Tolo News – Afghan civilians pay the price of the conflict: Amnesty International

The human rights organization released its annual report on events in the Asia-Pacific region.

Amnesty International, 30 January 2020. Amnesty International’s annual human rights review released on Thursday said that the Afghan civilians continued to pay the price of the ongoing conflict as “justice proved elusive for the victims.”

Citing UN reports, the review stated that civilian casualties remained high throughout 2019, with “July being the deadliest month on record and Afghanistan remaining the deadliest conflict in the world for children.”

The review has found that “hundreds of thousands of Afghans were internally displaced, half a million Afghans were forcibly returned from neighbouring countries, and several thousand more came back from Europe, especially Turkey.”

The report also said that journalists and human rights defenders continue to face intimidation, threats, detention and even death for their work.

“The armed conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down, it is widening, and the people who continue to pay the price are Afghan civilians.

Throughout 2019, they were killed, injured, forcibly displaced and subject to other serious human rights violations by both the government and armed groups,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“In 2020, the world must shake off its indifference to this long-running conflict, and provide the people of Afghanistan with the protection they need and the justice they are owed,” the report said.

The world’s deadliest conflict for children

According to the report, in the first nine months of 2019 more “than 2,400 children were killed or injured in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest conflict in the world for children.”

Also, over the same period, “2,563 people were killed in total and 5,676 injured. The period between July and September was the deadliest on record, with July being the single deadliest month.”

“Most of the attacks were carried out by armed groups, including the Taliban and Daesh. In August, a suicide attack claimed by Daesh killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 200,” the report said.

“In the first six months of the year, pro-government and international forces were responsible for the highest number of civilian deaths,” according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

“In December, a US-operated drone strike killed five people, including a mother who had just given birth,” the report claimed.

“There continues to be a shocking disregard for human life from all sides. There are armed groups who have carried out war crimes, and pro-government forces who are responsible for the deaths of the very people they are supposed to be protecting,” said Omar Waraich.

“The Afghan authorities and the international community have a responsibility to ensure that civilians are protected and that the perpetrators of attacks on them are held accountable,” the report said.

Human rights defenders under threat

The report listed cases of human rights defenders in Afghanistan facing threats, intimidation, detention and death:

“In September, the Taliban abducted and killed Abdul Samad Amir of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. No one has been held accountable for his murder, which amounted to a war crime,” the report said.

The Amnesty report also mentioned the Logar scandal, a story that the UK’s Guardian broke internationally:

“In December, Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security, the country’s top intelligence agency, arbitrarily detained Musa Mahmudi and Ehsanullah Hamidi, two human rights defenders who had exposed an alleged paedophile ring operating in Logar province.”

“Faced with threats from both the state and non-state actors, Afghanistan’s human rights defenders are operating in some of the most hazardous conditions anywhere in the world.

The Afghan government and the international community have long paid tribute to their bravery, but they must now recognize their achievements, offer them effective support, and ensure that they are respected and protected,” said Omar Waraich.

Forced returns

According to the report:

“In 2019, the world continued to turn its back on Afghans who had sought sanctuary from the continuing conflict. Neighbouring countries Iran and Pakistan forcibly returned half a million people last year, with more than 476,000 of them being sent back from Iran.”

In Europe:

“European countries continued to forcibly return Afghan asylum-seekers in the hundreds under various agreements made with the Afghan government, despite the grave risks that they would face upon their return to the country.”

In Turkey:

“Turkey forcibly returned at least 19,000 Afghans as of September 2019 after keeping them in poor detention conditions.”

The regional deputy director at Amnesty concludes:

“The conflict in Afghanistan makes it clear that no part of the country is safe for people to be returned to, and yet states continue to do so, in brazen violation of international law, forcing people into harm’s way to face the very dangers they were forced to flee in the first place,” said Omar Waraich.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/afghan-civilians-pay-price-conflict-amnesty-international

The Tribune – 1984 riot victims’ panel announces support to BJP in Delhi election

Seeks to push anti-Sikh riots as poll issue

Ravi S Singh – Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 29 January 2020. The All India Riot Victims Relief Committee-1984 (AIRVRC), headed by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on Wednesday announced support to the BJP in the upcoming Delhi elections.

