Saturday, October 31, 2009
On 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was shot and killed by her Sikh bodyguards reacting to her ordering the Army to storm the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar, killing an unknown number of pilgrims gathered there in honour of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
There followed several days of mayhem directed toward the Sikhs of India, especially in the city of Delhi. Many Sikhs were doused with fire and burned alive. these are my thoughts on one of the dead. (What follows is reprinted from The Road To Khalistan.)
Who is he? Who is this Singh? I have spend countless hours staring at this photograph asking myself questions. Whose son is he? Whose husband, whose dad, whose brother, whose uncle, cousin, friend? Is someone waiting anxiously at home for him, waiting for a footfall that will never come?
Where is he from? Does he live in Delhi or is he just visiting? Where was he born? What is his pind? When was he born? How old is he?
What is his occupation? Is he an engineer, a doctor, a professor? Or is he a taxi driver or a trucker?
What are his politics? Is he an Akali or a member of Congress? Is he a Khalistani or a Bharata Mata lover? Or is he political at all? Is he just trying to live his life and not really concerned about the niceties of the larger world.
Why is he keshdhari? Is it just habit, following family custom? Or is it deeply meaningful to him? Does he pray each day, do naam jap, love Vaheguru? Or are those just incidentals that have fallen by the wayside of his life? Where is his turban? How does he feel as it is ripped from his head and his kesh is exposed?
How does he feel as he realises the mob is coming for him, chasing him down the street or dragging him from his home or his car or from the bus? What goes on in his brain as the petrol is poured on him and set alight? What is he thinking as his body burns? Or is he beyond thought? Is he aware of the laughing jeering mob around him, enjoying watching his final agonising moments of life on this earth?
What is his last awareness as he dies alone, surrounded by merciless thugs?
Questions without answers. Whoever he is, he deserves to be remembered. I doubt he had even a death certificate, so I have made him one.
(Click to enlarge)
There is something so very final about the certificate. And, of course, I realise that all I have written is wrong and must be rewritten to reflect the truth of 25 years later...
Who was he? Who was this Singh? I have spent countless hours staring at this photograph asking myself questions. Whose son was he? Whose husband, whose dad, whose brother, whose uncle, cousin, friend? Was someone waiting anxiously at home for him, waiting for a footfall that never came?
Where was he from? Did he live in Delhi or was he just visiting? Where was he born? What was his pind? When was he born? How old was he?
What was his occupation? Was he an engineer, a doctor, a professor? Or was he a taxi driver or a trucker?
What were his politics? Was he an Akali or a member of Congress? Was he a Khalistani or a Bharata Mata lover? Or was he political at all? Was he just trying to live his life and not really concerned about the niceties of the larger world.
Why was he keshdhari? Was it just habit, following family custom? Or was it deeply meaningful to him? Did he pray each day, do naam jap, love Vaheguru? Or were those just incidentals that had fallen by the wayside of his life? Where was his turban? How did he feel as it was ripped from his head and his kesh was exposed?
How did he feel as he realised the mob was coming for him, chasing him down the street or dragging him from his home or his car or from the bus? What went on in his brain as the petrol was poured on him and set alight? What was he thinking as his body burned? Or was he beyond thought? Was he aware of the laughing jeering mob around him, enjoying watching his final agonising moments of life on this earth?
What was his last awareness as he died alone, surrounded by merciless thugs?
He was our brother and he was one single human being, one Sikh among the thousands murdered during the madness of those days in 1984.
He is our brother and he deserves justice.
One final, unanswered question: When?
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Beware of boyfriends bearing fighting fish.
Man who stabbed ex's fish gets probation
PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland man who attacked his ex-girlfriend and impaled her pet fish this summer has been sentenced to two years probation, a psychological evaluation and community service. Donald Earl Fite III, 27, pleaded guilty Tuesday to animal abuse and domestic violence assault. According to court records, Sarah Harris had broken up with Fite but returned to her Portland apartment July 25 to find him lying on her bed, saying he wanted to get back together.
When Harris tried to leave, Fite shoved her against a wall, grabbed her hair and tossed her against a bathtub.Harris fled but returned with an officer to find her fish — a bright purple betta named "DeLorean" — on the wood floor with a knife through it.According to court records, Fite quickly admitted killing the fish, telling police: "If she can't have me, then she can't have the fish."Fish killing a 'very low point.'
Fite's attorney, Tom Macnair, said Tuesday that killing the fish was a "very low point" in his client's life." He is absolutely mortified and ashamed about what he did to the fish," MacNair said in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Fite, who had no previous criminal history, declined to make a statement. Harris did not attend the hearing. In a phone interview with The Oregonian newspaper, she recalled crying hysterically when she saw the fish with a knife sticking through it.
"Donald bought the fish for me, and I'm sure he knew how much I cared for it," she said. Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are colorful freshwater aquarium fish that usually are between 2 and 3 inches long. Prosecutor Eric Zimmerman told Judge Eric Bergstrom that Harris plans to get a memorial tattoo of the fish and wanted Fite to pay for it. Bergstrom, however, declined to make Fite pay restitution for the tattoo. The judge ordered Fite to stay away from Harris, but said he could have contact with fish.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Naked girls plow fields for rain
July 23, 2009
PATNA, India (Reuters) - Farmers in an eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plow parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials said on Thursday.
Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.
"They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains," Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar's remote Banke Bazaar town.
"This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue this practice until it rains very heavily."
India this year suffered its worst start to the vital monsoon rains in eight decades, causing drought in some states.
(Writing by Bappa Majumdar Editing by Sugita Katyal)
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I add to this that the fact that the victim is a Dalit (Untouchable) is central to her being attacked and tortured. Otherwise, I have nothing to add. Nothing at all!
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Jagaran Media Center (JMC), a human rights organisation in Nepal concerning the case of a Dalit woman who was assaulted, publically humiliated and forced to eat her own excreta by the villagers. It is reported that Mrs. Kalli Kumari was accused of practising witchcraft by the villagers, who confined Kumari in a room for two days, tortured and forced her to confess that she practiced witchcraft.
Kalli Kumari B.K is aged 45 years and is a Dalit woman. On March 20, Kumari was accused of practicing witchcraft by the villagers, and was mercilessly beaten up and forced to eat her own excreta in public. Kumari is the resident of Pyutar-07, Thangsingtole, Lalitpur district of Nepal, a neighbouring district of Kathmandu, about 40 kilometres away from the capital city. Ms. Bimala Lama, a member of the indigenous community in the village and the Headmistress of the Gadhibhanjyang Primary School, thrashed and force-fed Kumari her own excreta in the presence of the villagers.
Kumari was kicked, punched and hit with a stone by Bimala Lama, her sister and others who shouted, "a witch should be killed like this." Kumari sustained severe injuries in the incident, particularly on her nose, mouth and forehead. Kumari was accused of practicing witchcraft on Bimala, her daughter and other villagers. Bimala also received support from the local Shaman, Sunwar Lama. The villagers also threatened Kumari's husband that if he spoke in support of his wife, he would also face the same treatment.
Prior to the incident, Kumari and her husband were confined in a room in one of Bimala's relatives for two days. There, they tortured Kumari and forced her to accept that she was a witch.
"I accepted that I am a witch when they threatened to chop my breasts using blades," said Kumari after she was rescued by the staff members of the JMC. When JMC rescued Kumari, they found that her inner and outside garments have been cut using blades by the mob. Kumari was made to agree that some animals in the village died because she practiced witchcraft upon them. Kumari also informed JMC that she had to sign an agreement, taking responsibility for the death of the animals that may die in the village in the future.
Kumari filed a case at the Area Police Office - Ashrang on March 23, but the police have failed to arrest the victims. In spite of the pressure generated by the Dalit organisations and civil society groups, the Chief District Officer (CDO) and Superintendent of Police (SP) of Lalitpur district claim that they are searching for the culprits and their efforts to arrest the accused were foiled by the protesting villagers.
Coming to know about the incident the JMC along with the representatives from different human rights organisations and the media, went to Pyutar on March 25 accompanied by the representatives from the National Dalit Commission, National Women's Commission and a Dalit member of the Constitutional Assembly. The team, after seeing the hostile environment posed by the villagers rescued Kumari, her husband Chet Bahadur, and her 17-year-old daughter. The villagers tried to attack them with stones and sticks. Kumari and her family are sheltered in Maiti Nepal, a NGO working for the rights of women, in Kathmandu.
A meeting was organised in the premises of the National Women's Commission where the representatives of Dalit civil society and other organisations were present. The meeting formed a working committee to help the victim and her family. A press conference was organised at the National Women’s Commission in which Kumari narrated the details of her ordeal. The participants were overwhelmed after listening to her narrative. The following day, news was disseminated through newspapers, radio and television channels.
The working committee formed to support Kumari with her case approached the CDO on March 29 to request the officer to arrest the culprits, obtain compensation and to assist in resettling the victim's family. The committee requested the CDO that his office should ensure that the culprits are arrested within a week's time. However the authorities have failed to do so. The committee has decided to take further actions if the culprits are not arrested.
In the meanwhile, Kumari is provided medical care by the JMC, which in fact is the responsibility of the government. But the government has failed to do so. It appears that the authorities are failing to take any action because the Lama is the dominant community in Pyutar village and further, due to the caste prejudice entertained by the authorities in Nepal. It is common in Nepal, for the members of the Dalit community to be accused of witchcraft. Additionally, the Dalits are considered to be of less significance and lower in status in the country due to caste-based discrimination.
You will be happy to know that three people have been arrested in this case:
Suspect in Beating of Dalit Woman is Apprehended
Posted By: AP Staff
June 11, 2009, Pyutar, Nepal: Police in Nepal have arrested a woman accused of beating and torturing a Dalit woman for being a "witch."
Bimala Lama (shown below) was apprehended Wednesday, June 10, by police in the Lalitpur District, nearly three months after the incident. When interviewed by reporters from the Jagaran Media Center (JMC), Ms Lama talked about what drove her to commit the crime:
"Villagers used to term Kalli as a witch, and while I became ill, one of the shaman from Chabahil-Kathmandu confirmed her as a witch, so I thrashed her," Ms Lama said.
