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28 November 2002
No. 136

In this issue:
    The sin of extremism is neither common to all Muslims nor limited to Islam.
  2. NEWS in Brief
    China - China waives debts to help war-torn Afghanistan
    Tibet - No change in Tibet policy expected from new Chinese leaders
    Japan - Defense Forces Evolving Faster Than Political Debate
    Hong Kong - Article 23 Opens the Door to Repression
    Malaysia - Different yardsticks on terror
    Malaysia - Internal Security Act to be tightened
    Indonesia - In Bali, ancient ceremonies confront modern terror
    Philippines - Partnership where US is always the winner
    Cambodia - Terrorism Is New Headache for ASEAN
    East Timor - Bishop Belo steps down
    Middle East Watch - The 1m-a-mile wall
    War on Terror - Butler Accuses US of Nuclear Hypocrisy
  3. Urgent APPEALS
    India: Dalit woman tormented and paraded half-naked
    Newspaper Clippings on Article 23


1. FEATURE - top

Ecumenical Intolerance

by Cathy Young


President Bush has stressed repeatedly that America’s war on terrorism is not a war on Islam, which, he asserts, is a "religion of peace" perverted by fanatical extremists. But from the start dissenting voices have said that Islam itself poses a threat to Western civilization and that its inherently violent and oppressive nature was being whitewashed for the sake of political correctness.

One of the first salvos was fired by the Rev. Franklin Graham, who in October 2001 called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion." (He later insisted he was denouncing Islamic extremism, not all Muslims.) More recently, the Rev. Jerry Falwell told 60 Minutes that Islam’s founder, Mohammed, was a "terrorist." Curiously, in this debate the defense of Islam is usually the province of secularist liberals, while the harshest criticism comes from religious ultraconservatives whose views sometimes overlap with those of Islamic fundamentalists.

In fact, the question "Is Islam a religion of peace or a religion of violence?" is virtually meaningless. Like any major faith, Islam has many faces.

The religion’s critics argue that the Koran itself provides the foundation for bigotry and aggression toward non-Muslims, pointing to Mohammed’s bloody wars against infidels. "In my opinion," Falwell told 60 Minutes, "Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses, and I think that Mohammed set an opposite example."

Yet as the religious scholar Alex Kronemer has pointed out, Mohammed was no bloodier a figure than Moses -- and the Bible contains plenty of language no less violent than the Koran’s. At one point, Moses takes the Israelites to task for sparing the women and children of a vanquished enemy tribe and instructs them to kill all the male children and all the women, except for virgins, who can be taken as slaves and concubines. Mosaic law also makes idolatry or the worship of other gods a capital offense, along with a host of other crimes, including adultery, cursing one’s parents, and sodomy.

In his new book The Name, Graham writes, "Islam -- unlike Christianity -- has among its basic teachings a deep intolerance for those who follow other faiths." Yet the basic Christian teaching that salvation can be found only through Jesus Christ can surely be seen as a foundation for intolerance. Throughout history, people professing to follow Christ have killed, tortured, and persecuted countless men and women (most of them also Christians) in the sincere belief that they were not only protecting good Christians from the danger of being seduced by heresy but saving their victims’ souls from eternal damnation.

While witch hunts and the persecution of heretics are generally associated with the Catholic Church, Protestantism does not have a stellar historical record either. Early Protestant leaders urged rulers to root out Catholicism in their domains, just as the popes urged Catholic princes to suppress Protestantism. In Calvin’s 16th-century Geneva, even private practice of Catholic rites was punishable by expulsion from the city, attendance at sermons was mandatory, and the theological dissident Michael Servetus was burned at the stake for rejecting the doctrines of the Trinity and infant baptism.

Christian history is also marred by often brutal persecution of the Jews, including forced conversions. Indeed, it is a little-disputed fact that in the Middle Ages, Jews in Islamic countries, while relegated to second-class status, enjoyed far more toleration than in most of Christendom. Virulent anti-Jewish bigotry can be found in the writings of major Christian figures. Luther’s 1543 polemic The Jews and Their Lies urged Christian princes to rid their lands of the "abominable blasphemy" spread by Jews and "act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow." His advice included "to set fire to their synagogues," to destroy Jewish homes, to confiscate "all their prayer books and Talmudic writings," and to forbid rabbis to teach "on pain of loss of life and limb."

One legitimate counterpoint is that during the last 500 years mainstream Christianity has evolved to embrace tolerance and religious freedom. Lutheran churches, for instance, have formally repudiated Luther’s anti-Semitic writings, whereas equally repellent anti-Jewish rhetoric is standard fare in much of the Arab press today.

But it is far from certain that this evolution was due to something inherent in Christian teachings rather than to other circumstances. While the split caused by the Reformation initially led to bloody religious wars, it was eventually recognized that some degree of tolerance was necessary to preserve civil peace. The secular ideals that arose from the Enlightenment also played a major role.

Meanwhile, church authorities often actively resisted religious liberty. The idea that individuals have the right to practice and preach whatever religion -- let alone irreligion -- they choose was denounced as dangerous lunacy by a succession of popes throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th. In 1953 Pope Pius XII stated that "error and false religions cannot be the object of a natural right." This stance did not change until 1965, with the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI’s decree Dignitatis Humanae.

In an October 2001 essay in The New York Times Magazine, Andrew Sullivan, himself a Catholic, wrote, "It seems almost as if there is something inherent in religious monotheism that lends itself to...terrorist temptation. If you believe that there is an eternal afterlife and that endless indescribable torture awaits those who disobey God’s law, then it requires no huge stretch of imagination to make sure that you not only conform to each diktat but that you also encourage and, if necessary, coerce others to do the same."

Not that religion should be singled out as the source of intolerance: The worst acts of individual or state-sponsored terrorism during the last 100 years were driven by aggressively secular ideologies that promised an earthly paradise. It’s more accurate to say that every belief system that lays claim to the One Truth carries within it the seeds of violent intolerance.

