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DAGAinfo

28 June 2002
No. 132


In this issue:
  1. FEATURE
    Washington is Pushing India and Pakistan to the Brink of War
  2. NEWS in Brief
    China - 'Singing nun' freed from Tibet prison
    Malaysia - Penan demand state gov’t to stop destruction of forest
    Philippines - RP Could Be Next Argentina
    Burma - US Firm to Strengthen Burma-US Ties
    Kashmir - A Statement On Kashmir
    India - US Helped Create South Asian Standoff
    Middle East Watch
    - Peace Through 'De-Occupation'
    - Bush Offers Nothing Real to the Palestinians
  3. Urgent APPEALS
    India: Coca Cola Parches Indigenous Lands
  4. ANNOUNCEMENT
    International Symposium on New Ecumenism

 

1. FEATURE - top
 

WASHINGTON IS PUSHING INDIA AND PAKISTAN TO THE BRINK OF WAR

by Michel Chossudovsky

 

India and Pakistan are currently at the brink of war.

Presented by the media as a conflict regarding the status of Kashmir, the role of US foreign policy in feeding this conflict is invariably overlooked. Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has deliberately contributed --through covert intelligence operations-- to fuelling the Indo-Pakistan conflict. In the wake of September 11, amidst new terrorist attacks and ethnic riots in India, conditions have developed which favour the outbreak of war between the two countries.

The Indo-Pakistan conflict must also be seen in the broader regional context. The US is presently involved in several related war theatres extending from the Middle East to Central Asia:

  1. The war in Afghanistan is marked by the militarisation of the entire Central Asian region with US troops stationed in several of the former Soviet  republics.

  2. The Bush Administration has supported Israel in the invasion of Palestine under a Secret Plan dubbed "Operation Justified Vengeance". The latter seeks to destroy  the Palestinian Authority.[1]

  3. Washington has announced its intention to wage an all-out war against Iraq, which could potentially spill over into the entire Middle East region.[2]

The outbreak of a war between India and Pakistan, not only raises the spectre of a nuclear holocaust in a region which encompasses almost a quarter of the World's population, it also raises the possibility of a broader war which could potentially engulf a much larger region, with far-reaching implications for the future of humanity.

Both countries have nuclear weapons and a sophisticated missile delivery system. This week, Pakistan reportedly deployed its Shaheen missiles , which have a range of 750 kilometres,... " [3] The Pakistani government has stated that the "country would exercise the nuclear option if its survival was at stake" [4] Pakistan's president General Pervez Musharraf, had advised the United States government, "that in case of any moves, Pakistan will use all options for security of the land. In this case, it will be an unlimited war."[5]  India's nuclear arsenal is also on high alert.

US military and intelligence planners have no doubt analysed the linkages between these various war theatres. Intelligence operations in the broader region are carefully coordinated. The evidence confirms that  the same CIA sponsored insurgencies --using Pakistan's ISI as a go-between-- in support of Islamist groups are carried out in a large number of countries.

US Sponsored Intelligence Operations in the Indian Sub-Continent

It is important to understand the background of the Indo-Pakistan conflict and the history of US sponsored intelligence operations in the Indian subcontinent, channelled through Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI).[6] Backed by the CIA, the ISI  has, since the 1980s, provided support to several secessionist Islamic insurgencies in India's Kashmir. Although officially condemned by Washington, these covert ISI operations were undertaken with the tacit approval of the US government.

Coinciding with the 1989 Geneva Peace Agreement and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the ISI was instrumental in the creation of the militant Jammu and Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen (JKHM).[7]

The December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament --which contributed to pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of war-- were conducted by two Pakistan-based rebel groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure") and Jaish-e-Muhammad ("Army of Mohammed"), both of which are covertly supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).[8]

The powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which plays a behind the scenes role in the formulation of US foreign policy confirms (in a CFR background document) that the Lashkar and Jaish rebel groups are supported by the ISI:

"through its Interservices Intelligence agency (ISI), Pakistan has provided funding, arms, training facilities, and aid in crossing borders to Lashkar and Jaish. This assistance-an attempt to replicate in Kashmir the international Islamist brigade's "holy war" against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan-helped introduce radical Islam into the long-standing conflict over the fate of Kashmir…

"Have these groups received funding from sources other than the Pakistani government?

Yes. Members of the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in England send millions of dollars a year, and Wahhabi sympathizers in the Persian Gulf also provide support.

Do Islamist terrorists in Kashmir have ties to al-Qaeda?

Yes. In 1998, the leader of Harakat, Farooq Kashmiri Khalil, signed Osama bin Laden's declaration calling for attacks on Americans, including civilians, and their allies. Bin Laden is also suspected of funding Jaish, U.S. and Indian officials say. And Maulana Masood Azhar, who founded Jaish, traveled to Afghanistan several times to meet bin Laden.

Where were these Islamist militants trained?

Many were given ideological training in the same madrasas, or Muslim seminaries, that taught the Taliban and foreign fighters in Afghanistan. They received military training at camps in Afghanistan or in villages in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Extremist groups have recently opened several new madrasas in Azad Kashmir. [9]

What the CFR fails to mention are the links between the ISI and the CIA. Confirmed by the writings of Zbigniew Brzezinski (who happens to be a member of the CFR) the "international Islamic brigade" was a creation of the CIA.