The beating occurred March 20 in the Lalitpur District of Nepal, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside of Kathmandu. Kalli Kumari Bishwokarma, a Dalit, was accused of witchcraft, attacked, and forced to eat excrement.
The case was reported on by the JMC, a leading advocate for Dalit rights and a partner of The Advocacy Project (AP). When JMC journalists heard about the case, they traveled to the village with a human rights team and rescued Ms Kumari BK, her husband Chet Bahadur, and their 17-year-old daughter.
Ms Lama intitially fled from the police when they tried to arrest her. She told reporters Wednesday that she first went to her relatives place in Makwanpur, Nepal, and then headed to Kathmandu. She said Wednesday that she regretted fleeing and should have turned herself in earlier.
Before the incident, Ms Lama was the principal of Gadhibhanjyang Primary School in Pyutar village and had been studying for her bachelor's degree.
According to the 'Muluki Ain' (Country Code in Nepal), if convicted, Ms Lama could face from three months to two years in prison, along with a fine ranging from 5,000 Nepalese rupees (about $60) to 25,000 rupees (about $304).
Two other suspects in the beating, Kamal Gole and Shyam Negi Lama, were caught a month ago and are now free after paying 15,000 Nepalees rupees each (about $200).
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Do to a certain shallow, outward physical resemblance to some Muslim extremists, our Sikh community has been under attack since the 9/11 terrorist attacks by those who don't know any better. Now events in Pakistan, where the Taliban has attacked the Sikhs of the SWAT Valley, forcing them out of their homes, make a comparison of the two groups mandatory for anyone who really wants to understand world events. (And to stop picking on innocent Sikhs, as well.)
First, what exactly happened in Pakistan? The government there has effectively turned over control of a region in the north of the country, the SWAT Valley, over to the Taliban. In a region of this valley called Orakzai live - or rather lived - a few Sikh families. These were poor Sikh farmers who had lived in peace with their neighbours for generations, who had chosen to stay in Pakistan when most Sikhs left to move to India in the Partition of 1948. These are people with few material resources who clearly love their homes and simple way of life.
These were destroyed when the Taliban demanded that they pay a tax on non
Muslims, called a Jaziya. I have read that jaziya was originally paid by nonMuslims in lieu of military service. I have also read that it was originally a financial inducement to convert to Islam. Whatever the original purpose, in this instance, it is clearly simple extortion, not unlike "protection money" paid by business owners to organised crime to insure that the Mob will leave their businesses alone.
The amount demanded by the Taliban, was beyond the means of the community and when it was not paid, the houses of the Sikhs were razed and Sikh businesses were occupied. The Sikhs, seeing yet another massacre looming, fled with little more than the clothes on their backs and a few meager possessions.
Lahore: The Taliban has expelled at least 50 Sikh families from the
Orakzai Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) after
they failed to pay 'Jazia'. The Taliban had demanded 12 million rupees ($242,840, GBP 161,271)
as protection money from the Sikhs, who have living in the region from
hundred of years, but they could arrange only 6.7 million rupees.($135,586, GBP 87,355)
Later, it was reported that the extremists occupied houses and shops
of the Sikhs in Qasim Khel and Feroz Khel areas of the Agency and
auctioned their valuables for 0.8 million rupees ( $16,190, GBP 10,750), The Daily Times
reports. Earlier, the Taliban had also demolished houses belonging to
the Sikh community in the region.
The Taliban's Orakzai Agency chief Hakeemullah Mehsud ordered the
demolition of the houses after the Sikhs failed to meet a deadline
fixed for payment.
Having established, I hope, that Sikhs are not Muslim extremists, who then are Sikhs? Briefly, a Sikh is a follower of Sikhi or Sikhism, a panentheistic (look it up!), monotheistic religion that originated in Punjab, in what is now northeastern India and southwestern Pakistan. Rather than summarise the beliefs, which is really beyond the scope of this article, I suggest you go to about.Sikhism and look around. It's interesting and educational.
The religion sprung up and developed at a time when Mughals (Muslims) had imposed a brutal dictatorship on the people of part of what is now called "the Asian subcontinent," that is India and Pakistan. I will now compare some aspects of Taliban and Sikhs.
Since people are generally more visual than verbal, I have included a picture gallery of major differences between the two groups below.
There is a certain superficial physical resemblance. The men of both groups grow beards and wear turbans. The majority of members of both groups are brown. The Taliban, however, are by and large Pashtuns, with Afghan origins. Although there is a growing number of Sikhs of European and African descent, most Sikhs today are still either Punjabis or descendants of Punjabis.
Taliban discriminate against women in many ways: imposing Muslim dress which completely covers her, denies her education, restricts her movements so she is not allowed to go outside unless accompanied by a male relative. (I wonder what happens to a woman who has no male relatives?)
Sikhi teaches that men and women are equals. In fact, the Sikh Rehat Maryada - the Sikh Code of Conduct - forbids a woman to cover her face.