AIRVRC president Kuldip Singh Bhogal made the announcement after a meeting of an executive committee of the organisation.

The AIRVRC also extended support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and said “it does not take citizenship, but grants it to minorities, including Sikhs, persecuted in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan”.

“The AIRVRC has decided to support BJP in the election, and the CAA,” said Bhogal, while showering praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ensuring “justice” for riot victims.

“Constituting SIT and re-investigation of the riot cases which were deliberately closed by Congress-led UPA government, preparing a water-tight case against accused, are some of the steps that the Narendra Modi government took in favour of the Sikhs.”

He referred to killings of 127 Sikhs in Kanpur saying it was “brushed under the carpet till the BJP government” was formed in Uttar Pradesh.

A representation was made by AIRVRC to Modi about the victims, following which a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted by the government within eight days to reinvestigate the cases, he said.

“Prime Minister of BJP-led NDA Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first Prime Minister who had unequivocally said that the anti-Sikh riots would be remembered as a black day in annals of the country. Narendra Modi took this to a more practical level by ensuring justice.” Bhogal said.

Bhogal said the victims and their kin were humiliated by the accused for more than 30 years, stressing that although Congress leader Sajjan Kumar had been convicted, the law is catching up on the other accused.

Describing the CAA as “beneficial and affirmative”, he urged Muslims not to fall prey to canards spread by vested interests. He asked them to call off their sit-in protests in Delhi, including those at Shaheen Bagh, as they were “encroaching” on the rights of others.

“School children and college students preparing for their upcoming board and university exams of the areas concerned are facing difficulties in reaching their institutes,” Bhogal said.

A very bad mistake of Sikhs supporting a party whose aims are against everything the Gurus teach us !
Man in Blue

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/%E2%80%9984-riot-victims%E2%80%99-panel-announces-support-to-bjp-in-delhi-election-33447

Almere Gurdwara – Khalsa Seva Society

Almere Gurdwara
Khalsa Seva Society
The Netherlands
29 December 2019


Khalsa Seva volunteers with
Jarnail Singh, Theodorus Singh and Harjinder Singh


Theodorus Singh Teekgur and Harjinder Singh


Jarnail Singh, Harjinder Singh and Theodorus Singh Teekgur


Khalsa Seva volunteers with
Jarnail Singh, Theodorus Singh and Harjinder Singh

Almere Flevoland
Reserved bus route
29 December 2019


In Almere the buses operate on a special road
separate from all other traffic 


The ‘bus road’

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

OFMI – RSS Occupies San Francisco Indian Consulate Premises to Support Citizenship Law

Human rights group issues “Bloodshed Beacon” for social conditions in Modi’s India

San Francisco – California – USA, 29 January 2020. On India’s 70th Republic Day, the San Francisco Consulate hosted a small rally organized by local leaders in India’s powerful Hindu nationalist paramilitary, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in support of the country’s controversial new Citizenship Amendment Act.

Approximately 1000 Indian-Americans faced off against the consulate’s rally to protest for “Azadi” (freedom). “The RSS wants to make India a religious apartheid state,” warned Mohamad Khan as he held a sign: “#RejectCAA, make India secular again.”

Protestors in at least 30 US cities flooded the streets on January 26 to raise the alarm about risk to religious freedom under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. All seven of India’s diplomatic mission in the US were protested. Standing on the fenced consulate grounds, around 50 people rallied in support of Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Demonstrators appeared led by Romesh Japra, a local newspaper publisher, and Chandru Bhambhra, the Bay Area president of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. Bhambhra is also former president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP. The HSS is the international wing of the RSS; the OFBJP is the BJP.

“The consulate is sold out to the RSS,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. “Where is the democracy in letting partisan groups occupy a diplomatic office? The consulate let itself become a symbol of the RSS. The consulate represents Modi when it should represent all Indians.”

On January 29, Organization for Minorities of India issued a Bloodshed Beacon for India. The warning is issued when social conditions present a high risk for a state-sponsored massacre.

