Efficiency up, turnover down: Sweden experiments with six-hour working day

A trial of shorter days for nurses at a Gothenburg care home is inspiring others across Scandinavia to cut back, but the cost of improving staff wellbeing is high

By  in Gothenburg

A Swedish retirement home may seem an unlikely setting for an experiment about the future of work, but a small group of elderly-care nurses in Sweden have made radical changes to their daily lives in an effort to improve quality and efficiency.

In February the nurses switched from an eight-hour to a six-hour working day for the same wage – the first controlled trial of shorter hours since a rightward political shift in Sweden a decade ago snuffed out earlier efforts to explore alternatives to the traditional working week.

“I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa,” says Lise-Lotte Pettersson, 41, an assistant nurse at Svartedalens care home in Gothenburg. “But not now. I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work, and also for family life.”

The Svartedalens experiment is inspiring others around Sweden: at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University hospital, orthopaedic surgery has moved to a six-hour day, as have doctors and nurses in two hospital departments in Umeå to the north. And the trend is not confined to the public sector: small businesses claim that a shorter day can increase productivity while reducing staff turnover.

At Svartedalens, the trial is viewed as a success, even if, with an extra 14 members of staff hired to cope with the shorter hours and new shift patterns, it is costing the council money. Ann-Charlotte Dahlbom Larsson, head of elderly care at the home, says staff wellbeing is better and the standard of care is even higher.

“Since the 1990s we have had more work and fewer people – we can’t do it any more,” she says. “There is a lot of illness and depression among staff in the care sector because of exhaustion – the lack of balance between work and life is not good for anyone.”

Pettersson, one of 82 nurses at Svartedalens, agrees. Caring for elderly people, some of whom have dementia, demands constant vigilance and creativity, and with a six-hour day she can sustain a higher standard of care. “You cannot allow elderly people to become stressed, otherwise it turns into a bad day for everyone,” she says.

After a century in which working hours were gradually reduced, holidays increased and retirement reached earlier, there has been an increase in hours worked for the first time in history, says Roland Paulsen, a researcher in business administration at the University of Lund. People are working harder and longer, he says – but this is not necessarily for the best.

“For a long time politicians have been competing to say we must create more jobs with longer hours – work has become an end in itself,” he says. “But productivity has doubled since the 1970s, so technically we even have the potential for a four-hour working day. It is a question of how these productivity gains are distributed. It did not used to be utopian to cut working hours – we have done this before.”

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Hungary’s treatment of refugees is shocking and unacceptable, says UN

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UN secretary general expresses outrage over use of teargas and water cannon, as thousands of people enter Croatia

The UN secretary general has condemned the Hungarian government’s treatment of refugees on its southern border, arguing that the use of teargas, pepper spray and water cannon on people fleeing war and hardship is not acceptable.

Hungary triggered outrage from the international community on Wednesday after firing gas canisters and spraying water at crowds of frustrated refugees who had briefly broken through a border gate in protest at being prevented from crossing from Serbia.

With their path north from Serbia into Hungary – and the European Union – blocked since Tuesday, many migrants and refugees have simply turned west to the Croatian frontier. More than 5,000 people have entered since Hungary’s crackdown, Croatian police said.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/17/hungary-refugees-ban-ki-moon-eu-serbia

More » Al Jazeera

Rick Hillier says military can help bring in 50,000 refugees by Christmas

Former chief of defence staff outlines plan that includes transporting people by cruise ship

By Katharine Starr, Karen Jouhal, CBC News

The Canadian Forces could play a key role in helping to bring at least 50,000 Syrian refugees — far more than the government is planning— to Canada by Christmas, retired general Rick Hillier says.

“We’ve got these incredible leaders in the Canadian Forces, across the RCMP and many other places in our nation who are ready to step up,” he said in an interview with Rosemary Barton on CBC News Network’sPower & Politics.

Hillier, the former chief of the defence staff, called for the government to bring in at least 50,000 Syrian refugees over the next three months, a figure he called realistic.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-rick-hillier-refugees-military-christmas-1.3225732

Travelling to work ‘is work’, European court rules

Time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

This time has not previously been considered as work by many employers.

It means firms including those employing care workers, gas fitters and sales reps may be in breach of EU working time regulations.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it could have a “huge effect”.

“Employers may have to organise work schedules to ensure workers’ first and last appointments are close to their homes,” he added.

‘Health and safety’

Chris Tutton, from the solicitors Irwin Mitchell, told the BBC: “Thousands of employers may now potentially be in breach of working time regulation rules in the UK.”

The court said its judgement was about protecting the “health and safety” of workers as set out in the European Union’s working time directive.

The directive is designed to protect workers from exploitation by employers, and it lays down regulations on matters such as how long employees work, how many breaks they have, and how much holiday they are entitled to.