Here is an example of Sikh music, a sort of hymn called a kirtan. Notice that it has a happy sound and is a joy to hear! Also notice that it is sung by a woman!
I cannot give an example of Taliban music, since the Taliban ban music entirely, even to the point of killing songbirds when they controlled Afghanistan.
I cannot give a current example of Sikh government, since the Sikh Empire (1799-1849) governed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh is no longer around. However, two big differences between Sikh rule at that time and Taliban rule now are that capital punishment did not exist in the Sikh Empire, while it is common among the Taliban. And a huge difference, different religions were not only tolerated in the Sikh Empire but were actually respected, while the Taliban not only lack respect or tolerance for other religions, but also condemn all other forms of Islam, their own religion.
But enough of words. I have written enough to tell about the differences, now a few pictures to show the differences.
Note: Should anyone wish to reproduce this post, I will be happy to send you the html to make it easy for you. Just leave your e-mail in a comment or e-mail me at simayanan [at] gmail [dot] com. MHK
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This story is equally tragic, but perhaps even more appalling, more unbelievable, definitely sickening.
Usually, I don't publish stuff that might degrade Indian Tribals or Dalits, as I figure they have enough problems without my adding to them. This time I am making a sad exception. This article is necessary.
Sorry to upset anybody's sensibilities, but what do you expect from a blog called Weird Stuff From All Over? Popcycles and ice cream?
Tribal man beheads his grand daughter in Orissa
In a grotesque and shocking incident, a 55-year-old tribal named Rajesh Hembram sacrificed his nine-year-old granddaughter in a remote village of Orissa to appease "Mother Earth" for a bumper crop. He was been arrested by the police.
IN A bizarre incident, a 55-year-old tribal named Rajesh Hembram sacrificed his nine-year-old granddaughter in a remote village of Orissa on Monday afternoon (April 27), to appease ‘Mother Earth’ for a bumper crop.
The grotesque incident took place at Adapathar village under Kulundi gram panchayat in Sambalpur district of Orissa. Rajesh carried out this brutal act before ‘Akshaya Tritiya’, which is considered an auspicious day for sowing seeds.
Such a barbaric incident has sent shockwaves throughout the district. The Orissa police has arrested Rajesh. While speaking to the media, Sanjay Kumar, Sambalpur SP termed the incident as ‘shocking’. He also said that the accused has lost his balance of mind. Further investigation is going on.
Rajesh has been living in the Adapathar village along with his wife, three sons and grand-daughter Veronica Kandulana, for years. Veronica’s father Jagdish Kandulana died of illness six years ago. While Veronica was staying with her grandparents, her mother Sylvina is living in Jharkhand at her in-laws place. Veronica was a student of Class IV in Kadlipal primary school.
On that fateful day, while Veronica was taking her lunch, Rajesh asked his wife to fetch some nuts from the market. After his wife had left, Rajesh locked the door from inside and gagged Veronica. Then he decapitated Veronica with an axe and collected her blood in a small utensil.
When Rajesh’s wife came back, she found the door locked from inside. She broke into the room and shouted in fear after seeing this barbaric act. People from the neighbourhood rushed in and caught Rajesh red handed. Rajesh later confessed to the police that he had planned to mix his grand daughter’s blood with seeds before sowing them on ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ to satisfy ‘Mother Earth’. Rajesh owns three acres of land.
According to the local sources, human sacrifice is a very old ritual of the tribals and Kandh tribals used to practise it. The tribals still believe that offering of blood would deepen the colour of turmeric.
BTW, the picture is of another nine year old Indian girl, not Veronica. This little girl, Karnamoni Handsa, married the dog to break an "evil spell" having to do with a misgrown tooth. But that's another story...
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia's Weird Stuff tends to be barbarous cruelty. A young woman gets sentenced to a long prison term and 100 lashes. Her crime? Being gang raped. It seems she wasn't supposed to be alone with these creeps who raped her, so she is culpable. I found this picture in a blogpost about this case, but I won't doubt this is the young woman in question, as women in Saudia Arabia are usually flogged in a room in the prison reserved for that purpose.
This story is along similar lines. A 75 year old seductress was met by two young men not members of her immediate family. True, one was a nephew, but that's not immediate enough, even though she breast-fed him when he was a baby. And why did she meet with them? They were bringing her bread!
Wonder what a typical Saudi flogging actually looks like? I didn't find any pictures of a woman actually being flogged, so make do with this man:
Likewise, I did not find any pictures of a woman after a flogging. The best I could do is this man, after an Iranian flogging, I think.
Note the picture. Those are outraged Saudi women. How can anyone tell?
And the Muslims wonder why nonMuslims sometimes cop an attitude about Muslims.
Prison, whipping for 75-year-old widow: her nephew brought her bread
The poor woman is suspected of seducing two young men. She even risks being kicked out of the country. There are criticisms of abuse of power on the part of the religious police, who watch over the morality and behavior of citizens, gravely interfering in individuals' private lives.
