30 September 2008

Nonvisible Sikhs Welcome In France

Just FYI:

Published on SikhNet (http://www.sikhnet.com)

Sarkozy welcomes Sikhs sans turbans

Daily News News EU
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, at the concluding press conference of the European Union/India Summit in Marseille, France, stood next to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh wearing a light blue turban, as he answered this reporter's (Tejinder Singh) question about the wearing of turbans by Sikhs in France. Regarding the required Sikh head covering, an integral part of their religious identity, Sarkozy, replied curtly, "Sir, we respect Sikhs. We respect their customs, their traditions. They are most welcome to France."

Visibly irritated, Sarkozy continued, "But sir, we have rules, rules concerning the neutrality of civil servants, rules concerning secularism, and these rules don't apply only to Sikhs, they apply to Muslims or others. They apply to all on the territory of the French Republic."

The practice by Sikhs of allowing one's hair to grow naturally is a symbol of respect, the most important of the five outward symbols required of all Sikhs, and the turban is worn to cover the uncut hair. Sarkozy explained that the banning of turbans is not discrimination, that, "These rules apply to everybody, to everybody with no exception. There is no discrimination whatsoever."

Making it clear to the Sikh community in France that they have no option other than to conform to the rules, [Mai here: Not so. The Sikhs in France have at least two options. They can pick up their marbles and leave, as did my sixth brother, a long-time resident of la belle France. Or they can stay and fight this horrible law in various ways, ranging from fighting for repeal to opening their own schools. But Sikhs just give up and accept this? I don't think so. Evidently, Pres. Sarkozy has never heard of chardi kala.] Sarkozy made the paradoxical statement, "We respect their traditions and their customs and we are convinced that they too respect the laws, traditions and customs of the French Republic."

Discrimination begins early in France

In 2004, three Sikh boys, Jasvir Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Ranjit Singh, were expelled from French schools for wearing turbans. These students were the first victims of the ban instituted which prohibits Sikh students from covering their hair at school, a decision that has prompted world-wide protest from the Sikh community.

Commenting on the discrimination and its impact on children, Mejindarpal Kaur, the Director of United Sikhs, a worldwide Sikh organisation, stated in a press release that a preliminary survey of Sikh children affected by the French law found that 84 percent of the students interviewed were prevented from wearing head coverings to school. The survey also revealed that students had been expelled from French schools for refusing to remove their turbans, and many more suffered from alienation by their peers.

Also in 2004, Shingara Singh Mann, a French Sikh, reported he was prohibited from renewing his driver's license after it was lost in a theft because he was wearing a turban to cover his uncut hair.

On December 5, 2005 the French High Court ruled in favour of Shingara Singh Mann, giving him the right to wear his turban for his driving license identity photo, overturning an earlier decision by the French Ministry of Transport. But within 24 hours of the court decision, the Ministry issued a circular expressly forbidding turbans to be worn in driver's license photographs.

Kudrat Singh, Director of United Sikhs in France, said, "This is an example of oppression and discrimination which has not been seen in France for decades, and calls into question whether one can be both Sikh and French." According to legal opinions, the ban is a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) which provides for right to freedom of religion.

MEP Gill urges EU action

Asked to comment, Neena Gill, a member of the European Parliament had said, "I am astounded by the level of discrimination that is in fact growing … it is not confined to France … it is in Belgium, in Germany and it really smacks against all these initiatives that the European Commission is constantly launching."

However, solutions aimed at nurturing "unity in diversity," the European Union's frequently appearing slogan, are already working in the United Kingdom, one of the member states of the European Union, and across the Atlantic in the United States.

Highlighting the integration and diversity that prevails across the English Channel, Gill, who was born in Punjab, India, said, "If you look at the United Kingdom, you can wear a turban not only in mainstream jobs but also in the police, the army, the air force or the navy. There is no restriction. In fact, the army has special days when they try and recruit people from the Sikh community and the Dastar (turban) is not a problem for them, so I really think we do need to raise awareness, especially from the European Commission in these particular years of Equality and Intercultural Dialogue. We have to target the resources at these issues to ensure that there is greater awareness across the EU in accepting people of different appearances."

US efforts to embrace Sikhs

Discriminatory incidents involving Sikhs increased dramatically as a consequence of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. There were numerous cases of discriminatory attacks on Sikhs as they were misunderstood as allies of Osama bin Laden due to their appearance.

While the US is making the effort to remove misunderstanding and give Sikhs their legitimate place in society, in some member states of the European Union, comparable progress and acceptance has flowed in reverse.

US lawmaker speaks out

US Congressman Mike Honda (Democrat-California), who represents Silicon Valley and who is involved in this issue in his capacity as Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told this correspondent, "I don't believe in sacrificing freedom in order to protect freedom. Turbans are part of the religious identity of Sikhs and we must strive to respect their freedom of religious expression. A balance can be struck between national security and religious liberties, but that balance can only be reached by consulting all the parties involved, in this case the Sikh community."

"It would be ironic that many Sikhs, who fled their homeland seeking religious freedom, would find that America curtailed their religious freedoms when they arrived upon our shores," Honda had added.

The root cause of the discrimination and a pragmatic solution to root it out was aptly summed up by Jennifer Handshew, a seasoned public relations professional in New York who had told this journalist, "I feel that ignorance and fear are the primary factors that fuel this discrimination and believe that education and awareness will help people better understand what the turban means to the Sikhs."

What Handshew and others suggest provide a succinct analysis and a solution, but for now, the door to a respectable life in France for Sikhs has been slammed shut by the French President Sarkozy, in the presence of Indian Premier Manmohan Singh, himself a member of the Sikh community.

Author: Tejinder Singh at the EU-India Summit in Marseille, France
30 September 2008 - Issue : 801

Copyright © 2008 SikhNet, All Rights Reserved

28 September 2008

Protest to Protect the Religious Rights of Florida Prisoners

I'll link it when I get the link. Currently, I can't find it!

From United Sikhs:

Protest to Protect the Religious Rights of Florida Prisoners

On July 1, 2008, Sikh prisoner Jagmohan Singh Ahuja suffered an egregious violation of
his religious rights when jail officers forcibly cut his hair in Duval
County Jail. It is against a Sikh?s religious practice to cut his/her
hair, as kesh (unshorn hair) covered by a dastaar (Sikh turban) is one of
five articles of faith which a Sikh must keep at all times.

Members of many faiths value keeping long hair or beards including Sikhs, Jews, Muslims,
Rastafarians, and Native Americans. Florida prisons do not allow these
prisoners to serve their sentences with their faith intact. Join UNITED
SIKHS and partnering organizations to stop religious rights violations in
Florida jails.

Where: 500 E Main St. Jacksonville, FL
When: October 5th - from 2:00-4:00pm
Call: 646-315-3909 or 305-491-5100 for more information.

Buses and Vans Will be Leaving From Select Cities

26 September 2008


Latest news, as of two hours ago.

Today I am backflashing to my activist days in the 1960s and 1970s. In just one day, today, I have been protesting an unjust war, writing letters - e-mails, actually - about that Wall Street bail out to rescue greedy capitalists and now, advocating for the homeless. Then Bhenji Shanu Kaur wrote a comment, "Right on!" I am tempted to respond with the typical 1960-70s "Power To The People!" Tempted, but I'll refrain, as most of my readers were born at least a decade after all this excitement.

Today, in the 'richest country in the world' I am watching a tent city that was becoming a shanty town being destroyed by the police. As I write, the first homeless people here are being arrested and taken to jail I see a cop entering a pink tent. (These pink tens were given to the homeless by the Girls Scouts of America, donated from a breast cancer march, hence the colour pink.)
The residents have named their settlement "Nickelsville," after Greg Nickels, mayor of Seattle. I have even found a website about this called, "Welcome to Nickelsville."

Earlier today, their port-a-potties, the toilets were removed, much to the dismay, especially, of the women.

Some residents had started constructing semipermanent structures out of donated lumber. All this on city-owned vacant land.

