THE WAR ON TERROR
Making the World Safer for Globalization
by Ninan Koshy
The War on Terror - a War in Asia
It is likely that the present period of history may be called the
period of the War on Terror. After the end of the Cold War commentators and historians
were finding it difficult to give a name to the period of history and simply called it the
post-Cold War period. Many Western leaders have stated that the War on Terror (WOT) may be
as long as the Cold War.
President George W. Bush made two declarations of war. The first one
was soon after the September 11 events. He declared a war on terrorism. He did not name
the enemies. He said that the immediate aim of the war was to bring Osama bin Laden to
justice or bring justice to him. But he added that it would not stop with that. The second
declaration of war was made by the President in his 'State of the Union Address' on 29th
January when he spoke of the 'next stage' of the WOT against the 'axis of evil' including
Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
For a body like the Christian Conference of Asia, it is important to
take into account the significance of all these for Asia. There are direct consequences of
the WOT for Asia. The first stage of the war was in Afghanistan, in Central Asia. It is
followed by heavy military presence of the USA in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some Central
Asian republics. This presence is likely to continue for a long time. The US military has
moved into South East Asia, in the Philippines re-establishing its presence in the region.
By including North Korea in the 'axis of evil' justification is sought for reinforcement
of US military presence in North East Asia. Tensions have increased in all these regions
of Asia. There has been heavy US military presence in West Asia for a long time.
There are other implications too. The WOT brought India and Pakistan
almost to the brink of war. The continuing tension between these two countries possessing
nuclear weapons is made use of by the USA, for intervention in the region. Russia and
China gave support to the USA in the WOT mainly because of terrorism within their own
borders. They were made to understand earlier that the US military presence would not
continue after the war against Afghanistan. Now they realise that the US military presence
in the region will continue indefinitely. China is specially concerned about the new
It is most likely that the US had plans for intervention in Afghanistan
for some time. It was known that the new Bush administration had already decided to make a
major policy shift in order to have a strong military presence in Asia. The events of
September 11 provided enough justification for these.
Understanding September 11
The WOT is sought to be justified as a reaction to the events of
September 11, 2001. The terrorist acts of that day in the USA have to be condemned in the
strongest terms. There can be no justification whatsoever for taking the lives of innocent
people and causing such destruction.
The events of that day have to be seen in a historical perspective and
with a sense of proportion. The attacks were on carefully selected symbols of the economic
strength and the military might of the USA. They were the first attacks on the US soil.
Security policies, threat perceptions, defence strategy and intelligence of the biggest
military power failed. The events challenged many assumptions of the New World Order.
When the attacks occurred two claims were made. One was that it was an
attack on justice, freedom and democracy all over the world. So the whole 'civilised'
world had to respond. When something happened in the United States it was projected as a
concern for all the world. But when atom bombs killed hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, it was a matter for the Japanese. The Rwanda genocide was a Rwandan affair.
The East Timor massacres and pillage were only concerns for the East Timorese. The
universalist claims of events in the USA seem to suggest that the destinies and tragedies
of other nations and peoples are insignificant. There are serious ethical issues involved
in such claims. Every human life is precious and every nation is under God's judgement. No
special claims have validity.
The other claim was that September 11 began a new era in international
affairs. Yet, Stanley Hoffman pointed out (New York Review of Books, November 1) that this
is misleading. It did not change power relations. It was used to reinforce the military
superiority and hegemony of the USA.
Who are the terrorists?
It is difficult to define terrorism or a terrorist. States revise their
definitions of terrorism and the lists of terrorist organizations. The classical
description that 'one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter' has a lot of
truth in it. Former terrorists have become leaders of nations and some of them have joined
In 1985 when organizations like the PLO and even the African National
Congress were in the list of terrorist organizations for the US State Department, one
morning a reception was given in the White House by President Reagan to a group of Afghan
'Mujahideen' leaders. Reagan described them as freedom fighters 'who uphold the ideals of
the founding fathers of the USA'. In 1986 the CIA supported an ISI (Pakistani
intelligence) plan to bring Islamic militants from different parts of the world to be
trained and armed to fight with the 'Mujahideen' against the Soviet Union. Osama bin Laden
was one of those who came. The USA thus was responsible for the founding of the terrorist
organization which has now become its enemy No.1
Terrorism in all forms should be condemned. It is an act of violence
aimed primarily at unarmed civilians. Terrorism does not promote the cause of freedom or
liberation. When reference is made to terrorism it is usually about organizations and
individuals. But states also indulge in terrorism when they exceed the legitimate use of
force. This is 'state terrorism'. In fact more acts of terror have been perpetrated by
states than by organizations or individuals.