Jeddah (AsiaNews/Agencies) - There is great distress in the country over the sentence against a 75-year-old widow who has been condemned to 40 lashes and 4 months in prison for being with two young men, one of whom was her nephew, who were bringing her bread at her request. The religious police (muttawa) who watch over morality and behavior have been criticized for blindly applying sharia, partly for the sake of their own power.
Kamisa Sawadi is a Syrian woman formerly married to a Saudi. Last week, she was found guilty of meeting with two young men who were not her immediate relatives. One of them, Fahd Al-Anzi, is a nephew of her deceased husband; the other is his coworker, Hadiyan bin Zein. The two men, at the old woman's request, had brought her five loaves of bread, but when they left her home they encountered the religious police, who arrested them and sentenced them as well to whipping. According to sharia, the woman is guilty. But her lawyers want to appeal above all by emphasizing that the woman breastfed the nephew when he was a baby, giving her a quasi-maternal relationship with him. In this case, the accusation should be withdrawn.
A few of the newspapers in the Middle East are criticizing the sentence and accusing the muttawa of interfering too much in people's private lives. Some of them suspect that behind the sentence is a vendetta on the part of Fahd Al-Anzi's father, the widow's brother-in-law, who notified the religious police and urged them to intervene against "the scandal," accusing the widow of "corruption."
The poor Kamisa Sawadi has been accused twice before of meeting with men, always in connection with bread deliveries. If the sentence is upheld under appeal, she could even be expelled from Saudi Arabia and be forced to return to Syria, her country of origin.
The lawyer Ibrahim Zamzami notes that a 75-year-old woman cannot be considered a "seductress," but sharia does not distinguish between old and young women.
Laila Ahmed al-Ahdab, who writes for the newspaper Al-Watan, is criticizing the muttawa because it bases all of its accusations on suspicions that are not confirmed by any evidence. She accuses the "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" of "misusing religion to serve their own interests."
Last month, King Abdallah fired the chief of the religious police and an imam who had called for the killing of owners of television stations that broadcast immoral content. Many saw the action as an attempt by the king to weaken the police and its fundamentalist inspiration from Sunnism.
Monday, March 2, 2009
From Universal Message of IHRO
Nigeria’s Witch Children
Aid workers and experts affirm that the belief in witchcraft is not new in Nigeria, but it’s all new that children now become victims. (Google)
EKET, Nigeria — Jeremiah, 10, can’t stop tears from rolling down his face as he recalls how he was tortured, burned and nearly killed by his own parents for being branded by their local church as a wicked witch.
"We were having a revival at church one night when from nowhere, the pastor's wife stood up to say I was a witch," the Nigerian child told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday, March 1.
It has been more than a year since Jeremiah fled from his home and took refuge at an emergency shelter in the town of Eket in Nigeria’s south-east state of Akwa Ibom.
But his escape came after he suffered months of abuse at the hands of his parents after he was accused of sorcery.
After the church incident, Jeremiah was immediately locked up at the pastor's house, starved and assaulted with clubs as part of the exorcism exercise.
When he moved back home, he suffered another episode of torture by his parents, who over several weeks, locked him up in a room, starved and flogged him and then set him ablaze.
"One day my father came in with a jerrycan and poured petrol on my face and my clothes and lit matches.
“I was burnt and for several days I could not open my eyes and my mouth," he recalled, before slipping into a long silence, and then sudden gush of tears.
Despite the seriousness of the burns which left him permanently scarred, he was not allowed to seek medical care. Days later, he sighted another jerrycan of fuel in the house and knew it was time to flee.
Aid workers affirm that despite all his sufferings, Jeremiah is counted of the lucky children haunted by witchcraft.
At a centre sheltering Jeremiah, there are over 170 other children -- aged between 18 months and 16 years – who have sought or been brought to emergency shelter.
Many bear scars of torture -- machete cuts, burns or a nail drilled into the head.
"Some die, they are thrown into the sea,” Sam Ikpe-Itauma, head of the local charity organization Children's Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), says.
“Many are forced to eat a poisonous wild berry, in the belief that if you eat and don't die, you are not a witch, if you die then you are a witch. But there are hardly any survivors.”
Aid workers and experts affirm that as in many other parts of Africa, the belief in witchcraft is not new in Nigeria, but it’s all new that children now become victims.
Experts blame this trend for the self-proclaimed pastors who make fortune from children exorcising rites.
"There is an explosion of fake evangelists," Herbert Batta, a university lecturer in the state capital Uyo, told AFP.
He added that the self-made pastors know very well there is nothing wrong with the children they brand.
Ikpe-Itauma, of the Eket local charity CRARN, agrees.
"You have to be seen to spiritually powerful to draw the crowds and in the process collect lots of money in offerings."
Around a dozen phony pastors have been arrested recently.
One of them is facing murder charges after he confessed in a documentary film to having killed 110 child witches.
He now says he killed only the witches inside the children, not the children themselves.
The phony pastors also get paid in cash or kind for deliverance and counseling sessions.
Chigbo Ekwealo, a university of Lagos philosopher and witchcraft specialist believe that people ignorance and poverty have made them an easy prey for those phony pastors.
