11.10.2017 – UK George Monbiot

How Labour could lead the global economy out of the 20th century
Modern-day pannage, or common of mast, in the New Forest UK (Image by JimChampion, Wikimedia Commons)

By George Monbiot for The Guardian

The rupture of 2008 presents a chance to throw out our iniquitous system that busts the planet – here are some ideas
We are still living in the long 20th century. We are stuck with its redundant technologies: the internal combustion engine, thermal power plants, factory farms. We are stuck with its redundant politics: unfair electoral systems, their capture by funders and lobbyists, the failure to temper representation with real participation.

And we are stuck with its redundant economics: neoliberalism, and the Keynesianism still proposed by its opponents. While the latter system worked very well for 30 years or more, it is hard to see how it can take us through this century, not least because the growth it seeks to sustain smacks headlong into the environmental crisis.

Sustained economic growth on a planet that is not growing means crashing through environmental limits: this is what we are witnessing, worldwide, today. A recent paper in Nature puts our current chances of keeping global heating to less than 1.5C at just 1%, and less than 2C at only 5%. Why? Because while the carbon intensity of economic activity is expected to decline by 1.9% a year, global per capita GDP is expected to grow by 1.8%. Almost all investment in renewables and efficiency is cancelled out. The index that was supposed to measure our prosperity, instead measures our progress towards ruin.

But the great rupture that began in 2008 offers a chance to change all this. The challenge now is to ensure that the new political movements threatening established power in Britain and elsewhere create the space not for old ideas (such as 20th-century Keynesianism) but for a new politics, built on new economic and social foundations.

There may be a case for one last hurrah for the old model: a technological shift that resembles the second world war’s military Keynesianism. In 1941 the US turned the entire civilian economy around on a dime: within months, car manufacturers were producing planes, tanks and ammunition. A determined government could do something similar in response to climate breakdown: a sudden transformation, replacing our fossil economy. But having effected such a conversion, it should, I believe, then begin the switch to a different economic model.

Land value tax and community right to buy help to create what I call a politics of belonging
The new approach could start with the idea of private sufficiency and public luxury. There is not enough physical or environmental space for everyone to enjoy private luxury: if everyone in London acquired a tennis court, a swimming pool, a garden and a private art collection, the city would cover England. Private luxury shuts down space, creating deprivation. But magnificent public amenities – wonderful parks and playgrounds, public sports centres and swimming pools, galleries, allotments and public transport networks – create more space for everyone at a fraction of the cost.

Wherever possible, such assets should be owned and managed by neither state nor market, but by communities, in the form of commons. A commons in its true form is a non-capitalist system in which a resource is controlled in perpetuity by a community for the shared and equal benefit of its members. A possible model is the commons transition plan commissioned by the Flemish city of Ghent.

Land value taxation also has transformative potential. It can keep the income currently siphoned out of our pockets in the form of rent – then out of the country and into tax havens – within our hands. It can reduce land values, bringing down house prices. While local and national government should use some of the money to fund public services, the residue can be returned to communities.

Couple this with a community right to buy, which enables communities to use this money to acquire their own land, with local commons trusts that possess powers to assemble building sites, and with a new right for prospective buyers and tenants to plan their own estates, and exciting things begin to happen. This could be a formula for meeting housing need, delivering public luxury and greatly enhancing the sense of community, self-reliance and taking back control. It helps to create what I call the politics of belonging.

But it doesn’t stop there. The rents accruing to commons trusts could be used to create a local version of the citizens’ wealth funds (modelled on the sovereign wealth funds in Alaska and Norway) proposed by Angela Cummine and Stewart Lansley. The gain from such funds could be distributed in the form of a local basic income.

And the money the government still invests? To the greatest extent possible, I believe it should be controlled by participatory budgeting. In the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, the infrastructure budget is allocated by the people: around 50,000 citizens typically participate. The results – better water, sanitation, health, schools and nurseries – have been so spectacular that large numbers of people now lobby the city council to raise their taxes. When you control the budget, you can see the point of public investment.

In countries such as the UK, we could not only adopt this model, but extend it beyond the local infrastructure budget to other forms of local and even national spending. The principle of subsidiarity – devolving powers to the smallest political unit that can reasonably discharge them – makes such wider democratic control more feasible.