Searching the texts of various faiths to discover which is the most inherently bellicose may be an interesting exercise, but what’s relevant is whether there is something in Islamic culture today that encourages the spread of violent fanaticism. Some scholars who reject attempts to demonize Islam itself nonetheless agree that Al Qaeda-style terrorism is not a fringe phenomenon but a reflection of a dangerous and pervasive brand of Islamic extremism. Why this extremism has emerged is a complicated question that includes a mix of historical, social, economic, and religious factors.

The inescapable fact is that in many places around the globe Islam has been backsliding toward more rigid and intolerant orthodoxy, culminating in the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet the same hatred of secularism and modernity that animates Muslim radicals, in a more moderate form, has also driven the rise of Christian religious fundamentalism in the West.

This is not to say that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would send young men to blow themselves up in discos or fly airplanes into buildings, or that the Southern Baptist Convention, which passed a resolution a few years ago urging wives to "submit graciously" to their husbands, wants to impose Talibanesque restrictions on women. But in their railings against sexual freedom, women’s liberation, pornography, godlessness, and other purported evils of modernity, the two groups do mirror each other eerily.

After September 11, Falwell famously declared that "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America" had helped cause the attacks. The terrorists who actually carried them out might agree.

**[Cathy Young is a columnist for The Boston Globe.]


2. NEWS in Brief - top



China has decided to write off debts to Afghanistan that could date back as far as the 1960s to help the war-ravaged nation get back on its feet, the Afghan embassy said on Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan made the pledge during a meeting with visiting Afghan counterpart Abdullah Abdullah but no estimates for the amount of debt were available, Ambassador Qiamuddin Rai Barlas said.

"China has decided to take a big step to help Afghanistan which is not in the position to pay," Barlas said by telephone.

"I think we may have a lot of debt because before there were a lot of projects established with the help of the Chinese government. It was a long time ago, starting from the 1960s."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined comment on the value of the debt write-off.

Earlier this month, the mainland wrote off all foreign debt owed by Cambodia, much of it dating back to the genocidal 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.

No official total estimate of Cambodia's debt to China was made available but estimates from sources at the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh varied from $60 million (HK$466 million) to US$1 billion.

The mainland, one of the first countries to send diplomats to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban last year, pledged US$150 million in January to help rebuild the nation with which it shares a tiny stretch of border.

The mainland has also donated animals to Kabul's depleted zoo including two lions, two bears and a couple of pigs.

[Source: SCMP 19.11.02]



The recent changes in the leadership of China give little hope of a change in its Tibet policy, according to the Tibetan government in exile with the Dalai Lama.

Although the Chinese Communist Party has a new Politburo, the country's new leader, Hu Jintao, has a record as a hard-liner on Tibet, and the Tibetans do not expect any radical departures from the stance of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin.

"For the immediate time it will be extremely difficult for the present Chinese leaders to take any fundamental steps because they will still operate in the shadow of Jiang Zemin's influence," said Thubten Samphel, secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations of the Tibetan government in exile.

Mr Jiang retains the chairmanship of China's Central Military Commission, and five of the Politburo's nine members are known to be his allies.

Six Tibetans have been elevated to the Central Committee in the shake-up, but the two senior-most, known by only one name - Raidi and Legqog - are outspoken supporters of China's hard-line policy in the region, Mr Samphel said on Monday.

"Their elevation to the Central Committee is more of a symbolic gesture to inform the outside world that Tibetan concerns are voiced," Mr Samphel said.

Hu Jintao served as Communist Party secretary in Tibet from 1988 to 1992. He oversaw the imposition of martial law on the region in 1989 after protests against Chinese rule.

Repression of religious and political freedoms in Tibet has continued since then, with the closure of monasteries and nunneries and long prison terms for anyone calling for Tibetan independence.

But little is known about Mr Hu's personal beliefs, and the Tibetan government in exile sees hope in the fact that the new leader is relatively young at 59 and has direct experience in Tibet.

"We hope that when he shapes Tibet policy or decides to introduce new policies, he will take his understanding of Tibetans' real problems into consideration," Mr Samphel said.

[Source: SCMP 19.11.02]



Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF) units held joint exercises with police units in Hokkaido on Nov. 18, Japan's Kyodo News reported. The exercise in defending Japan from armed infiltrators was the first of its kind in the country. Although this primarily was a command post exercise, the next phase will include field exercises.

The drill marks another step in the evolution of the GSDF and in Japan's defense forces as a whole. Since the end of the Cold War, Japan's military has struggled to redefine its role, which formerly was to guard Japan against a Soviet attack. Several events over the past decade have influenced the domestic debate over the SDF's role and have contributed to changes in the SDF mission and organization. But as Japan's defense force takes concrete steps toward preparing for new contingencies, it is outpacing the political consensus.

Of the many defining moments of the past 10 years, the first was the Gulf War. Tokyo was faced with two issues: whether to supply SDF assets to support the coalition effort and what to do about the 500 Japanese citizens detained in Iraq as shields against the attack. Although Tokyo sent minesweepers as part of the international coalition, the government was slow to lend physical support and thus incurred criticism for not pulling its weight.

The thinking about the structure of the SDF further evolved with the 1996 takeover of the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru. That incident convinced Tokyo that the SDF should find ways to prepare for hostage situations even far from Japan's shores. The 1999 kidnapping of several Japanese geologists in Kyrgyzstan only strengthened this view.

Two issues in Southeast Asia molded the debate in a slightly different way. First, there was a rise in piracy in the waters around Indonesia, a strategic shipping lane for most of Japan's oil supplies. Second, instability in Indonesia required Japan to take precautions for the evacuation of its citizens. Both of these incidents led to greater SDF involvement in the region -- from joint patrols of the Strait of Malacca to agreements with Singapore for the use of air and naval facilities during emergency operations.