Attack on the Indian Parliament

The December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, followed by the terrorist attacks and ethnic riots in Gujarat in early 2002, were the culmination of a process initiated in the 1980s, financed by drug money and abetted by Pakistan's military intelligence. These ISI supported terrorist attacks serve the geopolitical interests of the US. They not only contribute to weakening and fracturing the Indian Union, they also create conditions which favour the outbreak of a regional war between Pakistan and India.

Cross-Cutting Military Alliances

In late 1998, Russia signed a "long term military cooperation agreement" with India, which was followed in early 1999 by a defence agreement between India and France. The agreement between Delhi and Paris included the transfer of French military technology as well as investment of French multinationals in India’s defence industry. The latter includes facilities for the production of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads in which the French companies have an expertise.

This Franco-Indian agreement has a direct bearing on Indo-Pakistani relations. It also impinges upon US strategic interests in Central and South Asia. While Washington has been pumping military aid into Pakistan, India is being supported by France and Russia.

Barely a few weeks into the 2001 bombing of Afghanistan, France and India conducted joint military exercises in the Arabian Sea. Also in the immediate wake of September 11, India took delivery of large quantities of Russian weapons under the Indo-Russian military cooperation agreement.

While France and the US seem to be on opposite sides of the India-Pakistan conflict, France also supplies military equipment to Pakistan, in competition with US weapons producers. More generally, this conflict means billions of dollars of profit for Western and Russian arms suppliers. In this regard, US foreign policy is geared towards securing a market for the Big Five weapons producers, now allied with British Aerospace systems, against their French and Russian competitors. 

In early May, France rushed its defense minister Michele Alliot-Marie to Pakistan following a terrorist attack which led to the death of 11 Frenchmen of the Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) involved in the construction of three Agosta submarines for the Pakistan navy. The attack, which in all likelihood was politically motivated, could lead to the suspension of  weapons deliveries by France to Pakistan. The suspension would serve the interests of US weapons producers.. 

On the Brink of War

This week, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee stated that India is prepared to go to war in response to the terrorist attacks. Delhi  has warned Islamabad of a ``decisive battle'' against terrorism and "told its soldiers on the tense Kashmir border to be ready for sacrifice". Pakistan retorted "that any cross-border action by India would provoke retaliation", which could predictably "trigger a wider conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours." [10] 

Meanwhile Indian warships have positioned themselves in the Arabian Sea, in proximity of the Pakistani coastline. A report by Jane Defense Weekly confirms that India's Strategic Nuclear Command (SNC) is expected to be in place by June.11 The SNC  will be commanded by the Indian Air Force (IAF). India is said to have some 60 nuclear warheads compared with Pakistan's 25.  The use of nuclear weapons cannot be dismissed. Both countries have activated their reserve forces.

The Role of the US

General Pervez Musharraf is a US puppet. Since the beginning of the bombing campaign of Afghanistan, the US Air Force controls Pakistan's airspace as well several military facilities in Pakistan. US military and intelligence advisers are working closely with the Pakistanis:

The United States is now heavily engaged in the region. It has full use of two Pakistani military air bases and since the start of the war has taken control of about one- third of Pakistan's air space to facilitate its military operations over Afghanistan.

Up to 35,000 Pakistani troops have been assigned to protect the US forces stationed inside Pakistan. In addition, 60,000 Pakistani troops have been dispatched to the Durand Line, the 1400km Pakistani-Afghan border, to catch any al-Qa'ida agents, including Osama bin Laden, who might be tempted to cross over. [12]

Under these conditions, a war cannot in practice be waged by Pakistan without Washington's green light. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has been dispatched by Washington to the region for consultations with both governments. Armitage was one of the main architects during the Reagan Administration behind US covert support to the Mujahedin and the "militant Islamic base, both during the Afghan-Soviet war as well as in its aftermath. US covert support was financed by the Golden Crescent drug trade. "Armitage, who was denied a 1989 appointment as Assistant Secretary of State because of links to Iran-Contra and other scandals, served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Reagan years. U.S. Government stipulations in the Oliver North trial specifically named Armitage as one of the DoD officials responsible for illegal transfers of weapons to Iran and the Contras."[13]

In other words, is Richard Armitage on "a peace mission" or is he part of an ongoing intelligence operation, which ultimately consists in fostering political instability, by pushing one country against the other? 

Washington's Ploy: Arming both Sides

The US has military cooperation agreements with both India and Pakistan. America sells weapons to both countries (as does France). At the same time, Washington controls the types of advanced systems made available to each country.

Ironically, while America is Pakistan's closest ally, US-India military cooperation has been stepped since September 11. In November, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on an official visit to India, stated the need  "to strengthen the military and defence ties between our two countries" in the context of the war on terrorism.[14]  An Indian defence delegation led by India’s Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain was at the Pentagon this week, "to discuss prospective military cooperation, including expanding the scope, size and frequency of joint exercises between their armed forces"[15] 

Meanwhile, Washington  was beefing  up it military support to Pakistan.  The Bush Administration, through the CIA, also oversees the ISI sponsored covert intelligence operations in support of Islamic insurgents inside India.