One of its main goals is to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week.

The ruling came about because of an ongoing legal case in Spain involving a company called Tyco, which installs security systems.

‘Bear the burden’

The company shut its regional offices down in 2011, resulting in employees travelling varying distances before arriving at their first appointment.

The court ruling said: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

“Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”

Meanwhile, employment law barrister Caspar Glyn agreed the court’s decision could affect “millions of workers”.

However, Mr Glyn also said there had been much speculation that this ruling could allow workers on the national minimum wage to claim more money for the time they spend getting to work.

But he said this would not be the case.

“The national minimum wage is a UK right, it is not a European right. There’s no European right to a national minimum wage.

“The minimum wage regulations in the UK do not count as work travel from home or to any workplace,” he said.

News courtesy: BBC
Read more » http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34210002

The World Is Experiencing the Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II


Hoppers Way in Singleton, Kent, is a quiet suburban cul-de-sac of red-brick detached houses, each with its own garage and driveway. Parked outside No 8, there is often a large white-and-grey camper van—a luxury Swift Kon-tiki 679 model, with a double bed in the back and another over the cab. Singleton is a suburb of Ashford, the last big town on the M20 as it approaches the Channel Tunnel entrance at Folkestone and a stopping point for Eurostar train services between London and the Continent. That makes it a convenient location for the rental business run by Teresa and Stephen Tyrer, who hire out the motor home for £1,000 a week to people wishing to travel to Europe.

Read more » NEW REPUBLIC
See more » http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120553/refugee-crisis-calais-example-world-wide-problem?utm_content=buffer72d7f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Islamic State leader Baghdadi ‘raped Kayla Mueller’

An American aid worker who was killed in February while held hostage by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, was sexually abused by the group’s top leader, US officials told ABC news.

Kayla Mueller, 26, was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they said.

Counter-terrorism officials made her family aware of the abuse in June.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33941913

How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

By Michael Cohen

Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office: Big Oil, Big Pharma and the gun lobby among them. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO andCorrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25 percent a decade ago, a Huffington Post report found. In total, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds.

Marco Rubio is one of the best examples of the private prison industry’s growing political influence, a connection that deserves far more attention now that he’s officially launched a presidential bid. The U.S. senator has a history of close ties to the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretching back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. While Rubio was leading the House, GEO was awarded a state government contract for a $110 million prison soon after Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, making him the Senate’s top career recipient of contributions from the company. (Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)

The Justice Policy Institute identified the private-prison industry’s three-pronged approach to increase profits through political influence: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships and networks. On its website, CCA states that the company doesn’t lobby on policies that affect “the basis for or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.” Still, several reports have documented instances when private-prison companies have indirectly supported policies that put more Americans and immigrants behind bars – such as California’s three-strikes rule and Arizona’s highly controversial anti-illegal immigration law – by donating to politicians who support them, attending meetings with officials who back them, and lobbying for funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Showing just how important these policies are to the private prison industry, both GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America have warned shareholders that changes in these policies would hurt their bottom lines.

In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

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India Fails Its Own Constitution in Kashmir: Amnesty International


 India has neglected international obligations and its own constitution by ignoring human rights violations allegedly carried out in the name of  national security in Jammu and Kashmir state, an Amnesty International report released Wednesday says.

The damning report titled “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir,” by the London-based rights group is based on the examination of nearly 100 cases of alleged human rights abuses by security forces between 1990 and 2012 and interviews with 58 family members of the victims in 2013.

The report says that no member of the security forces deployed in the northern-most state over the past 25 years of militancy in the region has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court.

“An absence of accountability has ensured that security force personnel continue to operate in a manner that facilitates serious human rights violations,” the group says in the report.

All of the families interviewed by Amnesty International India said that “they had little or no faith that those responsible for human rights violations will be brought to justice.”

Spokesmen for India’s defense ministry and ministry of home affairs, under which military and paramilitary forces function, said they weren’t able to comment on the report immediately.

The disputed region of Kashmir has been a site of conflict between India and Pakistan since the Partition in 1947. The two countries each control parts of the territory but claim it in full and have fought three wars over it. An armed insurgency that erupted in the late 1980s claimed the lives of thousands of people, many of them civilians.

India has deployed tens of thousands of army, paramilitary and police forces to squash militancy in the region. Many local civilians and activists have alleged that the security forces are responsible for crimes including murder, kidnap and rape.

The Amnesty report castigates both India’s state security forces and non-state armed groups for human rights abuses. “In general, victims of human rights abuses in the state have been unable to secure justice, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a state or non-state actor,” the group says.