Unlike some of the other sweeps arresting the homeless, the arrests are going peacefully, the police not being violent and the homeless, who have chosen to stay and be arrested, going peacefully as they are arrested. Of course, this is all on live TV. Now the broadcast station is ending its coverage; they are switching to cable coverage, much less visible, but still live on TV. I think I'll stay and watch, skip the courtroom shows that are usually on at this time.

This has been a bit disjointed, I realise; a write-as-it-happens report tends to be. Now the cable news in talking about the presidential debate tonight, so there is no live coverage right now. I assume, though, the reporters are still there taping.

To go to the beginning. It is estimated that there are about 2000 homeless people - I believe that to be a very low estimate, as homeless people are very hard to count - in Seattle. This may seem a small number compared to India, but the United States of America is not India. There are sufficient funds here to provide decent housing, food, health care, all the necesseities of life to all the people. Of course, financing America's foreign adventures is leeching a tremendous amount of resources from the country. This action today is a political protest. The residents of Nickelsville were given warning to move. The cry of "Move where?" led to this protest. There is a nearby parking lot, belonging to the state, not the city, where some have set up their tents, after the governor, Christine Gregoire, told them they could stay there 5-7 days. Then what?

Now we have the Wall Street meltdown to contend with, as well. According to President Cokehead Warmonger, Congress is supposed to allocate $700,000,000,000 (IR32,525,500,106,820 - I realise the commas are in the wrong places for Indian numbers. Live with it. This is a copy/paste from the Yahoo currency converter. I include the link because it is a useful converter of many different currencies.) to bail out big companies. As I understand it, this bill will not stop foreclosures on people's homes as much as it will aid the already super-rich. This remains to be seen.

Back to these homeless people in America, hundreds of thousands or even millions? Many, many, maybe most are mentally ill people who are unable to financially support themselves in a capitalist economy. Some are criminals who have served their sentences and now cannot find employment. The remainder are people who just don't have the resources to pay rent. Most of these people are men and women - and their children - who lost their jobs, for one reason or another and then lost their homes, either from in ability to pay rent or through foreclosure when they couldn't pay the mortgage. Some of these people have exhausted their savings, but most are people who survive from one check to the next, like me. "There but for the grace of God go I." OK, I admit I exaggerate a bit; my family would never permit me to live in a tent city or in a cardboard box under a bridge. But I hope the point has been made. Shall we all sing a rousing chorus of 'We Shall Overcome'? No, actually
I think "We Shall Not Be Moved" fits this one better. (That link contains a lot of great folk and protest songs.)

We shall not, we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved

We're young and old together, we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved


We're women and men together, we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved


We'll live in peace and dignity, we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
We shall not be moved

We're black and white together we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
We shall not be moved

yes, everyone together we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved

We'll overcome Greg Nickels, we shall not be moved, (2x)
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved .

Feel free to write your own verses; as you can see, I have.

Most of the homeless, whether mentally ill or unemployed or underemployed, are just people who have committed the ultimate crime in America - worse than murder, rape, child molestation, worse than the vilest crimes - these are people who have no money.

I feel ill.


23 September 2008

Montreal School Boy Suspended Without Investigation

It appears that the report of a few days ago was in error. According to United Sikhs, a group I highly respect, the school boy not only did not threaten anyone with his kirpan, but he himself was the victim of bullying. Nevertheless, the Sikh boy is the one suspended from school with no investigation on the part of the authorities.

Is this yet another example - this time in my hometown of Montreal - of a Sikh student being bullied with no consequences to the bullies?

I am personally breathing a sigh of relief that, as far as I can ascertain, this was not the disrespectful misuse of the kirpan by a school child. However, I think we need to face the possibility, even the probability that some hot-headed Sikh student will be pressed past the point of his/her personal endurance and actually does pull a kirpan on a fellow student, albeit a bully. I remember a time in elementary school when I was bullied, the teachers refused to stop it and my bully ended up with a broken arm, courtesy of me. Fortunately, I was a very cute little girl and the bully was a very mean kid actually known as Billy the Bully; he got in trouble and I was exonerated of any blame. The only weapon I used, however, was my own body and knowledge of how to protect myself.

But considering the use of the kirpan, how should we react? Is there anything we can do proactively as a community to prepare to handle such a situation and protect the legal protection, very hard won, to carry the kirpan?

I will point out that the misuse of the kirpan has precedence. I think of the disgusting, disgraceful display in Punjab a while back, and the equally disturbing disputes in gurdwaras degenerating into violence. These are very bad examples that we adults are setting for our children. Remember, elders, our children are watching and learning from everything we older Sikhs do. We need to look to our own behaviour, as well.

From United Sikhs:

Press Release: 23rd Sept 2008, Tuesday 9th Assu (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )

Sikh Child Suspended Indefinitely by Montreal School Without Investigation

Independent Eye-Witnesses to Incident Report Sikh Never Touched kirpan; Several Media Outlets Misreporting Incident

Montreal, Quebec, Canada: A thirteen-year-old Sikh boy was suspended from school on September 11th after being accused of threatening another student outside school with his kirpan (a short steel or iron blade that is carried as one of five articles of faith). The school in Le Salle suspended the Sikh student without properly investigating the matter, as it has become apparent that multiple independent eye-witnesses to the incident confirm that the Sikh boy never touched his kirpan. UNITED SIKHS is assisting the family by working with local Montreal Sikh community activists and eminent human-rights lawyer Julius Grey to have the Sikh boy's suspension lifted and also to thwart incorrect media reports which have misreported the incident and are using it to reignite the debate about the kirpan in Montreal schools.

The incident occurred when a few students, including the Sikh boy, left school for lunch. Two boys followed the students and began taunting and bullying the Sikh boy, as they have on numerous occasions in the past. When the Sikh boy was adjusting his loose pants, the bullies notice the boy's kirpan, which was securely wrapped in a long cloth and had multiple rubber-bands around it. Upon returning to school, the Sikh boy and another student reported the bullying incident to their teacher, who responded that she would investigate the matter, but did not have time today. Shortly thereafter, police arrived at the school and began questioning the Sikh boy. It is believed that the bullies reported that the Sikh boy threatened them with his kirpan to their mother, who in turn called the police. The Sikh boy was suspended by the school for an indefinite period of time, and police have yet to file any charges.

Assuming the allegations against the Sikh boy were true, the Montreal Gazette, among other news agencies, reported that the incident "raises questions about [the] court ruling," referring to the Multani decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the right of Sikh children to wear the kirpan to school in 2006.

Commenting on the school commission's hasty decision to suspend the boy without investigating the incident, Julius Grey, the lawyer representing the family stated, "It appears that there is no substance whatsoever to these claims, and I am shocked at the cavalier way the [Sikh] boy has been treated when in fact independent witnesses confirm these allegations are false. This is an attempt to undo the kirpan case [Multani] without any legitimate reason."

Initially concerned that the allegations were true, UNITED SIKHS contacted the family who were already receiving assistance from local Sikh community activists involved with the Multani case in 2006, including Chattar Singh, Kiranpal Singh, and Hardev Singh. After speaking with those involved and determining that it was necessary to take immediate action, we contacted Julius Grey, who held conference with the family, representatives from the local Sikh community, and UNITED SIKHS on Friday and immediately issued a letter to the school demanding that the Sikh boy be allowed to return to school.

The school, citing formal notice from Sikh student's attorney, cancelled a meeting with the Sikh student's parents and stated that they will need to meet internally about the matter. "What is particularly troublesome about the school's reaction to the bullying incident is that school officials have allowed their prejudices against the kirpan to override their duty to properly investigate this serious matter. The same prejudices are now hindering them from allowing the Sikh student back in school after independent witnesses to the incident have come forward showing that the allegations are false," remarked Jaspreet Singh, Staff Attorney for UNITED SIKHS.

Commenting on the incident, Manjit Singh, Director of Chaplaincy Services, McGill University and one of the advisors to the family stated, "The reason why our community is being treated in such an inconsiderate manner by the school is because the education system in Quebec previously only focused on the Judeo-Christian tradition with the result that those people in decision making roles do not have an understanding of Sikhism. That is our challenge."