All this would be framed within a system such as Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics, which instead of seeking to maximise growth sets a lower threshold of wellbeing, below which no one should fall, and an upper threshold of environmental limits that economic life should not transgress. A participatory economics could be accompanied by participatory politics, involving radical devolution and a fine-grained democratic control over the decisions affecting our lives.

Who could lead this global shift? It could be the UK Labour party. It is actively seeking new ideas. It knows that the bigger the change it offers, the greater the commitment of the volunteers on which its insurgency relies: the “big organising” model that transformed Labour’s fortunes at the last election requires a big political offer.

Could Labour be the party that brings the long 20th century to an end? I believe, despite its Keynesian heritage, it could. Now, more than at any other time in the past few decades, it has a chance to change the world.

• George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

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09.10.2017 Democracy Now!

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Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian Women March for Peace
(Image by Democracy Now!)

In the occupied West Bank, thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched to the shores of the Jordan River Sunday calling for an end to Jewish-only settlements and for a negotiated peace agreement. This is Israeli citizen Vivian Silver of the group Women Wage Peace.

Vivian Silver: “We are organizing women from all over the country, from every side of the political spectrum, who are saying, ‘Enough! Maspik [Hebrew for enough]’—in Arabic, it’s ’makkafi’—’Enough. We’re no longer willing to do this.’ We must reach a political agreement. We must change the paradigm that we have been taught for seven decades now, where we’ve been told that only war will bring peace. We don’t believe that anymore. It’s been proven that it’s not true.”

08.10.2017 – London UK Silvia Swinden

Film review: Blade Runner 2049
(Image by Alice Kus, originals from Wikimedia Commons)

The follow up to the 1982 dystopian Science Fiction film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott and set in Los Angeles in 2019 (now oh so close), has hit the movie theatres to great critical acclaim. It takes place 30 years after the first instalment and those who watch it in 3D can get the immersive dystopian horror almost as if part of their own lives. Funny, since one of the themes is the technology capable of creating implanted memories.

Considering the hype created around its launch it may just become one of those films watched by a large part of the population, that is, it could become a cultural object. Therefore it is interesting to look at its possible influence with a critical eye.

Like its predecessor the themes are environmental degradation, pollution, exodus of all humans to other planets except for the least affluent, takeover of the world by Big Corporations (this latest incarnation begins with Sony first amongst its opening credits, the irony seems to be lost to the producers) and androids or replicants hunted down and killed, in the old movie for developing their own ideas, in this one for being obsolete models.

Like so many dystopian sci-fi films it is not really discussing the future but it is intended as a critique of the present. The nuclear holocaust is implied but muted, it happened, we are in a post-apocalyptic situation but people survived.

Corporate takeover, automation driven unemployment, AI killer robots, they are all becoming all too real inducing a paranoid feeling in the population which the film depicts (or exploits) to perfection.

The new film has been directed by Denis Villeneuve who also gave us Arrival (the guy likes his mist). In both Blade Runner films the capacity of the replicants to become truly human (Pinocchio is subtly present when the replicant is told he could become “a real boy”) is the recourse used by the films to discuss what is the meaning of being truly human, the central philosophical point of Phillip K Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” on which both films are loosely based.

In the 1982 version the replicant achieves humanity at the point of his death by developing compassion. He refuses to kill his now helpless enemy and a white dove flies away, like a kind of soul reaching for the heights. Perhaps that was the point that slowly penetrated the public’s consciousness as the film evolved from not great at the box office to all times cult movie.

The 2017 version posits that what makes us human is sacrifice. This is more in line with traditional Hollywood war hero’s movies designed to convince the young that distant psychopathic politicians have the right to send them to unnecessary and unethical wars because dying for your country is a great honour. It is also part of the brain washing of terrorists. Sacrifice assumes there are things more valuable than human life, and if some people are prepared to die for them surely they will be also prepared to kill for them. Unless this happens in the context of a strong nonviolence driven moral position like Gandhi’s “There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.” None of this for our replicant hero, he gives as good as he gets, and no white doves for him.