In country after country, these insurgencies are used by Washington to destabilize national societies. The underlying pattern is very similar that used recently in Macedonia, where the KLA sponsored insurgencies were being supported by NATO and US military aid. Meanwhile, the US had an ongoing military cooperation agreement with the Macedonian Ministry of Defense in the context of the Partnership for Peace Programme.[16]

While Washington is arming Pakistan, it also has a military cooperation agreement with India, which is intended to deter armed aggression and defend Indian territory. Moreover, behind the scenes --using Pakistan's ISI as a "go-between"-- the CIA is funnelling support (money and weapons) to the Kashmiri separatist forces. In a cruel irony, Washington is arming and advising both sides under military and intelligence authorization acts approved by the US Congress.

"Divide and Rule": Advise both sides on the conduct of war. Arm both sides in the conflict, fuelling America's military-industrial complex. Develop joint military and intelligence cooperation with both countries, enabling the US to oversee the theatre of an eventual war. Fracture and impoverish both countries. Restore the Empire.

 The hidden agenda is to eventually extend America's sphere of influence not only in Central Asian but also in the Indian sub-continent. 

Notes:

  1. See by Ellis Shuman, Is Israel preparing to dismantle the Palestinian Authority? http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SHU204A.html , Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), www.globalresearch.ca   7 April 2002
  2. See Ian Bruce, Military planners at the Pentagon have drawn up a blueprint for a two-pronged invasion of Iraq, CRG  1 February 2002).
  3. India Daily, 21 May 2002.
  4. Quoted in Hindustan Times, 23 May 2002
  5. India Daily, 22 May 2002
  6. Michel Chossudovsky, Coverup and Complicity, The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence, CRG, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO111A.html , 2 November 2002.
  7. See K. Subrahmanyam, Pakistan is Pursuing Asian Goals, India Abroad, 3 November 1995.
  8. Council on Foreign Relations, Terrorism: Questions and Answers, Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, http://www.terrorismanswers.com/groups/harakat2.htm Washington 2002.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Dawn, 22 May 2002
  11. Jane Defence Weekly quoted in India Daily, 22 May 2002
  12. >The Independent, 29 December 2001.
  13. Michael Ruppert,  Richard Armitage Quietly confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, From the Wilderness, 25 March 2001
  14. The New York Times, 5 November 2001
  15. The Hindustan Times, 22 May 2002.
  16. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, NATO Invades Macedonia, CRG, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO108C.html , August 2001

[Source: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO205C.html]

 

2. NEWS in Brief - top
 

CHINA

'Singing nun' freed from Tibet prison

China has released another member of Tibet's Buddhist "singing nuns" - a group of women punished for recording pro-independence songs in prison, a London-based monitoring group said yesterday. Ngawang Choezom was released nine months before the end of her 11-year sentence, the Tibet Information Network said.

She was detained in March 1992 at the age of 22 for protesting against Chinese rule in Tibet and sentenced to five years in prison. But in 1993, she and 13 other imprisoned nuns secretly recorded songs about Tibetan independence and smuggled them out of prison. When prison authorities found out, the nuns were punished and had their sentences extended.

During her detention, Ngawang Choezom had been subjected to abusive treatment, the network said. It said she was often "singled out for particularly harsh punishment", which became worse after prison riots in 1998.

"Ngawang Choezom was severely beaten during interrogations and then [confined to her cell] or in solitary confinement for extended periods of time," it said, adding that she had been unable to receive visitors since the riots.

Earlier this month, the monitoring group reported that two other nuns who took part in the 1993 singing protest, Tenzin Thubten and Ngawang Choekyi, had also been released from Drapchi Prison before the end of their sentences.

In April, China released Tanak Jigme Sangpo, 76, also from Drapchi Prison. Said to be China's longest-serving political prisoner, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 1983 for engaging in anti-government activities. The sentence was later extended twice to 2011.

[Source: SCMP 28.6.02]

MALAYSIA

‘Improve our lives’: Penan demand state gov’t to stop destruction of forest

Representatives from more than 30 Penan communities in Sarawak called for the state government to fulfill promises made to improve the quality of life of their people and to stop destructive logging in their forest.

The Penan groups had earlier endorsed the Long Sayan Declaration 2002 during a three-day meeting held in Miri. Among others, the declaration called upon the Sarawak government to undertake a systematic process to gazette for each Penan community a communal forest of its own as provided for in the Sarawak Forests Ordinance.

The Penan also want adequate compensation for destruction to their forest lands already caused by destructive logging. In addition, they demand for state authorities to deliver their promises to improve their quality of life by providing assistance in health care, education, housing and agricultural skills.

The Penan’s demands showed that the communities’ wish for their forest to be protected is totally consistent with their desire for their living conditions to be improved as a whole.

The dispossessed Penan communities are facing a lot of difficulties including food shortages, frequent illnesses and income loss brought about by logging operations that encroach into their forest areas. Their survival is severely threatened by the logging industry, which continues to reap huge profits from the sale of timber resources extracted from their ancestral lands with ease and impunity.