Concerns over North Korea -- ranging from its missile program to infiltrations into South Korea to frequent intrusions of suspected North Korean spy ships into Japanese waters -- further shifted the internal dialogue. Tokyo embraced the idea of cooperating with the United States on missile defense, despite initial hesitation. The SDF also began tightening its relationship with the Japanese coast guard and police, opening better lines of communication and creating protocols for closer cooperation.

But it was the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the subsequent warnings of a global terrorist network that added the final impetus to changes in Japan's military. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi rapidly seized upon the fear of terrorism to press through a series of changes in the role and scope of the SDF -- though as the furor died down in Japan, his subsequent efforts have been rebuffed or at least slowed by internal debate.

But while the political protocols and agreements still are being argued, the SDF has taken concrete steps to redefine its own role -- and to be prepared when the political determination comes around.

The joint GSDF-police exercises are only the first in a series of similar regional exercises, and future joint training likely will be more involved. In addition, in late September and early October, Japanese forces traveled to Hawaii to train with U.S. forces in urban combat, and the GSDF intends to establish more of its own similar training schools. The GSDF also plans to create an anti-terrorism force of 300 soldiers, to be stationed in Chiba Prefecture.

The Maritime Self Defense Force and Air Self Defense Force also are altering their training and weapons acquisitions. The MSDF is looking to deploy additional P-3C surveillance aircraft along the west coast and has updated protocols covering coordination with the coast guard and permissions to fire upon infiltrating ships.

For its part, the ASDF is seeking an additional aerial refueling aircraft in its next budget and again is trying to gain permission to participate in joint exercises with U.S. forces in Alaska -- exercises that involve in-air refueling, something from which Japan formerly shied away because it could be considered an offensive rather than defensive capability.

In all, the Japanese armed services already have begun transforming themselves to be better prepared for non-traditional contingencies, including infiltrations, urban combat and piracy. The current GSDF training might lead to the possibility of Japanese forces participating in seek-and-destroy missions against guerrillas and militants -- not only in Japan, but also overseas -- should the need and political will arise.

And political will, rather than physical capability, remains the limiting factor. While Japanese defense forces train and arm for the future, they remain tethered to a complicated political process that must take place before they are dispatched. But that, too, could fade as the internal mood favoring constitutional change grows.

[Source: Stratfor 18.11.02]



Joint Statement of International and Regional NGOs in Hong Kong on Article 23


Don't Sacrifice Hong Kong's Freedoms!

We are a group of regional non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based in Hong Kong. Like many other people and organisations, we have chosen to set up our offices in Hong Kong because of its relatively free environment and respect for the rule of law. At the same time, the free flow of information enhanced by an efficient communication system provides great convenience for the promotion of international cooperation and exchange among people in the region. All these advantages have made Hong Kong a valuable part of international society in the region.

However, we are deeply concerned that the proposals in the recent Hong Kong government's consultation document entitled "Proposals to Implement Article 23 of the Basic Law" will lead to the deterioration of human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong. In particular, the rights of Hong Kong's people to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of association and freedom of information will be threatened if the proposals become law.

Our anxiety about the Article 23 proposals stem from a number of concerns.

First, the present consultation document only provides an outline of the proposals. The content of the consultation document seems to have been ill-defined, causing confusion and uncertainty. The key offences of treason, secession, sedition and subversion are referred to with an ambiguity that would allow the government to use the law as a legal weapon to deny, rather than protect, people's rights.

Second, the intention to proscribe any organisation in the community that has been banned on national security grounds by the central government in mainland China thereby absolves the Hong Kong government from having either any responsibility or authority over such matters. Under this particular proposal, the definition of "national security" in Hong Kong would be determined in Beijing, and local organisations would become unlawful without any oversight and protection by the courts in Hong Kong, thereby eroding the "one country, two systems" model.

Third, there is much uncertainty surrounding the expansion of police power given in the consultation paper to enter premises to conduct a search and seize materials merely for investigative purposes without any warrant issued by a court. The oversight function of the judiciary in granting warrants must be preserved if the rule of law is not to be diluted or threatened. This section of the consultation document clearly grants too much discretionary power to the police, regardless of the rank of the officer.

Fourth, the proposal to widen the provisions on unlawful disclosure of information may inhibit freedom of information and the press, for what is deemed a "state secret" may, in reality, merely be a remark or decision that is politically embarrassing. While the consultation paper outlines the types of information that should not be unlawfully disclosed, it does not indicate who will make the important decision about what specific information is a state secret. Journalists and other local and international observers have already noted a trend towards self-censorship in the Hong Kong media since 1997. The provisions of this consultation document, if enacted into legislation, will only further contribute to the decline of press freedom in the territory.

Fifth, problems also exist regarding the possible targets of the proposed legislation. In particular, members of Hong Kong's diverse expatriate communities could be at risk of committing one of these crimes, especially if their country were at war with the People's Republic of China (PRC). The growth of a perception among the international community in Hong Kong that its members are exposed to personal risk under the proposed amendments may have an adverse effect on the atmosphere in Hong Kong, particularly among foreign investors.

In all countries of Asia where laws similar to the new proposals under Article 23 have been adopted, the rule of law has suffered severely. Indonesia's long years of national security laws, for instance, have led to a society where it is now very difficult to reroot basic institutions for justice. Similarly, in more affluent Malaysia, basic freedoms and the independence of the judiciary are also in peril due to such legislation. And special mention must be made of Singapore. Unlike Hong Kong, the development model of Singapore was premised on the sacrifice of rights and freedoms. Hong Kong was able to achieve equal or greater economic development while at the same time preserving its open society with basic freedoms. It would be a tragedy to needlessly sacrifice this advantage.

