Tolo News – Afghan civilians suffering remains far too high: ICRC

The ICRC calls on all parties to the conflict to do more to prevent injuries and deaths to Afghans

Kabul – Kabul Province, 12 August 2019. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a report that the ongoing peace talks have not diminished the intensity of violence in Afghanistan and its impact on civilians as the civilian casualties remained high.

The report said that the air bombardments, night raids, and attacks conducted in both rural and populated areas result in the killing and maiming of women, men, and children who had no part in the fighting.

“Homes, mosques, schools, markets and health care facilities are being hit,” it said.

“Too little attention is being paid to the suffering of civilians. They must be protected and respected at all times”, said ICRC’s head of delegation in Afghanistan, Juan-Pedro Schaerer in the report.

The ICRC calls on all parties to the conflict that the medical workers, too, must be protected and respected by all sides.

Attacks against health care providers and facilities are too high, with 59 incidents in the first half of 2019. All sides must allow patients unhindered access to health services regardless of their affiliation, it said.

Attacking a single doctor or nurse undermines life-saving healthcare for everyone. This must stop, said Schaerer.

The ICRC is also deeply concerned about the fate of people detained by all sides in relation to the conflict, regardless of the side which is holding them.

“Detainees must have access to health care, to basics such as clean water, clothing, and hygiene items, and contact with their families,” according to the report.

Though humanitarian needs continue to grow, the security situation makes it difficult for help to reach those in need of food, water, shelter and security, it said.

This year has seen the highest number of incidents involving humanitarian workers in last few years, it added.

The Tribune – Threats to anti-drug panels, STF warns of tough action

‘Will felicitate victim Satnam on 15 August 2019, recommend his name for government job’

Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 12 August 2019. A day after an anti-drug committee member was shot at in Kotli Ablu village of Muktsar district, Balkar Singh Sidhu STF, IGP, Bathinda zone, today expressed solidarity with those who are fighting the menace of drugs, saying that stringent action will be initiated against anyone trying to intimidate committee members.

Addressing a press conference here, Sidhu along with Bathinda SSP Nanak Singh and Muktsar SSP Manjit Singh Dhesi said they would felicitate Satnam Singh, who was injured during the 11 August attack at Kotli Ablu village, on 15 August and also recommend his name for a government job.

Sidhu said they were conducting raids to nab the accused involved in two recent instances of attack on anti-drug committee members in Muktsar. He said the police would ensure safety and security of the members. Besides, he said they had also briefed the committees on how to deal with the situation.

He said all the committees had their helpline numbers and they were just a call away. “We will not spare anybody trying to create hurdles in our anti-drug drive. We also want to assure anti-drug committees working in villages that they don’t need to bother about such elements, as the police always stand by them,” he added.

On the demand for arms licence by some of the anti-drug committees, he said they would decide on the issue on case-to-case basis.

Sidhu said the accused in Kotli Ablu attack case, Karanvir Singh alias Happy, had criminal background and was earlier also booked in a drug smuggling case. He was also awarded three-year jail term in 2016. He said they were verifying the properties owned by him and would initiate the process to attach the same soon.

Replying to a media query, the IGP said black sheep could be anywhere, including the police force, and they were not sparing anyone as and when identified. He denied that there was any leakage of information regarding the police search operations for drugs in the region.

Meanwhile, talking about the letter penned by Bir Talab village residents in which they sought “permission to indulge in drug trade”, Bathinda SSP Nanak Singh said they had taken a serious note of it. “We have already suspended an ASI and arrested 16 persons over the last two to three days. We will wipe out the menace from Bir Talab soon,” he claimed.

We will not spare anybody trying to create hurdles in our anti-drug drive. We also want to assure anti-drug committees working in villages that they don’t need to bother about such elements, as the police always stand by them, Balkar Singh Sidhu, IGP, STF, Bathinda zone.

Sint-Pieters Woluwe: Notre Dame Chant d’oiseau – Jules César

Notre Dame Chant d’oiseau
Sint-Pieters Woluwe
01 Augustus 2019

Sheltered area with potted plants

I love this little corner of the park

See the lowest rank : plants in shoes !

Various shades of green and blue and pink flowers

Wonderful !

Jules César – Julius Cesar
03 August 2019

MIVB tram 39 from Ban Eik and 44 from Tervuren

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) – RSS Paramilitary’s affiliates pressure US lawmaker into withdrawing Kashmir support

Jagdish Sewhani, executive in RSS’s international wing, condemns representative Tom Suozzi.

Sent to me by Arvin Valmuci

Huntington – New York – USA, 13 August 2019, Following pressure by affiliates of India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh paramilitary, US Congressman Tom Suozzi has withdrawn and apologized for a letter about the Kashmir issue in which he asked the Department of State to support “the human rights of all people.”

Last week, the Bharatiya Janata Party led Indian Government scrapped constitutional articles providing Jammu and Kashmir with autonomy in domestic affairs and subsequently stripped J&K of statehood. The BJP additionally deployed nearly 50,000 additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a curfew, and cut off all communications, including phone and internet.