The father of the accused, Kamaljeet Singh, expressed distress at his son's suspension stating, "My son's education is suffering because of these false allegations. Wearing the kirpan is taken very seriously and it is preposterous that my son would threaten anyone with this most important article of faith. My son keeps asking me, what did I do to deserve this? I don't have an answer."

You may read a previous press release on a discrimination case assisted by UNITED SIKHS at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-11-09-2008-00.html

Issued By:
Baljit Singh
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
1-(646) 315-3909

Get Involved!, Click here and Join UNITED SIKHS
To receive forthcoming bulletins join our UNITED SIKHS Yahoo group
To donate go to www.unitedsikhs.org/donate
This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-23-09-2008-00.htm

20 September 2008


In the Republic of India, we of the Republic of Khalistan have had a hard time. We have been vilified in numerous ways, beaten, tortured, imprisoned, murdered and simply disappeared. We have been called every sort of nasty, evil name, been reviled as 'terrorists' and 'traitors.' It has even been suggested that I personally ought to be kidnapped, taken to India, tried for treason - an strange idea, since I have never been a citizen of that country - and hanged.

With such a proud history, this has got to be a first. Evidently, we are now a 'public inconvenience' and likely to be arrested for that. Personally, being an 'inconvenience,' whether public or private suits my disposition just fine. This article isn't really about Khalistan - it's about problems with Ram Rahim Whuzzit - but I thought you all ought to know!

BTW, I am not making light of this huge row with this inscrupulous person, it just tickled my funnybone to be called 'a public inconvenience.' At least they have enough sense to still recognise us as 'radical.'

From The Times of India:

Is Dera-Sikh row taking radical turn?
21 Sep 2008, 0241 hrs IST, Neel Kamal,TNN

MANSA: The Dera Sacha Sauda row seems to be taking a radical turn. On Saturday, a mob of 200 Sikhs tried to unfurl a Khalistan flag at Mansa-Bathinda intersection.

The bid, however, was foiled when police arrested around 90 people for causing public inconvenience. Here it is, unfurled and unfoiled!

"Some objectionable material used by the agitating Sikh activists was also removed from the venue," said SSP Manminder Singh.

Earlier in the day, SAD (Amritsar) general secretary Gursewak Singh Jawaharke led party activists in blocking the road at the intersection. The protesters, who disrupted traffic to Bathinda, Barnala and Sangrur, were demanding the immediate arrest of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and closure of an upcoming Dera branch.

The latest Dera-Sikh face-off has been on for the past six days with more and more Sikh groups joining in the stir. On Friday, even Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh had extended support to the protesters and issued a statement from Takht Damdama Sahib saying the peaceful struggle against the Dera was in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has come in for severe criticism from SAD (Panch Pardhani) president Daljit Singh Bittu, who accused him of showing disregard for the Akal Takht edict and standing in favour of the Sacha Sauda chief for political reasons.

"Sikhs can never forgive the Dera chief's blasphemous act (of dressing up like Sikh Guru) but the government remains unmoved even after (protesting) Sikhs have been sitting on roads," he said.


Courage And Hope - And Freedom, Sort Of - In Yemen

What to say about this? One very strong, brave little girl who - with the help of an aunty - stood up and said, "ENOUGH!"
You know I am sort of lobbying for the rights of very young girls. This story showed up today in the Los Angeles Times. No Anupreet today. Instead a very young woman, already married - and, thankfully, divorced - at age 10. Surely she can serve as an inspiration to all of us who sometimes feel that we have too much to overcome in life!

from The Los Angeles Times:

SANA, YEMEN -- Still groggy, the schoolgirl brushed her hair, struggled to pull on her socks and snuggled into her school uniform: a green gown and a white head scarf.

By the time she gathered up her books and strapped on her backpack she was smiling and enthusiastic, her nervousness eclipsed by anticipation of the first day of class.

Like children across the world, 10-year-old Nujood Ali went back to school this month after a lengthy break. But Nujood hadn't been lazing about or playing hide-and-seek with her friends during the summer.

Instead, after she was pulled out of the second grade by her father earlier this year, she was married off to a man three times her age, who beat her and sexually abused her.

For many girls in this traditional society, where tribal custom and conservative interpretations of Islam dominate, that would have been the end of the story. But Nujood was outraged. She gathered up her courage and on the advice of an aunt went to court in April. She got the help of a lawyer and filed for divorce.

A judge quickly granted it.

And on Tuesday morning, the divorcee, possibly the world's youngest, once again became a schoolgirl.

"I'm very happy to be going back to school," she said, waiting in her ramshackle home for her younger sister Haifa to get ready. "I'm going to study Arabic, the Koran, mathematics and drawing. I will do that with my classmates and I will definitely make friends there."

Nujood's unusual story of rebellion made her an international celebrity. Since The Times wrote of her in June, CNN, Elle magazine and other international media have come to this mountaintop capital to chronicle her tale.

Hordes of nonprofit organizations offered to help her get back to school, some even willing to foot the bill to send her abroad or to a fancy private academy, though they ignored Haifa, Nujood's little sister and best friend.

In the end, Nujood opted for a small, government-run public school relatively close to her home. She would begin where she left off, starting the second grade again.

Even then, it wasn't easy. One teacher said she worried that Nujood might disturb other students by talking about her sexual experiences.

The night before she went to school, Nujood said she dreamed of notebooks, drawings and new friends.

"When I left school, I learned how to count from one to 100," she said. "Now, I am going to learn how to count until a million."

Nujood said she wanted to study hard, to be able to attend university and become a lawyer like Shada Nasser, the well-known Yemeni human rights advocate who helped her get her divorce.

The girl's experience, and her ambition, have even served as an inspiration to her parents, uneducated rural people who moved to the capital's outskirts a few years ago and say they married her off to protect her from the dangers of the city.

"We were never asked if we wanted to go to school when we were children," said her father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, who has two wives and 16 children.

"If we had a choice, we would have loved to study like Nujood."

On Tuesday morning, Nujood and Haifa climbed into a yellow taxi paid for by an Italian aid group and drove through the capital's smog-choked streets, passing vendors of the mildly narcotic khat leaves and the occasional shepherd.

Outside the schoolhouse, Nasser stood waiting, eager to share a day she had anticipated. "I can't believe we finally made it," said the attorney, who agreed to drop the rest of her caseload to take up Nujood's cause after the girl showed up alone in a Sana courthouse in April.

Nujood and Nasser were welcomed by Njala Matri, the principal of the school in Rawdha, a lower-middle-class neighborhood along the road to the city's international airport.

"You are welcome here. You can feel at home," she said, smiling at Nujood.

Only about half of Yemeni girls attend primary school. Last year, one of the school's 1,200 girls, a 13-year-old, dropped out to marry, though the legal age of consent is 15. "Now, she's a mother," Matri said in dismay.

Women's rights activists say child marriage is part of a vicious circle. Girls drop out of school and bear too many children, contributing to Yemen's high female illiteracy and exploding birth rate.

But on Tuesday, Nujood stepped through the school's gates into a vast courtyard, disappearing into a swarm of noisy classmates. Some paid her no mind, while others approached the girl who had become a local and international media star.

"I am so excited," she said, playing nervously with her hands.

A bell sounded and the students quieted down, forming lines for roll call before shuffling into classrooms of about 50 students each.

Nujood took a seat in the third row, neither at the front nor the back of the classroom.

The teacher, dressed in an all-covering black abaya, hushed the students and began the day's lesson by asking them to recite the national anthem as well as passages from the Koran.

Small hands shot into the air.

"Who can recite the Surat al-Hamd?" the teacher asked, referring to the first chapter of the Koran.

She saw Nujood's hand, and called her name.

"Nujood?" she said.

Nujood stood up and began, ending with: "Show us the straight path. The path of those whom You have favored. Not the path of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray."

"May God bless you," said the teacher.