How did the WOT become a war against Afghanistan?
The United States began bombing of Afghanistan on October 6. In an
article in the 'International Herald Tribune', William Pfaff asked the question 'How did
the war against terror become a war against Afghanistan? Not a single Afghan was involved
in the attacks against the US. Those listed by the FBI were all Saudi citizens. There was
no claim even by the US that they acted under instructions from the Taliban government.
The USA says it invaded Afghanistan because the Afghan government
refused to extradite bin Laden. After all, the declared aim of the war was to bring bin
Laden to justice or bring justice to him. By the third week of October the aim became to
dislodge Taliban from power and install a new government in Afghanistan. The aims of the
war were changed from time to time. This served two purposes. One was that success against
al Qaeda could be claimed even when bin Laden was not caught and success against Taliban
could be claimed even when its leader was at large. The other purpose was to hide the real
aims of the WOT. Equating WOT with war on Afghanistan helped to simplify the issues. The
US military can tackle Afghanistan. It cannot deal with terrorism or its root causes.
The US interest in oil and natural gas in the region has been known for
several years. America had no particular objection to Taliban coming to power in
Afghanistan with the direct support of Pakistan. In fact it seriously considered
recognizing the Taliban regime. The US corporation UNOCAL had negotiations with the
Taliban government regarding pipelines for oil and gas from Central Asian republics
through Afghnistan. The US government was involved in these as well as other negotiations
with the Taliban government. At that time UNOCAL and the US government thought that
Taliban had brought stability to Afghanistan. The situation changed with the attacks on US
embassies in East Africa which the US believed were planned by bin Laden. Then it became
necessary to replace Taliban with a pro-US government in Afghanistan. As was the case in
the Gulf War the US eyes in the Afghanistan war were also on oil.
The war, the United Nations and International Law
Important issues in international law have been raised by the WOT.
There is nothing in the UN Charter or Security Council decisions that make the US war on
Afghanistan legitimate. The claim of the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the
Charter is not valid in the absence of any attack or threat of attack from Afghanistan.
There were two Security Council resolutions on the September 11 events and terrorism.
Neither mentions Afghanistan. The letter given by the US Ambassador to the UN on 7th
October, the day after launching the attack on Afghanistan said, "We are at an early
stage of our inquiry. If necessary, we will take an action against other organizations and
countries". This had nothing to do with self-defence. It was an open defiance of the
UN and international law.
Was there another route the US could follow? Yes. The horrific attacks
on September 11 were 'a crime against humanity'. If there was evidence it was committed by
bin Laden he should have been brought to trial. A special international criminal court
could have been established by the Security Council. If Afghanistan refused to extradite
bin Laden, the Security Council could have taken action against Afghanistan. The action
could have extended from total sanctions to use of force. Even the US could have been
authorised to use force. For all these of course evidence against bin Laden would have
At one stage, the US Secretary of State said that the government would
publish evidence against bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The next day it was 'clarified' that it
would not be made public but only shared with allies. The only 'evidence' given in public
was a document the British government placed before the Parliament in October. The
'evidence' had seventy clauses. Only nine of them related to the September 11 events. What
was significant was the opening statement of the document. "This evidence is not
sufficient to bring Osama bin Laden to trial in a court of law". Yet it was
sufficient to go to war against a country, resulting in the deaths of at least 3000
civilians. The US claimed that it could not release the evidence since it would endanger
some of the agents who gave the information. The 'security' of a few agents was more
important than the lives of thousands. This raises not only legal questions, but moral
The WOT and the New World Order
It was Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister who actually spelt out
the broader aim of the WOT. In his speech to the Labour Party Conference at the beginning
of October, he said, "The war on terror should be a war for a wider new world
order". Tony Blair in his speech to the Chicago Economic Club in 1999 had explained
his views on the new world order. In that speech he linked the war on Kosovo to economic
changes in the world and stated that globalization is not just about economics but also
about politics and security. He defined security in terms of military security for
globalization to be provided by the US led NATO. Consequently, NATO was extended to
Eastern Europe as a guarantee of security for the big corporations which were moving in.