Considering the above concerns about the government's proposals and their threats to human rights, we oppose the proposals in the consultation document. We are of the view that there is no need to create new offences for Articles 23 and that the present proposals should be withdrawn. According to the Hong Kong Bar Association, the existing laws of the HKSAR are sufficient to prohibit the acts listed in Article 23, and there is no need to create new offences or enact additional laws under Article 23. The Bar also points out that many parts of these existing laws are out of date and not compatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Thus, what the Hong Kong government should do is to revise the existing laws to make them in line with the ICCPR, rather than create new offences to limit the freedoms of Hong Kong's people in the name of national security.

While the proposals ought not to proceed at all, if they appear destined to do so nonetheless, then it is vital that a white bill is presented, that is, the draft legislation itself is submitted for further consultation to permit more well-informed feedback. Moreover, there should not be any deadline set that may result in an undue element of hurry and an air of inevitability to the whole procedure that would harm the social morale in Hong Kong, which is already sufficiently damaged by the government's treatment of these proposals to date.





Steven Gan

The bid to wipe out weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was flawed from its inception.

Flawed because Iraq is being singled out to surrender its deadly arsenals. Flawed because the world is turning a blind eye to similar weapons elsewhere in the region. And flawed because the move was an American ploy to settle some old scores with Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

The United States has warned it has 'zero tolerance' for any violations of United Nations resolutions. Yet it is carrying out daily bombing raids in the American-declared 'no-fly-zones' in southern and northern Iraq - where both acts, the 'no-fly-zones' and the military strikes, have not been authorised by any UN resolution.

But UN resolutions have often been flaunted by many countries. Take for example, the battery of UN resolutions calling on Israel to respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

It is therefore not surprising that there is a cogent perception among the Arabs that US actions are fuelled by a deep-seated, and often irrational, fear of Islam. No wonder, Saddam's defiance has struck a chord in the Islamic world. So, too, has Osama bin Laden's.

Indeed, another war against Iraq will only heighten Muslims anger against the West. But President George W Bush is determined to do what his father had failed to do. There is no doubt he is emboldened by his relatively easy victory against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Iraq, however, promises a far bigger price. After all, it has the world's second largest oil reserves. For a country which imports half of its oil - and this is set to rise to two-thirds by 2020 - having Iraqi oil on tap will be crucial for US to maintain its grip on the global economy.

Not surprisingly, American oil executives have already met the Iraqi opposition (read: US-appointed minions) to discuss the divisions on the spoils of war.

Israel's nuclear arsenals

While one understands the American interests in Iraq, it is nevertheless astonishing that other governments have opted to don war paints and hitch themselves to the Bush's wagon. Surely, they know full well that the US' publicly avowed reason for waging war - that is, to disarm Iraq - is pure hogwash.

A week before the 1991 Gulf War, former Iraqi foreign minister Tareq Aziz reminded then US secretary of state James Baker during a meeting in Geneva that Israel had an arsenal of 200 nuclear weapons - considered the major source of insecurity in the Middle East.

"The only credible assurance is that we should reach an agreement on the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region," he said.

Aziz proposed, in addition to an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East. This was rejected by Baker.

Clearly, the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction is not on the American agenda - then and now.

So long as certain countries get to retain their weapons of mass destruction, the selective campaign for their removal in Iraq will be received with great cynicism and derision, especially when the move was engineered by the country which has, yes, the largest stockpile of such weapons.

All terrorists big and small

But US double standards does not end there, nor is it confined to Iraq.

Examples abound. Here's one. In 1985, Israel sent bombers to attack Tunis, where the Palestinian Liberation Organisation was then based. The attack, which killed 75 people, was justified as a retaliation for the murder of three Israelis in Larnaca, Cyprus.

At the time of the bombings, the murderers had been caught and were already facing trial. And both Israeli and American intelligence conceded that nobody in Tunis was responsible. It was, they said, organised by PLO splinter groups based in Syria.

Syria, of course, is not your garden variety type of villain. It had a rather sophisticated missile defence system. So some weaker Arabs would have to pay for the terrible crime in Larnaca.

The US applauded Israel for the attack, calling it a legitimate response to terrorism.

But make no mistake. Terrorism is terrorism - whether its perpetrators are individuals, groups or states.

In the 'City of God', St Augustine tells the story of Alexander the Great who, during one of his military exploits in the Mediterranean Sea, interrogated a captured pirate.

"How dare you disturb the seas with your crimes?" Alexander asked.

"I have a small boat, so I'm a thief," said the pirate. "You have a navy, so you're an emperor. How dare you disturb the world with your crimes?"

That was 390 BC. And it appears nothing much has changed since. Terror is still being unleashed by all types of terrorists - both big and small.

[Source: MalaysiaKini 21.11.02]


The Malaysian government will tighten a security law used to imprison scores of suspected Islamic militants to make it harder for courts to release those detained under the act, a news report said.

A plan to review the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, will be submitted to the Cabinet by the end of the month, Rais Yatim, Malaysia's de facto law minister, was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper.

The minister's comments come after a High Court judge on Friday ordered the government to release an alleged member of the radical Islamic network Jemaah Islamiah.

Nasharuddin Nasir was released briefly on Saturday, but authorities re-arrested him under the Internal Security Act and ordered him held for at least two more years.

More than 70 suspected militants have been arrested under the security law since mid-2001.

[Source:AP 11.11.02]




By Dan Murphy

Sitting cross-legged in the courtyard of the Ocean Temple at sunset late last week, Ida Pedande Gede Putra Bajing, a Brahmin high priest, struggles to explain the importance of the ceremony he will help lead.

Around him are roughly three dozen lay priests from Kuta, the resort that was rocked by an Al Qaeda bomb blast that killed nearly 200 people on Oct. 12. Mr. Bajing is giving last-minute instructions.

