Saturday, June 30, 2012

Syria Rejects Solutions Imposed from Abroad

 Syria Rejects Solutions Imposed from Abroad

Damascus, June 30 (Prensa Latina) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his country rejects any solution to the crisis demanded from abroad, no matter its content, he noted.

   Al-Assad expressed the Syrian position, coinciding with the celebration today in Geneva, Switzerland, of an international summit to find agreement leading to the solution of the violence crisis in this country, promoted by Western powers and Gulf monarchies.

 We do not accept in Syria any model other than Syrian, whether they be imposed by the superpowers or proposed by friendly countries, the head of state said in an interview with Iranian TV channel 4.

 If the Syrian people, the government and its armed forces were not united, it would not withstand the foreign onslaught.

 Al-Assad expressed the support to the six point plan by the UN special envoy, Kofi Annan, which in his opinion is a good initiative, still viable now and in the future, mainly the article related to the end of violence.

 That means the end of violence, he added, the cessation of criminal actions of the terrorist groups and the end of the financial and weapons support by countries that sponsor terrorism.

 He noted that some Western players make false claims, accusing Damascus of the failure of Annan's initiative and justifying in this way the adoption of resolutions by the UN Security Council against his country.

 He warned that a military aggression will have consequences for the entire region, a problem, he said, that goes beyond the calculations of those promoting this measure.

 He made a call for a solution to create a Middle East without any imposition from abroad or dictates by occupation or hegemony, coming from the hopes and interests of the peoples of the region.

 He criticized those countries inciting the conflict in Syria by supplying the armed groups for terrorist actions, and stressed that those killing the Syrian people are a mix of few, but dangerous criminals and religious extremists.



U.S. Escalates Missile Brinkmanship Against Russia

June 30, 2012

Romania: U.S. Escalates Missile Brinkmanship Against Russia
Rick Rozoff

On June 29 U.S. European Command announced the signing of new accords with the government of Romania for the stationing of American interceptor missiles in the country, a senior Russian diplomat stated that further talks with the U.S. on cuts in conventional and nuclear arms will not occur until Washington changes its stance on the U.S.-NATO missile shield project in Europe, and a top Russian official pledged to develop the means of circumventing the interceptor system on earth and in space.

At a joint committee meeting in the Bucharest, Major General Mark Schissler, Director of Plans and Policy at Headquarters U.S. European Command, and the Romanian Defense Ministry's State Secretary for Defense Policy and Planning Sebastian Hulaban signed two implementing arrangements and three amendments to existing implementing arrangements related to the construction and operation of an American interceptor missile facility at a former air base in Deveselu. The new implementing arrangements pertain to the use of land surrounding the base and the use of air space over it for Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the first phase of which was announced to be operational at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago in May.

Also present for the signing were Rear Admiral Randall Hendrickson, Deputy Director of the Missile Defense Agency, and Brigadier General Thomas Sharpy, Director of Plans, Programs and Analyses for U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

The new codicils follow the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement between the two nations which was signed in September of last year and entered into force in December. That pact in turn succeeded Romania's announcement in February 2010 that it would host U.S. missiles as part of the Barack Obama administration's Phased Adaptive Approach system to deploy scores of interceptors on land and sea in Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea along Russia's western flank.

Construction on the Romanian site will begin next year and in 2014 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors will be deployed to the country, to be followed by as many, of a more advanced model, in Poland three years later.

Earlier in June U.S. representatives participated in an industry day in Romania, announcing that ground would be broken for the missile facility within months and dangling the prospect of contracts before local businesses, although Missile Defense Agency facilities require an American prime contractor for the military components.

The American representatives said they expected two contracts to be approved, one for developing the facilities of the Missile Defense Agency and one for the U.S. Navy component that is included in the Deveselu site. The involvement of the Navy, which will gain an access control center and facilities for 250 personnel, could indicate that the U.S. and NATO will not limit themselves to the placing of land-based Standard Missile-3s but may add the deployment of the sea-based version on American guided missile cruisers and destroyers in the Black Sea.

Commenting on the above, the press officer at the American embassy in Romania, Kenneth Wetzel, said, "This project reaffirms Romania's commitments to NATO and reflects the very strong relations between our two countries."

The missile shield facility will initially be a bilateral U.S.-Romanian undertaking until it is transferred to NATO control. Bogdan Aurescu of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Romanian companies have gained considerable experience in NATO and NATO-interoperable projects since joining the U.S.-led military bloc in 2004 that permits the country to be the first to host longer-range, higher-velocity interceptors in Europe. (Two years ago the Pentagon moved a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 battery and approximately 100 military personnel to Poland.)

The 2011 agreement on basing U.S. interceptor missiles in Romania begins with these words:

"Having in mind the United States–Romanian Strategic Partnership and the further development thereof, and recognizing that a very important pillar of the United States–Romanian relationship is the solidarity embodied in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the United States and Romania recognize the importance of enhancing their individual and collective national security by working within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization...

