Sri Lanka, Another Legacy Of British Colonialism

By: on 6 Jan 2009

Lost amidst the international uproar over the Israeli invasion of Gaza have been the important developments in Sri Lanka this past week.  Please try to be as humane and respectful as possible, both to the truth and each other, in the comments if you're going to engage in a conversation on the substance of this. Thanks.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan forces overran another village Monday and moved closer to seizing a strategic base from the Tamil Tigers, but concerns are mounting for the hundreds of thousands of civilians living in the rebels' shrinking territory. The government has chased the rebels out of much of their de facto state in the north in recent months — taking their administrative capital of Kilinochchi last week — but the offensive is complicated by the presence of an estimated 300,000 civilians in rebel territory. The rebels now occupy a slice of jungle slightly larger than the city of Los Angeles. As civilians increasingly get in the way of the battle, it could become difficult for the government to fight on without causing an unacceptable loss of life, human rights activists and some Western diplomats said. The government says it has no intention of giving up its recent momentum but will do everything it can to avoid civilian casualties. "We are taking the utmost precautionary measures," said defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella. He declined to outline what those precautions where.

A partial reading list is below the fold if you're interested in more information. I'm not a Sri Lanka expert by any stretch, but I recommend the Wickramasinghe, the Edrisinha, and the Sumantra Bose for basics on Sri Lanka, and the Klieman, Blanton, and Pollis if you're interested in looking at other 'ancient' conflicts with very modern, very British roots.

Will You Ask For An Explanation?

By: on 3 Jan 2009

There are many pieces of evidence that have been raised to discuss the prominent role that Sonal Shah has been given in the Obama transition team and what future activities she may be given.  These include a statement from the VHP that she was on their VHP-A governing council for three years, a record of her Treasury Department e-mail address on the VHP-A list, her name and number listed on the VHP-A relief work for Gujarat earthquake relief, her own statements that she was unaware of VHP or other groups' ideologies and rejects them, the statements issued through her brother or other sources over the years, etc. You can see a factsheet here.

This post will attempt to establish by demonstration how weak the position that Shah has taken is by focusing on one aspect of her established relationship to the Sangh (membership on the VHP-A governing Council). It should help to clarify the issue that's been raised many times in criticisms and comments that I have been fortunate to receive around this issue: I believe we are not talking about an 18-year-old going to a VHP family picnic and raising some money selling cake there, but a grown person in their 30s. She knowingly or with a level of ignorance that is hard to grasp, participated in the Hindu right's activities for several years and renounced those social forces only when it was convenient for her to do so. If anything, she helped them sell their product better, as you can see below.

As such, I think is appropriate to accept that many 2nd generation people end up caught between two worlds, with few opportunities to find their identities or their selves and are often misled, make mistakes, or otherwise end up in the wrong mandir or madrassa. But we also need to figure out how we judge ourselves and our conduct after the fact, how we understand what we have done, and how we tell other people about it, and what it means for our future lives. And we need to understand when someone is sincerely doing that, and when someone is using our identity issues against us - including someone from within our identity group. That is, to restate it again, the point where we are at now - where identity issues we are familiar with are being used to make us feel paralyzed and unable to critique what is a clear set of statements and evidence that don't hold together in a coherent narrative as Shah has presented them.

Proceeding (emphases added throughout, apologies if I forgot to note this anywhere):

On December 25, 1997, exactly a year before the rally in Ahwa town, VHP organized an anti-Christian rally in Pipalwada, a village bordering Dangs district. During the year that followed, a series of rallies organized by VHP, HJM, and the Bajrang Dal were held in Surat, Dangs, Valsad, and Baruch, all districts in southern Gujarat.75 The message of the rallies was the same: Hindus need to protect themselves from the deceptive practices of Christian missionaries and "teach them a lesson." Throughout 1998 Christian communities, churches, and missionaries in southern Gujarat came under attack.

[HRW, emphasis added]

In February 1998 the heads of the village police attacked a prayer hall in Divan Tembrum village while prayers were taking place, and physically assaulted the worshippers.61 In April, a crowd of 400 used tractors and iron bars to destroy St. Antony's Catholic Church and several other affiliated structures in different stages of construction in Naroda, a suburb of Ahmedabad city. The crowd smashed icons and stole the contents of the donation box. Witnesses said the crowd included members of the police, the VHP, and the local BJP government. In an interview, the head of the village council, Sumbubhai Maiatbhai, admitted to attending the demolition but claimed that the church was razed because it stood in violation of a local building code. Church officials said they were unaware of any such code violation.62

[HRW, emphasis added]

> From: Sonal Shah >

> Ajay, >

> I understand your issues. I am not saying they are not vlaid.