On August 12, Human Rights Watch denounced the continued Kashmir blackout, stating, “Unless it wants to inflame tensions in Kashmir for another generation, the Indian government needs to step back, and fast.”

In an August 9 letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Representative Suozzi wrote, “I am concerned that Prime Minister Modi’s recent actions in Kashmir have contributed to tensions that are now higher than ever.”

He noted, “The Modi government’s move could embolden Hindu nationalists to engage in acts of violence and discrimination against India’s minority religious groups, including Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs.

We must, as you know, hold true to our values of respecting the human rights of all people, including religious minorities, and we must use our influence to encourage our allies to do the same.”

Suozzi’s letter prompted an outcry led by Jagdish Sewhani. “We Indian Americans are very upset with Congressman Suozzi,” said Sewhani on August 11. “We are demanding that he withdraws his letter written to Secretary Pompeo. Kashmir is an integral part of India and it is India’s internal matter.”

The New York based Sewhani apparently spoke on behalf of Indian-American activists who, reported NDTV, “played a key role in [Suozzi’s] election and fundraising.”

Reportage surrounding the incident failed to note that Sewhani is a top executive in US affiliates of the RSS who has repeatedly campaigned for Modi’s election. In an interview in the May 2019 edition of The South Asian Insider, Sewhani is described as “a proud Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Karyakarta [officer] and an ideologue.”

In 2015, India West described him as Coordinator of Community Reach for Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the international wing of the RSS. He has also served as General Secretary of the Overseas Friends of the BJP, the BJP’s international wing, and is reportedly a founding member of the group.

Sewhani is a close associate of Modi. In 2013, he inaugurated the launch of the Overseas Friends of Narendra Modi in New York. In 2014, he traveled to Gujarat, India, where he says he was “part of Modi-ji’s campaign team” and was “privy to the brainstorming sessions during the campaign.”

In April 2019, he inaugurated a BJP campaign kickoff event in New York to support Modi’s re-election. As reported by The Organiser, the RSS’s official media outlet, he “urged the Indian American Community to call, email their friends and relatives in India and tell them to vote for Modi.”

“We are agitated by the tone and tenor of the letter,” stated Sewhani in an August 11 meeting with Suozzi. “We demand that the Congressman withdraw this letter.” On August 13, Suozzi stated, “Based upon my meeting, it is clear that it was a mistake to not consult with some of my Indian-American friends and supporters before I sent the letter.

Moving forward, I will make sure to solicit the input of all of my constituents who have a vested interest in Kashmir.”

“Those who have a vested interested in Kashmir are Kashmiris,” comments Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “We are shocked and saddened that Congressman Tom Suozzi allowed himself to be bullied into retracting his support for human rights by people who have a vested interested in pushing the RSS’s agenda.

We encourage Representative Suozzi, who is the son of an Italian immigrant father, to learn how the RSS was inspired by fascist movements like Mussolini’s and Hitler’s.”

Suozzi’s letter had expressed support for “hundreds of American citizens visiting the territory who have been left stranded with limited options to communicate and leave the territory, and the Kashmiri families of thousands of American citizens [who] remain cut off from communication with their families.”

He had further warned that the situation in J&K is “a potential flashpoint for conflict between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, who have a long history of tension and war.”

“We applaud Representative Suozzi for issuing the initial letter and plead with him to disavow extremist elements associated with India’s violent and fascist RSS paramilitary, a group which is responsible for pogroms and lynchings of India’s minorities,” concludes Valmuci.

“We remind him that Jagdish Sewhani, aside from being a key executive in the RSS’s international wing, is also a leader in Indian political groups like the OFBJP and thus a partisan figure who cannot speak for Indian-Americans as a whole.

We further remind Representative Suozzi that the content of his letter harmonized with statements by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.”

USCIRF, in its 2019 report on the status of religious freedom in India, stated, “Over the last decade, conditions for religious minorities in India have deteriorated. “A multifaceted campaign by Hindu nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus is a significant contributor to the rise of religious violence and persecution.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

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The Hindu – Article 370: extremist groups call for boycott of Independence Day celebrations

Two groups say Article 370 dilution disregards democracy

Special Correspondent

Guwahati – Assam – India, 12 August 2019. The dilution of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories have made two extremist groups in the northeastern region come together and give a call to boycott the Independence Day celebrations on August 15.

The two groups are the Coordination Committee, or CorCom, an umbrella organisation of six Manipur-based extremist outfits, and the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent, which formed the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia with several non-Manipuri groups in the region four years ago.

“The outrageous scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir without the consent of the people of the State show India’s arrogance and blatant disregard for democratic principles,” the two groups said in a statement.

“Shutting down of the State machinery and the house arrest of prominent leaders portend the kind of policies that would be applied to the people of the northeastern region as well. Freedom from India’s colonial yoke is the only way to save ourselves from being swallowed by Hindustan,” the statement said.

Enhanced Hinduisation

The two groups said the political control of India by the BJP has “enhanced the Hinduisation process rapidly”.
The “Modi government is bent upon re-introducing” the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to forcibly “make the northeastern region a part of the Hindutva empire,” they said.

Does campaigning for independence of your Indian state make you an extremist ?
Man in Blue