"Let's give her a round of applause."

The others clapped as Nujood sat down, a little girl once again.


Special correspondent Minoui reported from Sana and staff writer Daragahi from Beirut


Pictures by Delphine Munoui:

Nujood Ali, 10, stands near her home on the outskirts of Sana, Yemen. Her father gave Nujood's hand in marriage to a man three times her age.

Nujood Ali sits with her father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, who is unemployed and has two wives and 16 children. Yemeni law sets the age of consent at 15. But tribal customs and interpretations of Islam often trump the law in this country of 23 million.

ONE THOUSAND CHEERS FOR THIS LADY!!Human rights lawyer Shada Nasser is representing Nujood Ali. Publicity surrounding the case prompted calls for tightened legislation, which conservative Yemeni lawmakers refused to take up.

Nujood Ali, left, sits in the living room of her modest home with her mother, Shuaieh. “All I want now is to finish my education,” Nujood said. “I want to be a lawyer.”

Ten-year-old Nujood Ali, left, waits for her sister to get ready for their first day of school. She was pulled out of classes earlier this year by her parents who married her off to a man three times her age.

Nujood, left, enjoys a day at an amusement park with her younger sister Haifa. After being married to a man aged 30 and suffering physical and sexual abuse, Nujood went to court to get a divorce, becoming a sensation in Yemen and abroad.

Nujood Ali, left, enjoys a break at a playground with her older sister Mona as she got ready to go back to school this week. Child marriage is common in Yemen, which suffers a vicious cycle of poverty, high female illiteracy, early marriage and booming population.

Nujood Ali, second row, right , sits with classmates during her first day back to school Tuesday. Many schools had refused her admission, fearing that she might share her experience of sexual abuse with fellow students. But the principal of a small government-run school in Sana welcomed her.

19 September 2008


A picture of Anupreet Kaur the Survivor, dressing up in her first chunni - along with her teddy tee.

Picture removed at parents' request

When I was a girl, my real academic education always took place at home with Dad as my teacher, so in a way I was home schooled. I always went to public school, as well, because Dad wanted me to have some social development among all sorts of people.

One of my seventh grade teachers turned out to be one of the most influential people in my life. His name was Mr. Bodecker. If I ever knew his given name, it is now long forgotten. He was incredibly intelligent and held some very unpopular political opinions. I had a great deal of respect for him.

One day he took me aside. 'Mai, I need to talk to you.
'You and I are what are called intellectuals. We live by our brain power. And we tend to get above ourselves. I don't want you to make that mistake. I cannot stand the thought of you becoming a snob.'

He was talking very seriously; clearly this was something important to him. 'We like to think that we are the most important people in society, but we aren't. Not at all. Society could get along without us perfectly well. It wouldn't be as easy or as much fun, but it would be possible. We are not the meat and potatoes of society.

We are just the dessert.'

Being thirteen years old, I interrupted. 'We don't eat meat.
'OK, what do you eat?'
'Dal and roti and paneer and vegetables and curd. Really good stuff.'

He laughed. 'We are not the dal and roti and paneer and curd - whatever those are - and vegetables and potatoes of society.'

'There are, however, people who really are necessary. Mostly they all into roughly three categories.'
'First are the producers, most importantly those who provide us with food. Farmers. And farm workers of all sorts. Nobody could live without the food they provide, the nourishment necessary to sustain life.'

'But that food wouldn't do us any good if it rotted on the farm, so we also need people to get it to us. Truck drivers, loaders, packers, grocers, all the people that get that dal and roti and paneer and vegetables and curd and potatoes to us.'

'And then there are those who clean up the mess. These are the least respected, but vitally important. Have you ever thought what it would be like if the garbage collectors refused to pick up your trash?

--An aside. In fact, I lived in Las Vegas for a time. Summers there in the desert are very, very hot, temperatures often hovering around 45C (115F) in the summer. I will never forget the summer the garbage collectors went on strike. My garbage was taken care of, though, thanks to Bodecker's teaching - and my own moral sense.--
'And the sewer workers and the grave diggers' - I didn't interrupt him to tell him we don't bury our dead, the fact is most Westerners do - 'and most women.'

That took me up. 'Huh?!'

'Most women spend most of their lives cleaning up after others, keeping homes livable. Think about your own home.'
I did. In our home, the men/boys did a lot more housework than in the average Sikh home (where, at least at that time, the men did little to nothing around the house), but still the bulk of the cleaning fell to the wives and our housekeeper. I vowed then and there never to be the perfect housekeeper, unlike most of my Sikh sisters, whose homes seem always spotless.
These are people society cannot get along without. Those who produce. Those who distribute. Those who clean up. These are the most important people, the ones most deserving of our respect. The ones who rarely get it.'
'Most of these people are workers, working class people, not the intellectuals. We are not just the dessert, we aren't the cake, we aren't even the frosting. I think we're those little sugar sprinkles that decorate the top of the cake.

Maybe we add a little beauty, a little sweetness, but people ought to wash out there mouths after eating those, they form cavities and eating too much makes them fat. My dear young Mai, we have to be careful not to become just a top-heavy burden.'
'Remember, we make life enjoyable; they make life possible. I suggest you learn to appreciate the workers and always treat them with the highest respect. If you ever start to consider yourself above these people, I promise you, I'll hunt you down and pull you down a few notches.'
To this day, his words are almost a mantra to me, a sort of poem.

Those who produce,
Those who distribute,
Those who clean up the mess.
Of course, I told Dad about all this. He agreed with what Mr. Bodecker had said; in fact, the two became fast friends.
These ideas weren't really new to me, however, although this expression of them was. One of our family legends fits in well here.
Why is it adults get great pleasure asking very young children,'What do you want to be when you grow up, little girl/boy? Do the childish dreams take them back to their own more innocent days, do they like to make fun of children's childishness or...do some of them actually want to know? Whatever the reason, when I was about 6, someone asked me and I fired back, 'I wanna be a Working Class Hero!' I have no idea where I might have picked that up, but it was never forgotten and to this day, when we are together, one of my brothers is sure to start singing - or at least whistling - L'Internationale. I was never actually a Communist, I have always been somewhat left of centre. I was told I'd outgrow this perversion, but I never have.

This philosophy of respecting workers has served me well in practical ways.
When I was, for a short time, playing the role of 'professor,' my colleagues couldn't figure out why, when some work needed done in my office, such as a light changed, it was done at once, while it took days or even weeks for the same service to be given them, or why I couldn't walk across campus without a groundskeeper handing me a flower or two.

As I mentioned above, my garbage collectors came and took mine during the strike, a way of saying thanks for the cold lemonade in the summer and hot coffee in the winter. ( I still provide those to our garbage collectors, by the way. Just a small way of saying thanks.) My 'colleagues' and my neighbours, of course, resented me, but they had never had a Bodecker, I guess, the set them down the correct path. Or seven older brothers to egg them on...

Note: The picture of the Sikh farm worker is from the Sacramento Valley in 1912, from a website called, Sikhs: The Most Visible Yet Most Misunderstood Minority. You might like to check it out.

15 September 2008

Kirpan used to threaten someone in a schoolyard

This is not what I had planned to write today, but again, current events have derailed me a bit. I think this may turn out to be very important to us Canadian Sikhs.

I know only what is in the article below. I have no idea what provoked this boy to draw his kirpan as a weapon. Was he under attack, so it was self-defence? Or was he simply frustrated, annoyed, with no physical threat, as the article implies? I personally have three times used my kirpan in self-defence, always as a response to a physical attack, always, I'm sure, within the boundaries of 'righteousness.'

I do know that the frontal lobes of a 13 year old are not fully developed. This affects judgement, as the young person's brain simply does not fully understand consequences. Very few young teenagers have the maturity necessary to be trusted with a kirpan. Am I saying that very few young teenagers should be blessed with Amrit?

Yes, I think I am. I don't think a young Amrit should be forbidden. There are a few and there are also special circumstances. My own son became Amritdhari at that age. The circumstances were extraordinary; under normal circumstances, he would have waited, albeit impatiently, for a few years.