Globalization and militarisation are the two sides of the same coin. On
one hand, globalization creates conditions for unrest and war by promoting injustice,
inequality and insecurity. On the other, bodies like the WTO which allow massive subsidies
for the weapons industry facilitate the production of the instruments of war. The enormous
growth in arms industry in the US and several countries after the declaration of the WOT
highlights this issue. The WOT is really about providing military security for
Until the Kosovo crisis, globalization was explained as a new form of
colonialism without the conquest or even control of territories but with the capturing of
the markets and the minds of the ruling elite. Kosovo showed that control of certain
territories through US military presence was also necessary for globalization. The war on
Afghanistan has reinforced the territorial dimension of globalization. It is significant
to note that there are new doctrines justifying the 'occupation' or changing the regimes
of some countries, to protect the interests of the US and big corporations.
From the time of the G8 Conference in Genoa, the proponents of
globalization want to claim that those who are opposed to economic globalization are using
violence. So when they say that globalization needs security, they also mean that they
will use force against those who oppose it. In the wake of September 11 events many
countries have introduced new 'anti-terrorist' laws substantially curtailing civil
liberties. The aim is to ensure the climate for investment through 'law and order'. The
new measures in the name of WOT are meant to make the world safe for globalization.
Globalization is the main project of the new world order. Tony Blair is right, "the
war against terror is a war for a wider new world order".
[Source: CCA News, March 2002. Presentation at a CCA staff
seminar on February 20, 2002. Dr. Ninan Koshy is formerly Director, Commission of the
Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches and formerly Visiting Fellow,
Human Rights Programme, Harvard LawSchool.]
China Strikes Back at U.S. Through Human
China's State Council on March 11 issued a report critical of the
United States' human rights record. The report reveals Beijing's growing insecurities with
Washington's expanding anti-terrorism campaign, and it shows how few options China has in
responding to its concurrent diminishment on the international stage.
The Chinese State Council released a report March 11 titled "Human
Rights Record of the United States in 2001." In covering topics such as personal
safety, law enforcement, racial discrimination and the so-called infringement on the human
rights of other countries, the 10,000-word document cites U.S. government statistics and
international media reports to build a case-by-case indictment of human rights practices
in the United States.
The paper was a response to Washington's annual human rights report on
China, and it was published not coincidentally on the six-month anniversary of the Sept.
11 attacks. China's leaders are feeling increasingly constrained by Washington's global
war against terrorism and its new emerging foreign policy. As China struggles with a
myriad of internal challenges and the growing presence of U.S. military forces around its
periphery, the increasingly desperate government in Beijing is lashing out at the United
States the only way it can without risking Washington's ire.
Looking at China now, it is hard to believe that less than a year ago,
Beijing was gloating over the damaged U.S. reconnaissance plane sitting on a military
runway on southern Hainan Island. That self-confident China, which was well on its way to
winning both World Trade Organization entry and the right to host the 2008 summer
Olympics, is now dealing with deep economic and social pressures and facing a United
States that has little time for posturing or games. Insecurity within the Chinese regime
is growing at a critical time, as the long-anticipated change in generational leadership
is expected to begin in October.
The final section of the State Council report -- an indictment of
perceived U.S. unilateralism and double standards when it comes to dealing with other
nations -- represents the real meat of Beijing's argument. The report says the United
States ranks first in the world "in terms of military spending and arms
exports," and first in "wantonly infringing upon the sovereignty of, and human
rights in, other countries." It highlights the spread of U.S. military bases
overseas, the use of depleted uranium rounds without consideration for the countries being
attacked -- or even for Washington's own allies -- and claims that the Bush
administration's unilateral stance is demonstrated by it its non-accession to
Declaration of Peace by the Korean YMCA
[The following is a statement issued by the YMCA in Korea on the
occasion of President Bush's visit to Korea]
Declaration of Peace by the Korean YMCA
on the occasion of President Bush's visit to Korea
Having suffered a half-century of colonialism and a divided nation, we
hoped tat the 21st century shall bring a new beginning and opportunity for the
transformation from war to peace. After the past half-century of the division the two
Koreans' South-North Summit Conference and June 15th South-North Joint Declaration have
been hopeful signs of sprouting peace in Korea.
However, the peace initiatives in progress have been seriously damaged
by the threatening comments about the North Korea by President Bush in his 2002 State of
the Union Address as well as the other officials' strong comments. We are seriously
concerned that Bush's harsh stance against the North Korea has directly attributed to the
heightened tension which in turn may increase the possible danger of war in Korea.