The next day, they join hundreds of priests in the largest blood sacrifice any Balinese can recall - a bid to rebuild a spiritual order many here see as shattered by the bomb.

"This will be the first, and hopefully the last, ceremony of its kind," says Bajing, who helped a team of priests pore over ancient lontar palm scrolls to create the right ritual response to the attack.

Many here see it as a way to draw comfort out of a horrifying experience, much the way Americans did with ceremonies in New York and Washington after Sept. 11. "This is to make Bali neutral again, to cleanse the site of the blast, and to bring peace to the souls of the dead," Bajing says. Then the priest, whose salt-and-pepper hair is gathered in a topknot and adorned with a pendant and flowers, reaches into his shirt pocket and answers his cellphone.

Bali is a study in contradictions, a lush island where global tourist culture mingles with an ancient ritual world that governs almost every aspect of life.

In the aftermath of the attack, which destroyed the Sari Club and an Irish bar called Paddy's, that has meant trying to deal with the impact of global terrorism within the context of Balinese cosmology.

Throughout the island, Balinese - businessmen and farmers alike - wonder if a failure in regular ritual observance led to the attack. Some say mistakes in making offerings to the dark gods linked with the sea made the deaths inevitable.

That's something Bajing doesn't want to discuss; the high priests aren't supposed to deal with the dark forces the Balinese believe surround them. But Made Subawa, the head of the Kuta subdistrict, is less restrained. "This is to make sure the demons go - to satisfy them," he says, watching boats steam out beyond the reef to sacrifice two cows to the sea, the culmination of the sacrifice. "If we didn't, they might stay and eat people."

Subawa says he hopes that, after the ritual, Balinese will see their devastated tourist economy quickly recover.

On the day before the main ritual, spirit mediums and a gamelan orchestra of drums, symbols, and gongs prepared the site of the club, where a three-foot hole in the ground left by the initial blast has been transformed into an improvised temple of bamboo walls.

On the actual day, offerings are piled high, and incense is thick. Suddenly, the orchestra whips into a frenzy, and a young medium stumbles out of a crowd of hundreds of praying Balinese.

Swaying and screaming, he kills a black duckling. Onlookers are convinced he's possessed by a demon. It's the first of 80 sacrifices that day. "As long as we did this right, it won't happen again," says Wayang Sutama, a local man helping to guard the site. "There are many disturbed spirits around here, and we have to make it habitable for humans."

Indeed, guards insist Australian voices have been heard at night, screaming for help or trying to order drinks. It's hard to meet anyone who's had one of these experiences. Still, most of the island believes, and while the ritual might seem superstitious to some, it appears to have helped many deal with the attack.

[Source: CSM 26.11.02]




Manila was fighting a lonely and costly battle against militants 10 years before the United States launched its global war on terrorism. And more than 20 years before Jemaah Islamiah's dream for a pan-Asian Islamic state became known, the rebel Moro National Liberation Front had waged a war to try to forge the southern Philippines and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia into a Muslim state governed on secular lines.

When the US entered the fray last year after the September 11 attacks, it was understandable for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to grab that rare opportunity to obtain a rich and powerful ally.

She was the first foreign head of state to offer condolences and military support to the US. Over the objections of her foreign secretary and key party supporters, she was the lone Southeast Asian leader to welcome foreign combat troops - in the guise of war games exercises - to operate on Philippines soil against terrorists with known links to Osama bin Laden.

In return, a grateful President George W. Bush, according to a joint statement he and Mrs Arroyo released last November, agreed to ask US Congress for US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) in military and economic aid, including greater access to US markets for southern Philippines' canned tuna.

Today, a year later, a jittery nation reeling from terrorist bomb attacks has begun to question the benefits of fully embracing the US policy. Irritants have developed, mainly over canned tuna, slashed aid, and the shabby treatment of Filipinos going to the US.

When US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Manila on August 3, President Arroyo jokingly told him a tuna sandwich should have been served so he would know how delicious Philippine canned tuna was.

Trade Secretary Mar Roxas earlier warned that a US plan to grant Andean tuna preferential treatment would undermine its war against terrorism. Around 45,000 families in Mindanao Island, a terrorism hotbed, depended solely on canned tuna exports to the US for their livelihood.

Still, on August 6, Mr Bush signed a law giving Andean tuna favoured treatment.

Likewise, on August 22 Mr Bush vetoed US$30 million of the US$55 million promised to Manila's anti-terrorism campaign, forcing the military to delay buying much-needed equipment and weapons.

Publicly, Mrs Arroyo did not criticise the cut, but in a key policy speech before foreign correspondents on October 9, she said Manila's "partnership" with the US "was redefined with the closure of the [US] military bases in 1992".

She stressed the need for a "more equitable partnership with the US". Last week, after a meeting in Hawaii with key US military officials and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, chief backer for Manila aid, she was promised back the original US$30 million, plus US$30 million more.

She said the sum was restored "because of the disgust shown by the Filipino public over the veto, and because the US respects us as its partner in the war against terrorism".

Mrs Arroyo, a Georgetown University classmate of Bill Clinton, has been cautious never to call the US "a friend" but only "an ally" and "partner" in all her carefully crafted foreign policy speeches.

But such hairline distinction is lost on critics who brand her a "US puppet" and "a slave" to US interests.

It has been a source of pain to Filipinos that Washington has not valued Manila's close embrace of the US war against terrorism. This fact was brought home recently when former economic planning secretary Solita Monsod, now a popular TV and radio talk show host, was denied a US visa on the grounds of being a security risk.

Even national security adviser Roilo Golez, a staunch supporter of US presence, said "I find it so unfair" for all Filipinos to be considered "high risk" visitors to the US.

[Source: SCMP 12.11.02]



Isagani de Castro

After going through a financial crisis five years ago, Southeast Asia's main regional organisation is grappling with its newest headache, terrorism, especially after the deadly attacks in Indonesia last month.