"Some people are making brisk business out of defenseless children," Akwa Ibom State spokesman Aniekan Umanah, concurrs.
"It's greed, targeting gullible and susceptible rural people
WHY TRY TO FIT IN? YOU WERE BORN TO STAND OUT!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I am breaking my own rules and publishing this without pictures, as any appropriate pictures would get me arrested for child pornography.
Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints
By ALISON WEIR
Israeli officials have been regularly strip-searching children for decades, some of them American citizens.
While organizations that focus on Israel-Palestine have long been aware that Israeli border officials regularly strip search men and women, If Americans Knew appears to be the first organization that has specifically investigated the policy of strip searching women. In the course of its investigation, If Americans Knew was astonished to learn that Israeli officials have also been strip searching young girls as young as seven and below.
According to interviews with women in the United States , Israel , the West Bank and Gaza , Israeli border officials periodically force Christian and Muslim females of all ages to remove their clothing and submit to searches.. In some cases the children are then "felt" by Israeli officials.
Sometimes mothers and children are strip-searched together, at other times little girls are taken from their parents and strip-searched alone. Women are required to remove sanitary napkins , sometimes with small daughters at their side. Sometimes women are strip searched in the presence of their young sons..
All report deep feelings of humiliation. Many describe weeping at the degradation they felt.
"I remember crying and pleading with my mother," Gaza journalist Laila El-Haddad recalls of an experience when she was 12-years-old, hoping that her mother could convince the Israeli official to allow her to keep her undershirt on. But parents are unable to shield their children, El-Haddad and others report.
"They had machine guns," El-Haddad explains. "We just had to submit." El-Haddad, who holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, believes that the intention of the strip searches is to humiliate Palestinians so that they won't return to Palestine
Oregon attorney Hala Gores remembers being strip-searched at the age of 10. Her family, Palestinian Christians from Nazareth , were leaving Israel because of Israeli discrimination against Christians. Gores has never returned to her family's ancestral home in Nazareth, she says, in part because she does not want to repeat the experience of having no control over what is done to her.
The Israeli policy appears to target only Christian and Muslim children, and is equally applied to those with Israeli citizenship and citizenship in other countries, including native-born Americans. There are no reports of Jewish children being strip-searched.
New Jersey stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid describes being strip-searched at Ben Gurion Airport when she was "seven, eight, nine years old" on family trips to visit her parents' original home in Palestine . On her most recent trip in July 2006, Maysoon, an American citizen, had her sanitary pad taken by officials in Ben Gurion Airport . When the search was completed, she says, the Israeli official in charge, Inbal Sharon, then refused to return her pad or allow her to get another.
Zayid, who has cerebral palsy and was sitting in a wheelchair, was then forced to bleed publicly for hours while she waited for her flight.
Zayid, a former class president and yearbook editor at New Jersey 's Cliffside Park High School known for her irreverent comedy routines and strong personality, describes sobbing uncontrollably. "No one spoke up," she remembers. "There were several women, including the woman who was pushing my wheelchair, none of whom said a word."
When she boarded her flight, Zayid recalls, "The flight attendants looked at me in disgust." She told them what had happened, and the attendants then gave her some of their own clothing to use.
In addition to taking her sanitary napkin, Israeli officials also confiscated medication that Zayid is required to take when flying. As a result, she vomited repeatedly throughout the 12-hour flight.
Zayid, who founded a program for newly disabled Palestinian youths many of them permanently disabled from attacks by Israeli forces was so depressed by her treatment that she determined never to return. "But that's what they want," she says, "They want us to get to the point where we don't go back." She says that she is already planning to return to her volunteer work in the West Bank ..
Israeli practices vary and seem to be applied randomly, from elderly women to small children. In some instances women are taken into a room alone and are left sitting naked for hours. At other times they are strip-searched in groups, their clothes thrown in a pile. When they are finally allowed to get dressed, they describe having to rummage through the heap of clothing, naked and barefoot, to find their own garments.
Jewish Holocaust Survivor
While these policies largely target Palestinian and Palestinian- American women and children, some non-Palestinian Americans also report being subjected to strip searches by Israeli officials.
St. Louis resident Hedy Epstein, whose parents and extended family perished in Nazi camps, and whose story is featured in the Academy Award winning documentary "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport," reports being strip searched three years ago following her participation in nonviolent protests in the West Bank. Epstein, who was 79 at the time, describes being forced to bend over for an Israeli official to search her internally.
The strip searches appear to be illegal under numerous statutes. The Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a signatory, prohibit: "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" and specifically emphasize: "Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour"
Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states: "No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy"
In the US , such policies would appear to violate child abuse statutes. The state of Utah , for example, defines Child Abuse as: "Any form of cruelty to a child's physical, moral or mental well-being." The Encarta Encyclopedia defines child abuse as "Intentional acts that result in physical or emotional harm to children."
While the If Americans Knew investigation focused on practices concerning women, many interviewees reported frequent random strip-searching of males as well; including American citizens, children, and the elderly.