The wisdom of humanist proposals like “nothing above the human being and no human being above another” and the Golden Rule of “treating others the way we would like to be treated” (1) is that they are not based on sacrifice but on solidarity and this has the capacity to create a better reality. Because what makes us truly human is intentionality, our consciousness creates our reality and gives it a direction. Memories of affection from mothers and fathers, understanding from teachers, positive role models, unexpected help from strangers, sympathetic smiles, the warmth in the look from lovers, all add to a direction towards everyone’s well being. Bad experiences do the opposite and yet we have the capacity to rebel against mechanical desires of revenge.

If we are left purely with this film’s message, filing it uncritically in our memory archives, then it’s just another night out, we have been ‘entertained’. But if the film awakens a desire to discuss with others the meaning of being truly human and how that can be achieved in a dehumanising system, then it may contribute to the winds of change to start blowing with more strength.

 

1. The principles of valid action, Ch XIII, The inner look by Silo.

06.10.2017 Pressenza London

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Jeremy Corbyn congratulates ICAN for winning the Nobel Peace Prize
(Image by Flickr)

Congratulations to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on its well-deserved award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

I’m proud to have worked with ICAN for the goal of a nuclear free world for many years and the Nobel Committee’s call for serious global nuclear disarmament talks demands an urgent response.

The need to avoid a nuclear apocalypse, killing millions upon millions of innocents and wrecking our planet is becoming ever more pressing. Sadly, Theresa May and the Conservatives have tried to turn the issue into a party political game.

They are deeply irresponsible. Acting to prevent war, especially nuclear war, should be the starting point of any serious and sensible defence and foreign policy.

The tensions on the Korean Peninsula underline the urgency of the nuclear powers’ obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to bring about nuclear disarmament.

We have to wind down the rhetoric now. As a member of the Security Council, Britain has an important responsibility and role to play. The next Labour government will ensure Britain takes a lead in strengthening global peace and security.

https://www.facebook.com/JeremyCorbynMP/?fref=ts

 

 

 

06.10.2017 David Swanson

Is the Nobel Committee Finally Abiding by Nobel’s Will?

By David Swanson

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) — listen to my radio show with one of ICAN’s leaders two years ago here.

It’s conceivable that some Americans will now learn, because of this award, about the new treaty that bans the possession of nuclear weapons.

This treaty has been years in the works. This past summer 122 nations agreed on the language of it, including these words:

Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to:

(a) Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

(b) Transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly or indirectly;

(c) Receive the transfer of or control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices directly or indirectly;

(d) Use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

(e) Assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Treaty;

(f) Seek or receive any assistance, in any way, from anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Treaty;

(g) Allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control.

Not bad, right? This treaty is something of a rebuke to the nuclear-armed nations, chiefly the United States and Russia, that are in violation of existing law, which requires them to work toward disarmament. This new law will require every nation to not possess nuclear weapons at all. It’s also a corrective to the additional current violation, unique to the United States, of placing nuclear weapons that supposedly belong to it in other nations, namely the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, all of which possess U.S. nuclear weapons.

Already in the past week, since the new treaty opened for signatures, 53 nations have signed and 3 ratified. Once 50 have ratified, the nuke ban becomes law, and its violators become outlaws. You can urge the U.S. government to sign on, join the world, support the rule of law, and promote human survival here.

The New York Times is already suggesting that the Nobel Committee’s choice of awardee is somehow related to the lawlessness of North Korea. It’s worth noting, however, that the only nuclear-armed nation in the world (there are nine of them, not counting those with “U.S.” weapons) that voted last October to create the new treaty was North Korea. Of course, North Korea, in the Trump era, has not signed or ratified and is unlikely to do so. But I’d bet heavily that North Korea would do so if just one particular other nation agreed to do so as well.

Behind this award is years of work by ordinary people struggling for the survival of life on earth. And behind their receiving of the award may be another struggle that very few have heard about. I refer to the campaign led by Fredrik Heffermehl to persuade the Nobel Committee to abide by the legal mandate of Alfred Nobel’s will, the document that created the prize. The press release announcing this year’s prize contains this key paragraph:

“The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will. The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses. ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament. ICAN and a majority of UN member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. And through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.”

This is exactly right, and very new. It is also exactly what legal suits and public lobbying have pressured the committee to do.