We have lived in the fear of war for a long time, and finally the
Korean people found a glimpse of hope for peace. Now however, President Bush's declaration
has brought another hopeless despair to our people. We, the Korean YMCA members the
peaceful disciples, urge President Bush the followings:
Firstly, the U.S. government should recognize that Korea's South-North
issues are the life and death issues for the Korean people, and furthermore that the U.S.
government should dismantle the policies of the Cold War stance in Korea and change to the
policies of promoting peaceful resolutions. The U.S. government should initiate a dialogue
for mending the frail relationships between the North Korea and the U.S. We vividly
remember how closely we have been to the brink of war during the period of the nuclear
dispute in 1994. If the U.S. pursues the hard-line policy toward the North Korea, the U.S.
would face the international criticism that the U.S. is intentionally heightening tensions
in Korea to promote the increased armament sales, thereby threatening the peace in the
North Eastern Asia as well as the would peace.
Secondly, the nations should assure and respect the Korean peoples'
self reliance and self determination for the peaceful unification of the two Koreas. As
clearly proclaimed in the July 4th, South-Korea Joint Declarations and the June 15th,
South-North Joint Declarations the basic principle is: "the unification" should
be achieved by self determination, not by the foreign interventions nor by the external
influences. Also, the principle embodiment of the Korean Unification is the seventy
million Korean people. Therefore the leaders of the two Koreas should approach the
South-North issues with self determination while overcoming the differences in political
ideologies, beliefs, and systems.
Thirdly, we firmly believe in Christ's peace which is achieved by
justice and liberation. We also believe that it is a false peace to maintain the peace by
the physical force military might. The Korean YMCA members wish that the peaceful
unification of Korea is to establish the Kingdom of God, "shalom" by loving,
caring and nurturing the human lives. We have witnessed too many incidents in history that
the nations are pretending to seek peace yet they are destroying the peace. We sincerely
hope that the U.S. government does not commit such an error. We hope that the U.S. should
be reborn as the nation of "shalom' seeking the true peace, not the false kind.
In closing, we the Korean YMCA members along with the world YMCA
leaders and members, who are "to associate their effort for the extension of his
kingdom amongst young men", shall make tireless efforts to achieve a peaceful
settlement in Korea.
Kofi Annan Urged to Examine UN's
Misconduct in West Papua
Human rights activists from around the world, including representatives
of West Papuas leading human rights organization, ELSHAM, submitted a petition to UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to conduct an investigation into the United
Nations' endorsement of a sham referendum held over 30 years ago endorsing Indonesia's
take over of West Papua. After the so-called "Act of Free Choice, the UN
General Assembly removed West Papua from its agenda, consigning the people of West Papua
to decades of brutality and mass murder under Indonesian rule.
Military repression in West Papua has intensified in the past year in
many parts of the territory, culminating last November in the assassination of
pro-independence leader, Theys Hiyo Eluay. Human rights organizations in West Papua are
convinced that the assassination was perpetrated by elements within the Indonesian
Under an agreement brokered by the UN in 1962, the international body
assumed responsibility for supervising the Act which should have been conducted in
accordance with international practice, requiring all adults to participate. In fact only
1,022 persons, handpicked by the Indonesian military, voted without a dissenting voice to
accept integration into the Indonesian Republic.
West Papua is extremely rich in minerals, which have been exploited for
four decades by foreign companies, in particular the New Orleans-based mining
multinational, Freeport-McMoRan, inflicting untold hardship on local communities.
Investigations undertaken by researchers in the past two years have
revealed that the UN mission turned a blind eye to manipulations by the Indonesian
military to ensure that the vote would secure the territory as Indonesias 26th
The Act, which West Papuans contemptuously call the "Act of NO
Choice," took place under conditions of violent repression, under the very noses of
the UN mission. UN documents reveal that the mission stood by as the faked vote was held.
In November 2002, the former UN deputy Secretary General, Chakravarthy
Narasimhan, who was in charge of the UN missions work throughout, admitted that the
Act was a whitewash.
The petitioners lobbied several important institutions in New York
concerned with the situation in Indonesia and met representatives of some South Pacific
missions at the UN.
Carmel Budiardjo of the London-based Indonesia Human Rights Campaign,
TAPOL, who is currently in New York to present the petition, said: "The UN is
responsible for a grave betrayal of the West Papuan peoples right to
self-determination. Its failure to ensure a proper referendum has resulted in decades of
suffering. The UN should re-open the question and rectify one of the worst breaches its
commitment and duty to uphold the right of peoples to determine their own future."
Issued in New York by the West Papua Association UK, on behalf of
the International Solidarity Movement for West Papua.
Additional background can be found at http://westpapuaaction.buz.org/unreview/index.htm#briefing-document
Poverty to Worsen with War on Terrorism
An independent research think-tank, IBON, has questioned President
Arroyo's recent statement that, "the fight against terrorists is also the fight
against poverty." Arroyo made the comments recently in Baguio City to the graduting
class of the Philippine Military Academy.