While the practice is widely applied, many people find it too humiliating to speak of. One 68-year-old Christian businessman, who had been stripped naked at Ben Gurion airport in 2006 before being allowed to board his flight to return home, had never revealed his experience to his family until he learned of the If Americans Knew investigation. He then explained to his daughter why he had previously told her that he might never return to his original home, now in the state of Israel ..
Christians, a thriving community that made up approximately 15 percent of Palestine 's population before Zionist immigration and the creation of Israel (Muslims were 80 percent and Jews 5 percent), have now dwindled under Israeli occupation to approximately two percent of the total population.
Israeli spokespeople and sympathizers have bristled in recent months at the title of a book by former President Jimmy Carter, "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.." In reply, Carter has emphasized that the Israeli "apartheid" he is describing is limited to the West Bank and Gaza . Many analysts have disagreed with Carter, providing evidence of pervasive discrimination within Israel itself. The If Americans Knew finding that Israel has been routinely strip-searching non-Jewish citizens of Israel would also indicate a wider policy of Israeli discrimination.
Since American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day, the Council for the National Interest, a Washington DC-based lobbying organization, is organizing a campaign to call on Congress to demand that Israel end these policies.
"We are extremely upset to learn that Israel is using American tax money in ways that degrade and humiliate women and children," says CNI President Eugene Bird. "We call on all Americans to help us on this campaign."
The organization urges people to begin contacting their Congressional representatives immediately, and to disseminate the video report by If Americans Knew as widely as possible.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew.
She can be reached at: email@example.com
WHY TRY TO FIT IN? YOU WERE BORN TO STAND OUT!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Muslim TV Channel's Pakistani Owner Held as Wife Beheaded
A Pakistani American, who started a Muslim TV channel in the US to counter negative portrayal of Islam after the 9/11 terror attacks, has been arrested after his estranged wife was found beheaded.
Forty-four-year-old Muzzammil Hassan, who set up Bridges TV in Buffalo city in New York state, was charged at the weekend with the murder of his 37-year-old wife Aasiya Hassan.
The estranged wife, who had recently filed for divorce, was found beheaded at the offices of the television channel, reports quoted police as saying.
Just a week ago, she had obtained an order of protection, which barred her husband from their home in Orchard Park in Buffalo 's suburb.
Hassan was charged with second-degree murder at the Orchard Park police station. Police said they found no weapon at the scene.
The Pakistani American had told the media at the launch of his Muslim TV channel in 2004 that he was inspired to launch it after his wife's anguish over the post-9/11 portrayal of Muslims.
He said she was seven-month pregnant at the time of terror attacks and didn't want her children to grow in anti-Muslim atmosphere in the US .
The aim of Bridges TV, he said, was counter negative portrayal of Muslims and Islam after 9/11.
Hassan, who came to the US from Pakistan in 1979, was a successful banker before he and his wife launched the television channel.
IANS February 16, 2009
I have, more than once, been accused of being antiIsrael and thus proIslam. Untrue in both counts! I am anti-inhumane actions and anti-misogeny, if I must be classified as anti-Anything. I much prefer to be classified - if such classification is necessary - as pro-Humanitarianism and pro-Treating-Each-Other-With-Respect-And-Common-Decency. I am also proTrashing-Of-Obvious-Evil.
To show myself to be an equal opportunity trasher-of-evil, I give you this bit of bashing about the death of this woman:
From IHRO (no URL available):
Let's see. We have a Muslim couple founding and operating a Muslim TV
network out of New York with the ostensible purpose of promoting
understanding between Muslim and Western cultures.
The two were originally from Pakistan. The husband, in this country for 30
years, had a successful business career before beginning the TV venture. The
couple met on the Internet, was married 8 years and had two children, 4 and
6. It was his third marriage.
On Feb. 12, Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan, 44, walked into the police station in
Orchard Park, N.Y., and told officials his wife, 37-year-old Aasiya Hassan,
And so she was.
Police found her body lying in a hallway of the TV station. She was
stone-cold dead. But it wasn't your usual dead body - not beaten to death,
knifed, hung, shot or even poisoned.
No, the woman had been decapitated. Murdered. It was no accident. Heads
don't just fall off.
News reports meticulously ignored details of the murder scene. All we've
been told is that the murder weapon hadn't yet been found or identified and
that her head was found near her body.
But, was there evidence of a struggle? Was the body dragged? Was there much
blood? Indications are that the husband wasn't distraught when he reported
the death, but was he bloody? Injured? Had he changed clothes?
Only "Mo" and the police know, and they're not talking. All officials say is
that it was "domestic violence."
Sure it was. Just a plain, ordinary, Western civilization domestic violence
case, like all the others that cross police blotters.
But finding bodies with separated heads is not a common event for Orchard
Park police. Indeed, it's not common for American police in any jurisdiction
- not so much because cutting someone's head off isn't a known way of
killing, but because that method of killing is not part of Western culture.
Even the French stopped using the guillotine for executions. It's so
primitive and messy.