The fact is that we need a new prize, separate from the peace prize, for “general good stuff.” When someone proposes that Colin Kaepernick get the Nobel Peace Prize for protesting racism, it ought to be possible to name a prize that he should get, rather than getting oneself labeled a racist for pointing out that Kaepernick has done nothing to qualify himself for the peace prize. Or when Malala Yousafzai actually receives the prize for promoting education, or Al Gore for opposing climate destruction, we ought to be able to say “No, no. Those are wonderful things. Give those people the General Nice Stuff Prize. The peace prize is legally mandated to go to those working for peace and disarmament.”

Now, the prize was meant for individuals, not organizations, but even Heffermehl doesn’t demand adherence to that detail. In fact, for what I believe may be the first time, the prize has now gone to a nominee that Heffermehl recommended as among those suitable by the criteria in the will. Is this part of a trend? That’s not as clear. Recent winners have included a militarist president of Columbia for negotiating a peace treaty (but with his partners in that treaty left out), a group that organized a nonviolent revolution in Tunisia, the second-biggest warmakers and weapons dealers on earth in the form of the European Union, a U.S. President who bombed 8 countries and developed drone warfare to the point that the UN declared war, rather than peace, to have become the norm, and other quite dubious awardees — but also an organization seeking to eliminate chemical weapons, a diplomatic-minded former president of Finland, etc.

The purpose of the will, not included in the three criteria, but made clear by Nobel, was to provide funding for work on the three criteria. Thus giving prize money to the EU, which could have had ten times the money simply by buying a bit less weaponry, or giving it to famous, wealthy presidents and politicians, seems off. But giving it to ICAN seems, finally, to have caught on to what the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize was supposed to be. Three cheers for somebody doing something right in this world!

06.10.2017 – Oslo, Norway Pressenza Budapest

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2017

Pressenza is delighted to republish the press statement from the Nobel Prize Committee confirming the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.  As a partner organisation, we are stunned and overjoyed that the hard work done by the campaign since 2009 has been recognised in this extraordinary way.  Our congratulations go to ICAN.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.

We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth. Through binding international agreements, the international community has previously adopted prohibitions against land mines, cluster munitions and biological and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition.

Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap. An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that a nuclear war will cause. ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe. The coalition has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.

Furthermore, ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavour to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law. On 7 July 2017, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is aware that an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty. The Committee wishes to emphasize that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states. This year’s Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Five of the states that currently have nuclear weapons – the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – have already committed to this objective through their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970. The Non-Proliferation Treaty will remain the primary international legal instrument for promoting nuclear disarmament and preventing the further spread of such weapons.

It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly, in its very first resolution, advocated the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world. With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to pay tribute to ICAN for giving new momentum to the efforts to achieve this goal.

The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will. The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses. ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament. ICAN and a majority of UN member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. And through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.

It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour.

Oslo, 6 October 2017

05.10.2017 Karina Lagdameo Santillan

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Celebrating the International Day of Non-Violence with Children in Bangladesh

Manila, Philippines.

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”—Gandhi.
The General Assembly of the United Nations declared October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence to coincide with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and advocate of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. The International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.
In Bangladesh, members of the Community for Human Development marked the occasion in the cities of Dhaka and Cox Bazar. In Dhaka, the celebration took place in Azimpur where old and new friends came together in fellowship, sharing memories and interchanging on activities being done to promote peace and non-violence.

 

The other celebration took place in the Cox Bazar Humanist School with students and their guardians in attendance. It was a lively and happy affair, with the young students nicely dressed for the occasion. The children danced, played and enjoyed a good meal. They shared their knowledge about Gandhi whom they knew quite well. The teacher also spoke about Silo and his work for humanity which is in line with the methodology of active non-violence espoused by Gandhi as the way to effect real change in the world and to promote lasting peace.


As Gandhi said, “”In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” These humble occasions initiated in small groups and neighborhoods all over the world is indeed a testament that an aspiration for a peaceful and non-violent world is alive in the hearts of many.
The International Day of Non-violence celebrations in Bangladesh were organized by member-volunteers of The Community for Human Development. Its vision is to plant the seeds for a truly human world where the needs of the human being are given the highest value and its members are doing its share to help end all forms of violence and discrimination.
The future belongs to our children- a cliché but it holds a grain of truth. Carrying peace in our hearts and sharing them with the young is surely a step towards building a more humane world for the new generations to come.