Amrit is as large a commitment as marriage, even larger, yet we would not think of letting a young teenager impulsively marry, would we? I am not saying a very young Amrit should be forbidden, only that it should not be the norm and that the Panj Piyare should be thoroughly satisfied that the young person is ready for such a serious step.

Another concern is the status of Sikhs in Canada. Bluntly, we are not popular. More bluntly, in some quarters, at least, visible Sikhs especially are considered unCanadian, unpatriotic, disliked, suspected, even hated. Let me direct your attention to the discussion in Dust My Broom, about a Keshdharin Sikh, Jasbir Singh Tatla, in the Canadian Air Force, the first turbaned Sikh in the Canadian Armed Forces. I participate in this discussion as 'simayanan,' always attempting to remain calm and polite, perhaps even too calm and
too polite!

Very likely, Dust My Broom will pick up this story, about the kirpan threat in the schoolyard as well. If so, I will put in a link to that.

On 6 May 2006, our young people won a very hard legal battle to receive the legal right to wear the kirpan to school in Canada. A similar legal battle is now underway in Australia. I'm afraid this incident might have severe repercussions for Sikhs worldwide.

In addition, we are all aware of the case of Sarika Singh-Watkins in Wales, who had to go to court for the right to wear her kara in school. And need I mention the ban on turbans in school in France? Our Sikh articles of faith are under attack, it seems, all over the 'liberal' Western world. An incident like this really doesn't help our cause. I hope this particular case is thoroughly investigated and whatever discipline is merited is imposed on the boy by the Panth. I'm afraid we will all be called upon to re-establish our credibility, as well as the credibility of the kirpan as an article of faith rather than a weapon.

The young man in the picture is Gurbaj Singh Multani who brought and won this suit in Quebec, Canada - incidentally, where I was born and raised. (picture from globeandmail.com)

Saturday, 2008-09-13 16:40.

Richard Deschamps

Parents of students attending a high school in LaSalle are outraged after a 13-year-old Sikh boy pulled his kirpan on another student this week.

Montreal police say the boy became frustrated with two other students during recess on Thursday, and waved the ceremonial dagger at them in a threatening gesture.

Police have pressed charges.

In March 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Sikh students are allowed to wear kirpans to school for religious reasons.


11 September 2008


I cannot believe that the abuse of this brother continues. I have no sympathy for his crime - domestic battery, wife beating - but this sort of treatment is nothing short of torture. I know in the past that at least one keshdhari prisoner from Florida was transfered to another state. Could that not be done here?

When I was a child, my kesh was forcibly cut by my own mother and I have never totally recovered from that.


When I think of the forcible cutting of kesh, I think of this picture from 1984.

Here is the latest from United Sikhs:

Press Release: 11th Sep 2008, Thursday 27th Bhadon (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )

Florida Jail Refuses to Budge on Discriminatory Prison Policy
Sikh Inmate’s Religious Rights Severely Violated
Join Us in Our Worldwide Signature Campaign.

Jacksonville, Florida, USA: The fight for Sikh prisoner Jagmohan Singh Ahuja's right to keep his kesh (unshorn hair) in prison continues after Duval County Jail officials refused to change discriminatory prison policies to accommodate a Sikh’s religious beliefs within the Jail. It is against Sikh religious practice to cut one’s hair, as kesh (unshorn hair) covered by a dastaar (Sikh turban) is one of five articles of faith which a Sikh must keep at all times. UNITED SIKHS, co-sponsoring organizations, and concerned lawyers have been actively advocating for Jagmohan's religious rights, contacting and writing Governor of Florida Charlie Crist, Mayor John Peyton of Jacksonville/Duval County, Florida State Representatives, the Duval County Sheriff's Department (in charge of the jail), and various federal, state, and local governmental officials.

Even though the Federal Bureau of Prisons and other states accommodate kesh (unshorn hair) covered by a dastaar (Sikh turban), Duval County Jail and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office have taken strong positions against accommodation. Commenting on the possibility of accommodation, Lauri-Ellen Smith, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office stated, "we cannot do so if the religious practices compromise the security and safety of the correctional facilities…As such, it is required that all sentenced inmates have short hair and not wear head coverings, in order to prevent hiding contraband and/or weapons."

UNITED SIKHS is committed to using all avenues to change Florida's discriminatory prison policy for members of all faiths who keep religiously mandated lengthy hair or beards, whether Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, or Native American.

We urge all who value civil liberties to unite in the bid to overturn this discriminatory policy and stop the violation of Jagmohan's religious beliefs.

here to sign the petition.
Assistant Chief Redman of Duval County Jail declared the Jail's position stating, "We're well within our rights to cut his hair, and we will continue to do so." Officials did not comment as to why it was possible to accommodate kesh and dastaar in Federal prisons and several other state jails but not in Florida.

Commenting on the jail's position UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Jaspreet Singh stated, "we are very concerned that Jagmohan's hair will be cut again in the near future. It is deeply disturbing that the jail would refuse to make any accommodation where examples exist in other ostensibly more secure prisons. The poignant irony of Jagmohan's escape from religious persecution in Afghanistan to now facing it in America should strike a deep chord in any citizen concerned with protecting religious freedom in America." Arvind Singh, a Florida attorney and member of UNITED SIKHS' legal team added, "We [Sikh Americans] are very concerned with the state of our union when a person's inalienable rights are not protected as our founding fathers directed."

UNITED SIKHS is working aggressively on a possible in court solution as well, but the current law on the issue is not favorable to Jagmohan's position and it will be a difficult legal battle. Our legal team is working with various partner organizations and attorneys to research and overcome these legal hurdles, and have been in regular discussion with the Glenn Katon of the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida who has been actively researching and assessing the problematic legal issues in the case. Katon describes the case as one that presents serious difficulties, but states that he is "not convinced that this is un-winnable." Katon further expressed that, "the ACLU is very concerned about this important issue and would like to be on the forefront of changing Florida's discriminatory policy."

Despite the excellent initial response to the petition with 2200+ signatories online and 300+ on the ground in Florida, we need more concerned individuals to stand up for Jagmohan's rights and the rights of all prisoners suffering religious discrimination in prison.

UNITED SIKHS is committed to using all avenues to change Florida's discriminatory prison policy for members of all faiths who keep religiously mandated lengthy hair or beards, whether Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, or Native American. We urge all who value civil liberties to unite in the bid to overturn this discriminatory policy and stop the violation of Jagmohan's religious beliefs. Jagmohan needs your help to continue to increase pressure on the Governor of Florida and Mayor of Jacksonville to change these discriminatory policies.

Print out copies of the petition and take them to your place of worship, workplace, or community center and collect signatures for Jagmohan. Once you've collected the signatures, you can submit a statement verifying your collection of signatures by clicking
here or by visiting http://www.unitedsikhs.org/.

You may also sign the petition online and send it to your friends by clicking here.

You may read a previous press release on a discrimination case assisted by UNITED SIKHS at:

Issued By :
Jaspreet Singh
Staff Attorney
International Civil & Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA) Project
Email: law@unitedsikhs.org

As a not-for-profit organization, UNITED SIKHS relies on individuals like you to support our advocacy and education programs. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting
http://unitedsikhs.org/donate.php. Call 1-888-243-1690 for more information.

Notes to Editor:

1. The Federal Bureau of Prisons was established in 1930 to provide more progressive and humane care for Federal inmates, to professionalize the prison service, and to ensure consistent and centralized administration. Today, the Bureau consists of 114 institutions, 6 regional offices, a Central Office (headquarters), 2 staff training centers, and 28 community corrections offices. The Bureau is responsible for the custody and care of more than 201,000 Federal offenders.

Statement from United Sikhs

Our Mission

To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.

UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.

UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.

Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.

We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.

A Happy Day

Sandwiched between heavy posts, I really need to write something happy. And what can be happier than the birth of a child?!