At the 8th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Phnom Penh, the region's 10 leaders issued a declaration condemning the "heinous terrorist attacks in Bali, Indonesia, and in the Philippines".

ASEAN leaders also denounced "the use of terror in many places around the world for whatever cause and in the name of whatever religious or ethnic aspiration".

Among the 10 leaders were Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - whose countries have had bombings in recent months or have arrested people linked with the al-Qaeda network.

ASEAN leaders resolved to intensify their efforts "to counter and suppress the activities of terrorist groups in the region", including the establishment of a Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre in Malaysia.

"Before Bali, ASEAN was still in denial mode on terrorism," said an ASEAN official. "But after October 12, counter-terrorism is now the priority."

Indeed, this is a concern quite different from what ASEAN has dealt with before. Its main security concern in the sixties and seventies was the spread of communism, and it later played a role in brokering peace in Cambodia.

From the eighties, ASEAN was focused on economic issues like free trade and how to integrate economies in transition into the 35-year-old grouping. A few years ago, along with coping with the 1997 financial crisis, it was trying to deal with cross-border problems like the haze caused by forest fires.

Fighting terrorism could be more difficult than fighting financial speculators, officials say. Outgoing ASEAN secretary general Rodolfo Severino said, "Terrorism is not your usual kind of security issue."

"It has little to do with inter-state relations or security concerns arising from the action of states," he said. "The perpetrators are not necessarily identified with any one country."

Severino said ASEAN now has to consider terrorism in its discussions of economic growth and cooperation, since "these are all tied up together".

In many ways, the terrorism label is the last thing ASEAN needs, especially since it risks discouraging investments and tourism the region badly needs.

The region has not fully recovered from the 1997 crisis and is trying to protect its incoming foreign investments from regional heavyweight China, expected to draw even more investments after it joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last year.

But worrying signs of the impact of Southeast Asia's more recent troubles may be starting to show.

Already, tourist arrivals in the Philippines fell from 2.1 million in 1999 to 1.7 million last year after the Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped tourists from resorts in the country and in neighbouring Malaysia. The country also had small bomb blasts in mid-October.

Indonesia's Bali island, whose population depends heavily on the tourist industry, has also been hit hard by the deadly bombings that killed nearly 200 people, mostly Australians.

Thailand, which had arson and bomb attacks in two southern provinces on Oct. 29, is particularly concerned about their effects on tourism although officials said the attacks were the work of local bandits and not international terrorists.

Incidents like the Bali bombing could in fact make China an even more attractive investment site than other ASEAN countries, says Federico Macaranas, executive director of the Manila-based Asian Institute of Management Policy Centre.

ASEAN has already been getting lower foreign investments since the 1997 financial crisis and the large flows of foreign investments to China.

Foreign direct investments in ASEAN in 2000 were 10 billion dollars, a 37 percent decline from the 16 billion dollars in 1999. The figure was 27 billion dollars in 1997 and 19 billion dollars in 1998, the year the worst effects of the financial crisis were felt.

ASEAN's concerns about the effects of violent incidents in the region are also reflected in their leaders' criticism of some Western countries' responses to these events.

Officials said that western governments are making the situation worse by their double standards in making travel advisories, issuing them when terrorist attacks hit developing countries, but not when they hit developed nations.

"We call on the international community to avoid indiscriminately advising their citizens to refrain from visiting or otherwise dealing with our countries, in the absence of established evidence to substantiate rumours of possible terrorist attacks," the leaders said in their statement.

These countries did not issue travel advisories against the United States after the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks, or against Russia after last week's siege by Chechen rebels of a theatre in Moscow, Severino pointed out.

Thai Interior Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha said foreign governments should "draw a line" on issuing travel warnings that give alarmist information and paint a wrong picture of the country.

In the ASEAN agenda, terrorism used to be lumped with several other "transnational crimes" like drug trafficking or piracy, but its priority has risen after the Sep. 11 attacks.

At last year's summit, ASEAN leaders issued a joint declaration on joint action to counter terrorism. Since then, ASEAN countries have stepped up cooperation in intelligence and information exchange.

The Philippines and Indonesia are in the process of approving new laws on terrorism.

In May, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines signed an agreement on information exchange and communication procedures to combat transnational crime, including terrorism. Cambodia and Thailand have acceded to this agreement.

Manila is hosting a conference on anti-terrorism and tourism recovery on Nov. 8-9, and Jakarta one on combating money laundering and terrorist financing in December.

The ASEAN Regional Forum, a security dialogue for Asia-Pacific countries, will meet on terrorism in Malaysia in March next year.

[Source: IPS 3.11.02]



Nobel peace laureate Bishop Carlos Belo, who became a symbol of East Timor's resistance to Indonesian rule, is stepping down from his post as bishop for health reasons.

Bishop Belo, 54, has been in ill health recently, and last week returned to East Timor after a three-month stay in Portugal where he received undisclosed medical treatment.

"I am suffering from both physical and mental fatigue that will require a long period of recuperation," Bishop Belo said in a statement released by his diocese in East Timor's capital, Dili.

Bishop Belo and Jose Ramos Horta, a prominent independence activist who is now East Timor's foreign minister, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for campaigning for the rights and independence of the East Timorese.

The former Portuguese colony of East Timor was invaded by Indonesian forces in 1975 and as head of the church since 1983, Bishop Belo became a symbol of peaceful resistance and a vocal opponent of Indonesia's often-repressive policies.

Bloody vote

In August 1999 East Timor overwhelmingly voted for independence in a United Nations-backed referendum.

Before, during and after the vote, Jakarta-backed militia gangs opposed to independence went on the rampage, killing more than 1,000 people and forcing 250,000 people from their homes.

Bishop Belo was airlifted to Australia after militia gangs set his home on fire. The gang then attacked civilians who were sheltering in the grounds of his home.