Rather than war being a solution to poverty, it is precisely the
government's skewed priorities of beefing up the military and defense budget that is
taking away from critical funds for basic social services and poverty reduction measures.
A recent IBON research paper points out that the biggest budget
allocation increase since last year is for defense. Allocations for social services
actually grew by only seven percent compared with defense, which grew by 41 percent and
debt interest payments, which grew by 12 percent.
While the government talks about poverty reduction, they increase the
budget for defense and the so-called war on terrorism. Meanwhile, funding for basic social
services like health, education and housing are being reduced. The hardest hit by these
cuts will be the poor.
The paper also said that poverty will continue to rise with the
government's continued adherence to neo-liberal policies of globalization. Liberalization,
deregulation and privatization are negatively impacting the poor. And the move towards the
privatization of hospitals and medical services as well as housing services will only mean
that the poor will carry more of the burden for expenditures on health, education and
Jets Arrive in Burma
Burma's new fleet of twelve MIG-29 jet fighters arrived at Methtila Air
Base in central-Burma last week, according to military observers on the Thai-Burma border.
Russia sold the MIG-29s to Burma last year in a highly controversial deal.
"Russian air force officials are ready to train twenty Burmese
pilots at the base," defense analyst U Htay Aung told the Democratic Voice of Burma
(DVB). He added that Burmese Air Force Chief Maj Gen Myint Swe also visited Russia in late
February for special training.
Burmese observers' have criticized Burma's cash starved regime for
spending an estimated US $130 million on the jets.
Meanwhile, five Russian missile experts believed to be assisting Burma
in the building of a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Battery arrived in Burma's southern
coastal region last week. An unknown member of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC) reportedly accompanied the group to Alechaung Village in the Tenasserim
Division's Mergui District, according to the DVB.
"Since last year, they (Burma's government) have been reinforcing
their air power and they have also built new air defense mechanisms along the Thai-Burma
border," said U Htay Aung.
According to reports in the Thai media, Thai military officials and the
United States are both concerned over the recent increase in military ties between Russia
and Burma. [Top]
Economic crisis raises real fears
The Burmese economy is in deep trouble. People across the classes are
suffering as the prices of the most basic of goods continue to rise. And as the prices
rise so, too, does the threat to social order and the ruling regime.
Burma's economic crisis continues to deepen. Unemployment is rising
dramatically every month while the prices of consumer goods are spiralling out of control.
The value of the local kyat on the black market continues to tumble.
"People are growing more and more dissatisfied every day,"
said a Burmese businessman in Rangoon who asked not to be identified. "And if it
continues like it is, it could easily reach boiling point in the coming months."
The value of the kyat has fluctuated wildly in the past few weeks.
"It's depreciated by some 15% in the past two weeks," a local money changer
said. Economists and businessmen in Rangoon predict the kyat is going to decline even
Economic analysts in Rangoon say the run on the kyat is the result of
the increased domestic demand for dollars. "Many local people need more dollars at
the moment to pay for the new batch of mobile phones that has been released on the
market," said one financial analyst, "while others need dollars to buy gems in
the government sponsored auction."
The fall in the kyat has also caused the prices of many imported goods
to rise, especially dairy products and medicines. "The cost of medicines are so
prohibitive now that many people are not seeking medical attention because they know they
can't afford the prescriptions," a Rangoon doctor said.
The prices of meat, eggs and palm oil are all rising steadily. Analysts
in Rangoon estimate that palm oil - essential for cooking and imported from Malaysia - has
risen by more than a 50% in the last six months.
Western diplomats in Rangoon estimate that onions have more than
doubled in price in the past year and fermented fish paste has also doubled in that time.
Now even the price of rice is rising. Local residents complain that
rice in the market has risen by more than 20% in the past month. In some rural areas,
residents report a three-fold increase in the rice price over the past three months.
"This is largely because of the government's obsession with meeting its export target
of a million tonnes by the end of next month," said a financial consultant with a
foreign investment firm in Rangoon.
In the past, the generals kept the price of rice relatively stable by
controlling the supply. But it is more than six months since they last released stocks
from the government reserves to keep the price down. And with their export drive they are
not likely to do that again soon.
Petrol prices are also skyrocketing. In the past few weeks, they have
risen by nearly 15%, according to Rangoon's taxi drivers. This appears to be partly
seasonal. With the Water Festival - the Burmese New Year - approaching, many people are
hoarding petrol so they can visit their families during the festive period in mid-April.
