An Exodus of Pain

An old piece, but worth reminding us that the problem remains.

While Bangladesh, rightly prides itself in sheltering refugees from Myanmar, its human record towards its own citizens remains deeply troubling.

Photographs by Shahidul Alam, text by Lyndall Stein

An Exodus of Pain

CITIZENS CALL FOR BANGLADESH TO RESPOND IN SUPPORT OF ICC PROSECUTOR’S SUBMISSION ON ROHINGYA DEPORTATION

As Bangladeshi individuals and organisations engaged in seeking justice for those subjected to violations of rights, we welcome the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor for a ruling by ICC judges on whether the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate the deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar from 25 August 2017 onwards. We call on the Government to respond to the invitation from ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I to Bangladesh authorities to submit, by 11 June 2018, observations on the question and to support the Prosecutor’s request.

Photo: K.M. Asad/Drik/Majority World

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision of 7 May has been made in response to the 9 April Request by the ICC Prosecutor, seeking a ruling on whether the Court has jurisdiction over the deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar as a crime against humanity. Continue reading “CITIZENS CALL FOR BANGLADESH TO RESPOND IN SUPPORT OF ICC PROSECUTOR’S SUBMISSION ON ROHINGYA DEPORTATION”

Kalpana's Warriors

Remarkable: Noam Chomsky

Absolutely stunning: Jess Worth. New Internationalist Magazine (Oxford)

E-Invitation card

They told me you were quiet. But I felt the rage in your silence. That when you spoke, they rose above themselves. But I felt their fear. That they held you amidst them. But I felt their loneliness. They pointed to the Koroi tree where you would all meet. The banyan tree under which you spoke. Ever so powerfully. They pointed to the mud floor, where you slept. I touched the mat that you had rested upon, and I knew I had found the vessel that must hold your image.

New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government had still not honored the terms of the peace accord nor addressed the Jumma peoples concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government had still not honored the terms of the peace accord nor addressed the Jumma peoples concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

They had tried to erase you, your people, your memory. They had torched your homes and when coercion failed, when you remained defiant, they took you away, in the dead of night.

Abandoned typewriter in the room where Kalpana and her comrades used to meet. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Abandoned typewriter in the room where Kalpana and her comrades used to meet. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The leaves burned as the soldiers stood and watched. The same leaves they weave to make your mat. The same leaves I shall burn, to etch your image. Will the burning mat hold your pain? Will the charred leaves hold your anger? Will the image rising from the crisp ashen leaves reignite us? Will you return Kalpana?

Pahari protestors could previously go to the GOC's office to express their grievances. Today, in Khagrachori, they no longer have that access. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Pahari protestors could previously go to the GOC’s office to express their grievances. Today, in Khagrachori, they no longer have that access. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
The Shapla Mor in Khagrachori was also a centre of protest. Pahari protesters are no longer allowed there, though Bangali settlers have access, says Kabita Chakma, former president of the Hill Women's Federation. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
The Shapla Mor in Khagrachori was also a centre of protest. Pahari protesters are no longer allowed there, though Bangali settlers have access, says Kabita Chakma, former president of the Hill Women’s Federation. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

For nineteen years I have waited, my unseen sister. For nineteen years they have waited, your warriors. Pahari, Bangali, men, women, young old. Was it what you said? What you stood for? Was it because you could see beyond the land, and language, the shape of one?s eyes and see what it meant to be a citizen of a free nation? For pahari, bangali, bihari, man, woman, hijra, rich, poor, destitute, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Animist.

Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

You had reminded us that a nation that fought oppression, could not rule by oppressing. That a people that fought for a language, could not triumph by suppressing another’s. That the martyrs who died, so we might be free, did not shed their blood, so we could become tyrants. That we who overcame the bullets and bayonets of soldiers, must never again be ruled through the barrel of a gun.

That Kalpana is what binds us. That is why Kalpana, you are not a pahari, or a woman or a chakma or a buddhist, but each one of us. For there can be no freedom that is built on the pain of the other. No friendship that relies on fear. No peace at the muzzle of a gun.

These Kalpana are your warriors. They have engaged in different ways, at different levels, sometimes with different beliefs. Some have stayed with you from the beginning. Others have drifted. They have not always shared political beliefs. But for you Kalpana, my unseen sister, they fight as one.

18492140629_057f1a44eb_b

The Process

The process involved in creating these images are rooted to the everyday realities of the hill people, the paharis. Repeatedly, the interviewees talked of the bareness of Kalpana’s home. That there was no furniture, that Kalpana slept on the floor on a straw mat.

Rather than print on conventional photographic media, we decided we would use material that was part of pahari daily lives. The straw mat became our canvas. The fire that had been used to raze pahari homes, also needed to be represented, so a laser beam was used to burn the straw, etching with flames, the images of rebellion.

It was the politics of this interaction that determined the physicality of the process. The laser beam consisted of a binary pulse. A binary present on our politics. In order to render the image, the image had to be converted in various ways. From RGB to Greyscale to Bitmap, from 16 bit to 8 bit to 1 bit. To keep detail in the skin tone despite the high contrast, the red channel needed to be enhanced. The Resolution and intensity and duration of the laser beam needed to be brought down to levels that resulted in the straw being selectively charred but not burnt to cinders.