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“DENIED” Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir – AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

This report documents obstacles to justice for victims of human rights violations existing in both law and practice in Jammu and Kashmir, and shows how the government’s response to reports of human rights violations has failed to deliver justice for several victims and families. In writing this report, Amnesty International India analyzed government and legal documents related to over 100 cases of human rights violations committed between 1990 and 2013, and interviewed families of victims, their lawyers, journalists, academics, civil society activists, and state and central authorities.

See more » http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/default/files/indiareport1july15.pdf

Year-to-date: 83 mutilated corpses found in Balochistan

QUETTA: The Vice Chairman of Human Rights Commission Balochistan chapter Advocate Tahir Hussain said that as many as 83 mutilated bodies were recovered this year in Balochistan.

He said this while addressing a news conference on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Friday here at Quetta Press Club.

He said that as many as 230 cases of disappeared persons are registered with the Supreme Court. He added that people have little knowledge about their rights and called for raising awareness among the public about their basic privileges. He said five years ago, in extension of the UN Treaty on Support of Victims of Torture, Pakistan pledged an effective statute in torture. He said torture should be declared as a crime.

Read: Four bullet-riddled bodies found near Karachi’s Lyari Expressway

He said that on the International Day of Support of Victims of Torture, MCT and Pakistan Human Rights Commission should demand of the government to make laws against torture and compensate the victims of torture in Pakistan.

He said that the day reminds everyone that inhuman behaviour, such as torture, still exist in Pakistan, mocking human dignity. He said that after having signed the Treaty five years ago, it is high time Pakistan legislated on the issue. He added that HRCP and MCP have in an open letter to NA welcomed a draft bill that is still pending in the lower house of parliament. “Pakistan Human Rights Commission should demand of the government to make laws against torture and compensate the victims of torture.” said Hussain. Both organisations have also suggested good amendments against torture and killing into the draft bill.

In response to a question, he said that earlier the family members of missing persons would inform them about their dead bodies began to surface, they stopped telling HRCP anything about them now.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2015.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/910713/year-to-date-83-mutilated-corpses-found-in-balochistan/

Poverty: A Man Made Disaster On Planet Earth

By Nayyar N Khan

Oxfam Estimates That It Would Take $60 Billion Annually To End Extreme Global Poverty–That’s Less Than Quarter Of The Total Income Of Top 100 Richest Persons Living Amongst Us. 

IMAGINE, the everyday increasing poverty, the widening gap between haves and have not’s. Nature, the most gracious and merciful has granted more than enough resources in this universe that these resources could feed every living being. But we, the greedy human beings, are misusing these resources thus creating CRISIS OF “hunger and starvation” for not only human beings but many other creatures too on this planet. Today, more than 1.4 billion people around the world live in poverty- so extreme that they can barely survive- and around 25,000 people die from hunger each day whilst a new billionaire is created every second day.

The figures are frightening when we look at the map of the world populated by people, just like us. Nearly one half of the world’s population – more than 3 billion- live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.4 billion live in extreme poverty i.e. less than $1.25 a day. One billion children worldwide are living in poverty. More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people die per day.

165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) in 2011 due to chronic malnutrition. Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children per year as they are from such poor families who cannot afford proper treatment. As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide did not receive the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Imagine, if it were you who was forced to live on less than $1 a day, the same amount other people mindlessly spend on a bottle of water or a pack of cheap candy or gum. Imagine going to bed with empty stomach that night spent becomes unbearable.

1/4 of all humans live without electricity. Approximately 1.6 billion people. 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest persons living amongst us. The World Food Program says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties.

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We are “cruel & dishonest. The rest of the world sees it.” – Julian Burnside



Julian Burnside: Now is the time to stand up for justice

We need to face the fact that we are being cruel, selfish and dishonest, and the rest of the world sees it.

Our treatment of asylum seekers is unjust. Like many people, I am profoundly concerned about Justice. Campaigning for the just treatment of boat people has had strange consequences, including death threats and hate mail. I am liked by some people, and loathed by others because I stand up for decent treatment of refugees. It is an uncomfortable thing to be publicly vilified.

At a glamorous social function, the wife of a very senior and respected colleague sidled up to me and asked:

“Do you think it appropriate that a member of the bar speaks publicly about these matters?”

I answered, with more wit than preparation:

“Do you think it appropriate to know about these matters and remain silent?”

There the conversation ended.

Australians don’t usually get noticed by overseas media, unless it concerns sport.

But a recent exception to that was a favourable piece by Katie Hopkins, in an article published in the London Sun. Her admiration of Australia’s refugee policies looked less flattering when she described boat people as “vermin” and “cockroaches”. Presumably someone forgot to remind her that they are human beings.

The British Medical Journal recently published an article titled “Refugees: time for moral leadership from the Western democracies”. Its subheading was “Australia sets a disgraceful example in its treatment of refugees”.

It is a striking thing for Australia’s refugee policy to attract such sharp commentary in an international journal of such high standing.

