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Well said, Bishop Tutu!

The other day we expressed our regret at Pranab Mukherjee’s silence in Myanmar on the state of affairs there and the treatment given to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Yesterday, in one speech Bishop Desmond Tutu mentioned all the things which India should support, but does not. More credit to him for saying all this while accepting Gandhi Peace Prize in the presence of both the President and the Prime Minister.

Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Wednesday caught the Indian leadership unaware by advocating independence for Tibet at a function to award him the Gandhi Peace Prize at the Presidential Palace.“We thank you for giving refuge to one of the greatest human beings, Dalai Lama, and pray that you help bring about freedom of his Tibet,” the South African anti-Apartheid struggle hero told the gathering that included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his acceptance speech after President APJ Abdul Kalam presented the award to him.

Indian officials promptly distanced Delhi from the remark, saying Tutu had only expressed his “personal” views. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had articulated India’s position on Tibet in 2003 when he acknowledged the concept of “one China”. Officials said the stand had remained the same. Dedicating the peace prize to Myanmarese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Tutu sought India’s help to bring about the “freedom” of Myanmar and release Suu Kyi. He  also dedicated the prize to the people of South Africa and the freedom of Darfur.[Tutu’s remark on Tibet creates flutter]

Now the folks at Ministry of External Affairs will be crawling on their knees in the embassies of China, Myanmar and Sudan expressing “regret” and informing them that they can continue with their genocide and we would never interfere.

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Mr. Mukherjee's illusion

Recently on a visit to Myanmar, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in diplomatic language that we don’t care if the people of Myanmar are suffering under dictatorship. India would not talk about democracy since it is not one of our exports. Mr. Mukherjee also comically said that democracy is something each country has to decide as if one fine day, the junta would decide to hand over power and fade away into oblivion.

Indian Govt. has also agreed to sell arms to the military rulers without uttering a word about the state of the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who celebrated her 60th birthday under house arrest. In fact our support of the dictators are  worse that when Senior General Than Shwe of Myanmar visited India, visas were refused to a number of speakers who wanted to speak about democracy.

In the most recent State of the Union Speech, President Bush mentioned that United States would continue to speak for the cause of freedom in places like Burma (The US refuses to call it Myanmar). The President also said that he would “continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur”.

After maintaining silence about Darfur, the word finally appeared in the State of the Union, which is due to the activism by various groups, journalists and movie stars. They believe they can cause the super power to act. Now activists are targeting companies which do business in Sudan like Siemens AG and forcing them to pull out. States like Texas, Nebraska and Colorado have introduced bills, like the one passed in California forcing state pension funds not to invest in Sudan.

These activists know that United States can exert pressure both economically and politically to prevent the genocide. At the same time when Pranab Mukherjee says that he does not care about the state of the people in Myanmar, we have to ask if any change will be caused due to India’s pressure.  Our external influence extends upto Katmandu and not a kilometer more. Even that is questionable.

If, God forbid, India starts throwing its weight around, then Myanmar will just become a vassal state of China and nothing will change for the people of Myanmar. Somehow Mr. Mukherjee’s statement give an illusion that we have the leverage to cause a change in Myanmar, but we refuse to. It is vastly different from reality.

(Crossposted on INI Signal)

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Saddam hanged, Malayalees suffer

According to an Iraqi court Saddam Hussein was  found guilty of the massacre of Iraqis in Dujail and sentenced to death.

“Now, he is in the garbage of history,” said Jawad Abdul-Aziz, who lost his father, three brothers and 22 cousins in the reprisal killings that followed a botched 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail. It was the Dujail killings of which Saddam was convicted. [Iraqis execute Saddam for mass killings]

But then in Kerala we mourn for such brutal dictators and a hartal was called by both the Communists and Congress.

Stating that the “American imperialism has raised a grim challenge to the world peace once again through the execution of Saddam Hussein”, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said the Iraqi leader would be remembered forever as a martyr who heroically fought the imperialist interests.[Hartal in Kerala, leaders condemn Saddam’s execution]

For members of a party which think that the Communist occupation and enslavement of Tibet is “peaceful liberation“, Saddam could be a martyr. No mention of his invasion of Kuwait or the murder of a large number of Shiites and Kurds or any of the atrocities mentioned in an article in the New York Times.

DOING the arithmetic is an imprecise venture. The largest number of deaths attributable to Mr. Hussein’s regime resulted from the war between Iraq and Iran between 1980 and 1988, which was launched by Mr. Hussein. Iraq says its own toll was 500,000, and Iran’s reckoning ranges upward of 300,000. Then there are the casualties in the wake of Iraq’s 1990 occupation of Kuwait. Iraq’s official toll from American bombing in that war is 100,000 — surely a gross exaggeration — but nobody contests that thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed in the American campaign to oust Mr. Hussein’s forces from Kuwait. In addition, 1,000 Kuwaitis died during the fighting and occupation in their country.
More recently, according to Iraqis who fled to Jordan and other neighboring countries, scores of women have been executed under a new twist in a “return to faith” campaign proclaimed by Mr. Hussein. Aimed at bolstering his support across the Islamic world, the campaign led early on to a ban on drinking alcohol in public. Then, some time in the last two years, it widened to include the public killing of accused prostitutes.

Often, the executions have been carried out by the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group headed by Mr. Hussein’s oldest son, 38-year-old Uday. These men, masked and clad in black, make the women kneel in busy city squares, along crowded sidewalks, or in neighborhood plots, then behead them with swords. The families of some victims have claimed they were innocent of any crime save that of criticizing Mr. Hussein. [How Many People Has Saddam Killed?]

Of course, as usual Americans are terrified after listening to the hardship enforced on Malayalees by Malayalees and are busy googling to see who Achyutanandan is.

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Introducing INI Signal

INI Signal — that’s where people are thinking out of the tank. Please update your bookmarks, your blogrolls and your feed readers and join us every day.

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Guns, Rock Climbing and iPods

Sometimes international politics and diplomacy offers more chance of fun than watching kids play in a day care center. The first one comes from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who landed in Nigeria with some 200 armed body guards. When the Nigerians refused the body guards to carry arms, Gaddafi threatened to walk some 40 kms to the capital city from the airport. With some intervention from President Obasanjo, the Libyans backed down, though it would have been more fun to see Gaddafi walk all that distance.

The second piece of funny news from that land where Uncle Castro rules from the bed. Right now the biggest threat to Cuban national security comes from – Rock Climbers (gasp!). The reason is that Castro launched his 1959 revolution from a camp in the Sierra Maestra Mountains and now the the Cuban Govt. thinks that all people who climb mountains are about to conduct another revolution. Also some of the Cubans climb mountains with Americans. Due to this now Cubans are required to get a permit before climbing, with only one problem that no one knows how to get a permit.

If tiny countries can act juvenile, it is hard for the lone superpower to stay away. In a move which is sure to bring down the regime of Kim Jong Il, United States has banned the export of iPods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters to North Korea. When Kim knows that he will have to listen to music on the Zune, watch the latest James Bond movie on a normal television and will have to walk instead of zipping on the Segway, he is sure to roll back his nuclear programme and come out from the Dark Side.

I thought I would stay away from blogging for the holidays, but all these folks won’t let me.

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