"Reaffirming their strong will to work together towards contributing to, in accordance with the principle of the indivisibility of the security of NATO and with the principle of NATO solidarity, the NATO missile defense capability, as a key mission of the Alliance, with the aim of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces, as well as to shaping NATO's central role in missile defense in Europe..."

In 2005, the year after Romania joined NATO, the U.S. signed a comprehensive defense cooperation agreement with the country that provided the Pentagon its first military bases in a former Warsaw Pact country, including the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base which had been used for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent to that has been employed for the wars in that nation, Afghanistan and Libya.

On June 18 the above-cited Romanian official Aurescu met with Poland's presidential adviser on security matters Stanislaw Koziej to share Romania's experience in regard to hosting American Standard Missile-3 interceptors. The U.S. will deploy the new Standard Missile-3 Block 1B, to go into production this fall, to Romania in 2015 and the more advanced Block 11A to Poland in 2018.

The missile system will be controlled by NATO from the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany and connected with the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance X-band missile radar put into operation in Turkey in January, which an Obama administration official last autumn described as "probably the biggest strategic decision between the United States and Turkey in the past 15 or 20 years."

On June 29 Grigory Berdennikov, the Russian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated that Russia will not continue talks with the U.S. on conventional and nuclear arms reductions until, as cited by Russian Information Agency Novosti, "Washington changes its stance on the global deployment of U.S. missile defenses."

The news agency quoted Berdennikov as warning:

"[H]ow are we supposed to move forward if the United States refuses to curb its missile defenses?

"We are certainly hoping that they will change their stance on missile defense, because at this point there is no progress (in missile defense talks) whatsoever. We cannot do anything else while there is no clarity on missile defense issues."

On the same day Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a Russian radio station that Russia will develop a response to the U.S.-NATO missile interception system that will allow for it being confronted and overcome. He said, "Our task is to create a real guarantee of security for the Russian Federation by arming Russian forces with equipment capable of countering any attempts to offset the strategic balance."

According to a Xinhua News Agency account of his statement, Russia will "create defensive systems capable of intercepting incoming missiles or upgrade its own first-strike nuclear forces so as to overcome any anti-missile umbrella."

Rogozin added: "We, of course, will create a system of overcoming and suppressing any anti-missile defense. If somebody thinks it is possible to surround us with an anti-missile fence, we will break down everything, the entire wall, if someone would attempt to isolate us or make us kneel down."

In anticipating the next step in U.S. and NATO missile interception plans - the inevitable expansion into space - the Russian official said that his nation will also "give an adequate response" to the threat of military attacks from that domain.

He explained Russia's concerns regarding the militarization of space: "Obviously, long-term space stations will be created not only for civilian but, perhaps, for military purposes. Today it is impossible to draw the line between civilian and military space (programs)."

The deployment of interceptor missiles in Romania and Poland will mark the beginning and not the end of U.S. and NATO plans for an international - and beyond, to space - missile system for potential first-strike use against Russia and other nations, a system that can prove the greatest threat to humanity since the end of the Cold War.

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The US military's 'anti-Islam classes' - Inside Story Americas - Al Jazeera English

Machiavelli on Innovation

Machiavelli on Innovation

"And it should be realised that taking the initiative in introducing a new form of government is very difficult and dangerous, and unlikely to succeed. The reason is that all those who profit from the old order will be opposed to the innovator, whereas all those who might benefit from the new order are, at best, tepid supporters of him. This lukewarmness arises partly from the sceptical temper of men, who do not really believe in new things unless they have been seen to work well."

Niccolò Machiavelli -The Prince





COMMENT: What use are toothless and worthless conventions? —Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The Baloch have suffered terribly at the hands of the state since 1948 but maintain their dignity and have shown resolute courage under fire. The Baloch consider crying over the dead a sign of weakness

