him walking around in the crowded road – the venue of the protest – with a red backpack on. His previous posts seemed to indicate that he had come prepared for the consequences of his action. “On my last journey, take me draped in saffron and shout slogans of Jai Shri Ram,” one of them in Hindi read. Another more threatening post read, “Shaheen Bagh, Game Over”, referring to a massive protest against the citizenship law taken up by women and children.

“We were standing near the barricades when suddenly this outsider, whom none of us recognised, tried to disturb the peace of the march. He marches forward with a revolver in his hand. We were all trying to stop him and calm him down. The policemen were standing there. We tried to approach them to stop that guy. But they just kept standing there simply. When we tried to take the revolver from his hand, he shot one of our friends,” Jamia student Aamna Asif, who witnessed the terrifying incident, told NDTV.

“He was definitely not one of us. He was from outside,” she added.

The student who was shot at has been identified as Shadab Farooq and was seen being taken away, as he walked with his left hand in blood. He has been taken to the trauma centre of the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The locality has been heavily barricaded after the firing and traffic has been diverted from all the roads near the area.

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Shadab Farooq, the injured student, is helped after an unidentified man opened fire during a protest against the new citizenship law outside Jamia Millia Islamia. (Reuters)

Violence broke out at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university last month during a protest against the citizenship law; the police were accused of using excessive force on students. Earlier this month, masked goons attacked students and teachers at JNU, triggering nationwide outrage and protests.

Today, hundreds of women protesting at Shaheen Bagh, not far from Jamia, for around six weeks were denied permission by Delhi Police to take out a march from Jamia Millia Islamia to Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. The protesters said that they had planned a peaceful march to the Rajghat on the death anniversary of the Mahatma Gandhi.

The firing took place days after Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur urged a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say “goli maaro” – or shoot down traitors.

Thousands, including students in multiple cities and towns across the country, have taken to the streets since last month to protest the new citizenship law that they say discriminates against the minority Muslim community.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.

Human Rights

The ICJ’s Ruling on the Rohingya and What It Means for India and the CAA

On January 23, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) passed an order in the case of Gambia against Myanmar about the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar. The UN and other international bodies have said that Myanmar conducted genocide against Rohingyas. India has been in denial. The Narendra Modi government wants the Rohingya to be pushed back to their country of origin. Rohingya refugees fleeing what the world now recognises as genocidal conditions in Myanman have not been permitted to enter the country and have been denied appropriate human and humane conditions of work. This was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court in vivid terms, with the Union of India still in denial. Under the Indian constitution, persons (not just citizens) are entitled to equality, life and liberty and due process.

Around 740,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh following the crackdown of 2017. This does not count the refugees who fled to other countries and the many who were massacred in Myanmar before and after the crackdown.

Last November, the tiny West African nation of Gambia had the courage to file a case against Myanmar over the treatment of Rohingyas in the ICJ at The Hague in General List No.178 entitled: Request for the indication of provisional measures. At issue was the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide”.

Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou talks to the media outside the ICJ. Photo: Reuters/Eva Plevier

Myanmar was given notice and heard. Gambia’s team had eight persons making the case. Myanmar had four, led by State Counsellor Aung Sang San Suu Kyi. It may be recalled that in December 2019, she appeared before the ICJ to say no genocide had occurred and that measures had been taken to protect the Rohingya. After discussing the legal authorities on genocide, the court concluded (para 76-82) that Myanmar was bound by the Genocide Convention and made the following directions which need to be quoted from the order:

76. From all of the above considerations, the Court concludes that the conditions required by its Statute for it to indicate provisional measures are met. It is therefore necessary, pending its final decision, for the Court to indicate certain measures in order to protect the rights claimed by The Gambia, as identified above (see paragraph 56). 

77. The Court recalls that it has the power, under its Statute, when a request for provisional measures has been made, to indicate measures that are, in whole or in part, other than those requested. Article 75, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court specifically refers to this power of the Court. The Court has already exercised this power in the past (see, for example, Alleged Violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America), Provisional Measures, Order of 3 October 2018, I.C.J. Reports 2018 (II), pg.651, para.96). 

78. In the present case, having considered the terms of the provisional measures requested by The Gambia and the circumstances of the case, the Court finds that the measures to be indicated need not be identical to those requested.

79. Bearing in mind Myanmar’s duty to comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, the Court considers that, with regard to the situation described above, Myanmar must, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention, in relation to the members of the Rohingya group in its territory, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. 

80. Myanmar must also, in relation to the members of the Rohingya group in its territory, ensure that its military, as well as any irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it and any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit acts of genocide, or of conspiracy to commit genocide, of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, of attempt to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide. 

81. The Court is also of the view that Myanmar must take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of any evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II of the Genocide Convention. 

82. Regarding the provisional measure requested by The Gambia that each Party shall provide a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to its Order, the Court recalls that it has the power, reflected in Article 78 of the Rules of Court, to request the parties to provide information on any matter connected with the implementation of any provisional measures it has indicated. In view of the specific provisional measures it has decided to indicate, the Court considers that Myanmar must submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to – 24- this Order within four months, as from the date of this Order, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court. Every report so provided shall then be communicated to The Gambia which shall be given the opportunity to submit to the Court its comments thereon.

The ICJ also observed that it could take further provisional measures.

As an authoritative pronouncement, it is both symbolic and law. That said, I am uneasy on three counts. First, it throws the Rohingya back into the lions’ den and tell the lions not to be hungry. Second, it asks Myanmar to take measures to stop this genocide. It is easy for Myanmar to enact policies and law. It will tout this as compliance. Third, they are expected to report back in four months and thereafter every six months.

Every commentator seems to say that the ICJ cannot enforce its decisions but Myanmar’s vulnerability may persuade the country to do so. My fear is that they will report and fill it with lies, deceits and untruths or twisted truths. Where will we go from there? I think a UN Special Rapporteur on Genocide should monitor this genocide, past or future, and also human rights organisations.

Explainer: The International Court of Justice’s Rulings Are Final but Not Enforceable

Whatever its limitations, the ICJ’s provisional measures are a victory for humanity. Will what the world court has said have an impact on India and on the debate over India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA?I think it does.

Firstly, India is bound by the ICJ’s decision. Recall that the decision was unanimous and confirmed by all judges, including India’s Justice Dalveer Bhandari. Of course, Justice Bhandari cannot act on Narendra Modi or Amit Shah’s instructions. But his concurrence in this case is important.

Second, if we look at the CAA, we will notice the target beneficiary countries of the Act do not include Myanmar. The Rohingyas are Muslims and the double whammy is that Muslims are excluded from the CAA, even from Bangladesh, where many have sought refuge.

Protest against the CAA and NRC in Mumbai on Sunday. Photo: PTI

What is India’s stance in relation to the Rohingya? In fact, they cannot be repatriated to their country of origin (Myanmar) or their transit country (Bangladesh). Bangladesh does not want them back. One of the backbones of the CAA is to confront persecution. Here is a clear case of persecution in a near neighbouring country, which, till 1937, was administratively part of India. There cannot be a hiatus between India’s new law on persecution – the CAA – and its own internationally binding obligation under many composite human rights instruments. Even though it has not signed the Refugee Convention, it sits on the executive committee of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees and Indian courts have mandated that some refugees have a right to process their status.

by Rajeeb Dhavan, The WIRE