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RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE – Fifty kilometres from Delhi, hundreds of Muslims have become refugees overnight

A mob of 300 Jat men rampaged through a village in Ballabhgarh this week, attacking Muslims. The reason: they don’t want a mosque in the village.

The normality of the evening was deceptive. A little before 6 pm on May 25, most residents of Atali village in Ballabhgarh, in Haryana’s Faridabad district, were out tending to their cattle. A few were in their homes cooking dinner. Zahida Parveen had just settled down on the second storey of her home in preparation for the asar ki namaz. Suddenly, there was a loud noise.
“I looked out and saw 14-15 men enter the gate of the house armed with bricks, sticks and swords,” said Parveen, a slender woman in her early 20s. “I heard them break the door to the ground floor of our house.” She bolted the door to the second floor and hid in a room. The sounds of destruction continued drifting from below, glass being smashed and things being hurled around. She could hear the men rush up to where she was. “They were breaking down the door,” Parveen said. “I hid inside the bathroom. They entered my room, shouting ‘Let these people die in the fire, if not at our hands.’”Parveen doesn’t remember how long she stayed hidden while mayhem played out on the other side of the bathroom door. The men smashed a washbasin, overturned furniture and set fire to three cars downstairs before eventually walking away. Parveen and her relatives escaped from the roof when, after what seemed like hours, the police arrived.

Three days on, Parveen and her family were still living in fear at the Ballabgarh police station along with 200 other Muslims from Atali.

Refugees in their town

At the police station, the Muslim men sat in groups on a lawn at the entrance, in the blazing heat. Further inside, about a hundred women sat on a rug spread on the asphalt, with a thin cloth tent sheltering them from the sun. Children, many in the school uniforms they were wearing three days ago, huddled around the women. In one corner, there were stacks of bananas and plastic pouches of drinking water provided by social activists.

Israel’s Ethiopian Jews clash with police at race rally

At least 40 people injured during anti-racism rally in Tel Aviv sparked by brutality against a black soldier.

Israeli riot police have fired stun grenades and water cannon on thousands of ethnic Ethiopian Jewish citizens in an attempt to clear one of the most violent protests in memory in the heart of Tel Aviv.

The protesters, Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, were demonstrating on Sunday against what they said was police racism and brutality after a video clip emerged last week showing policemen shoving and punching a black soldier.

Demonstrators overturned a police car and threw bottles and stones at officers in riot gear at Rabin Square in the heart of Israel’s commercial capital.

Israel’s Channel 2 television said tear gas was also used, something the police declined to confirm.

“I’ve had enough of this behaviour by the police, I just don’t trust them any more … when I see the police I spit on the ground,” one female demonstrator who was not identified told Channel 2 before police on horseback had charged.

Read more » Al Jajazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/israel-ethiopian-jews-rally-police-brutality-150503155817247.html

Slaughter on the beach: ISIS behead and shoot Ethiopian Christians in sickening new propaganda video

Video seems to show militants in Libya holding one group of at least 16 captive on a beach and 12 others in a desert
Before the killings a masked fighter in black brandishes a pistol as he vows to kill Christians if they do not convert
Ethiopia unable to confirm its citizens were killed by militants in the footage but condemned the ‘atrocious act’
It comes two months after 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by extremists in a similar video from Libya


A shocking new video appearing to show at least 30 Christians being beheaded and shot by ISIS in Libya has been released.

The 29-minute video, titled ‘Until It Came To Them – Clear Evidence’, shows dozens of militants holding two separate groups captive, thought to be in the south and the west of the country.

At least 16 men, described by Islamic State as the ‘followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church’, are lined up and shot in a desert area while 12 others are filmed being forced to walk down a beach before being beheaded.

This follows another video in February of the beheading of a group of 21 Coptic Christians on the beach in Libya, though that terrain was rockier than the one shown in the latest film.

It raises fears that ISIS is consolidating its presence on the ‘doorstep of Europe’, as Libya is just a few hundred miles from the coast of Italy.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3045711/Slaughter-beach-ISIS-behead-shoot-Ethiopian-Christians-sickening-new-propaganda-video.html#ixzz3XnCSUvBO

Borderlands – India’s Great Wall

ALL NATIONAL BORDERS ARE IMAGINARY. But some are more imaginary than others. And perhaps some nations are more imaginative too. Somewhere in the labyrinths of the New Delhi bureaucracy, tucked within the recesses of the Ministry of Home Affairs, is a bureau called the Department of Border Management. The DBM, sometimes with just the flourish of an ink pen, conjures the sinuous, unsteady line that separates the triangle of the subcontinent from the mass of Asia. India’s shortest border, according to the department, is its ninety-nine mile border with Afghanistan. This one is especially imaginary, since it’s been in Pakistani hands for the past seventy years. India’s longest border is the 2,545 mile line that encircles Bangladesh. This one is being drawn right now, with steel and electric light.