Bishop Belo returned to Dili after international peacekeepers arrived to restore order. East Timor finally gained full independence in May this year following a period of transitional administration by the UN.

The bishop said he had informed Pope John Paul II of his decision to resign.

The Vatican later confirmed the Pope had accepted the resignation.

Agio Pereira, chief of staff for East Timor President Xanana Gusmao, told Reuters news agency: "[Bishop Belo] has been in this position for almost 20 years and during a most tumultuous time. But if he says he is tired, well, he has already given so much to our country".

[Source: BBC 26.11.02]



Chris McGreal in Jayyous

The first the people of Jayyous knew of the wall was a piece of paper flapping from an olive tree. "It was a military order," said Sharif Omar, who has come to rue that day.

"It informed us we had to meet an Israeli army officer the next week and follow him to see the route of the wall. Hundreds of people turned out. We were shocked, very shocked, when we saw where it was going. People burst into tears. Some fainted."

That was in September. Since then, bulldozers have cleared a swath of land 50 metres wide through Jayyous's olive groves and within tens of metres of the western side of the town.

In a few more weeks, the concrete foundations of a wall eight metres high will be in place. A trench, barbed wire, floodlights, cameras and electronic detectors will follow. Jayyous does not yet know whether it will also get a military watchtower like neighbouring Qalqilya.

But, by the end of next year, the wall severing the town from much of its land will be just one link in a concrete barrier running 250 miles through the West Bank.

The Israeli government is spending 1m a mile to build this massive fortification, in the belief that it will keep the suicide bombers at bay. That, too, is what the Israeli public believes. Polls suggest that more than 70% believe that cooperation with the Palestinians has failed, so it is better to build barriers.

The government calls it the separation fence; the army, the security obstacle; and the Israeli right, the terror wall. The Palestinians compare it to the Berlin wall, and say it will turn the West Bank into the world's biggest prison.

In Jayyous, they are not so much worried about being shut in as shut out. The wall wriggles its way through the heart of Jayyous, leaving marginally more of the town's land on the Israeli side of the barrier.

The mayor, Fayez Salim, calculates that the town will lose access to 80% of its 18,000 olive trees and about 50,000 citrus trees. It will be cut off from dozens of large greenhouses and thousands of jobs will be lost during the annual harvest.

Crucially, Jayyous will be separated from its seven wells and the Israelis have forbidden the drilling of new ones.

"We've told the Israelis about this. They don't reply. They say it's an order of the military. They don't speak to us. They just hung the notice on a tree," Mr Salim said.

Among those facing calamity is Mr Omar, one of the wealthiest landowners in Jayyous. He has 20 hectares (49 acres) of olive groves, citrus orchards and two sprawling greenhouses stuffed with tomatoes. The wall will separate him from all but 2.5 hectares.

"The green line is more than five kilometres from here," he said. "Why is the wall only 40 metres from our houses? Why do they need to build it so close?"

The Palestinians say the wall serves a dual purpose: to cage the West Bank's residents just as the people of Gaza are locked behind security fences; and to lay open yet more of their land to seizure as Israel continues its creeping colonisation through the expansion of Jewish settlements.

Although the wall loosely follows the 1967 border - the green line - it deviates considerably in places, such as Jayyous. That is in part because the government says it did not want "the obstacle" to become a de facto border which would be used to weaken its hand in negotiations over a Palestinian state.

But some Palestinians believe that the wall will indeed become a border and that everything west of it will fall into Israeli hands. That would include not only valuable fertile land, but an equally precious commodity in a parched region - water.

Jayyous and neighbouring towns sit on the western aquifer basin which produces about half of all the water on the West Bank. Most of their wells will fall on the wrong side of the wall for the Palestinians.

The wall also winds around a number of the larger Jewish settlements, while encircling Jayyous's neighbouring city of Qalqilya on three sides.

The rightwing Jerusalem Post laid out the thinking: "The fence must be built to generously incorporate blocs of Israeli communities_ [This] maximises the amount of territory with which Israel would enter into some future final-status negotiation."

But some settler groups and rightwing parties oppose the wall, saying it represents nothing less than the establishment of a Palestinian state by Israel.

The barrier is part-fence, part-wall, depending on location. Parts of the wall can already be seen from Jayyous, surrounding Qalqilya, which has been cut off on three sides. Only one access road remains.

An Israeli defence company is experimenting with balloons and infrared detectors to extend a no man's land on the Palestinian side. Another company is proposing a radar system able to pick up footsteps long before they reach the wall.

In places, concrete watchtowers peer over the barrier. The Israelis deny there will be an order to shoot on sight, but anyone attempting to get over or through the fence will be deemed to be a terrorist.

The Israelis say there will be a gate at Jayyous to give the Palestinians access to their land. Mr Omar is suspicious.

"They can close a gate any time they don't want us. Look what they do in Nablus or Ramallah. They close off the whole town when they want revenge," he said.

Mr Omar fears the government will deny the townspeople of Jayyous access to their land and then use British and Turkish colonial laws to justify its confiscation because it is under-used. He speaks from experience. "The Israelis confiscated my land in 1988 on the grounds it was not fit for agriculture. They wanted to use it to expand a Jewish settlement. I went to the military court and fought it," he said.

"I cleared all the rocks and planted wheat at first. Then oranges, walnuts, avocados, pomegranates, figs, cucumbers - and I proved to them it was fit for agriculture. In 1996, the military court restored the land to me."

But the battle is much bigger this time. Jayyous has gone to the high court in an attempt to get the wall moved, but the town's lawyers have told the mayor not to hold out much hope.

Mr Omar is making other plans. "There is only one thing I can do. I will buy a tent and move with my wife to live the other side of the fence among my trees," he said.

"I don't know if the Israelis will let me do it. They certainly won't let me build a house. But perhaps I can live in a tent."