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, also known as the United Nations Convention against Torture, is an international human rights instrument aimed at preventing torture around the world. The United Nations General Assembly adopted it on December 10, 1984; it came into force on June 26, 1987. June 26 is recognised as the International Day in Support of Torture Victims. Pakistan signed it on April 17, 2008 and ratified it on June 3, 2010. It observed this day by dumping Buland Khan's tortured, bullet-riddled body in Dasht, Mastung, abducted five days before from Quetta.
The Pakistani state since signing this convention has decidedly trampled all over it in Balochistan. In 2010, 103 bodies were discovered, while 2011 saw this number rise to 203 and this year, so far, 80 bodies have been recovered. Kalat district heads the count, accounting for 133 victims; 60 bodies were discovered in Makran district and 102 victims were found in Quetta. Note: these figures are only for the past 18 months and many were victims before too, and it does not include people like Professor Saba Dashtiyari and other victims of targeted killings. No convention unless backed by sanctions is good enough to deter those who have enjoyed immunity for all past atrocities. Victims of the Frontier Corps (FC), intelligence agencies and their henchmen's brutality litter Balochistan's landscape but the Baloch persist with their struggle.
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2006 and came into force on December 23, 2010; 91 states have signed it and 32 countries have ratified or acceded it. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan remains one of the countries that refuse to sign it and even if it did, it will flout it as brazenly as it does the one on torture. August 30 is observed as the 'International Day of the Disappeared', which Pakistan observes by making even more people disappear.
This Wednesday the Senate's Functional Committee on Human Rights expressed displeasure over the increasing number of missing persons and adopted a resolution recommending the government to sign international conventions on the protection of people against forced disappearance. The Defence Secretary, Nargis Sethi, staunchly defended the intelligence agencies and stated that the whole world was hostile to the government agencies, which were doing their work in the country's best interest. Some work! She deflected the indictment of the Supreme Court about the responsibility of the FC for 85 percent of disappearances in Balochistan by stating that the FC was under the interior ministry. This lame excuse would be laughable if only the matter was not that of hundreds of Baloch being abducted and killed by the state.
The Baloch have suffered terribly at the hands of the state since 1948 but maintain their dignity and have shown resolute courage under fire. The Baloch consider crying over the dead a sign of weakness; a picture on the internet showed the mother of my students, Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Nabi Marri, flashing a victory sign by their graves. The pain she must have undergone during their disappearance and then seeing their mutilated bodies can only be known to her. In Balochi, to express the sorrow of loss of the dead, they rightly say the fire heats most the spot it burns on.
I cannot claim that I am more hurt than those who have lost their loved ones in this ongoing dirty war against the Baloch, but I too am deeply hurt and saddened because among these dead are many persons whom I knew well and was associated with during our long exile in Afghanistan. Will someone tell how one condoles and commiserates with a person who has at once lost two brothers to state brutality? Should I tell him to accept it as destiny and ask him to show forbearance? If I do that, will he not think that Ustad with age has lost his marbles? Because I would not be speaking about unknown people, strangers, but persons I knew as flesh and blood, with a passion for studying, who patiently sat hours on the gravelly ground, summer and winter, to learn the three Rs I taught them.
Each Baloch who has fallen victim to state brutality, regardless of the fact whether the interior ministry, the defence ministry or their henchmen were responsible, deserves to be thanked and remembered for their dedication and commitment to the Baloch struggle, for had they succumbed to pressures or temptations they would be alive. Among these nearly 500 Baloch who have recently paid their debt of blood to their nation, I personally knew many. But I want to especially mention my students who have died gruesome deaths at the hands of the brutal enemies of humanity, who recognise no moral or religious norms, though ostensibly they do all this in the good name of Islam.
I feel honoured and privileged to be identified with those young men, my former students, who fell participating in the fight for a life of dignity and freedom for the Baloch people. I will name them with their sub-clans sobdar: Wahid Bakhsh, Shah Mir and Ahmad Murghiani. Zaman Khan and Ahmed Ali Chalgari. Arzu, Sherbat, Murad, and Zaman Sherani. Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Nabi Pirdadani. Faiz Mohammad, Nasir and Wazir Khan Mazarani. Gulzar Taingiani and Ghulam Qadir Pirukani. Some including Dr Akbar Pirdadani are missing. They died honourably and the Baloch owe them a debt, which can be redeemed only in struggle for a just and dignified life for the Baloch. My obituary for my student Zaman Khan is at:\09\09\story_9-9-2010_pg7_19.
There will be no change in the brutality towards the Baloch even if the Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is signed by Pakistan. The brutalities will continue; for after ratifying the Convention on Torture, they mercilessly continue to torture and kill in custody. Toothless and worthless conventions will not hinder those who are bent upon subjugating people and land for exploitation. Apparently, the world too does not take these conventions seriously enough, for had these meant anything, there would have been a reaction to Pakistani atrocities in Balochistan. At present, the only thing that can and is making the essential difference is the Baloch resistance to these atrocities but that needs support from all. Those silent at atrocities on the Baloch should remember that the perpetrators will sooner or later come for them too.

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at


Dear All,

Please find attachments on our new initiative Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives . You are free to republish or foreword among your network. 

With Solidarity,

Nilantha Ilangamuwa 


Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives launched

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to inform that its new initiative, Torture: Asian and Global perspectives, was launched at an event that was jointly organized by the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong in the Foreign Correspondents' Club, on Monday, 25th June 2012.


The bi-monthly magazine aims to extensively cover aspects of torture not only in Asia but other parts of the world as well. Its first issue was mainly focused on India, the largest democratic nation in the World. The issue presented how torture still exists in the country and how human rights activists and others who are committed to protecting human rights can campaign against these abuses with non-violence.

Torture's ubiquity in Asia is such that it has become an integral part of the continent's everyday landscape. Torture is so 'normal' that governments are rarely held to account for practicing it, judicial systems are often lackadaisical in dealing with it, national media ignore it, and the public is indifferent to it. This insidious normalisation of an abhorrent practice is a colossal bar to combating torture in Asia, Tisaranee Gunasekara, who is a Sri Lankan columnist based in Colombo pointed this out in her comment in themagazine.


Meanwhile in his essay, Bob Brecher, Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Brighton, and author of "Torture and the Ticking Bomb", wrote an extensive analysis of torture in the present geopolitical situation. "Torture is the worst thing we do to each other. A torturous society -- the sort of society increasingly legitimized since September 2001 - is the worst society we can create; Why?"