Travel along the border districts of the east and you will see it unfurling slowly through the simmering green farmlands of Bengal, turning the territory into a map at last. It is an improbable structure: a double fence, eight feet high, consisting of two parallel rows of black columns made of sturdy angle iron and topped with overhanging beams. The two rows of columns are draped in a tapestry of barbed wire, with spools of concertina wire sandwiched between them.
This imposing national installation is still a work in progress. It has been under construction since 1989; 1700 miles have now been erected, at a cost of approximately $600 million. There have been many delays and cost overruns, but when it is complete it will render precisely 2042 miles of the invisible border an impenetrable barrier, a gigantic machine for processing bodies—designed, in the words of the DBM, to prevent “illegal immigration and other anti-national activities from across the border.”

Whether this is an appropriate or proportionate response to India’s perceived problem with its smaller neighbor is less certain. The issue of Bangladeshi migration into India has become part of the background chatter of Indian political discourse in the quarter century since work began on the fence, though in times of political turmoil it has been amplified into obtrusive static. Both the partition of India in 1947 and the 1971 war that led to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan occasioned a massive influx of refugees into India. But migrants of these generations are now generally accepted as naturalized Indians. While the number of subsequent migrants is presumed to be significant, the figures most commonly cited are wildly divergent and unverifiable. In 2000 the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina famously asserted there were no illegal Bangladeshi migrants in India at all, while three years later India’s Intelligence Bureau pegged the figure at 16 million. The Indian press routinely cites more sensational figures, which expand impressively each year. The unlikely sum of 60 million was a popular estimate a couple of years ago.

Just last year, during his election campaign tour of Bengal, Narendra Modi promised to send all illegal migrants “back to Bangladesh”—although, he reassured his audience, those who worshipped the Hindu goddess Durga would be “welcomed as sons of Mother India.” Nobody knows, of course, what proportion of the unknown number of Bangladeshi migrants are Hindu. Like all the other numbers, it is likely to be impressive. But it seems doubtful that the extravagant net that India is casting around Bangladesh will be up to the task of sieving Muslims from Hindus.

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A horrific attack in Kenya – Al-Shabaab attack kills 147 in Kenya

Kenya is reeling after gunmen from Islamist militant group al-Shabaab stormed a university in north-eastern part of the country, killing at least 147 staff and students and injuring 79 others. The four attackers have been killed. In the wake of this terrible attack, Kenya should protect vulnerable Muslim communities from potential revenge attacks.

See more » https://www.hrw.org/the-day-in-human-rights

Who killed Forty-two citizens in Hashimpura, Meerut.

India: Communal riots occurred in May 1987 in Meerut, U.P. the Provincial Armed Constabulary ( P.A.C.) rounded up 42 Muslim youth in Hashimpur, took them on trucks to a remote place, shot them in cold blood, and dumped their bodies in water canals.
16 P.A.C. constables were charge sheeted, but recording of evidence began only in July 2006, that is, more than 19 years after the incident. On 21.3.2015 all the accused, except those who had already died, were acquitted. ~

Read more » BBC report

See More » Sohail Haleem’s report at BBC 

More details » Salman Ravi report at BBC

Isis fighters throw another ‘gay’ man off a tower – and stone him to death when he survives fall

Isis fighters threw a man accused of homosexuality from a building and stoned him to death when he survived the fall, a Syrian monitoring group has claimed.

The man was reportedly thrown from a tower in the Syrian city of al- Tabaqa, west of the group’s defacto stronghold of Raqqa, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The Observatory collects information from activists living in  Isis-controlled territories.

The killing reportedly took place in front of a huge crowd of people gathered below the building on Tuesday.

Read more » The Independent
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-fighters-throw-another-gay-man-off-a-tower–and-stone-him-to-death-when-he-survives-fall-10084618.html

Tens of thousands of Muslims flee Christian militias in Central African Republic

By Sudarsan Raghavan

Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing to neighboring countries by plane and truck as Christian militias stage brutal attacks, shattering the social fabric of this war-ravaged nation.

In towns and villages as well as here in the capital, Christian vigilantes wielding machetes have killed scores of Muslims, who are a minority here, and burned and looted their houses and mosques in recent days, according to witnesses, aid agencies and peacekeepers. Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled their homes.

The cycle of chaos is fast becoming one of the worst outbreaks of violence along Muslim-Christian fault lines in recent memory in sub-Saharan Africa, tensions that have also plagued countries such as Nigeria and Sudan.

The brutalities began to escalate when the country’s first Muslim leader,Michel Djotodia, stepped down and went into exile last month. Djotodia, who had seized power in a coup last March, had been under pressure from regional leaders to resign. His departure was meant to bring stability to this poor country, but humanitarian and human rights workers say there is more violence now than at any time since the coup.