“Modi is sending his police out to murder anti-CAA protestors in India,” warned Arvin Valmuci, OFMI spokesperson. “BJP Minister Anurag Thakur was caught raising slogans of ‘Shoot the Traitors,’ meaning protestors.

We just saw how RSS demonstrators at the San Francisco consulate behaved like hired thugs. Indian social conditions currently present an extremely high risk situation for Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and most minority communities.”

“The pro-CAA people were mostly all men who looked like they were operating under orders,” said Pieter Friedrich, an author who spoke at the protest against the CAA. “The group was being directed by Bhambhra and India Post publisher Japra.

The rally was obviously happening with the consulate’s sanction and played Bollywood tunes over a loudspeaker. The other side was a very mixed crowd. Lots of families with small children. They played live music.”

At the protest, Friedrich warned, “Under Modi’s iron-fisted regime, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and every Hindu who disagrees with the hate, violence, and supremacy of the RSS lives in fear of their lives.”

“The RSS is responsible for lynchings, assassinations, bombings, and pogroms against Christians, Muslims, and anyone who stands up against its xenophobic agenda,” explained Jada Bernard, an activist who recently protested Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for her alleged ties to the RSS.

“This began as us speaking up for our neighbors across the globe, but now we have to protect our own children from these poisonous policies infecting our politics. We’ve got American politicians are actively backing the RSS’s foreign policy goals.”

In 2018, OFMI reported that at least 15 diplomats in nine countries had recently participated in RSS events abroad. Former Indian envoy Deb Muhharji called it “absolutely shocking.” Former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon warned that “civil services are being politicized,” saying, “They are supposed to represent India, not any individual party or sect or group.”

In 2019, OFMI reported that the HSS was “infiltrating” government offices throughout the US, including those of two congressmen and nine law enforcement departments. “The presence of the RSS’s international wing in American police departments frightens minorities of Indian origin and inculcates a feeling of deep insecurity,” said Valmuci.

“This is an attempt by the HSS to legitimize a fascist paramilitary responsible for state-sanctioned pogroms against minorities in India.”

The 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. Visit OFMI.org for more information.

www.OFMI.org

The Print – NIA looking into Pakistan, ISI link with arrested J&K cop Davinder Singh

NIA also probing Davinder Singh links with terror outfits Lashkar and Jaish, says there could be more J&K cops involved in arranging logistics for terror operatives.

Ananya Bhardwaj

New Delhi – India, 29 January 2020. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing a “Pakistan connection” in the Davinder Singh case and have found clues to suggest that he was getting money from across the border, ThePrint has learnt.

According to a source in the NIA, the J&K deputy superintendent of police made more than four visits to Bangladesh, Dhaka and other cities, in 2019, which could be because of his connections with Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI.

Two of Singh’s daughters are studying medicine in Bangladesh.

Singh was arrested on 11 January for ferrying two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists to Jammu. He is being kept in an undisclosed location in Jammu, and a NIA team from Delhi has gone there to question Singh.

Sources in the NIA said that Singh had been in touch with the terror operatives for more than two years.

“It was not the first time that Singh was ferrying terrorists to a safe house. He had done the same for money last year as well,” a source said.

Links with more terror outfits

The NIA is also investigating if Singh was in touch with other terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

“The amount of money he made and the number of operations he was a part of while being in the Special Operation Group, we suspect that he was also in touch with handlers of more terror outfits. We are going through his mobile records, chats to ascertain that,” the source said.

Although the NIA has still not been able to account for Rs 7.5 lakh, found at his residence, sources in the agency said it could be part of a hawala consignment that came from Pakistan via Delhi.

It is suspected that apart from providing logistical support to terror operatives, Singh also transported hawala money, coming from Pakistan to Delhi, to Kashmir.

“We are going through his bank accounts, transactions made by him in the last few years to trace the source of money that came into his account. His passbooks, bank details are being looked into,” the source said.

Singh had a reputation in the J&K police for being “corrupt and unscrupulous” but was yet given an out-of-turn promotion and a Police Medal on 15 August 2019.