The Long Sayan Declaration called upon the state government to recognise the natives’ customary rights to their ancestral lands in order to end to their predicament and poverty. The Declaration will be delivered to the Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Sarawak Tourism Minister and the minister in charge of Penan affairs, Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg.

The concerns against logging activities of Sarawak’s native communities have been an on-going issue due to their poorly defined land rights. In April, several native groups, including the Penan, Kayan and Kenyah communities in Baram, Sarawak, erected obstacles at road entrances to controversial logging sites in an attempt to stop further logging activity.

[source: MalaysiaKini 27.6.02]

PHILIPPINES

Top Arroyo Official Says RP Could Be Next Argentina

A top official of the Arroyo administration recently warned that the Philippines could be the next Argentina if the ballooning government budget deficit is not significantly reduced soon. Guillermo Carague, chair of the Commission on Audit (CoA), also revealed that Filipinos now owe P2.38 trillion pesos (US$46.7 billion) in foreign and domestic debt.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Luzon and Manila Regional Conference of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) at the Baguio Country Club (BCC), Carague warned that "this situation should not be allowed to continue, otherwise we might one day wake up and find (ourselves) in a similar situation as that of Argentina."

The CoA chair said that the total outstanding debt of the Philippine government has soared to P2.380 trillion since 1998. "What is alarming is, foreign debt component has grown to almost 50 percent of the total debt, meaning a larger outflow of foreign exchange," Carague said. Foreign debt totaled P1.135 trillion while domestic debt is registered at P1.245 trillion, totaling P2.380 trillion, compared to P1.427 trillion total debt in 1998.

Starting in 1998, the deficit in government’s fiscal operations has swelled because revenues have not kept pace with expenditures. In turn, this resulted in bigger borrowings, putting the government even deeper in debt. Hhowever, more borrowings will further exacerbate the deficit because of more interest payments.

Carague also said revealed that, years back then while still in the National Economic Development Authority - Investment Coordinating Committee (NEDA-ICC), he had objected to the government guarantee to the BOT (build-operate-transfer) scheme for the San Roque and Casecnan dam projects in Luzon. It was overruled. "Today, of course, we know that those projects are part of the high cost of electricity that we are now paying for," he said.

"Every year we have been paying the equivalent of about a billion pesos in commitment fees for foreign assisted projects. This is a penalty for not utilizing the loans that we have contracted with foreign creditors. In effect, we are paying interest on money we have not yet borrowed" he said.

[Source:Bulatlat 1.6.02]

BURMA

US FIRM TO STRENGTHEN BURMA-US TIES

Burma's ruling military junta earlier this month agreed to pay more than $450,000 a year to a lobbying firm with ties to President Bush to help push for the normalisation of relations between the United States and the impoverished Southeast Asian nation. The Burmese government began negotiating an agreement with DCI Associates in April, including making a $100,000 deposit, shortly before authorities agreed to release from house arrest the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Aung San Suu Kyi, according to documents filed by DCI with the Justice Department.

DCI was established by Thomas J. Synhorst, a well-known GOP strategist who specializes in building grass-roots support through extensive use of phone banks. His firm's clients included Bush when he was governor of Texas, as well as the tobacco industry and the National Rifle Association. Burma is DCI's first foreign client. The signing of the contract comes as the Bush administration is considering sending $1 million in humanitarian aid through United Nations agencies and non-government organisations located in Burma to assist in battling an HIV epidemic that affects one out of 50 adults, one of the highest rates in the world. Burma's official AIDS budget in 1999 was $30,000, which was supplemented by about $3 million from international organizations.

In a news release, DCI trumpeted the visit by Col. Kyaw Thein last month as the "highest level meeting in Washington" between the State Department and the Burmese regime since 1988. The hiring of DCI appears to suggest the Burmese are eager to build on the release of Suu Kyi to improve relations, and that the military leaders believe that political affiliations are important to a lobbying firm's success. During the Clinton administration, the Burmese used intermediaries to briefly hire lobbying firms with Democratic connections, including a former State Department official. Charles Francis, a DCI official, said the company was approached by the government through "mutual relationships" he declined to identify. "We thought long and hard about accepting this representation," he said. But he said the release of Suu Kyi was "a very significant and substantive act of good faith," and company officials decided, "this is a moment in history that calls for taking a new look."

Documents filed last week with the Justice Department show that DCI's contract was made directly with the State Peace and Development Council, the official name for the military junta that rules by decree. DCI's main contact in the government is listed as intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, a key member of the triumvirate at the top of the junta. In addition to the $100,000 deposit, the government agreed to pay DCI a monthly management fee of $35,000 and any expenses, with the contract set to run through May 15, 2003. In its filings, DCI said it would meet with congressional and administration officials to improve relations between the United States and Burma, focusing especially on "trade policy, the war on drugs, war on terrorism, human rights, public health, HIV/AIDS and promotion of democracy."

[Source: Washington Post 31.5.02]

INDIA

Nuke Truths -- U.S. Helped Create South Asian Standoff

Almost 40 years ago, the late Pakistani leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was then serving as Pakistan's foreign minister, famously declared "even if Pakistanis have to eat grass we will make the bomb." India and Pakistan have since fought two conventional wars and now have nuclear weapons poised to complete the short five-minute arc to the other's national capital.