“Civilians remain in constant fear for their lives and have been largely left to fend for themselves,” Martine Flokstra, emergency coordinator for the aid agency Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement Friday, adding that the violence had reached “extreme and unprecedented” levels.

On Friday, thousands of Muslims hopped aboard trucks packed with their possessions, protected by soldiers from Chad, and drove out of Bangui, as Christians cheered their departures or tried to loot the trucks as they drove through Christian areas. At least one Muslim man, who fell from a truck, was killed by a mob. Meanwhile, thousands more Muslims huddled at the airport in a crowded hangar, waiting to be evacuated.

“They are killing Muslims with knives,” said Muhammed Salih Yahya, 38, a shopkeeper, making a slitting motion across his throat. He arrived at the airport Wednesday from the western town of Yaloke with his wife and five children. “I built my house over two years, but the Christians destroyed it in minutes. I want to leave.”

Christians have also been victims of violence, targeted by Muslims in this complex communal conflict that U.N. and humanitarian officials fear could implode into genocide. Several hundred thousand Christians remain in crowded, squalid camps, unable or too afraid to return home.

Read more » The Washington Post
Learn more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/tens-of-thousands-of-muslims-flee-christian-militias-in-central-african-republic/2014/02/07/5a1adbb2-9032-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html

Military courts: a wrong move

By Editorial

PAKISTAN should not have military courts, not in the expanded form envisioned by the military and political leadership of the country, not to try civilians on terrorism charges and not even for a limited period of time.

Military courts are simply not compatible with a constitutional democracy.

In the immediate aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre, politicians and the military leadership rightly came together to respond urgently to the terror threat that stalks this country.

What they did wrong was to decide on military courts as the lynchpin of a new strategy to fight terrorism.

Perhaps with a country convulsed with grief and the PML-N government on weak ground — given that until recently the party was insisting on dialogue with the elements behind the Peshawar calamity — there was little resistance to the military’s demand that terrorist suspects be tried in military courts, and presumably summarily executed thereafter.

Perhaps also the full range of opposition political parties present were overawed by the presence of the army chief and DG ISI in Peshawar, and those opposed to military courts decided that it was futile to oppose them in the circumstances.

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Egypt – Military dictatorship: More Civilians Sent to Egyptian Military Courts

Egypt: 5 Civilians Referred to Military Prosecution for Committing Acts of Violence

Cairo — Egypt’s top prosecutor referred on Tuesday five civilians to the military judiciary on charges related to committing acts of violence.

Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat approved the decision of the Damietta Prosecutor General to refer the five defendants to the military prosecution. They are all believed to be supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Read more » AllAfrica
See more » http://allafrica.com/stories/201412310104.html


Footprints: ‘Kill and dump’ in Sindh

By Saher Baloch

Sarwech Ali Pirzado’s grave stands out in the ancestral Pirzado graveyard in Balhreji, Larkano district. A red Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) flag is spread over the grave. Another party flag flutters beside it. Known as ‘little Moscow’, Balhreji has seen many socialist and communist movements, evidence of which is found on the main entrance to the street where the graveyard is located. There is a plaque here in memory of “social reformer Muhib Hussain Pirzado”.

The area has been in the spotlight in recent weeks, as the venue where families from across Sindh receive the tortured bodies of their relatives — activists of Sindh’s nationalist parties who hailed largely from Larkano district.

Sitting on a charpoy in his modest home, Sarwech’s father Lutuf Pirzado wore an expression of resigned acceptance as he mentioned his son’s affiliation with the JSMM’s student wing, the Jeay Sindh Students Federation (JSSF). Himself an active member of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy in the 1980s, Lutuf received 15 lashes in prison for wall-chalking and demanding the release of communist leader Jam Saqi.

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Bleeding Sindh

By Ayesha Siddiqa

As Imran Khan and the PTI vociferously protest the death of their worker in Faisalabad, many mothers elsewhere in the country must be sitting lamenting their sons and wondering who will lock down the country and force the state to answer why their sons will not return. While we all got used to missing persons and tortured bodies in Balochistan, it’s odd to find Sindh becoming part of the same tragic cycle.

Death and dead bodies are not new to Sindh. Every decade since the 1980s, the province has bled for one reason or the other. But this current spate of killings seems to be a new pattern. It is almost as if Sindhi nationalism is being woken up. Interestingly, the six dead bodies found recently did not belong to violent nationalists. In fact, five out of the six were men who had moved on in life. Notwithstanding old associations with the JSMM, these people were not actively involved in any ‘anti-state’ activity or even in party politics.