Primitive? Where did that come from? Well, decapitation is a part of Islamic
culture going back centuries, and it exists today, ranging from a prescribed
method of execution for civil law violations to violations of precepts of
It's clearly part of what are called "honor killings" - the intentional
murder of a person of any age for any act deemed to bring shame to the
family. The victim most often is a woman or girl, and her transgression
usually involves some form of disobedience to parents or spouse. It can
range from clothing choice, to becoming "Westernized, " to refusing an
arranged marriage or wanting a divorce.
Unfortunately, Aasiya Hassan did want a divorce and filed papers just days
before her death. She also obtained a restraining order against her husband.
He clearly didn't want her to divorce and apparently did what, in his
culture and religion, is traditionally appropriate and accepted.
And now, she's dead.
The big problem is this isn't the Middle East. This isn't an Islamic nation,
and we do not practice Shariah law. But despite that, multicultural
political correctness has entered the picture. News media avoid calling it
an "honor killing." It's just "domestic violence."
Mentions of their Islamic faith and culture are virtually nil. This whole
situation is treated with kid gloves, with officials and media bending over
backward to avoid mentioning the obvious.
Adding insult to injury, "Mo" Hassan has only been charged with
Just what is first degree murder in New York?
"Mo" has an on-the-ball lawyer in his corner. Attorney James Harrington
quickly went on the defense over any suggestions of an honor killing, saying
flatly: "Culture, religion doesn't play a role. . It's not an issue in this
What rots the brains of criminal defense lawyers so they have no compunction
about raising defense claims that boggle the mind of any reasoned person?
Truth and justice are flexible; common sense is not a consideration.
It's unavoidable that Islamic culture and religion is part of who Hassan is
as a man and businessman. He had a good reputation among Muslim activists
and was given an award by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The focus of his television venture was to stress positive aspects of
Islamic culture and religion. Employees report that he wasn't overtly
religious but did favor Islamic tradition in terms of women's dress and
insisted his wife be present if a woman was in his office.
Until recently, the only way Americans knew about decapitation was from
movies or reading history.
But militant Islam and terrorism changed that with a vengeance by taking
Western prisoners and decapitating them on camera. Their "20th and 21st
century" war against the West involves 7th century tactics.
Recording decapitations on video is a cruel touch they relish. Remember
Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and Jack Hensley and Paul Johnson and Eugene
Armstrong? They were all decapitated by terrorists. Just two weeks ago,
Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak was beheaded, and American U.N. worker John
Solecki faces the threat now. See them on tape.
But honor killings are the other side of the decapitation coin, and we tend
to ignore it because it's not acceptable to say or think anything untoward
of Muslims or Islam. We've been intimidated.
The result will be a gradual acceptance of such practices in this country
under the guise of religious freedom. It will become virtually untouchable
under our law because it's OK with Islam.
The gruesome death of Mrs. Hassan isn't the first honor killing in this
country, and it won't be the last. But media coverage is always low key and
Octuplets and a rampaging chimpanzee get headlines; a beheading gets a media
"Anyone who clings to the historically untrue -- and -- thoroughly immoral
doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up
the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them
debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has
settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary
opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic
truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms."
--Robert A. Heinlein
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Don't these two look annoyed? Read on and discover why.
From the BBC
The couple say their marriage is a question of honour (Photos: Devendra Uppal)
Couple's surprise over 'divorce'
An Indian couple who married 25 years ago have discovered they were divorced without their consent in 1998.
Meena and Virender Verma, who are in their 40s with two teenaged children, say they are shocked by the news.
Meena found out about the divorce when she went to the authorities to complain that her brother-in-law was violent.
She and her husband hope the courts will "restore their honour". The brother-in-law is reported denying having anything to do with the divorce.
'Shock of my life'
The couple, from the town of Hisar in the state of Haryana, told the BBC that they never sought the divorce which was granted by a local court.
They insist that their neighbours and relatives are prepared to vouch for their story.
Meena Verma said that she received the "shock of her life" when she filed a
case of violence against her brother-in-law only to be told that she had in fact also been divorced from her husband nearly a decade ago.
"I don't know why this has been done to me. We never filed for divorce anywhere.
"My husband has always been with me. I had kept quiet about my family matters and the violence for the sake of my family's reputation," she said.
"But I don't know how it is that we stand divorced now."
'Hope for justice'
A local district officer in the government-run women's welfare department who investigated Meena's case told the BBC they had not found any evidence that the couple had divorced.
"We asked people in the neighbourhood and some family and relatives of the couple and they all denied any knowledge about the couple's separation," Dr Poonam Raman, district protection officer, told the BBC.
Meena Verma's husband, Virender, said that he was solidly behind his wife and hoped for justice in court.
Virender alleged that his elder brother - a lawyer - cooked up the divorce theory around about the first time the couple sought to complain against his violent behaviour 10 years ago.
But The Times of India newspaper quoted the brother, Surinder Singh, denying the allegation.
Surinder and a number of other lawyers now face charges of misleading the court on the issue of divorce.
"Sheer injustice has been done to us and our reputation. We are hoping the court will help us restore our honour," Meena Verma said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/03 17:46:43 GMT
Perhaps the brother-in-law should marry - and divorce - a pooch, eh?