In his essay, Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a professor who teaches human rights and international law at Kashmir University, examined torture against children in Kashmir, stating that the, "Indian Constitution does not have any specific provision which explicitly provides protection against torture," he observed.


Additionally, "It is not the duty of the citizen, nor is the citizen even able, to prevent torture or to create a genuine justice system. It is the singular responsibility of the state, which possesses the means and mandate to enforce the law" said Bijo Francies of the AHRC in an interview with the magazine.


In our second issue we focused on Sri Lanka and tried to deliver broader coverage on torture, which is part of daily life in the island nation. In this issue many scholars contributed with their specialized areas of expertise. "The majority of torture doesn't occur for political reasons. It more often takes place in order to conduct criminal investigations so in that process, instead of properly investigating a crime and using methods of investigations through the use of forensics and other methodologies, people are just beaten and forced to confess." said Basil Fernando, an icon of human rights actives and a director of the AHRC said in an interview.


In our editorial we tried to understand the problem and its root causes. One question we had was, "Why is torture endemic to the country, even after passage of many laws and the acceptance of numerous conventions against torture?" The answer might appear to be a complicated one. However, we must remember that the occurrence of torture is neither accidental nor invisible to the public.


It is the result of a long and systematic process of social control, which uses old tactics of the powerful and unaccountable, without respect for past or present. Sri Lanka is unable to develop a system through which not only would torture be eliminated, but all forms of crimes would reduce, to reflect the kind of evolved civilization that we claim we are. The sad part is that these primitive practices of torture are being used as tools of social control.


Even the electoral process has become cynically manipulated by those who appear to have absolute power; i.e. a site of hollow democracy where authentic dissent has little space to make its presence felt. It is perhaps naiveté on the part of the citizens that accept this space as one through which justice can be achieved and violence reduced. This acceptance has created tremendous stress and darkness in Sri Lankan society.


Today we are in a situation where we must find a way to break down the system of absolute executives, as we have for absolute monarchs in the past, and hold every citizen as equal before the law. Unfortunately, today's politics ignores the principles of a free and equitable society, in favor of popularity contests between special interest factions and the compromising of the rule of law. To find a way to achieve our goals is a long term process and an understanding of voluntarism is important. "Making a path for victims to come forward and express their experiences while continuing rational discourse is crucial to any serious return to a society that respects the rule of law," Nilantha Ilangamuwa, an editor of the magazine said. He added, "Generally, politics has more in common with culture than legality. Because of this an idea of "social change" came into discourse, where social movements originated."


We believed that, despite of all these facts, elimination torture is a collective process which will take a long time and tremendous effort to achieve. Torture: Asian and Global perspectives, is only one point on that long road and we hope to join hands with victims of torture and opinion makers to make our presence known to policy makers. We hope people all around the world will joined us to eliminate torture and ensure that a torture free society is possible.

Volume One-Issue One

EDITORIAL: Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives


In releasing our first issue, Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, we wish to convey our happiness and excitement at getting our message out to readers. We are only too aware that subjects covered in this magazine are not quite conducive to feelings of happiness. It can be depressing to talk about human rights, particularly in the face of such rampant abuse. Yet the emotion we would like to share with our readers in releasing this magazine is neither that of extreme joy nor of despair, but a quiet hope. Through bearing witness to suffering, we are determined to bring an inextinguishable light to countless victims of torture, an aspiration and ideal that individuals will no longer be denied their inherent dignity, liberties and rights. This is our response to the ever louder declamations against acts of senseless, lawless violence from persons and communities all over Asia.


A free and prosperous society, however, cannot be achieved through spontaneous revolution but through the gradual evolution of public opinion and values. This can only arise from proper education and the dissemination of knowledge. To this end, our magazine will seek to address in greater detail the many different aspects of torture, a practice that persists in Asia and many other places around the world, despite a litany of prohibitive laws.


Torture is often used by authoritarian regimes as a means of maintaining control and suppressing opposition. One of the reasons torture is less prevalent in some places than in others is that certain countries have open and free political processes that protect dissenting voices and institutional checks and balances to the power of any particular group. While torture is often used to address the insecurity dialogue and debate cause authoritarian regimes, there exist many historical examples societies forcing political reform despite the best efforts of whoever may be in charge. This is both a challenge and a hope for most countries in Asia today.

The police radio blares, "If she dies due to the torture, just report it as suicide." - Cartoon Courtesy:  (Note: Because of the 610 Office's position, function and bloody crimes in persecuting Falun Gong, the international community calls it the "Chinese Gestapo.")



















Click here to subscribe to Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives



The concept of publishing a bi-monthly magazine on torture was borne of these circumstances, limitations and hopes. The publication will give prominent coverage to the atrocities committed by authorities and affiliated agencies against individuals legally under their protection. We seek to create a platform for the discussion and exposure of torture practices in Asia and around the globe. Each fortnightly edition will be divided into three main types of narratives: stories from individuals of their traumatic experiences, interviews with people working in the subfield of human rights violations related to torture and feature-length essays approaching torture from specific facets of psychology, forensics, philosophy and ethics, politics and law.