In any case, one thought that from the state’s perspective, Sindh was not Balochistan. The province had been through this phase during the 1980s when people challenged the military regime and were killed for it. Like Balochistan, Sindh was politically vibrant. The Sindhi media and intelligentsia was politically active and educated people about issues in its own language. Fast-forward to the 2000s, things were manipulated and changed. Despite the media still being active, it has begun to behave and sound more like the media in the rest of the country. What the state couldn’t purchase or silence was bought over by influential dons.

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Where the Kashmiri nationalists really Stand in the greater game

Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, human rights activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Nayyar N Khan

State Assembly Elections in Indian-administered Kashmir: People’s Participation a Strategy or Paradigm Shift.

By Nayyar N Khan

State assembly elections 2014 in Indian administered Jammu Kashmir have glimmered a manic deliberation among the parties to the conflict and stakeholders. Indian media and politicians at Delhi and elsewhere in the country are depicting the participation of ordinary masses in the vale of Kashmir as a trust building notion on the Union of India and rejection of separatist sentiments. Pakistani media on the other hand remained both unconcerned and silent or repeated the same rhetoric of yellow journalism. Kashmir based analysts and activists are twisting the story that fits best in their pre-occupied state of mind. The reality is that after almost three decades of boycotts, strikes and shutdowns Kashmiri people decided to vote instead of boycott. Some intellectuals and writers are taking it as an abrupt decision and others are debating it as a dissatisfactory notion from the state of affairs Kashmiri people have been going through since 1988.

What basically happened has its roots in the past, political evolution, experimental judgment and revisited wisdom. It definitely involves the role of Hurriyat Conference/other separatist factions, lessons learned from militancy and a series of boycotts, role of Pakistani establishment and that of Indian government.  Understanding the linkages between past and present situations in the valley of Kashmir is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the events and chain of the events that, in a nutshell, is why history matters. Finding a linkage with past and present is not only useful rather it is an essential part in understanding the social, economic and political attitudes and beliefs in a constituency. The glance of the past is essential for ‘rooting’ people, ideas, movements and events in time. Does it really matter to find the correct answer? The answer is yes it is. Because without finding the correct answer only speculations cannot put the course of “what we are today” in the right perspective.

Elections 2014 of the state assembly in Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir have initiated a new chapter in the political panorama of the region. A decade of off-and-on detente between India and Pakistan has drawn to a close after months of deteriorating relations that began with the election victory in May 2014 of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party and the appointment as India’s Prime Minister of a noted hard-liner, Narendra Modi. Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi after had already triumphed in a landslide victory across India in the general elections held in the spring of 2014 is continuously altering the political map of Indian Union by winning the elections held for various state assemblies (constituents of Indian Union). Prime Minister Modi has decided to take that heat to the state of Jammu Kashmir to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiri people.

It is chilling winter in Kashmir where some parts are so cold just like frozen Siberia. Glaciers of Himalayas are melting down due to the political heat and participation of Kashmiri people in the elections after almost three decades. People in the valley who were accustomed to the calls of boycott and shut down calls from both the pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan leadership and in practice have sacrificed their daily means of bread and butter in solidarity with the anti-India leadership since 1987. But in 2014 the corridor of political venue has altered the paintings on the Kashmiri canvas. Instead of shutter down and wheel jam strikes lenses of both electronic and print media are capturing the live enthusiasm of people participation in the electoral process.

This apparent shift in the valley raises some serious concerns as well as some lessons to be learned. Indian state-owned media is propagating the events as a paradigm shift in the Kashmiri politics while Pakistani media is silent on the electoral process of Indian held Kashmir. The politicians across Jammu Kashmir are interpreting the events well in accordance with their pre-occupied state of mind and trying to concrete and cement their long-held opinions on the very issue.

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Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP’s) alarm at missing men in Sindh turning up dead


Lahore, December 5: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave alarm at the rapid rise in enforced disappearances in Sindh, with the victims turning up dead. Those taken away are young men, mainly political activists, picked up from various parts of the province in the last few months. Mutilated dead bodies of many of the victims have been found. HRCP demanded immediate steps to put an end to the ghastly trend and to bring the killers to justice.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Commission said: “HRCP has noted with great alarm increasing reports of enforced disappearance of citizens, mainly activists of nationalist political parties, in Sindh and their tortured bodies being found weeks or months later.