Singh served in the J&K Police as an inspector and then DSP for over 25 years, and was posted with the anti-hijacking squad at the Srinagar airport at the time of his arrest. He was earlier the DSP of Pulwama district, and was transferred to the new, important posting last year.

More policemen on radar

The source in the NIA said they are looking at possible aides of Singh within the J&K Police who may have helped him arrange for logistics for the terror operatives.

“This is something that cannot be done alone. There is a strong possibility that there are more J&K policemen who were involved in this. We are trying to zero down on the suspects. We also have some policemen on our radar. Further probe will bring more clarity in this,” the source said.

The arrest of Singh also triggered an internal audit within the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to look for “possible moles”.

Newly-appointed Director General of the CRPF, A P Maheshwari, told reporters that an internal audit was carried out.

“The CRPF has revisited/audited our internal systems and we regularly do that to check if there were/are any attempts of subversion within the force,” Maheshwari said.

Will also probe Afzal angle

The NIA will also probe Singh’s alleged link with 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Singh was named by Afzal Guru, who was hanged on 9 February 2013, in a letter that he wrote to his lawyer Sushil Kumar from Tihar jail.

In the letter, Afzal alleged that Singh and other officers from the J&K police not only tortured him and extorted money, but also introduced him to one of the men who later attacked Parliament. Afzal also claimed that it was Singh who asked him to arrange for a car and a place to stay for the attacker.

Singh’s role, however, was not investigated by authorities.

“Since we now have Singh in custody, we will be looking into this alleged link as well,” the NIA source said.

NIA looking into Pakistan, ISI link with arrested J&K cop Davinder Singh

The Statesman – Do not increase stateless people: Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister on CAA, NRC

With six resolutions being moved in the European Parliament against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Asselborn said Jaishankar could explain his point of view when he visits Europe in February and March.

New Delhi – India, 29 January 2020. Amidst concerns over India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, Luxembourg on Tuesday said it does not want to “interfere in the domestic policy” of India but has asked New Delhi to “do everything” to not increase stateless people.

This was conveyed by visiting Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn during talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar.

“What I said to the minister (Jaishankar) this morning is “do everything you can do to not increase stateless people”. That is something that we have to fight against. Rest concerns India,” Asselborn said during an interactive session at the India International Centre after his meeting with Jaishankar.

With six resolutions being moved in the European Parliament against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Asselborn said Jaishankar could explain his point of view when he visits Europe in February and March.

Replying to a question about the resolutions, Asselborn defended the move, saying the EP also criticises its members often and takes up “aggressive” positions against them.

Do not increase stateless people: Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister on CAA, NRC

Sikh24.com – Sedition charges against school management for anti-CAA play; Police questions Grade IV students

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 29 January 2020. The Karnataka police have booked the management of Shaheen School (Bidar) under sedition charges for staging a play against the Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed National Register of Citizens.

It is learnt that a case under section 124-A and 504 of IPC has been registered against the school management.

It is learnt that the students of grade IV studying Shaheen School had performed a play against the CAA and NRC on January 26 i.e. India’s Republic Day.

Media reports reveal that the participating children said in the play that if anyone asks for documents, then they should be hit with slippers.

Confirming the development, Bidar’s Superintendent Police said that the play included derogatory words against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We are questioning the students who participated in the skit to know who tutored them,” he added.

Sedition charges against school management for anti-CAA play; Police questions Grade IV students

Almere Gurdwara – Khalsa Seva Society

Almere Gurdwara
Khalsa Seva Society
The Netherlands
29 December 2019


Explaining to the sangat about the support of the education for Sikligars in India


Khalsa Seva Society volunteers having langar


Khalsa Seva Society volunteers having langar


Jarnail Singh talking to local Sikh


Khalsa Seva Society Netherlands
Theodorus Singh Teekgur


Nishan Sahib – Sikh Flag

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Pieter Friedrich – The Bravehearts protesting in India

Yesterday, the 20th of December, marked the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s release from prison after a failed attempt to seize power.

While he was behind bars, he wrote his manifesto.