 

03.10.2017 – India Nava J. Thakuria

Demanding security for journalists to work in India
Indian media workers protest the lack of security facing the country’s journalists. (Image by Nava Thakuria)

The Indian media fraternity observed an unusual Gandhi Jayanti this time as scores of scribes across the country organized protest demonstrations in different locations with one demand only: to ensure security & justice to working journalists.  Press clubs, journalist bodies and media organizations formed human chains and made symbolic protests in support of the demand.

The reason for demonstrating their anger on the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, was the relentless violence against journalists in different forms across the south Asian nation.  With the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi who was a dedicated journalist before emerging as India’s Father of the Nation, the media fraternity thus committed to defy all mental & physical challenges in their professional lives.

For some reason, the largest democracy in the globe remains an unsafe place for serious journalists irrespective of the regimes in power in New Delhi or any provincial capital.  The populous country witnesses the murder of around five media persons annually and that has not changed for decades. The land of Lord Vishnu and Bhagawan Buddha has also failed to resolve any of those journalist murder cases legally.

The month of September brought the news of three shocking journalist murders in the country and the media fraternity along with their well-wishers have seemingly rediscovered the vulnerability for those scribes who pursue critical journalism. The year 2017 has witnessed the killing of eight journalists in nine months, but as usual the reactions to those killings from the authorities and the public remains lukewarm.

It was only Kannada editor-journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder on September 5 at her Bangaluru (earlier known as Bangalore) residence that aroused massive protests across the country. The Publisher of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada language newspaper in Karnataka, central India, Ms Gauri was shot dead by unidentified gunmen, following which strong reactions were observed not only from inside the country but also from various international organizations.

A Left ideology inclined journalist, Ms Gauri’s assassination tempted more civil society groups, which are predominantly against the Hindu nationalist ideologue like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), to take to the streets demanding justice. They rushed to make statements that the outspoken journalist was targeted by the ruling political elements as she used to criticize both RSS and BJP absolutely.

However, the Congress ruled that the Karnataka province government and its chief minister Siddaramaiah had a cordial relationship with Ms Gauri.

Soon after her assassination, the province government chief announced her demise as a personal loss.  But for reasons, best known to Siddaramaiah only, the chief minister’s reactions against the killer(s) of Ms Gauri, 55, were soft.  So is the investigation process!

Protest-demonstrations were so loud that it inspired a Communist Party of India (CPI)-led Tripura government chief to personally join in a demonstration at Agartala.  The chief minister Manik Sarkar’s participation in the protest program encouraged the media fraternity of northeast India and he was thoroughly appreciated for the gesture.

But when a young television scribe of Tripura was beaten to death by a mob, the same CPI chief minister remained silent. The Agartala based journalists, while condemning the murder of Shantanu Bhowmik on September 20, had to raise voices for getting reactions from Sarkar.  Even then the chief minister, also in charge of the home portfolio, pronounced a spongy reaction towards the incident.

However, the condemnations from various national and international bodies were pouring out against the brutal murder of Shantanu, 29, who used to work for an Agartala based Bengali-language cable news channel named Din-Raat.  A series of protest programs were organized by various Indian media bodies across the country demanding justice for Shantanu’s bereaved mother and sister.

On the fateful day, Shantanu went to cover a program of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which was protesting against the ruling CPI and slowly it turned violent.  Claimed to have supports from the tribal population of Tripura, the IPFT maintains its demand for a separate homeland for the tribal people out of Tripura. The party, which has seemingly a political understanding with the BJP, has continued its violent protests in recent years.

The IPFT protest program at Mandwai, west Tripura, bordering Bangladesh, soon witnessed the arrival of many cadres belonged to the CPI’s tribal wing Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP) at the location.  Both the parties had already engaged in violent clashes on the previous day at the same location.

So the situation became charged and finally members of both IPFT and TRUGP turned aggressive and later violent.  Shantanu started filming the violent activities with his mobile phone, as his cameraman avoided the professional camera for fear of abusive reactions from the agitators.  As Shantanu started capturing the visuals of IPFT members attacking opponents & the police and also damaging vehicles on the roadside, he was asked initially to stop recording.