Anupreet, our Fourth Ghalughara survivor, has become a didi. This little girl already has a very full life, overflowing with responsibility - already doing sewa all over the world, showing everybody how absolutely wonderful little girls are - and now she's the big sister of a brand new sibling. Imagine! She is not yet two years old! I wonder what she'll grow up to be?

A doctor? A pilot? A writer? Or an astronaut (I always wanted to be an astronaut!). Whatever she does, I know she'll make us proud!

"Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse."

Should Gurprakash Tie A Turban?

On facebook now there is a group that has formed trying to convince a young man, Gurprakash, to regrow his shorn kesh. The group says, if 10,000 Sikhs join this group, he will tie a turban. At first, I thought, what a horrible idea. Being a visible, keshdhari Sikh is not a contest, it is an act of love, courage and commitment. The group can be found here: If 10,000 Sikhs join the group, GURPRAKASH will become a Turbaned Sikh

However, I have a lot of respect for the person who sent me the invitation, so I checked it out. After reading everything there, I went ahead and joined the group, leaving this comment on his wall:

Gurprakash Ji,
Please read this and think deeply about it.

On 1 November 1984 in Delhi, we faced a choice. Sikhs were being murdered everywhere around us. Surely you have heard the stories of this. We had a choice. Hindu friends were willing to shelter us, but only if we did not look like Sikhs.

Who could blame them for being afraid?

Most of our group at a family reunion, chose to shear. When all the hairs was cut, all the beards shaved, the karas, kanghas, kecheras and kirpans shed, there were eight of us left.

The ones who did the cut-and-run lived. Of the eight of us, the two women remaining survived, the six men - my husband, my son, two of my brothers, two cousins and my preborn twin daughters - all achieved shaheedi.

If there is something inside you somewhere that whispers to you, "If I had been there, I could have been the ninth," then please, tie your turban, wear your crown and regrow your kesh.

(continued in next wallpost)

(continued from previous post. Please read that before reading this.)

And if there is no answering resonance in your soul, to tie a turban would be a sham. That turban would be only an inconvenient length of cloth, not a crown, not an expression of love for Guru Ji.

To be a visible Sikh is to be committed, strong, courageous - and free. Never easy.

Please think very deeply about us.

And know we love you.

Please go and take a look. Whether you choose to join or not, it will make you think about the meaning of being a Sikh.

10 September 2008

Rethinking 911

Some time ago, Arun Shrivastava, a fellow member of IHRO (International Human Rights Organisation) posted this article. I was impressed by it and asked and received permission to reprint it here. I have been waiting until the appropriate date, 11 September, to publish it.

My disdain for the current, illegitimate government, the so-called Bush the Second Administration, is no secret. I do not claim neutrality. Although I am a Canadian by birth, temperament, preference and law, I have found myself a residence of the United States of America for many years. In this time, I have developed a certain fondness - in spite of myself - for this bumbling, arrogant, untruthful, often murderous superpower bully. Watching any credibility that America may have had go down the tubes has been a bit painful.

I have long believed that the American illegitimate government was behind the 911 attacks. I don't want to belabour my own opinions and ideas here, this day is for Arun Shrivastava's article.

It's a bit long, I know, but all my readers are intelligent people. Please read it; you might actually learn a bunch of things you didn't know! I know I did!

[For easy of reading, I am not publishing it in my usual orange for quoted matter. Nor am I putting it in blockquotes.]

911-Revaluation of our beliefs
Copyright: Arun Shrivastava

I rarely watch TV. It was early evening, about 6 PM in Delhi when a friend called and said, ‘Have you seen it?’ I asked, ‘Seen what?’ ‘Switch on the TV and watch CNN or BBC’, said my friend. One of the towers was smoldering. Perhaps this was on the channels many minutes before I had switched on.

No one, it seemed, knew what had happened. One channel said an aircraft had hit, another a small plane, some even speculated that it was possibly a missile. My daughter walked in, was immediately glued to the TV. Most of us forgot any urgent work we had on our hands.

Having read about rock solid American air defense system, I was wondering why not a single fighter jet was visible over New York City, at least to reassure the people that they are there? Why not a single helicopter was flying over the tower to rescue those trapped above the burning floors, the way it was ‘done’ in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Towering Inferno?’ The media said that the fire fighters were on the scene. Wouldn’t it take longer to climb up than to be dropped by helicopter on the terrace and commence rescue work? A sense of urgency was missing while the show was on.

We saw the second plane hit the North tower and explode into a ball of fire. And as the TV cameras stayed focused we could see not one fighter anywhere. Nothing was flying over a city under attack except hijacked airliners.

Then we were told that another plane had hit the Pentagon and soon after we saw the South Tower collapse. While the channels showed the horrific scenes of the collapse from all sorts of angles, reports came of the fourth hijacked plane crashing near Shanksville. A little later the second tower collapsed. If this was war on the USofA, where were the fighters? Why were there no fighters over New York City?

Planes crashing in DC and not one fighter in sight? One whale of a white plane doing a slow turn up over DC sky? A lone heptor over NYC? We can’t ever forget this.

Too many terrifying things were happening, in real time. It was past supper time but no one was hungry. The cook was gone. We finally picked our food from the hot case and came back to watch more. Past midnight we saw WTC7 collapse, perhaps bombed by terrorists. And yet no sign of any fighter over NYC skyline. America was under attack and not one fighter screaming over America? That day NYC was America, people were waving from burning WTC and jumping to their deaths but world’s mightiest military force remained grounded.

‘Ma, can I sleep in your room?’ asked our daughter. She was visibly shaken and I realized that it was the first time she had actually seen such horrific scenes, continuously for now nearly nine hours. Exhausted, we finally went to bed at around 3 AM.

Next morning we discussed over breakfast what we had seen on 9/11/01. Terrible guys, we thought, these hijackers. However, much was worrisome about these events. As days passed I could pin down three things that were nagging me: (a) the collapse was too fast, too methodical and almost identical, (b) virtually no aircraft parts or bodies were shown near the Pentagon crash site and nothing at Shanksville except a hole which was rather unusual, and (c) the response of the US air defense system. But I also thought that Americans are perfectly capable of answering these questions, so why should I worry.

In our block of apartments there is hardly a family, except ours, that has not visited the US. They have friends and relations there. My wife and I have over thirty and many live and work in or around NYC. We were worried.

Much was happening here as well. In December our Parliament was attacked, reportedly by terrorists from across the border. Around May, 2002, a New Zealander working in our firm told me that her parents had called asking her to return home as there was threat of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. I found it a bit unusual because we have friends in the government. I knew that tension was mounting but nothing of the sort that she described.

Slowly 911 faded in my memory as just another event. Nevertheless, for some inexplicable reason, I was spending more time on the Internet learning about terrorism and the US government. To add fuel to fire, a friend with doctoral degree in Aviation Management and an engineering first degree in avionics, one who travels regularly to the US, told me how Americans are a ‘transformed people’. ‘They are afraid,’ said he. To me, that was confusing and dismissed it as a bit of exaggeration. The people of America scared because four planes were hijacked?

Looking back, it was the US occupation of Afghanistan, a South Asian country and our neighbour, and the repeated statements coming out of DC that the world ‘will have to choose’ that actually changed my perception of the US Government. These were chilling statements. Choose what? We knew that Taliban had denounced the attacks on September 11 itself and that they had nothing to do with the hijacking, so why was the US administration demonizing the Taliban? [The same Taliban that was a creation of the CIA and Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI itself is the creation of CIA? ‘The Taliban government was set up in 1996 as an Anglo-American client state’ says Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya; October 17, 2006; www.GlobalResearch.ca] The attack on a poor wretched country without even a shard of evidence of being an aggressor came as a shock. Oh yes, Al-Qaeda. Bad people. The good guys were after the bad ones but was there a need to ‘smoke ‘em out?’ The good guys had also sponsored the bad guys. DC was using the language of ruffians.

I celebrated my 50th birthday that year in December. At this age if I have to choose living under a ruffian and death, I’ll choose the latter and before being done in I will inflict a damage that would make the ruffian think twice. DC was using a language that was not acceptable. That changed me.