Our stance is firmly against any form of torture, a practice legally and morally reprehensible, and unjustifiable under all circumstances. We call for governments to investigate thoroughly and prosecute perpetrators of such brutality. We also invite our readers to participate in this campaign against torture. The global citizenry continue to hope (and should demand) that their governments, guided by the fundamental principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions, take legislative, administrative and judicial action so that not only will justice be served, but a lasting peace will be brought to humanity.


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has helped document over the years cases of torture and other human rights violations. It has become clear that individuals and peoples across Asia are frustrated and deeply embittered by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries. Yet the expression of such anger and frustration tends to stay firmly in the private or domestic sphere; such is the stranglehold authorities have on individuals through the exercise of fear. This kind of discourse is difficult, if not impossible, to monitor. Despite attempts by the media to expose state-sponsored violence, it is unable to represent and broadcast the private fears, experiences and opinions of the average person. State censorship has also proved a common blight in Asia – there is often a conscious attempt by the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home and expressions of domestic malcontent are quite sophisticatedly framed as unfashionably unpatriotic. Discussions about 'difficult' issues like torture are discouraged and adopt the shade of social taboos. In marginally freer forums, the media practices self-censorship in order to not invite attention, criticism and recrimination. Only an already privileged minority in society is able to express their support for the status quo. But this is a magazine to "rock the boat" and open avenues for healthy discourse.


Eradicating torture is a gradual but necessary process that we all bear responsibility for. Please support us by subscribing to the print magazine so we may broaden our readership in Asia and around the world, galvanise governments and aid advocacy groups. Your help is critical for the circulation of a thing we, and the multitudes around the world, cherish and cannot easily be vanquished: hope. Let us remain steadfast in that hope we profess, of a world without violence, and a future free from fear.

Volume One-Issue Two

EDITORIAL: SRI LANKA: What went wrong?


Torture is a crime. And, this criminal activity, in all its cruel, inhuman, and degrading reality has been increasing in Sri Lanka. This is so, even after the end of the civil war between the State and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).


There is evidence that various forms of torture existed in the history of the island nation. During the long periods of 'Royal Absolute', torture was a tactic used by the authorities to impose and maintain order. In fact, a whopping 32 types of torture methods were used categorically to punish suspects in front of the public. As one of our contributors has presented here, these torture methods included being trampled by an elephant and being impaled on a pointed iron pole. The prosecution process in the country was thus rather violent and primitive until 1815, when British colonialists introduced a law against the practice of torture.


In the last hundred years, many laws have been passed and many international conventions have been signed by the government on behalf of the State in acceptance of the prohibition of torture. But torture continues to be practiced widely in Sri Lanka, even today.

Illustration by Indika Dissanayake 



















Click here to subscribe to Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has documented more than a thousand cases of torture in Sri Lanka, and it has summarized over 400 police torture cases during the last couple of decades. Most police personnel in Sri Lanka remain ignorant of basic principles and ethics that they are expected to know, and required to practice, in implementing law and fulfilling duty. The consequence is merciless use of old torture practices in various new forms.


Most police stations in the country have become torture chambers. Here 'suspects' get severely tortured from time to time and deaths in custody are only occasionally reported. Many citizens of Sri Lanka have become victim to these ruthless practices. To our knowledge, such torture is not limited to police stations, but is entrenched in some prisons as well.


In the last week of May, 2012, the US State department issued its critical annual human rights report, which has highlighted existing methods of torture in Sri Lanka. "Former TID (Terrorism Investigation Division) detainees at Boosa Prison in Galle confirmed reports of torture methods used there. These included beatings, often with cricket bats, iron bars, or rubber hoses filled with sand; electric shock; suspending individuals by the wrists or feet in contorted positions; abrading knees across rough cement; burning with metal objects and cigarettes; genital abuse; blows to the ears; asphyxiation with plastic bags containing chili pepper mixed with gasoline; and near-drowning. Detainees reported broken bones and other serious injuries as a result of mistreatment," stated the report.


There have also been frequent media reports over the last few years - about the widely practiced method of white-van abductions, which have given the public much cause for fear and anxiety. The feeling is termed 'the white van syndrome.' It has been reported from Sri Lanka that there are genuine concerns that it is the government that has been involved in some of the abductions.


The widow of one such abductee has revealed details of her experience, which confirm the prevalence of brutal torture in the country. The case, in summary, goes like this:


Mr. Mohamed Sali Mohamed Niyas, also known as "LokuSeeya", was abducted in a Colombo suburb by an armed gang in a white van, and then taken to an unknown location in the Eastern province, where it is believed he was tortured, killed, and his body dumped into the sea. An apt question is how such an abduction can occur, considering that it involves taking a victim hundred kilometers away from the site of abduction and that the abducting gang would have had to go through at least 5 major security checkpoints. According to the postmortem, LokuSeeya was strangled and his throat slit. Injuries show that he was pounded and pummeled on the head and stabbed a number of times. He was also administered 3 injections of unknown chemicals. His body was found strapped with over 100 kg of weight and bound with barbed wire. That is not all. The body was further covered with polythene and bound some more with chicken fencing (similar to barbed wire). There also appeared to be something like an anchor attached to the body. In spite of all this weight, LokuSeeya's body washed ashore at Akkaraipaththu. From here, it was flown back home for funeral proceedings.