Later the protesters chased him for the phone and some of them turned unruly to finally attack Shantanu with stick-rods and other sharp items. Blood soaked Shantanu was rescued and sent to the hospital by the police, but by the time he had arrived he had stopped breathing.  His phone was however missing, which was also revealed by the State police chief, Akhil Kumar Shukla.

Meanwhile, Shantanu’s killing was condemned and condoled by various international forums like the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Paris based Reporters without Borders (RSF), and the Brussels based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which all called for the Tripura government to launch a ‘thorough investigation’ into the death of Shantanu to bring those responsible to justice and also ensure the future safety of journalists.

Amnesty International, in its condemnation statement pointed out that the killing of journalists cannot become the order of the day.  State governments in India must do everything in their power to prevent journalists from becoming targets for their viewpoints or affiliations.  Authorities must end impunity for these killings, it added.  Condemning the killing of Shantanu, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said, “I trust the authorities will conduct an investigation into this killing and bring its perpetrators to justice.”

In India, all influential media bodies like the Indian Newspaper Society, the Editors’ Guild of India, the Broadcast Editors’ Association, the Press Club of India, the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the Federation of Press Clubs in India, besides various journalist unions strongly condemned the murder of Shantanu and urged the Manik Sarkar government to help deliver justice.  Even the Press Council of India, a quasi-judicial body, took note of Shantanu’s killing and sought a report from the Tripura government.

All media bodies of northeast India came out to support the protests against the killing of Shantanu and to demand a high level probe (preferably by Central Bureau of Investigation).

Extending moral support to the Tripura journalists for justice, the media bodies asked the government to compensate the family of Shantanu adequately.  They also urged the Union government in New Delhi to formulate a national action plan for delivering justice at the earliest possible moment to the families of journalist victim.

According to the RSF, India is ranked 136th among 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index (2017) barometer, which is just ahead of its neighbours like Pakistan (139th), Sri Lanka (141), Bangladesh (146) and China (176).  Norway topped the list with some of India’s neighbours including Bhutan (84), Nepal (100), Maldives (117), Afghanistan (120), and Burma (131) all ahead of India.  One party ruled North Korea (180) is at the bottom of the list, with Vietnam and China placed at 175th and 176th positions respectively.

The string of India journalist killings began with Hari Prakash (killed on January 2) and the trend continued with the murder of Brajesh Kumar Singh (January 3), Shyam Sharma (May 15), Kamlesh Jain (May 31), Surender Singh Rana ( July 29), Ms Gauri, Shantanu and KJ Singh (September 23).  India lost six journalists to assailants in 2016, which was preceded by five cases in 2015.  It witnessed the murders of two scribes in 2014, but the year 2013 saw as many as 11 journalists murdered.

02.10.2017 – Madrid, Spain Gabriela Amaya

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“Mr. Rajoy, thanks to you we are out of Spain… even though we didn’t want to be.”

Criticisms of Mariano Rajoy’s administration for they way it has behaved during the referendum haven’t stopped coming all day from all over the world.

The brutal force of the police and the civil guard that we saw yesterday in Catalonia; the refusal to dialogue with the different actors before, during and after; the lack of minimal serious analysis; the blatant manipulation of information in the media… have all caused sectors that supported the Spanish government’s position on independence or those neutral to independence, to have openly demonstrated to reject in a clear way the actions of Rajoy and his government.

There have never been so many in favour of independence in Catalonia nor so many people who want to separate themselves from the image of the Kingdom of Spain that remains today, an image associated more with a dictatorship than with a democracy, even if it’s only formal.

At this rate, what happened in Britain after the Brexit referendum, which many people did not want but saw a yes vote as a way to register a protest against Cameron, will happen.  Nobody has done so much for Catalan independence as Mariano Rajoy.  If it turns out, in a few days’ time, that Catalonia will finally become independent, many Catalans will be able to say, “Mr. Rajoy, thanks to you we are out of Spain… even though we didn’t want to be”.

 

01.10.2017 – Around the world Redazione Italia

This post is also available in: Spanish, Italian

Where is Santiago Maldonado? Demonstrations around the world

Today, 1 October in many countries around the world, people demonstrated to ask the Argentinean government and the Argentine police about the whereabouts of Santiago Maldonado, the militant who supported the Mapuche struggles against the multi-nationals in Argentina.

All trace of Santiago was lost on 1 August this year.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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