Neither Pakistanis nor Indians had to eat grass to achieve nuclear capability. Instead, each looked West, assembling nuclear technologies with assistance from the very countries--including the United States--that now urge them to retreat from their nuclear saber rattling over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Six of the eight industrialized nations known as the G-8--which recently called on India and Pakistan to "work with the international community to ensure that there will be a diplomatic solution to the current crisis"--helped provide the two nations with the raw materials and technical know-how to build their nuclear weapons.

A Canadian research reactor supplied the plutonium for India's first nuclear device. The plutonium was extracted in an Indian reprocessing plant built with U.S. assistance. Germany supplied the tritium, beryllium, heavy-water plants, and reprocessing components necessary for constructing the bomb.

Pakistan developed its first nuclear weapon by using Canadian and Belgian heavy-water plants, German uranium enrichment technology, reprocessing techniques from France and the United Kingdom, and a U.S.-built research reactor.

In fact, Pakistan's F-16 fighter jets, supplied by the Reagan administration, remain the country's most reliable nuclear delivery vehicles.

As crucial as raw nuclear materials, technical assistance, and delivery vehicles are to the two countries' nuclear weapons development programs, perhaps even more important is the continued relevance placed on nuclear weapons by Western nations. Both India and Pakistan are heavily influenced by the old cold war formula that possessing nuclear weapons equals world leadership and is essential to entering the "First World."

The fact that since the end of the cold war no nuclear power has relinquished its nuclear weapons also has had a negative impact on both nations. As M. V. Ramana and A. H. Nayyar, physicists and peace activists from India and Pakistan respectively, wrote in a recent Scientific American article, "The continued reliance of the United States and Russia on thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert only adds to the perceived need for nuclear arsenals in India and Pakistan."

President Bush quickly dispatched Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to the region the first week of June in an attempt to defuse the terrifying nuclear standoff. Armitage dangled carrots for both sides, including promised debt relief, additional international aid, and enticements for Pakistan to become "a respected member of the international community," in the words of a senior State Department official. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited the leaders of both countries in mid-June, and warned in a Pentagon report of the likelihood that 12 million people could be killed and an additional 6 million injured in a nuclear exchange.

But India and Pakistan's game of nuclear chicken draws inspiration from America's own nuclear policies: the United States has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, is developing new, more useable "mini" nuclear weapons, and is committed to deploying a multi-tiered ballistic missile defense system.

Our actions speak louder than words for Indian and Pakistani leaders. For the United States to help defuse the nuclear threat in South Asia, it must first examine the ways in which it has contributed to building and providing a rationale for that threat.

[Source: Foreign Policy in Focus 18.6.02]

A Statement On Kashmir
Let the people of Kashmir determine their future

India and Pakistan now stand on the brink of a war potentially thousand times more devastating than the earlier ones they had fought since 1948. This war will bring nothing but incalculable destruction and misery to the peoples of both countries irrespective of race, religion, language and sex. Armed with nuclear weapons both the belligerent states now threaten not only the normalcy of daily life, but the very existence of millions of peoples in the entire region of South Asia.

Being goaded by imperialism, particularly Anglo-U.S. imperialism, both India and Pakistan are carrying their so-called campaign against terrorism to new heights, accusing each other of cross-border and internal terrorism, and in the name of fighting terrorism promoting a kind of state terrorism which continuously increase tension between them and worsen the communal situation.

Communal conflict and confrontation in British India finally led its partition, but the people of South Asia did not have the good fortune to see the end of communalism and communal conflicts. It cannot be denied that the situation arising out of the Kashmir dispute has been the greatest single factor in perpetuating hostility between the two states and communalism among large sections of the peoples of both countries.

Forcible occupation of parts of Kashmir by both India and Pakistan has created a situation in which the broad masses of the people of India-held Kashmir are undergoing repression by the Indian State machine and its armed forces in the most brutal manner, and innocent people are bring victimised physically and otherwise by cross-border infiltration and armed incursions into that area by Pakistan. These actions of the governments of India and Pakistan are not only victimising the people of Kashmir but also perpetuating communalism and creating opportunities for them to use communal sentiments and violence whenever they are plunged into domestic crisis of one kind or another.

In this critical situation, as concerned persons, we emphasise with the greatest seriousness the need to resolve the Kashmir problem and express our view that it is the people of Kashmir, and not either the government of India or Pakistan, who have the right to decide their own fate.

It is a fact that there is a substantial struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination and independence which has nothing to do with either communalism or religious fundamentalism. The Government of India is trying to brand this struggle as terrorism and as entirely inspired and sponsored by Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalists, and the Government of Pakistan is trying to divert this democratic struggle for self-determination into a communal channel.

These developments are the follow ups of gross disregard for and violation of the U.N. resolution on a plebiscite for determining the future of Kashmir, a resolution which both India and Pakistan formally agreed to implement as fulfillment of their pledge to respect the democratic right of the Kashmiri people to determine their future.

The forcible occupation of Kashmir by India and Pakistan has not done any good to either the people of Kashmir or to the Indian and Pakistani peoples. On the other hand, the dispute arising out of such occupations has provided a powerful political instrument to the ruling classes and Government of both countries to oppress and suppress their own people and people across the border. It has been the greatest single factor responsible for huge unnecessary and wasteful military expenditure, for perpetuation of communalism and for creating political instability in the region.