A question: why is torture endemic to the country, even after passage of many laws and the acceptance of numerous conventions against torture? The answer might appear to be a complicated one. However, we must remember that the occurrence of torture is neither accidental nor invisible to the public. It is the result of a long systematic process of social control, which uses old tactics of the powerful and unaccountable, without respect for past or present.


Sri Lanka is unable to develop a system through which not only would torture be eliminated, but all forms of crimes would reduce, to reflect the kind of evolved civilization that we claim  we are. The sad part is that these primitive practices of torture are being used as tools of social control. Even the electoral process has become cynical manipulation by those who appear to have absolute power; i.e. a site of hollow democracy where authentic dissent has little space to make its presence felt. It is perhaps naiveté on the part of the citizens that accept this space as one through which justice can be achieved and violence reduced. This acceptance has created tremendous stress and darkness in Sri Lankan society. What is being witnessed today in Sri Lanka is the collapse of basic institutions and citizens are forced to accept no-system as a system.


The incumbent regime has been using cultural emotions to gain more power while sidelining the laws. Cultural dominance is a good way of understanding people's rights towards facilitating their own freedom. In the past, the royal absolute created huge distance between culture and the law. This was followed by a period that saw an overlap of cultural power with absolute power, resulting in isolation of the law. And, now, the gap between the highest practitioner of the law and the authority taken in the name of that law is itself the very foundation of dictatorship. To most citizens, the law was a stranger and did not directly cause any harm. But, those who have been allowed to abuse power in the name of law, have became the root cause of so many problems in our society.


Unlike most other countries, Sri Lanka has witnessed systematic and active elimination of dissent. This began occurring when a law, claimed to be of superior value, was introduced into society. This significant and horrendous event began with the introduction of new constitution in 1978, which made the executive presidential system official. It is unfortunate that there were no statesmen at the time willing to abolish this unquestionable, unethical, and irresponsible system. Today, there are in fact many who are gaining more powers by tom-tomming the benefits of the same. And, even more harmful than this act of sheer political vandalism is the September 2010 amendment, i.e. the 18th amendment to the Constitution. It has damaged hope for political reform, essential to reconstruct any broken system.


We have been going wrong in the last few decades; many political proposals have reached the legal level with lots of loopholes that have only aided the escape of the real culprits. Destruction of policing did not happen through isolated incidents, but collective efforts of the absolute power for many years. We cannot blame police officers for their becoming tools of the custodians of power in order to earn their living. In other words, destruction of morality and of the genuine policing system is not the actual disease but only a symptom. The solution or the process to find a solution needs to start at the root. Without deep feeling for, and/or genuine commitment to high level of justice, claims of reform in state institutions are a farce.


What is visible before us today is only our own fallacious rhetoric:


"It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible."




Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives –

 A comment from an editor

by Eric Bailey


I was amazed at how quickly the pieces of Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives fell into place, turning an idea for a magazine into a quality, finished product. When NilanthaIlangamuwa, whom I'd previously worked with at the Sri Lanka Guardian, asked me to launch a magazine with him for the Asian Human Rights Commission, I knew I had to be a  part of this project. Soon I was seeing articles and interviews from some familiar and well respected names and I knew this had the potential to be something great. Now on June 26th, the 14th annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we're finally ready to share our work with the world.


The principle behind this magazine and the general opposition to torture isn't rooted in the idea that inflicting or prolonging pain on another person is morally wrong. That's innately understood by nearly all people. It's why you don't kick a dog and why the kind animal owner will put down a creature that is suffering, rather than leave it in pain. No, there is a greater cause at the heart of opposing torture. That cause is liberty, the fundamental moral principle that no man may have total and unconditional control of another, that no man should be made to submit to being put in jeopardy of life or limb without due process of law, and that the individual has certain natural born rights that any just law must respect, which include the rights to life and property. It is towards the protection and expansion of liberty - for every member of every class of every society – that we must dedicate our efforts.


I was especially thrilled to work on the June issue, which covered human rights abuses in post-war Sri Lanka. It was during the Sri Lankan Civil War that Nilantha and I met and started working together to cover the conflict. That experience gave Sri Lanka a special place in my heart and has made the continuation of human rights abuses by a consolidated central government a subject of particular importance to me.


In this issue, Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives took an in depth look into Sri Lanka's relationship with torture. Dr. UCP Perera's essay on the history of torture in Sri Lanka really  helped to establish the context in which to judge the current state of affairs and demonstrated that torture on the island wasn't born from the Civil War, but has been a moral issue that the Sri Lankan civilization has been battling throughout its existence. This historical context finely complemented Dr. Laksiri Fernando's analysis of the modern use of torture and terror in Sri Lanka to maintain or gain political power.