As a result, the minimum taxi fare in Rangoon has almost doubled. Bus fares have also
Most analysts estimate that inflation is running at more than 50% a
year. Even bribes, like that necessary to keep a phone line, have risen. But the real
problem is that wages and salaries are not rising as prices increase.
Local economists estimate that an average family of five needs more
than 80,000 kyat a month to live, covering food, medicine and transport but not luxury
goods. The average monthly income of a professional worker - teacher, university professor
or civil servant - is less than 10,000 kyat. "People are really feeling the
pinch," a Western diplomat based in Rangoon said. "Comparisons are being drawn
with the situation more than a decade ago that led to the events of 1988. The difference
though is then everyone suffered."
Many families, especially those living on the outskirts of Rangoon or
in the poorer rural areas of the country, cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day.
In the poorest parts of Rangoon the most desperate are surviving on rice water _ water in
which rice is cooked - which they buy for 15 kyat a bottle and have for their evening
The living standard of many Burmese is declining rapidly. UN officials
fear a massive humanitarian crisis is looming. They estimate that one child in three under
the age of five is already suffering from malnutrition. If the situation remains
unchecked, they fear this could double within the next 12 months.
"People are getting increasingly dissatisfied with the
situation," said a Burmese economic analyst close to the military. "They are
tolerating it at present, but if the situation continues to deteriorate over the next 12
months then there is a very real risk of massive social unrest."
Many in the government seem to understand this, and that is one of the
main reasons the generals have started to talk secretly to opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi. Even the deputy foreign minister, Khin Maung Win, privately admits that only
political reform can save Burma from economic ruin.
Statement of the Three Day
National Seminar on Dam and the People
Held at The Ecumenical Christian Center, Bangalore 15-17, March 2002.
The National Seminar on 'Dam and the People' organised by the
Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore was attended by about 37 participants representing
various Universities, NGO's, People's Movements, Colleges, Churches, Social Science
Institutes and Media. The deliberations were on the following topics namely Sharing of
water and Inter-state relations; Problems of Displaced people in the irrigated areas;
Large dams : Impact on ecology and Environment ; Alternatives to Large dams; Big dams and
Rehabilitation Issues and Big Dams and Seismic effect.
According to official estimates more than 100 million people have been
displaced due to development projects around the world over the past decade. The
international dam industry itself has over the last 50 years displaced over 30 million
people. It is not well known that India has one of the highest rates of development
induced displacement in the world.. During the last fifty years, some 3300 big dams have
been constructed in India. Many of them have led to large-scale forced eviction of
vulnerable groups. The situation of the tribal people is of special concern as they
constitute 40-50% of the displaced population. As a result of misguided policy,
project-affected communities have been subject to sudden eviction, lack of information,
failure to prepare rehabilitation plans, low compensation, loss of assets and livelihoods,
traumatic relocation, destruction of community bonds, discrimination and impoverishment
There are no official statistics on the numbers of people displaced by
large projects since independence. According to official figure in1994, about15.5 million
internally displaced people were there in India and the Government acknowledged that some
11.5 million were awaiting rehabilitation. However, calculations based on the number of
dams constructed since independence indicate that as many as 21 to 33 million persons are
likely to have been displaced. These estimates do not include persons displaced by canals,
or by the construction of colonies or other infrastructure. Neither do they include those
who have been subjected to multiple displacement.
It is widely accepted that the forced displacement has adverse impact
on the affected population. It creates a condition of homelessness, landlessness,
joblessness and food insecurity as well as severe environmental imbalances and disruption
of eco systems. This miserable state of affairs is due to the present pattern of
development which considers displacement as inevitable part of development. Thus it is
hightime to think about least displacing (of not non-displacing) alternatives to the
development. We put forward following recommendations to the Central Government, State
Governments, Policy makers and other implementing agencies:
- Alternatives to major dams namely minor irrigation projects, check dams, tank
irrigation, ground water enrichment and use, rain water harvesting, drip irrigation
contour bunding structures, sub-surface dykes and medium irrigation projects should be
'worked' out as strategies for better irrigation management. In the case of hydrel
projects, projects based on waves and solar energy can be depended.
- Right to information regarding the projects at all the stages should be ensured.
- The planning and implementation of dams should be in consultation with the population
affected as they are the would be victims.
- Multiple displacement which further marginalise the affected population should be
avoided at any cost
- Strict stage wise monitoring of the projects is essential to avoid cost and time
- It is identified that women and children among the displaced families suffer a lot.
Hence their issues should be given special attention.
- Rehabilitation should be a right of the affected population and should be provided even
before the beginning of the project.