The victims include Shakeel Sindhi, a Sindh University student, was abducted from his house in Karachi on October 6 and his dead body was found on October 11. Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) activist Paryal Shah was abducted from a public transport bus headed from Dahrki to Kashmor on November 7. His dead body was found the same day from a village on the Sindh-Punjab border. The bullet-riddled body of Roshan Brohi, a resident of Larkana and a JSMM activist, was found in a gunny bag near Malir, Karachi, on November 12. He had been picked up on October 26. The dead body of SindhUniversity student and JSMM activist Asif Panhwar was found in a village of Larkana district on November 26. He had been shot several times. He had been picked up by security agencies from Jamshoro on August 15. On November 27, the bullet-riddled body of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) activist Waheed Lashari was found in a sewerage pond in Karachi’s Malir area. He had been abducted 29 days earlier from Qambar Shahdadkot, when he was travelling with his sister in a public transport van. Allah Wadio, a first year student, was abducted on August 13 from Karachi. On December 02 unidentified persons threw him in a critical condition near Hub Chowki. Police informed his parents who admitted him to Civil Hospital Karachi. He was reportedly picked up from there by security agencies’ personnel and on December 3 his dead body was found from Hyderabad Bypass.

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U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman’s statement about the extra-judicial killings of enforced missing Sindhi political activists.

BradSaddened to learn of recent extra judicial killings of innocent Sindhis in Pakistan My heart goes out to the families of the killed & missing

Courtesy: Twitter
See more » https://twitter.com/BradSherman/status/539915149235458048
Via Facebook

‘This Is Not a Protest—It Is an Uprising’

By Zoë Carpenter

Shortly before 2 in the afternoon on Sunday, more than a dozen people walked onto an interstate near the Capitol in Washington and formed a human chain. Eight lanes of traffic came to halt. During rush hour the next morning, protesters closed down the Fourteenth Street bridge. And then the Twelfth Street tunnel. “Shut it down for Mike Brown,” they chanted.

Read more » The Nation
Learn more » http://www.thenation.com/blog/191921/not-protest-it-uprising#

Watch the renowned writer, scholar, philosopher and political commentator Noam Chomsky’s statement about extra-judicial killings of enforcedly disappeared Sindhi political activists

Watch the statement of renowned writer, scholar, philosopher and political commentator Noam Chomsky on extra-judicial killings of enforcedly disappeared Sindhi political activists and forced conversion of Sindhi Hindu girls!

Courtesy: Noam Chomsky + YouTube

Riaz sohail from Killing fields of Sindh


Karachi: One more mutilated dead body of Sindhi activist Faheem Bhutto found in Hub, near Karachi.

Read more » BBC
more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2014/12/141202_sindh_nationalist_killed_rh?ocid=socialflow_facebook

Bodies of two activists found in Jamshoro

By Mohammad Hussain Khan

HYDERABAD: Jamshoro police on Monday identified the bodies of two nationalist activists who had been found the previous night.

Their families identified them in the mortuary of Liaquat University Hospital (LUH) city branch where police shifted the bodies after finding them in their area.

“It was a desolated area and we found them at 11.30pm…they were shifted to the mortuary at 12.30pm,” said Jamshoro SSP Naeem Sheikh.

He hinted at the possibility that the condition of the two bodies indicated that they might have been thrown there on Saturday or early Sunday morning.

Lutf Pirzado, father of one of deceased, 24 year old Sarvech Pirzado identified his son and Abid Langah, brother of other deceased Wajid Langah reached hospital late Monday night form upper Sindh to identify his brother and receive his body.

The banned Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) page on a social website also posted photograph of body of Sarvech Pirzado, claiming him to be one of their leaders.

Abid Langah, however told journalists that he was not aware of any political affiliation of his brother.

“He used to run a shop in Pipri area of Karachi and had gone missing on Aug 13 there,” he said.

The mother of Sarvech Prizado, Mehrun Nisa had filed a constitutional petition before the Sindh High Court, according to her counsel, Zamir Ghumro.

He told Dawn.com that the court had heard the petition on Nov 27 and ordered DIG South Zone Karachi to produce him before the court.

“I had told the court that we apprehend him [Sarvech] otherwise he might be killed the way other nationalist activists are killed,” he said.

Read also: Protests over ‘custodial killing’ of nationalists

Ghumro explained that Sarvech had dissociated himself from JSMM and he showed a report from a newspaper, mentioning that he has quit the group.

He said that a non-cognizable offence report was lodged with Preedy police in Karachi.

Sarvech’s father talked to journalists in a choked voice to express his feeling. “I am proud of my son,” he said.

Lutf himself worked in a communist movement and was part of the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD).

A few days back, the bodies of two JSMM activists were found.

Before that the bodies of two men, said to be affiliated with banned outfits were also found on Super Highway within the jurisdiction of Kotri police station, Jamshoro.

According to a civil society activist, Zulfiqar Halepoto, he had briefed UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in Sept 2012 how nationalist activists are picked-up and their bodies then thrown.

“Almost all Sindhi nationalist parties leaders met the group whose members expressed their concern over such incidents,” he said.

Halepoto was part of a rally recently organised in the city to condemn extra-judicial killings of political activists.

JSMM has recently called for a strike against the deaths of its workers.

Courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1148102/bodies-of-two-activists-found-in-jamshoro