After he was released, Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1925. In the same year, the RSS, a fascist paramilitary, was founded in India with the goal of establishing a theocratic Hindu state.

As the RSS grew, it developed with direct inspiration from the Nazis. Its leaders praised Nazi racial policies like the Nuremberg Laws. Its ideologues compared Indian Muslims to German Jews.

The Nazis lost. They faded away. But the RSS took root and flourished.

Today, the RSS rules India.

Today, the RSS is ramming through its own saffronized version of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws.

The Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens, combined, set the stage for the Aryanization of India.

That’s why millions of Indians are on the streets right now protesting, putting their lives on the line, to reject the CAA and the NRC.

Ask me what democracy looks like, and I will point to the brave-hearts protesting on the streets of India.

But like any bonafide totalitarian, Modi has banned protests. He has shut down the internet. He has sent in the stormtroopers to bust heads. He is jailing anyone who dissents. He is killing anyone who protests.

His regime even ordered Indian TV channels to stop broadcasting footage of the protests.

So what are we here in America, on the other side of the world, going to do about it?

As they say, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

In the 1930s, while the Nazis were staging pogroms against the Jews, some Americans were hosting rallies in support of the Nazis.

In 1939, for instance, 20,000 people attended a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

75 years later, that rally was replicated when 20,000 people attended a Madison Square Garden reception organized for Modi by the Nazi-inspired RSS.

And just three months ago, in Houston, Texas, the RSS once again organized a propaganda bonanza to whitewash the blood-drenched Modi.

For a time, we saw America going down in history as an ally of Nazism. Then consciences were pricked. Principle prevailed.

Unlike Indians, we don’t face an onslaught of oppression, what we face is as a crisis of conscience.

Will we, as Americans, once again give space for fascism to take root in our free soil?

Or will we stand up? Speak out. Pledge our loyalty to those brave-hearts protesting in India, and unite around the common cause of opposing fascism everywhere it is found in the world today.

Will you raise your voice with me today in support of liberty?

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent. Discover more by him at pieterfriedrich.net.

www.pieterfriedrich.net

Dawn – Railways in the dock

Editorial, 29 January 2020. It may not be the best venue, but Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid was delivered the right message by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. He was asked why he did not resign after the horrific Tezgam fire in which 73 passengers perished on his watch.

Ideally the question should come from the prime minister, or the minister’s cabinet colleagues, or his constituents.

But as it turns out, the Supreme Court is now the place where federal ministers will have to answer for their performance track record, and especially if the track record should include such heinous lapses as that which resulted in the train accident in Rahim Yar Khan last year.

According to some reports, the year 2019 was one of the worst suffered by the railways, with more than 100 fatal/non fatal accidents.

Throughout the year, the railways minister was often seen on television talking about the politics of the day, making predictions about the direction in which the wind will blow in Islamabad, and even proffering theories on why the price of flour began skyrocketing in December.

One thing he seldom commented on was the condition of the railways. Even after the Tezgam fire, all he could do was promise an inquiry, following which a few junior officials were dismissed and there ended the tale.

Last June, when another accident involving a collision between a passenger train and a goods train left three people dead and several others injured, the minister asked for forgiveness from the country after accepting responsibility. But the time for empty words, false promises and crocodile tears must end at some point.

Since nobody in the government seems to be watching the performance of the railways minister, despite the accidents and the deaths, it appears the Supreme Court has taken up the job.

The court has asked for a business plan to show what the minister’s plans are for returning the railways to financial viability, and given him two weeks to furnish this.

Of course it is understood that there is no such plan, nor has there been any work towards developing one. And the best that can be done in two weeks is a bare sketch of how the enterprise can be returned to financial health.

This is all the court can expect from Sheikh Rashid, though it can continue to demand more detailed follow-up. In the end, the realisation is going to have to sink in that he is not the man for the job.

Looking after the railways is a big undertaking and carries enormous responsibility, given the millions of people who travel on it. Somebody serious about the task is needed for it, and the court may have no choice but to soon ask the government to mount a search.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1531209/railways-in-the-dock