Stories from Quick Reads and Governance
IP addresses inside the Russian government continue to be active on Wikipedia, where a computer at the Russian Secret Service, the FSO, revised the German entry for Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, changing the word “separatists” into “rebels.” The Twitter bot @RuGovEdits, which automatically logs all Wikipedia edits made from Russian government IP addresses, caught five separate attempts by an FSO computer this morning to make the “rebels” language stick. The effort failed. German Wikipedia editors reverted the article's language to the original text, every time.
Two journalists from the daily paper Madagascar Matin were placed under arrest at Antanimora's jail, in the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo. Earlier this morning (July 23), both of them were summoned to the Brigade of Fiadanana for a hearing. Solo Rajaonson, another local journalist, posted the following update in Malagasy on Facebook :
About the latest news regarding freedom of press in Madagascar: our colleagues, the Publication Manager of the newspaper Madagascar Matin, Jean Luc Rahaga and his Editor-In-Chief, Didier Ramanoelina are placed under arrest at the penitentiary of Antanimora in Antananarivo, Madagascar. This is the result of a complaint of defamation from Rivo Rakotovao, the Minister of Transport and Industry. So much for breaking away from our recent dark past, I guess
Bangladesh's Elite Paramiltary Unit Is Under Fire for Human Rights Violations. This Blogger Asks: What About Israel's IDF?
Brad Adams, the executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, has recently written a letter to Bangladesh's prime minister suggesting that the Bangladesh government should disband the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Quoting news sources, he accused the RAB of being responsible for more than 800 extrajudicial killings in the past 10 years.
Human rights organizations have long accused the elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit, which was created in 2004, of human rights violations. A number of its members are under investigation in Bangladesh in connection to the abduction and killing of seven men (see Global Voices report).
Some netizens were Irked by the tone of Adam's letter to a sovereign country. Blogger Himu wrote for Bangla blog Sachalayatan a response to Adams, suggesting he be consistent and write to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামস লিখেছেন, “র্যাবকে এখন আর সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব বলে আমরা বিশ্বাস করি না। আইনের ঊর্ধ্বে থেকে কোনো ধরনের জবাবদিহিতার তোয়াক্কা না করে র্যাব পরিচালনার একটি সংস্কৃতি তৈরি হয়ে গেছে। এই অবস্থায় এ বাহিনীকে অবশ্যই বিলুপ্ত করতে হবে, যাতে হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করা হয়।”
মানবাধিকারবারি ব্র্যাড অ্যাডামসের উদ্বেগের প্রতি শ্রদ্ধা জানিয়ে এবার একটা ছোটো আবদার করি। প্যাড থেকে আরেকটা কাগজ ছিঁড়ুন। কলমদানি থেকে কলমটা বের করে খাপ খুলুন। তারপর লিখুন ইসরায়েলের প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে। তাকে বলুন, ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেস প্রতিষ্ঠানটিকেও বিলুপ্ত করে দিতে। ২০০০ সাল থেকে ২০১২ সাল পর্যন্ত ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসের হাতে নিহত ফিলিস্তিনিদের একটি পরিসংখ্যান পাবেন এখানে। এদের মাঝে একটি বড় অংশ নিরীহ বেসামরিক মানুষ, তাদের একটা বড় অংশ শিশু, এবং সংখ্যাটাও ৮০০ থেকে বেশি।
আমি নিশ্চিত, আপনি বিশ্বাস করেন না যে ইসরায়েল ডিফেন্স ফোর্সেসকে সংস্কার করে চালানো সম্ভব। কাজেই ফিলিস্তিনে নির্বিচার হত্যাকাণ্ড বন্ধ করার জন্য যে এই বাহিনীকে বিলুপ্ত করার অনুরোধ আপনি ইসরায়েলি প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে করবেন, সেরকম তো আমরা ধরে নিতেই পারি। নাকি?
কবে আপনি ঐ চিঠিটি লিখবেন, দেখার জন্যে সাগ্রহে অপেক্ষা করছি।
Brad Adams wrote, “We do not believe that RAB can be reformed. It has developed a culture of operating above the law without civilian accountability. It must be disbanded so that the killings come to an end.”
With respect to human rights activist Mr. Brad Adams, I would request him to tear another page from his pad, take a pen and to write a similar letter to the Israeli prime minister urging him to disband the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). You will have the accounts of killings by IDF available here. A lot of these victims are innocent civilians and a large portion of them are children, and the number is a lot more than 800.