It is because of this that Kashmir must no longer be taken as an integral part of either India or Pakistan and arrangements must be made for allowing the people of Kashmir to decide their own future and thus to solve the present Kashmir problem democratically and for ever.

With this end in view, at this critical moment of our history in South Asia, we urge upon all democratic and progressive peoples in India and Pakistan including intellectuals, journalists, political activists, persons belonging to various professions, to take up this matter and to demand and work for a plebiscite to be held under U.N. auspices and supervised by a team composed of representatives of countries who have no direct interest and stake in South Asia, with clear options to the people of Kashmir either to vote for accession to India or to Pakistan or to have an independent State of their own.

We urge the Indians to launch a movement to put an end to repression on the people of Kashmir and to put pressure on the Government of India to agree to hold the plebiscite in Kashmir under U.N. supervision.

We urge the Pakistanis to mobilise public opinion against cross-border terrorism either by the Government of Pakistan or by any other Pakistan based terrorist groups, and thus create a favourable condition for holding the plebiscite.

We urge all democratic governments and peoples of the world to mobilise all their efforts to put pressure on the governments of India and Pakistan to redeem their pledges to allow the people of Kashmir to determine their future by holding a plebiscite supervised by the United Nations.

**The above statement were signed by 33 activists in Bangladesh
[Source: Zmag 18.6.02]

 

MIDDLE EAST WATCH

Bush Offers Nothing Real to the Palestinians--but Plenty for the Terrorists
--a response to Bush's Mid East speech June 24th, 2002.

by Rabbi Michael Lerner Editor, Tikkun

George Bush might be a nice guy, but he sure knows how to miss an opportunity. For the first time since 1948, Arab states have offered to give Israel full recognition and peace if Israel withdraws to its pre-67 borders. The leadership of the Palestinian Authority has just announced that it would accept the terms of an agreement as defined by President Clinton in 2000 in the months after Camp David.

But there are two substantial obstacles to all this: First, the Israeli political Right, which currently runs the Government of Israel, has no interest in withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. Many religious Zionists believe that giving up West Bank settlements would be a violation of God's will.

Second, Islamic fundamentalists have no interest in the creation of a secular Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. They would much prefer to see an Israeli occupation which will be worn down over the course of the next thirty to forty years of guerilla struggle against Islamic forces than to see a secular state that would restore hope for Palestinians and lessen the appeal of the fundamentalists.

So both have entered into a de facto alliance to prevent any such development. Ariel Sharon says that he will not reward terror by allowing any substantial steps toward withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza as long as Israelis face terror. Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad understand the covert invitation, and respond by acts of terror against Israel , particularly at moments when the Palestinian Authority seems to be moving toward accommodation with whatever is the lastest American or Israeli demand. Instead of responding by attacking Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad, Sharon responds by repressive measures against the Palestinian Authority and the entire Palestinian people. Those measures increase despair, generate new recruits for the terrorists, and demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority. A perfect reward for the terroristsˇexactly what they are seeking.

Now George Bush has joined Sharon in endorsing the notion that any small bunch of fundamentalist extremists can veto a peace process. Of course, had the US insisted as a precondition for withdrawal that the Vietnamese end acts of violence against Vietnamese civilians who supported the US, we'd still be fighting that war. Or if the South African whites had demanded an end to all acts of anti-white violence as a precondition for majority rule, there would still be apartheid in South Africa. And since the Palestinian terrorists do not seek peace with Israel, but the destruction of Israel, George Bush has given them massive incentive to keep going with acts of terror.

Bush's call for democratic reform of Palestine might have more credibility if it had come from a President who had won the popular vote in the U.S., but it frames a direction which almost everyone can embrace. The Palestinian people would certainly benefit by replacing Arafat and other criminal elements who have supported terror against Israeli civilians. But as long as Israeli tanks roll into Palestinian cities every week, few Palestinians will believe that it is possible to have a democratic process that is anything more than a ratification of whatever Israel seeks to impose on themˇand if they vote at all, it will be for those who express the most extreme anger at Israel (just who we don't need in power if we want to negotiate for peace).

If the US wants peace, George Bush is going to have to summon the courage that allowed his father to stand up to the American friends of Israel's Right wing. In 1991 that meant demanding a settlement freeze, but in 2002 that will mean support for an international intervention to separate and protect the two sides from each other and to impose a settlement which minimally requires an end to the Occupation and the settlements, reparations for the Palestinian refugees(and to Israelis who fled Arab lands) as well as an end to the terror.. One way to reassure legitimate Israeli fears: offer Israel membership in NATO or a mutual defense pact with the US to guarantee protection from assault by neighboring states.