- The affected should be provided with adequate compensation to the assets lost.
- The affected population should be the first beneficiaries of the project. This can be
done by providing land in the command area itself. Thus they can be "project
benefited people" instead of project affected.
- No reliable database is available regarding numbers of displaced, and project affected
People as well as details on rehabilitation. So a strong and reliable data base is
required for policy implementation and for the use of people concerned.
- A national policy on Resettlement and Rehabilitation of people displaced by dams should
be formulated. A national commission on dams is suggested in this regard comprising
representatives from affected population, NGOs, Social Scientists, and Govt. officials.
- All the irrigation works should be legitimately authorised by ensuring accountability to
"We cannot fail to take steps to protect and assist the displaced
and prevent others from doing so".
Pope Sends Assisi
"Decalogue" to World Leaders
Pope John Paul II has sent a letter to all of the worlds heads of
state, enclosing a copy of the "decalogue" statement signed by the religious
leaders who took part in the inter-faith day of prayer for peace at Assisi on January 24.
The Pope's letter-- issued one month after the Assisi event-- expresses
his conviction that "these 10 propositions could inspire political and social action
by governments." He writes that the 10 points are the product of "inspired
interventions by men and women representing diverse religious confessions," and show
their common desire to work for world peace. The "decalogue" was read aloud by
various participants in the January 24 service, at the close of their meeting in Assisi.
The Pope observes that the participants who signed this statement were united in "one
common conviction: humanity must choose between love and hate."
|The decalogue reads:
We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence
and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to
violence and war in the name of God or religion. We undertake to do everything possible to
eradicate the causes of terrorism.
We commit ourselves to educate people about respect and mutual esteem
in order to achieve peaceful coexistence and solidarity among members of different ethnic
groups, cultures and religions.
We commit ourselves to promote the culture of dialogue so that
understanding and trust may develop among individuals and peoples as these are the
conditions of authentic peace.
We commit ourselves to defend the right of all human beings to lead a
dignified life, in accordance with their cultural identity, and to start their own family
We commit ourselves to engage in dialogue with sincerity and
patience, without considering what separates us as an insurmountable wall, on the
contrary, recognizing that facing our differences can become an occasion for greater
We commit ourselves to pardon each other's errors and prejudices of
the past and present, and to support one another in the common struggle against egoism and
abuses, hatred and violence, and in order to learn from the past that peace without
justice is not true peace.
We commit ourselves to stand at the side of those who suffer poverty
and abandonment, speaking out for those who have no voice and taking concrete action to
overcome such situations, in the conviction that no one can be happy alone.
We commit ourselves to make our own the cry of those who do not
surrender to violence and evil, and we wish to contribute with all our strength to give a
real hope of justice and peace to the humanity of our time.
We commit ourselves to encourage all initiatives that promote
friendship between peoples, in the conviction that, if a solid understanding between
peoples is lacking, technological progress exposes the world to increasing dangers of
destruction and death.
We commit ourselves to ask the leaders of nations to make every
possible effort so as to build, at both national and international level, a world of
solidarity and peace founded on justice.
THAILAND: Mass murder -
deficient police investigation and impunity
During the last week of January 2002, at least 17 persons of Burmese
origin were massacred in a single incident on the Mae Lamao stream, Mae Ramat district,
within the vicinity of Mae Sot, Tak province, Thailand. As none of the victims were Thai,
the local authorities initially ignored the case, however were pressured to act after word
of the terrible event spread. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has since
To date the case has been characterized by a lack of transparency,
inconsistent accounts, and the absence of genuine effort directed towards capturing and
bringing the murderers and masterminds to justice. Since early February it has virtually
disappeared from public view.
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is issuing this appeal to keep
attention focused on the event in an effort to bring pressure to bear on the authorities
concerned to seek and hold responsible all those complicit.
You are urged to write to the National Human Rights Commission of
Thailand expressing their concern over the lack of a satisfactory outcome in this case to
date. A sample letter follows.
Among the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, who have entered
Thailand illegally from neighboring countries, the vast majorities are from Burma. Most of
these people enter at various points on the border, and many again are employed in a
multitude of industries and activities in border areas. These people are extremely
vulnerable to all types of human rights violation, ranging from denial of wages and police
extortion to assault, rape and murder.
Mae Sot region is one of the largest entry points and areas of
employment for Burmese coming to Thailand. It is also an area where Burmese are murdered
routinely: in the five districts around and including Mae Sot, four to five people of
Burmese origin are killed weekly. As the police and immigration authorities are involved
in the trade of Burmese across the border, as well being active participants in various
human rights violations, they do not pursue the perpetrators of crimes against Burmese
victims. The widespread mentality that crime need not be investigated unless the victims
are Thai people is reinforced by a chauvinist mentality ingrained through distorted
history teaching that Burmese are the historical enemies of Thai people.