Dr. DayaSomasundaram's academic study of the psychological consequences of torture and various available coping methods illustrated another side of torture, beyond the immediate act, or the politics and other motivations behind it, as well as cataloged what specific kinds of torture tend to occur in Sri Lanka. In the study, Dr. Somasundaram also pointed out one fact that is of particular importance in my mind: that, despite the continued instances of torture, abduction, and extrajudicial killings, the actual rate of human rights abuses has greatly declined with the end of the war. It's easy to read about human rights abuses in a country and get the impression that things are as rotten as could ever be the case, but it's important to know the truth of the matter – not to excuse current trespasses, but to understand them in their proper context.


I was also pleased when I learned that Basil Fernando, the AHRC's Director of Policy and Programs, and a long-time contributor at the Sri Lanka Guardian, would be interviewed for this issue. In that interview, he provided important insights into the fundamental link between torture in a country and the lack of relatively free and transparent government. The necessity of having a strictly limited government and the natural curtailing effects this has on human rights abuses is the sort of big picture point I hope all our readers will take away from this magazine.

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About the author: Eric Bailey is a member of the editorial board of, Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives









Ongoing war in Pakistani Balochistan

This was sent to all Pakistani newspapers but all newspapers being Punjabi (Daily Times,Nation) , Urdu Speaking (DAWN,Tribune,NEWS) did not have the courage to publish it.

Pakistan is an ethnic state where Baloch will end up like Red Indians !

Can the Pakistani state be trusted ? A state which sends false inflated electricity bills to its citizens ? Hides Osama Bin Laden and acts as procuress for USA and gets US Dollars.


Ongoing war in Balochistan

A.H Amin

It is a great mystery of history that the ongoing war in Balochistan took so long to begin ? As a young student in 1968 in Quetta I do not remember anything Baloch about the city other than few fellow students , all sons of leading sardars who were my classfellows or contemporaries.

All this was a British legacy.The British had created Quetta , to serve the army.The police was almost entirely Punjabi with some Pashtuns and Hazaras.They had even raised two purely Hazara battalions which were used with ruthless effect by Brigadier General Dyer in the Persian Campaign in Iranian Balochistan in the First World War.

The British found the Pashtuns friendly and gave them preference while they found the Baloch hostile.Pakistan inherited this British legacy and instead of improving things mishandled it.

Kalat the biggest of Baloch states was handled arrogantly and old political agents like Iskandar Mirza were the fathers of this excess of arrogance.

Ayub Khan was a diasaster in the Baloch saga.His arrogance and contempt for the Baloch aggravated things.He was treating Balochistan like Karachi where he could settle his district mates and terrorise the Baloch just like his clan terrorized Karachi in 1965 ! The Baloch were not tailored like that ! Thus retaliation of Sardar Nauroz Khan Zarakzai and his surrender obtained on promise of honourable treatment sworn on the Holy Quran.A promise that was rudely broken in torture chambers at Qully camp Quetta and on the gallows of Hyderabad and Sukkur Jail.

The worst blow on the pride of Baloch was thus delivered by Ayub Khan .Bugti came only much later.


Between 1960 to 1968 a fierce but forgotten war was fought by the Baloch against a military usurper against whom all Pakistan should have been in arms ! The torchlight was then picked by the Bengalis in 1971 who finally decided to call it a day and sought a divorce with a crude political arrangement where the minority ruled over the majority.

In 1969 martial law by Yahya Khan was welcomed in Balochistan because this was Pakistans only martial law which restored direct adult franchise in Pakistan,demolished the infamous facist one unit and which held Pakistans first real elections in 1970 ! A job which should have been done by Pakistans first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan.


My father was GSO 2 Operations of 16 Division in Quetta.All major leaders of Balochistan were invited by the general officer commanding for pre election friendly consultations.A young but charismatic Sardar Akbar Bugti then explained Balochistans demographic dilemma in the following words.

Sardar Akbar Bugti then stated that  development in Balochistan would mean turning the Baloch indigenous population into a minority and this would not be acceptable to any Baloch whether a common man or a Sardar. This faux pas was committed by Musharraf once he started Gwadar. Interestingly Gwadar a future Chinese naval base and a city that would turn the Baloch into a minority in their own province is a thorn both for the Baloch and the USA. A deadly possible convergence of interest in a delicate geopolitical era once USA is the only Roman Empire fighting the Barbarians ! 

The 1973-76 Balochistan crisis was engineered by the Jam Sahib of Lasbela , a non Baloch and Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan who engineered Mr Bhutto into launching a military action.When Bhutto wanted to make peace with the Baloch in 1976 he was restrained by the arch intriguer Zia who made peace with the Baloch after usurpring power, thus robbing ZA Bhutto of the credit of doing so earlier.

Ironically the present Balochistan crisis's father is the same Jam Sahibs son and a man with no understanding of Balochistan , ironically nominated as the governor by the usurper Musharraf i.e Owais Ghani.