> However, there are ways to make your point known. When the > world diregards your statements b/c they label you as the > aggravator it does not help. > > The same message can be sent through a very effective education > campaign. VHP should not go political. A strong education > campaign with Indian as well as inernational support would go a > long way. > > This does not preclude serious security issues. Those are > legitimate concerns and India has the right to protect itself. But > burning the Pakistani flag b/c they did the same just really seems > petty. When US hostages were taken in Iran they burned the US > flag, but we did not so the same. > > I have a realyl hard time with a tit for tat game -- it just becomes > petty he said, she said and losing sight of the overall issue. > > take care > Sonal > > >>> EX.MAIL."" 05/21/98 02:19pm >>> > RFC-822-Headers: > MIME-Version: 1.0 > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii >

[Source: VHP-A governing council e-archives]

Action Alert: AirTran Is Not Your Friend (Updated)

By: on 3 Jan 2009

AirTran, the arline that had to change its name because it had too many high-profile crashes under the name ValuJet, is still not very good at keeping you safe:

A day after a Muslim family was removed from a flight at Reagan National Airport near Washington, officials of AirTran Airways and the family stood their ground Friday, each accusing the other of misconduct. Kashif Irfan, left, and his brother Atif Irfan were among family members removed from the flight Thursday. The families of Atif Irfan, a tax attorney, and his brother Kashif Irfan, an anesthesiologist, were removed from a flight before takeoff Thursday after a passenger reported hearing Atif Irfan's wife say something the passenger thought was suspicious. The airline declined to say what comment was overheard. But Atif Irfan say the couple was discussing the safest place to sit on a plane and speculates that someone misconstrued their intent. Family members Friday said they are particularly concerned about AirTran's actions after they were removed from the flight. AirTran refused to rebook the family on a subsequent flight, even after FBI agents cleared them of wrongdoing and intervened on their behalf, the Irfans said. "The FBI agents actually cleared our names," said Inayet Sahin, Kashif Irfan's wife. "And they went on our behalf and spoke to the airlines and said, 'There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation,' and they still refused."

That's's version.  AirTran's version is below the fold. You can ask for CEO Robert Fornaro at their corporate headquarters at 1-800-965-2107 and tell him that anti-Muslim discrimination is wrong and illegal, or whatever message you think is appropriate.   You can also e-mail an AirTran "Corporate Complaint Resolution Officer" at or use their  general customer service contact form here.  FInally, You can call a CCRO at the number above, extension 6042. If anyone is in touch with the people involved, please let them know they can contact me at dr [DOT] anonymous [AT] passtheroti [DOT] com to make sure  that the messaging reflects what they want.  If anyone finds Fornaro's e-mail address, please do let me know.  As an FYI, all anti-Muslim messages in the comments will be deleted. Thanks. [Update: please note newly boldfaced sentence above- this has been and will continue to be enforced to the best of my ability - Dr. A].

Oy Gevalt

By: on 27 Dec 2008

"Israeli war planes and combat helicopters pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 140 people and prompting rocket fire from Palestinian militants that killed an Israeli, medics said." What a bunch of f@#kers.  After you sabotage a democratic election, create bantustans, build a huge f@#king wall, set your enemies against each other, set up a naval blockade, have several unnecessary skirmishes/wars, and do very very little to address the problems from your own side of the iss

Note to Indian and Pakistani Elites

By: on 26 Dec 2008

and by this I mean both political and military institutions and civil society in both countries.  If you go to war, you lose.  If you have any vested interest in your country, then stop what you are doing right now, move away from brinksmanship, and let the rest of us, not to mention the people you allegedly represent and care about, live in peace.  Trust me, as an American, when I say that you have nothing to gain from the (further) militarization of your states and region in the medium or long terms.  Unless you consider increasing the prospects of World War I, the nuc

Happy Pseudo-Secular Holidays!

By: on 25 Dec 2008

Jai Allah and Marx Ho Akbar.  May your new year be blessed and/or revolutionary...or at least interesting. :) Peace

Open Thread: Neat Website

By: on 19 Dec 2008

Capitol Words takes the U.S. Congressional record and looks at the words in it.  For example, don't ever let anyone tell you again that Congress never talks about imperialism.  In the last 7 years, there have  been several days on which it was entered into the record almost 10 times!    Of course, there have  been several days on which the word report was entered into the record almost 10,000 times.

Introducing Radiostan

By: on 16 Dec 2008

If the guy whom Sepoy dubs a man-genius starts a radio show, you know it's worth listening to:

Send Your Shoes to The Village Asshole/Idiot! (Updated)

By: on 16 Dec 2008

Update: A couple of petitions (1,2) to free Zaidi, the shoe-thrower.  If anyone has any other steps that might be  more efficacious, please do let us know in the comments.  Back  to your regularly scheduled progamming:


We have endured the worst 8 years of my life, politically and as a result in some ways personally.  We have had our tax money used to kill people and destroy societies, we have seen massive giveaways to the people who needed it least and massive neglect of the people who needed it most (most spectacularly the residents of New Orleans, but many others,  including tsunami victims in the initial days and people suffering under debt), we have seen warmongering and fearmongering and xenophobia and racism and religious fundamentalism and scapegoating and profound, profound, incompetence.

The worst of the implementation of utter utter heinousness and moronicism is almost over, but the effects will be with us for a long, long, long, LONG time.  So to thank these fuckers for the mess they left us, send them a mess, a message that you noticed.  If you have leftover shoes that you don't need, if you are a laid-off factory worker or banker or a person who lives in a city or a country where you can't use the roads anymore, please consider mailing your old and unnecessary footwear to:

George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,  NW
Washington, DC 20500

Call it the Shoe Movement.

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