[Source: Gruarian 26.11.02]



By Gerard Noonan

The former chief weapons inspector in Iraq Richard Butler has lashed out at United States "double standards", saying even educated Americans were deaf to arguments about the hypocrisy of their stance on nuclear weapons.

Mr Butler, an Australian, told a seminar at the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies that Americans did not appreciate they could not claim a right to possess nuclear weapons but deny it to other nations.

"My attempts to have Americans enter into discussions about double standards have been an abject failure - even with highly educated and engaged people," Mr Butler said. "I sometimes felt I was speaking to them in Martian, so deep is their inability to understand."

Mr Butler's comments to the seminar, held on September21, are reported in the university's latest newsletter.

"What America totally fails to understand is that their weapons of mass destruction are just as much a problem as are those of Iraq," he said, adding that Hollywood storylines fuelled such attitudes.

Mr Butler said the horror of September 11 had only entrenched the idea in Americans that there are 'good weapons of mass destruction and bad ones'.

Mr Butler, who headed the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq in the early 1990s, is a former Australian ambassador for disarmament.

Earlier, delivering the university's Templeton Lecture, Mr Butler said one of the most difficult times with the Iraqi regime had been dealing with this issue of inconsistency.

"Amongst my toughest moments in Baghdad were when the Iraqis demanded that I explain why they should be hounded for their weapons of mass destruction when, just down the road, Israel was not, even though it was known to possess some 200 nuclear weapons," he said.

"I confess, too, that I flinch when I hear American, British and French fulminations against weapons of mass destruction, ignoring the fact that they are the proud owners of massive quantities of those weapons, unapologetically insisting that they are essential for their national security, and will remain so."

Mr Butler said that manifest unfairness - double standards - produced a situation "that was deeply, inherently unstable".

"This is because human beings will not swallow such unfairness. This principle is as certain as the basic laws of physics itself."

Mr Butler said one problem encountered in Iraq was that materials and technologies employed in making a chemical or biological weapon were identical to those used in a range of benign products for medical, industrial or agricultural use.

The UN Security Council's decision in 1991 to destroy, remove or render harmless Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was unique and far-reaching, far tougher than past attempts to disarm defeated countries like Germany and Japan.

[Source: Education 18.11.02]


3. Urgent APPEAL - top


According to reliable sources, a Dalit woman in Kishanganj in the India state of Bihar was tormented and paraded half-naked by a group of people who wanted to teach a lesson to her family for not giving away their claim over a piece of land.


Bharati Devi, a wife of Amarnath Das and a resident of Dharmgji in Kishanganj District, was assaulted and paraded half-naked on Nov. 3, 2002, by people annoyed with the couple over their long-standing dispute over a piece of land.

The Dalit woman has lodged a first information report (FIR) with the Kishanganj police station against those who have beaten and publicly paraded her half-naked in the community.

In her statement to the police, she complained that a group of about eight people, including several women, forcibly broke into her room and assaulted her. Afterwards, they grabbed her neck and dragged her outside, parading her half-naked in public.

However, according to the information we have received, the district police have not taken any action to arrest the perpetrators. Even worse, P.S.K. Sinahal, the superintendent of police in Kishanganj District, denied that the woman was paraded half-naked by a group of people. He said, "Her story is not at all true. It is bullshit and concocted." He admitted though that the Dalit couple was physically tortured and tormented.

The police have attributed Devi's assault to a long-standing and extremely complicated land dispute between two groups which are involved in a string of cases and countercases.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has continuously issued urgent appeals and other actions about caste-based discrimination and degrading treatment against Dalits in order to draw your attention to the problems that Dalits must endure and to create international pressure on the government of India. We urge you to maintain your support for our campaign to eliminate the world's worst form of discrimination.


Please send your appeal to the president, prime minister and chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India, urging them to take immediate action to investigate the case and to bring the perpetrators to court according to the law against caste-based discrimination.



Re: A case of Caste-based discrimination - A Dalit woman was tormented and paraded half-naked in public

I am writing this letter to draw your attention to the case of physical assault and degrading treatment against a Dalit woman and to urge you to undertake an immediate investigation into the case.

Bharati Devi, a resident of Dharmgji in Kishanganj District in the India state of Bihar, was assaulted and paraded half-naked on Nov. 3, 2002, by a group of people who wanted to teach a lesson to her family for not giving away their claim over a piece of land.

According to the first information report (FIR) that she has lodged with the Kishanganj police station, a group of about eight people, including several women, forcibly broke into her room and assaulted her. Afterwards, they grabbed her neck and dragged her outside, parading her half-naked in public.

However, even though the superintendent of police (SP) in Kishanganj District admitted that the Dalit couple was physically tortured and tormented, the police are not only unwilling to arrest the perpetrators, but they have denied that the woman was paraded half-naked by a group of people in public.

Therefore, I urge you to undertake an immediate and impartial investigation into the case and to bring the perpetrators to court according to the law against caste-based discrimination.

I look forward to learning about your prompt action on this matter.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,



1. The President of India
Dr. P.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Office of the President, Rashtrapati Bhawan,
New Delhi, 110004
Fax: +9111 3017290, 3014570
Email:  or

2. The Prime Minister of India,
H.E. Atal Bihari Vajpayee
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi 110 011
Tel: +91 11 3016996 (Joint Secretary of PM), 3018939 (Personal Secretary of PM)
Fax: +91 11 3016857/3019545 (Office), +91 11 3019334 (Residence) or

3. Justice J.S.Verma
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg,
New Delhi - 110001
Fax: +91 11 3340016/3366537

Also send copy of your letter to;

1. Justice Dilip Singh Bhuria,
Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe
5th Block, Lok Nayak,
Bhavan, Khan Market,
New Delhi 110003
Fax: +91 11 4625378

*** UA-AHRC: 22 November 2002
For more information please contact:




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