In the last days of January 2002, villagers from Wangpha, Mae Ramat
district, came across 14 bodies in the Mae Lamao stream, close to their village. The
bodies were in two groups of seven, and included males and females aged from around 14 to
45. They were stripped naked, hands tied behind their backs, with stab wounds to the
bodies and necks. After encountering the first group the village head is understood to
have reported the matter to the local police. As the police were unaware of the unusually
large number of bodies involved they treated it as a "normal" killing of Burmese
people, and suggested the villagers float the bodies away from the village, so that they
would travel downstream into the Moei River. In this area the Moei forms the border
between Thailand and Burma.
The villagers floated the bodies away as suggested, however due to the
large number of victims and nature of their deaths news of the killings spread, causing
the provincial police chief to order the local police to recover the bodies. Seven corpses
were located in the Moei River on February 2, however contrary to reports that the bodies
were subject to autopsy, it is understood that the police cremated seven bodies there. On
February 4 and 6 another three bodies were encountered, and these were in fact sent to the
Mae Sot hospital for autopsy, which is reported to have revealed nothing except that the
people were certainly of Burmese origin and were killed some days before they were
discovered. The three additional bodies brings the total positively identified to 17.
However reliable sources indicate that another four corpses from the same massacre were
found in another nearby stream, bringing the total to 21.
On February 8 a network of local NGOs urged the National Human Rights
Commission of Thailand to take action on the case. A team from the Commission finally
visited the area of the atrocity during the first week of March. To date it has not issued
any public report on the case, however on March 17 the Commissioner who led the mission,
Jaran Ditha-apichai, publicly urged the Ministry of Interior to investigate the deaths in
order to lead to the arrests of those responsible.
Reports of the event have lacked clarity and consistency, and since
early February have virtually ceased altogether. The number of victimsand circumstances
under which they were foundhave fluctuated. The stories given by local officials have
lacked consistency and credibility. The police have focused on emphasizing that Thai
people were not involved. Media and official discourse has oriented towards the possible
motive for the murders and speculation that the victims were involved in some kind of
illegal activity and were killed lest they become witnesses. The business of actually
catching those responsible for the killings has taken a back seat to all these subsidiary
To date no move has been made on the part of the Thai authorities to
seriously identify and apprehend the culprits of this atrocity. Although the National
Human Rights Commission of Thailand has investigated the case, it has not yet made any
formal intervention. With every day that passes the possibility that those responsible for
this mass murder will be brought to justice becomes increasingly remote. The urgency of
the Commission's role in pressuring the relevant Thai authorities to take action must be
stressed. A sample letter to its Chairman follows.
Please send your letter to Professor Saneh Chamrik, the chairman of the
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand by fax or email and also send copies of your
letter to the Minister of Interior of Thailand and special rapporteur of the UNHCHR on
Re: Massacre on the Mae Lamao
I am very concerned by the massacre of at least 17 persons of Burmese
origin in Mae Ramat district, Thailand, during the last week of January 2002.
To date none of the perpetrators of this atrocity have been brought to
justice. Reports of the case and police investigation procedures suggest numerous
irregularities and inconsistencies. The reluctant official response to this case can only
be presumed to be because the victims were of Burmese, not Thai origin.
I appreciate the role of the National Human Rights Commission of
Thailand in investigating this incident, and thank it for its efforts. However, with every
day that passes mass murderers are going free and the likelihood of their ever being
apprehended diminishes. I urge you to pursue this case as a matter of the utmost urgency
and do everything within your powers to bring the culprits, whoever they may be, to
justice before it is too late.
SEND LETTER TO:
Professor Saneh Chamrik
c/o Mr. Vasan Phanich
National Human Rights Commission
422 Phyathai Road
Fax: +662 219-2966
Tel: +662 219-2980-1
Email: c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
SALUTATION: Dear Professor
SEND COPIES TO:
1. HE Purachai Piumsombun
Ministry of Interior
Fax: +662 226-4371
Tel: +662 224-6320/6341
SALUTATION: Dear Minister
2. Dr Asma Jahangir
Special Rapporteur of the UNCHHR on extrajudicial executions
Fax: +92 42 576-3236
Tel: +92 42 576-3234-5
SALUTATION: Dear Dr Jahangir
* For more information, please contact AHRC Urgent Appeals: email@example.com