But there is only one path to mobilize Palestinians to join in a serious effort to crush Hamas and other fundamentalist terrorissˇand that is for the Palestinian people to feel Israel has had a fundamental change of heart and is now ready to treat the Palestinian people with the same respect and sensitivity to their needs and their fears that we Jews rightly demand for ourselves. And that will never happen as long as we punish an entire people for the outrageous acts of a few. In my view, both sides need to do real teshuva--repentance for the terrible cruelty and pain each has unnecessarily inflicted on the other. But in the actual reality of Israel's far superior military power, it must be the more powerful force that starts this process without demanding that it be reassured from the start that the other side will reciprocate. If the Jewish people were to not only end the Occupation and provide reparations, but also do it in a way that demonstrated real repentance, and we kept up an attitude of generosity and open- heartedness for many years, the justifiable Palestinian rage would eventually melt enough so that most Palestinians would be willing to stop, villify, and imprison those (and there are certain to be some) who will want to keep up violence no matter what Israel does. This is the only way to isolate the fundamentalists--every other approach guarantees their survival and future acts of terror.

Bush's vague promises of a state without territory, and without protection from further Israeli incursions, and conditional on overthrowing Arafat and stopping all violence, is a non-starter ˝except perhaps as a temporary respite of pressure from the Saudis who may use the Bush speech as a pretext to claim that the US has demonstrated good intentions, and therefore deserves the go-ahead for US's desired war against Iraq. But for those of us who want peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, George Bush never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

[Source: Tikkun 26.6.02]

 


Peace Through 'De-Occupation'

After 35 years of Israeli occupation, most Palestinians roll their eyes at the mention of the phrase "interim agreement" -- and with good reason. Interim agreements are Israel's way of tossing the Palestinians a few bones, such as the right to design postage stamps or issue license plates - while Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian land and build more illegal Israeli colonies. In other words, interim agreements are Israel's way of prolonging its occupation of Palestinian territory, not ending it. This is why Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon keeps talking of a "long-term" interim agreement -- and why Palestinians will have none of it.

But despite the visceral Palestinian reaction, an interim agreement could work if it addressed Palestinian concerns over Israel's brutal and unyielding policy of colonizing the occupied territories. Since Israel's 1967 occupation, Israel has transferred, in flagrant violation of the fourth Geneva Convention, nearly 370,000 Israeli civilians into those territories to live in more than 130 illegal Israeli colonies.

The enterprise, which requires confiscating Palestinian land not only for colonies but also for related roads and infrastructure, has resulted in Israeli colonies' controlling nearly 42 percent of the West Bank. Since the 1993 Oslo accords, the number of settlers living in the occupied territories has nearly doubled. While the world has been distracted by violence in the region, the very causes of that violence have continued unabated. Sharon has constructed 34 new illegal colonies since taking power.

This is the single largest factor in undermining Palestinian confidence that Israel will ever abide by international law and withdraw to its 1967 borders -- a lack of trust that lies at the heart of the current wave of Palestinian resistance.

For that reason, an interim agreement could work only if it tangibly reversed Israel's occupation rather than allowing it to continue unabated -- that is, established a mechanism of "de-occupation."

The concept is simple: Create incentives for the settlers to move back to Israel. Many of the settlers living in the occupied territories live there not for ideological reasons but because it makes good financial sense. Every Israeli government, Likud or Labor, has maintained incentives to lure Israelis into the territories. Most settlers enjoy a wide array of benefits, including subsidized mortgages, a 7 percent reduction in income taxes and subsidized education. Given similar incentives for doing so, many would prefer to return to Israel.

De-occupation would require Israel not only to put a freeze on all its colonization activity, including the large loophole of "natural growth," but also to end the incentive package that transforms innocent Israelis into political pawns. But de-occupation goes a step further by requiring Israel to establish similar incentives to lure Israeli settlers back to Israel.

De-occupation's advantage would be that it would reverse occupation not through a forced and perhaps violent evacuation of Israelis but rather by allowing settlers to exercise their own choice. Most important, by addressing the existential threat that Israeli colonies pose to the Palestinians, successful de-occupation would inspire confidence among a justifiably skeptical Palestinian population.

But given that Israel has historically demonstrated that it is more interested in land than in peace, most Palestinians wonder what could possibly induce Israel to adopt such a mechanism. First, a stick: The United States would actually live up to its stated ideal of defending the rule of law and condition U.S. aid on Israel's implementation of such a mechanism.

Then, a carrot: Address Israel's own existential threat -- the Palestinian refugees who have not been able to return to Israel. For each settler who returned to Israel, a Palestinian refugee who wanted to return to the future Palestinian state would be admitted to the occupied territories. There is, of course, no moral equivalence between Palestinian refugees who have a legal right to return and Israeli settlers who are residing illegally in the territories. Thus a Palestinian refugee should never be forced to give up a right in order to induce Israel to correct its "wrongs." But if a refugee would have chosen to return to a Palestinian state anyway, and if choosing this option helps dispel Israelis' concerns about the existence of their country, why not allow that refugee to exercise his or her option sooner rather than later?

The ultimate benefit is that an interim agreement addressing the existential concerns of both sides has a greater chance of leading to a successful permanent status agreement. But if another "transitional" phase allows Israel to continue colonizing Palestinian territory, it will only repeat the mistakes of the Oslo process. And we have all seen how bloody those mistakes have become.