And then I found some friends in cyberspace. We discussed farming, gardening and food security, malnutrition problem in India, etc, but we would invariably end up discussing 911. By 2003, around the time of the attack on Iraq, we had enough information that showed a rather ugly side of the US Government and its allies. Not that we were not aware of America’s destructive wars in Asia, starting with the nuking of Japan to interventions in Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. And India, Soon we learnt that neutrality was not an option they had left for any one on planet earth. And there was no hope of a better society if one cooperated. All peoples everywhere were being systematically enslaved and subjugated. And when we learnt what depleted uranium was doing to the men and women who were fighting their private wars under the US flag and in the name of the US Constitution, we were shocked. The rulers were deliberately killing and maiming their own soldiers and profiting from it.

One thing led to another. One friend introduced another and soon we were part of a global network of friends, sharing information, raising questions and seeking answers. But mostly, we were researching, reading, analyzing, and reappraising events in the light of better information and data. My concerns made me travel to Oz and meet some people who could tell me more and there I got another piece in the missing jigsaw as to why water was being fluoridated. And mind-control techniques.

As a graduate student of management in England well meaning teachers had led us to believe that creative intelligence, core competency and lateral thinking gains market power but sustaining it requires honesty. That was theory. In practice just a handful of corporations and banks were running the world, regulating the regulators, buying off politicians, poisoning the world, poisoning the people in a hundred different ways, plundering the consumers, pauperizing resource rich societies, using the soldiers of the United States Armed Forces and that of NATO to blow up any opposition.

It was a lawless world of business, with laws written by paid managers and enforced by bullets. That’s not the way we had learnt to do business but that’s the way business had always been done, worldwide ever since the so-called industrialized world was born. Colonialism had morphed into globalization of corruption and mindless loot.

The picture that emerged during these years post-911 was one of complicity and corruption at the highest levels in the corridors of power, particularly in the US and EC countries, and of complete collapse of governance worldwide. Some of the brightest minds emerged as mass murderers and environmental terrorists. Historians tell us that fascism was defeated in 1945; we discovered that fascism was globalized in 1945. We discovered that historians always lie.

Let me give you an example from South Asia. The division of India was planned much before the last British Governor General landed in Delhi to supervise the transfer of power. Probably as early as 1942 when the strategic importance of oil in European Elites’ wars were recognized. Churchill had recognized this much before as the First Lord of the Admiralty - a post which he had earlier held from 1911 to 1915. Pakistan, in my opinion, was carved out by the Western elite for an army to protect the eastern and southern flanks of oil producing regions just as Israel was carved out of Palestine on the western. The justification for a Jewish homeland Israel was presented to the world as an honourable and humanitarian cause for the holocaust victims, just as Pakistan for the Muslims. Hindus were demonized much earlier in South Asia to create a schism just as Islam was demonized to justify an endless war. Strategic interests determine the timing as to who is demonized, but the spineless secularist historians both in India and the west would have us believe that religion is a problem.

Seducing the world

The world has been seduced in many ways. Transparency International (TI) is projected as the watch dog of global corruption. It conducts annual surveys of countries based on the perception of businessmen how clean a country is in terms of doing business. Our government is corrupt and, I believed that TI correctly reflects what we all live on a daily basis. We have to bribe at every level to get services that are our birth right for which most of us are paying taxes. Deep inside I felt that the people of this beautiful country are in a vice like grip of unending corruption of the politicians and bureaucrats. Indians flourished only when they went west.

So deep seated was this belief that when we met westerners here, we would be almost apologetic. Most of them would say that they ‘like the place, very friendly people’ but they always looked forward to going back, in double quick time. And it was not because of heat and dust.

According to TI, the least corrupt nations are the likes of Denmark, Sweden, Singapore; most corrupt, consistently, is Bangladesh. USA ranked 16th in 2001 became a bit more corrupt to slide down to 20th rank in 2007. Britain became less corrupt, holding 13th rank in 2001 to move to greater honesty in 2007 to rank 12, which must count among greater achievements of many British Prime Ministers in recent times. Israel slid from 16th to 30th position indicating that a little bit of corruption is actually good when one controls the world’s largest armada. (Chart 1) And a few citizens of this country were actually caught cheering the collapse of a nation from the top of a hot rod jalopy when bodies were falling from the towers.

Some of the most corrupt countries, as TI would have us believe, are China, India, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2001, Afghanistan, not ranked by TI, 2001-04, slid to the almost pole position of 172 least honest country. And so did Iraq, from 129th to 178th. Physical occupation, the mother of all theft, apparently doesn’t rank as a dishonest act in the analytical framework of TI. Neither does genocide.

Pakistan, the most dependable ally of the western union in their Global Honest War on Terror (GHWOT), slid from a relative honesty at 79th in 2001 to a poor 138th in 2007; some achievement for being a trustworthy ally of honest nations. This country actually plans, trains, and provides the logistic support to various acts of terrorism on behalf of the US and NATO forces. China, the powerhouse economy, slid from an honest rank of 57th in 2001 to 78th in 2007. The leader of the most honest nations had no problem selling municipal bonds to the most dishonest one. Ditto for Indians. They started with a relative dishonesty ranked 71st to slide to patent dishonesty in 2004, when all floodgates to US and European investments were opened, to unfortunately slide down to rank 90, and then recover to the previous position of honest-eminence ranked 72nd in 2007. That was a bad hiccup at the height of bonhomie with the ‘honest west’.

Using TI data, if one draws three concentric circles, the ‘most honest western countries’ would cluster around the centre, nearly all
‘peaceful client regimes’ around the middle circle, and those that are ‘targeted for resource plundering’ on the periphery. The message being conveyed to the billions around the world is that poverty, deprivation and poor governance are a consequence of corruption, whereas economic health of the western world that of honesty. Therefore, we are led to believe that the west is superior, to be emulated; the rest of the world corrupt, inhuman, bestial, to be civilized. And that civilizing mission is reinforced day-in and day-out by the mainstream media and Reader’s Digest, particularly the electronic media, relentlessly justifying interventions of the western powers. That mission was as well articulated by Macaulay in 1835 as by Huntington in 1993. The west told the world what to believe, the rest of the world believed what it was told. The non-believers were done in. But that was never a story, not on prime time.

No third world country has ever raised a finger at the USofA, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Holland; these great imperial powers plundered our society. All we want is to be left alone in peace but that is not acceptable to the lone super power controlled by a few families from Europe.

Sitting with a friend in Tasmania some years ago I thought aloud: what is development and what is the essence of the difference between a handful of western countries and the rest of the world? And I told my friend this: your roads are properly paved, you don’t have to bribe the transport authority to get a driving license, you can reach from point A to Z using A-Z and people know how to use A-Z, you don’t queue up for hours in a hospital to get basic medicare, power supply is stable with fewer black-outs, your basic needs are well supplied and taken care of. With basics taken care of in a relatively honest fashion, common people do not have much to complain. When these common people compare their life with those projected by their mass media about the rest of the world they find themselves right on the top of WTC1 or 2, or even WTC7, from where even a janitor can look down upon the rest of us. But that day the rest of the world was watching 1, 2 and 7, symbols of technologically most advanced society collapsing right in front of our eyes.

Why were there no fighters over New York City? Did you see any? The terrified Airforce1 was kept flying from one place to another all day without fighter escort? There were no fighters over NYC because the powers that control the US armed forces, who nominated the mentally challenged POTUS, wanted the American people to see their power. They wanted every living room on planet earth to feel that power. The mission was actually accomplished during those nine odd hours when POTUS was close to stratosphere and terra firma was trembling, but he was told to announce it from USS Abraham Lincoln.