In mid 2002 I told my coursemate and friend then a lieutenant colonel in the military intelligence and now a major general in the ISI that the next Baloch rebellion will commence from the south west tip of Mand Bullo and Turbat district.This was a strange proposition in 2002.My assessment was based on extensive visits to the area as a custom clearing and forwarding agent.

Gwadar was the catalyst as it was seen as Bugti had said in 1969 , a scheme to alter the demography of Balochistan.Bombings and incidents of sabotage thus started from 2002-3 in Balochistan.There may have been a US angle of checkmating the Chinese but the average Baloch felt like an outsider in the Pakistani state.

The important change took place after US invasion of Afghanistan.Baloch grievances against the Pakistani state were genuine but what kept the Baloch in restrain was absence of a state actor or state actors to support their armed insurrection.In 1974-76 the Baloch had received very limited support from Afghanistan but after Novemver 2001 the entire scenario changed.

Every insurgency in order to succeed requires support of a state actor.Thus the Afghan Mujahids of 1979-92 succeeded not because of their Jihadist zeal but thanks to US Dollars , military hardware and Pakistan as major base area.ISI officers like Brigadier Yasub Dogar was penetrating as far as Gardez to supervise rocket attacks on Gardez.For almost each major Mujahid attack a video film was made and sent to the CIA headquarters .Just like a contractor who has to support his invoices with supporting documents.

While Gwadar acted as a catalyst , Operation Enduring Freedom enabled many state actors to support the Baloch with military hardware and US Dollars just like what Pakistan did to Afghanistan in 1979-92 ! The wheel had turned full 360 degrees.But history is cruel and does not stand ignorance and injustice.

The Pakistani military establishment under the usurper Musharraf stayed in supreme denial.Thus when I stated in an article published in daily Statesman Peshawar that the next low intensity war may be fatal ! In 1971 there was West Pakistan to fall back upon ! In the next conflict the existence of what remains of Pakistan may be at stake ! Baluchistan and NWFP can absorb thrice as many Pakistani troops as Indian Held Kashmir can absorb ! I received an e mail from the editor stating  that my article had caused a stir in GHQ and that the newspaper could not publish my second article.



My work in Balochistan takes me to every nook and corner of the province.Over last seven years  ambushed laid by the Baloch have grown in sophistication with the biggest ambushes being laid at Bahlol Basri on Kingri Chamalang road in late 2011.

Turbat and Panjgur are in the lead with the fiercest ambushes at Niwano in Buleda , Kalatuk and Mad Bullo.Panjgur is like what Marri area was in 1974.Middle class leaders like Dr Allah Nazar command allegiance from Mashke near Khuzdar till Mand Bullo on the Iranian border.

My dear friend now a major general told me that all is in control but the civilians in the intelligence setup were more skeptical.The most brilliant summing up which one of them gave me was that we may be able to physically eliminate some separatists but we have failed to eliminate the idea of independence from the heart of the Baloch youth.

When I met legendary Baloch leader Mir Hazar Khan Ramkhani at Tadhri in December 2011 , he remembered young Punjabi and other leftists like Ahmad Rashid,Najam Sethi,Dillip Das and Rashed Rehman who had come to Tadhri Ghar in early 1970s.Now in his old age Mir Hazar Khan was more philosophical and narrated that the corps commander Quetta had visited him.Alas he said that the new generation was alienated.Although the Marris , the fiercest of all Baloch tribes wanted to make peace, there were major irritants hindering the process.

This is a time to think , to reflect and to meditate.Wars were never won by bullets or swords alone.Blaming India , USA , Israel is counterproductive.All will be OK when we agree that the fault was inside us also .By us I mean the Pakistani establishment.

The first step must be to hold new elections in Balochistan. Ammend the 1973 constitution allowing all provincial governments to enter into partnership with foreign governments for any business enterprise .This would bring prosperity to all provinces and specially Balochistan.

Ironically Balochistan is not the only sufferer.In 1995 the Pakistani Federal Government contested Punjabs right to construct a ring road in Lahore and the Faiasalabad Pindi Bhattian Motorway with foreign Build Own Lease and Transfer system.Thus the Lahore Ring Road was delayed by some seven to eight years.

The issue is not Indian interference or US designs but an inbuilt intellectual constipation in Islamabad inherited from the British viceroys.Times have changed , so we have to change also.Or we will be drowned and taken to the bottom of the sea by the ruthless tide of history.

New states can be created in a jiffy when it comes to serious issues of global geopolitics.The congress defied the British in 1939 by non cooperation in the British war effort.The British revenge was partition of India which has kept the Indo Pak in relative instability since 1947.

Bosnia ,Kosovo were created with US support trampling all international principles.Iraq was literally divided in three parts in last ten years.Afghanistan may be divided into two or three parts in the next five years.Maps change , boundaries change.States are important but not sacred.

It is time that Pakistani establishment thinks proactively rather than staking their entire strategy on a few intelligence bosses assessments.Nothing is inevitable in history.What was lost in Hyderabad Jail in 1959-60 can be retrieved with a major change of political and constitutional posture in 2012.

Fear made men believe in the worst , but in this case , if major changes are not made in Balochistan policy , the worse may come true.