The writer, an American attorney, is a legal adviser to the negotiations affairs department of the Palestine Liberation Organization. [Source: Washington Post 19.6.02]

 

3. Urgent APPEAL - top
 

INDIA: Coca Cola Parches Indigenous Lands

Indigenous people (known as adivasi in India) have launched a struggle against the Coca Colas bottling plant at Plachimada in Palakkad District in Kerala, India, on April 22 with a blockade followed and picketing. C.K Janu, Chairperson of Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha and the Adivasi-Dalit Samara Samithy, inaugurated the struggle on 22 April in which over 1,300 people, mostly Adivasis belonging to the Eravalar and Malasar communities participated.

Background

The Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd established this unit in 1998-99 in approximately 40 acre plot (previously multi-cropped paddy lands) at Plachimada. About 70 permanent workers and 150 casual labourers are employed in the factory. On an average, about 85 lorry loads of beverage products (Mirinda, Thums Up, Coca Cola besides Kinley Mineral Water), each load containing 550-600 cases and each case containing 24 300 ml bottles leave the factory premises every day.

  • More than 60 borewells (besides 2 open wells) are sunk in the factory compound extracting some 1,500,000 litres of water.

  • Processing activities including water purification, preparation of bottled drinks, cleaning of bottles -- generates a large quantity of contaminated waters and chemical waste besides plastic, paper, metallic and other solid waste.

  • The plant is run on generators and not from the common electricity grid. The plant violates the Land Utilization Act because permission has reportedly not been obtained to convert agricultural lands for non-agricultural uses.

  • The plant is located in an agricultural area surrounded by colonies of indigenous tribes and dalits (oppressed castes). At least 1,000 families belonging to Eravalar and Malasar tribal communities live in the vicinity. These families are predominantly landless and work as agricultural wage labourers.

  • The Coca-Cola unit is reportedly planning to abandon the area and shift their destructive factory to Anamalai in Pollachi taluk of adjacent Coimbatore District of Tamilnadu, located a few kilometres away.

The Impact

  • Groundwater has been severely contaminated. The water table extending to an area of a 5 km radius affecting some 1,000 families including 250 families of indigenous people -- has been severely depleted. The villages severely affected are the colonies of Adivasis and Dalits such as Plachimada, Vijayanagaram, Veloor and Madhavan Nair colonies in the Perumatty Panchayat and the Rajeev Nagar and Thodichipathy colonies in the Pattanamchery Panchayat facing acute water shortage and contaminated water. Salinity and hardness of water has increased. Scientific analysis of the water shows that the water contains very high levels of hardness and salinity with high concentrations of calcium and magnesium that render the water unfit for human consumption, domestic use (bathing and washing), and for irrigation.

  • The factory initially claimed that the large quantity of foul smelling semi-liquid and dry sedimented slurry waste was actually disposed off to farmers as good fertilizer! This has spread the contamination besides causing skin problems. The waste has been indiscriminately dumped along the bank canals and within the factory premises. Reports also indicate that the wastes have been indiscriminately dumped on public lands.

  • Cultivation of paddy in over 600 acres of land has been abandoned forcing farmers to experiment with other crops severely affecting the employment opportunities of the Adivasis who depend on wage labour for survival.

The Struggle

Three months back, there was a symbolic protest march held by the Adivasi Samrakshana Sangham (Adivasi Protection Front) against the Coca-Cola Plant. Subsequently an intense struggle was launched on April 22nd by C.K Janu of the Adivasi-Dalit Samara Samithy and Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha. The struggle is being carried out despite threats to life of the activists by (interestingly) the local party leaders and workers belonging to the CPM, BJP, Congress, Janatha Dal who function more as agents of Coca-Cola. There are allegations that former MLAs and the present MLA have been beneficiaries of largesse from Coca-Cola. Police has been deployed heavily and stationed in front of the criminal Coca-Cola unit for its protection from the people.

On 30 April, the Coca-Cola unit distributed water in tanker lorries to the adjacent colonies, which is itself, an admission of guilt. There has been support to the struggle led by the Adivasis from the non-Adivasis in the region and their participation is becoming active.

Demands

  • Immediate closure of the Coca-Cola Factory

  • Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd be held fully responsible and liable for the destruction of livelihood resources of the people and the environment

  • Initiate criminal action against Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd

  • Compensation to all those adversely affected by the Coca-Cola Unit

What you Can Do

  • Share this information with all those concerned about survival rights, human rights, environmental rights and the predatory nature of globalisation and multi-national companies.

  • Organise protests against Coca-Cola

  • Organise campaigns for a boycott of all Coca-Cola products

  • Sign online petition to Coca-cola at http://www.corpwatch.org/action/PRTA.jsp?articleid=2733

Yours in struggle
Veloor Swaminathan
Convenor
Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy
Plachimada
Kannimari P.O, Palakkad District
Kerala, India 678 534

Posted: April 30, 2002

 

4. ANNOUNCEMENT - top
 

International Symposium on New Ecumenism

In the wake of many challenges and struggles in the Asian ecumenical movement, the International Symposium on New Ecumenism is being organised in conjunction with the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Christian Conference of Asia. The 3-day event will bring together eminent speakers from different parts of Asia and the world to bring challenges for the ecumenical community to reshape the entire ecumeincal movement with new perspectives, new directions, new commitments and new enthusiasm.

Date: 5-9 August 2002
Venue: Chinese YMCA International House, Hong Kong
eMail for more infomation: cca@cca.org.hk

 


END

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