Global seducers like TI have allies: the BBC, CNN, Fox TV, and in India CNN-IBN, the Star TV network, etc. India has probably around seventy channels. The major news channels have chosen to remain intellectually challenged like ‘the-world-is-coming-to-an-end’ India-TV that terrified the nation with prime time rabble rousing of a global holocaust several billions years from now when it is lurking right outside their studio. They engineered a collective trance of India shining. Failed, even as mediocre investigative journalists in the nineteen seventies or eighties or even nineties, they are anchoring TV channels at prime time, investigating non-events endlessly. Life is after all one long picnic, so add a bit of spice to life, a bit of pepper, never mind if it is all peppered lies and sauced up inanities. Like Richard Gere’s passionate full mouthed lip lock with a Follywood disaster Shilpa Shetty that shook the age old ‘culture of India’; but the reality of ‘demonized Muslims’ is buried deep down in the unending colourful kaleidoscope of the Global Honest War on Terrorism on these TV channels!

Micheal Chossudovsky succinctly summarized this:

“The US and its allies, which uphold the practice of torture, political assassinations and the establishment of secret detention camps, continue to be presented to public opinion as a model of Western democracy to be emulated by developing countries, in contrast to Russia, Iran, North Korea and the People's Republic of China.” Michael Chossudovsky, April 13, 2008, Global Research.ca; http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8673

Must we listen?

The US has UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada as key allies, the core group, so to say, of seven. The ruling elite of the western powers has roots in Europe and many are related. Russia is also part of this gang but let us keep Russia and Japan out of the most corrupt G-finally-6 and the picture becomes less hazy.

The G-6 talks of eliminating poverty…we must listen. In the process, they have perhaps eliminated over 100 million poor, and that is a gross underestimation, because I feel that the US alone has directly or indirectly killed that many. For each dollar of over-the-table western aid to the developing countries, over ten is squeezed under the table, with complicity of third world leaders. A report says that corrupt Indian politicians hold US$ 1.5 trillion dollars in Swiss Banks, more than the sum total of all unaccounted money held by others.


The G-6 tells the world that ‘Terrorism’ is bad. ‘Unimaginable resources have been expended on measuring and tackling terrorist finances, but little attention is paid to problems such as tax evasion by western trans-national corporations and rich individuals.’ (Ibid) When those who should be honestly paying their taxes don’t pay up, the tax burden falls on small shopkeepers and individuals. But we must listen. And those unpaid taxes actually finance ‘global terrorism’ of the few led by the illegal government of the USofA.

The G-6 talks of climate change…we must listen. The poor world is burning too many trees…we must listen and keep silent when most fossil fuels are burnt by just a handful of western nations. The G-8 Plan for Climate Change actually looks like a plan to change the climate. Richard Heinberg says US alone will need fifty million small farmers in post oil world; by the same equation India would need over 190 million, and would be short of farmers, yet the farmers are committing suicide; more will die when climate is engineered using HAARP.

The G-6 talks of worldwide scourge of HIV=AIDS=Death…a lie that we all must accept. And should we question this illogical, baseless inference, we can be HIVed, and AIDed to a painful premature death. And that is actually going on right now in the world’s most advanced country. Drugs are introduced without proper testing everywhere and doctors are taught to prescribe those drugs. Millions have died yet not once a doctor has been hanged for prescribing death. Legalized genocide…and deathly silence.

The G-6 talks of water wars…we must listen and privatize our rivers. The G-8 talks of food shortages…we must listen and buy poison laced foods from world’s largest criminal corporations. Listen to this:

"There is no way for anyone to choose to eat nano-free," says Miller, co-author of a report called Out Of The Laboratory And Onto Our Plate, Nanotechnology In Food And Agriculture.

The G-6 talks of energy crisis…we must listen and buy oil only in dollars, a piece of paper printed by 13 of the most corrupt banks that constitute the Federal Reserve. And the whole world is led to believe that that piece of paper is worth its weight in gold! Not even worth the paper on which the dollar bills are printed but the whole world must keep exporting physical goods against no promise to redeem its value in anything worth more than the worthless paper; even toilet paper is more expensive, measured for size. And that seduces the Americans as much as it seduces the rest of the world
When G-6 talks of ‘genetic engineering’…we must listen and ignore the deaths of American citizens who were illegally fed genetically engineered food and died. We must ignore the deaths of American citizens because the western leaders are ‘honest.’ When the G-6 talks of vaccinations…we must listen, never mind if the 80+ deadly vaccines cause the immune system of the marines to collapse and turn the world’s immune systems deficient.

When the G-6 talks …we must listen and cooperate
because the rest of the world has no options. The rest of the world has no option because any option is subject to ratification by G-6, Russia and Japan are baggage to pacify the Eurasians.

Prime-timed statements of ‘honest’ leaders, full of wisdom, knowledge trained in the art of governance, the great men straddling the world like Colossus, solving world’s problems, the planet’s problem. There were times I believed them. And I am sure you all did too.

The collapse of a belief

911 reconfigured a belief system. I hope it trickles down faster than the trickle down theory of bored economists.

‘We create problems, Western leaders solve the world’s problems,’ thus spake MSM. The denizens of the wilderness, the third, fourth or fifth worlds were forced to believe that the western leaders are honest therefore the western world is better than ours.

The western leaders would tell their citizens: ‘look at these poor wretched souls; give us some money, and we shall make the world a better place!’ And the rest of the world told, ‘look we have created a most civilized society, the affluent society, and if you wanna be part of it, do as we say.’ And that money, the stolen money from their own tax-payers was used to steal our resources like land, water, biodiversity, minerals and energy, from all over the world, from the destitute who need them for their survival. And now even the atmosphere is up for grabs.

The western citizens are plundered in our name. And we are plundered for profiteering of the few. It took 911 to drive home that message. It exposed the true nature of the USofA as an army that has a country but the country is ruled by a small very rich Aliens. They are not even humans.

Sociopaths rule, OK!

Seasoned forensic experts, sleuths in homicide squad, and well trained experts in busting corporate crimes all agree on one thing: criminals always leave their mark. If they don’t, how would the world fear them? That mark eventually traps them. 911 was perhaps the most spectacular crime ever committed and the whole world watched as the evidences were destroyed. But much remains right in front of our eyes. We look but don’t see.

“These were people born without consciences, and suddenly they are taking charge of everything ………And they are waging a war that is making billionaires out of millionaires, and trillionaires out of billionaires, and they own television, and they bankroll George Bush, and not because he's against gay marriage….These are congenitally defective human beings of a sort that is making this whole country and many other parts of the planet go completely haywire nowadays,” wrote Late Kurt Vonnegut in ‘Custodians of Chaos’ in
A Man Without a Country:
A Memoir of Life in George W Bush's America. Today we call them ‘sociopaths’; they kill entire societies, entire nations…and endanger the planet.

2008 elections will decide whether the planet lives or dies. In that election the world population will not vote, only a handful of mind-controlled, semi-literate Americans will vote. And these few millions will decide whether the billions should be allowed to live. The defective humans have an agenda; non-defective ones none.

The story of Afghanistan is what can happen when defective humans powered by cocaine capture political power and use the military might of the USA. The use of ‘area deniability weapons’ have ensured that life can’t thrive there.

The story of Iraq is what can happen when defective humans powered by cocaine capture political power and use the military might of the USA.
"Iraq’s population at the time of the US invasion in March 2003 was roughly 27 million, and today it is approximately 23 million. Elementary arithmetic indicates that currently over half the population of Iraq are either refugees, in need of emergency aid, wounded, or dead." (
Dahr Jamail, Global Research, December 2007)
Fascism was globalized…in1945. Democracy was blown to bits, into nano sized particles… on 911. The American people were made to crawl, then the rest of the world. And an excellent example was set in Afghanistan and Iraq for the world to see if we don’t. The hundreds of solid internment camps across world are gentle warning to ensure that the world crawls.

Global Gohar of the few. There is no space for neutrality and no future in supporting the criminals. If we don’t oppose the ‘Global Goharists’, tomorrow we shall all wake up in a KBR sepulcher, erected through a no-bid contract. Revolutions are born not with a hope of better future; they are ignited when there is no hope.

What a way to go? Sorry, massah! We are here to stay. Find another planet for your ilk.