I am sure you will agree with me that the IDF cannot be reformed. So can we hope that you will also suggest the Israeli prime minister that IDF should be disbanded?
We are eagerly waiting to see when you will write this letter.
One commenter wondered cynically:
মানবধিকারের সংজ্ঞা বোধহয় অঞ্চল ভেদে ভিন্ন হয়।
Perhaps human rights is defined differently in regions of the world.
Stand-up comedian Sourav Pant‘s comedy company East Indian Comedy has uploaded a YouTube video lampooning what a government-approved sex education class in India would look like. The video has gone viral, with more than 1 million hits in three days.
The video mocks a suggestion made by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan a few weeks ago that sex education should be banned in Indian schools (he later claimed his comments were taken out of context) as well as parodies how teachers shy away from discussing the issue in the class.
“Sex Education in India” created a buzz on social media. Santosh Kumar wrote on the East Indian Comedy's Facebook page: “The same thing happened with me when i was in school!”
Some like Sravan Kumar did not like the video: “Dont forget India is the country which gave Kaama sutra to the world.”
Today's Zaman interviewed İştar Gözaydın, a professor of law and politics at Doğuş University in İstanbul, who has alslo done extensive academic research on Turkish law, society, politics, and is one of the founders of the human rights organization the Helsinki Citizens Association. In the interview, Gözaydın claims, among other things, that Turkish citizens have a lack of trust in the country's judicial system, that social norms and morality are based on personal connections and, hence, biased, but also that transparency is simply not a notion that fits or is accepted in Turkish politics. The experienced Turkish professor said:
It is true that the Turkish people have a sense of a mighty state. This applies to the legal domain as well as matters of political participation. For many years, reference has been made to the weakness of civil society. [...] In Turkey, civil society attempts to benefit from the state. There is a political culture that seeks the preservation of advantages rather than creating a structure separate from the state. This is also because of how we understand and define the state. There are two approaches to the problem of state in the literature: The European system referring to state power and public power and the Anglo-American structure in which a contract is made between the state and individuals. Moving away from the “mighty state” approach to the idea that “I pay tax, so the state has to be accountable for its acts” is not an easy process of change. It concerns a variety of different factors, including human psychology, mentality and morality.
Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister has shut down the controversial Life Sport programme following the results of an audit, which uncovered the ministry's inability to account for millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money. The programme was originally intended to provide disenfranchised youth with options to a life a crime through sport, but ironically, the Minister of National Security alleged that funds from the programme were being paid to criminals. In a satirical post about the issue, Wired868 says:
Persad-Bissessar [the Prime Minister] said the contents of the Auditor General’s report into Life Sport would be forwarded to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] and Integrity Commission, which do not have their own investigators, and the Police Service that, based on its record, could not find sand at the beach.
Roberts [the Minister of Sport] followed the Prime Minister’s lead by suggesting that the criminal activity was done by his employees and the buck stops with them, which…is arguably the equivalent of a motorist pleading innocent to a fatal accident because he closed his eyes just before impact.
Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.
According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.
Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.
W3Lanka English blog opines:
The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?
Property ownership is a critical ingredient of the society we are trying to build. No one can deny that. The wealthiest people and companies in this society have made a great part of their wealth through property dealings – buying, leasing, sub-dividing, selling, renovating and so on….property is critical to amassing and holding wealth.
With the state being “the single largest owner of all classes of property” in Trinidad and Tobago, blogger Afra Raymond is interested in how public property is allocated, noting that because of its value, all dealings involving state lands must be transparent.
For those who figure that the issue of net neutrality doesn't affect them, Trinidad-based blogger Activized connects the dots. The concept that “all data is created equal” is not as common as you might think:
Local telecommunications company Digicel announced that they were banning certain VoIP application services from their network…in an attempt to secure their bottomline – ensuring that users of the cellular phone service make calls using credit, not data. There’s only one problem with that – if I’m paying for my data, I should have the power to get the data that I want and use it how I want.
Thirty seven Sinhalese and four Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka sailed in a boat towards Australia and were intercepted west of the Cocos Island late last month by Australian authorities. They were returned to Sri Lanka, their point of origin, and they appeared in a court in the country's southwest yesterday.
— DushiYanthini (@DushiYanthini) July 8, 2014
Citizen journalism site Groundviews also commented:
— Groundviews (@groundviews) July 9, 2014