A screen ruling that separated charred pixels while maintaining gradation had to be carefully selected. And then, working backwards, a lighting mechanism needed to be found that broke up the image into a discrete grid of light and dark tones, providing the contrast, the segmentation and the gradation, necessary to simulate the entire range of tones one expects in a fine print. This combination of lighting, digital rendering, printing technique and choice of medium, has led to the unique one off prints you see in this exhibition. A tribute to a unique woman that had walked among us.

West Bank: 11-Year-Old Boy Bled to Death by Israeli Army, Attempts to Rescue Prevented by Live Fire

eleven-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Anati.

Thousands gathered shortly before afternoon prayers on Sunday in Fawwar refugee camp south of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron to mourn the death of eleven-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Anati.

Israeli soldiers shot Khalil with live ammunition outside his home that same morning on 10 August after forces invaded the camp. He was buried not far from his home that afternoon by thousands of friends, family and neighbors. Continue reading “West Bank: 11-Year-Old Boy Bled to Death by Israeli Army, Attempts to Rescue Prevented by Live Fire”

By Amy Goodman

Award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman records a podcast in conjunction with her weekly column, which you can read here: www.democracynow.org/blog
July 31, 2014
By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan
The Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip has entered its fourth week. This military attack, waged by land, sea and air, has been going on longer than the devastating assault in 2008/2009, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. The death toll in this current attack is at least 1,300, overwhelmingly civilians. As this column was being written, the United Nations confirmed that a U.N. school in Gaza, where thousands of civilians were seeking shelter, was bombed by the Israeli Defense Forces, killing at least 20 people. The United Nations said it reported the exact coordinates of the shelter to the Israeli military 17 times. Continue reading “”

Am I Going to Die, Daddy?

By Jon Snow in Mashable Palestinian-kid

A child injured in an Israeli assault was taken to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Wednesday.

IMAGE: MOHAMMAD ASAD/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — It is the saltwater coming out of the hotel tap that reminds you where you are, as you wake up in Gaza. And then you imagine your room besieged by honeybees. It is the constant whine of the drones that parade up and down Gaza, selecting targets.

On the street, wearing your compulsory and heavy body armor, only children play in small bunches. There seem to be no adults about. No fishermen in the sea. No one on the beach.

And then the boom and the boom and the boom again from the ships offshore, followed by thump after thump as shells hit their target.

If the Israelis have proved anything, it is that there is no such thing as a forensic strike.

If the Israelis have proved anything, it is that there is no such thing as a forensic strike. In this besieged strip of land, close to 2 million people live so densely packed that any strike — be it from the air, from the sea or on land — will kill someone more than the intended target. And that someone too often is a child. As of now, 166 children have been killed and 1,310 have been injured, some of them severely. I was in the Shifa hospital on the two floors packed with child casualties. Nema, 2½ years old, was hit by an F-16 missile and terribly injured. Her eyes were closed by the enormity of the damage to her skull and her nose. Two round red-black saturating bruises hid her eyes.

Palestinian-girl-injured

Two-year-old Palestinian girl Naama Abu al-Foul sleeps after undergoing treatment at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital following an Israeli bombing next to her family’s home on Wednesday.
IMAGE: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Seven died in that attack, eight others were injured. I don’t know how many of them were children. Seven-year-old Maha was hit by artillery fire and severely injured. In that assault, her mother told me, 45 people were injured, many of them children, and two were killed. And then there was 7-year-old Noradin, also badly injured. Dr. Mads Gilbert from Norway, a professor of emergency medicine, says the Shiva hospital, the last one working properly in Gaza City, is suffering a chronic shortage of pain relievers. He told me the outlook for some of these children is very bleak indeed.

Shifa-Hospital

A Palestinian child at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital.
IMAGE: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Can they really be the acceptable collateral of targeting militants?

Can they really be the acceptable collateral of targeting militants? Even our own translator, cut off from his family, in the south of Gaza, has to listen on the phone as his children weep and his 6-year-old asks: “Am I going to die, daddy?” He can hear the explosions in the background. There have been two assaults on his wife’s town in the last 24 hours. Some 40 Palestinians appear to have been killed — six of them children. But you know, despite the bangs, the booms, the screeching jets and the humming drones, you can never lose sight of the consequences of the siege that has been set against this Palestinian entity for the last seven years or more. Electricity is intermittent, water is compromised, gas, diesel and so much is else is in constant short supply. I was amazed to find a small sachet of shampoo as I went to a cold shower tonight — salty again. Obviously, you cannot make bombs out of shampoo and so there is no embargo on it. But clearly you can make bombs from paint because there isn’t any. This is the most wretchedly unpainted urban place I have ever been. And beyond it all, why won’t they talk? This cannot go on. It is the children, tomorrow’s Palestinians, who are paying the price.   Editors’ Note: Getty Images and the Anadolu Agency have verified that the photograph at the top of this article was taken at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Wednesday. We had temporarily removed the photograph while we investigated complaints about its authenticity that were sent to the author of this article.

Jon%20snow-1880

JON SNOW

Jon Snow has been the face of Channel 4 News since 1989. He joined ITN in 1976 and became Washington Correspondent in 1984. Since then, he has travelled the world to cover the news – from the fall of the Be…more

The Gaza Bombardment – What You're Not Being Told

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXRO1YFreNA
The corporate media isn’t just distorting the facts on the Gaza assault, they’re flat out covering them up.

On July 7, 2014 Israel began a massive assault on the Gaza strip of Palestine. In the first week aloneIsrael dropped over 400 tons of bombs, killing over 130 Palestinians. Most were civilians, about half of them were women and children. By the time you are watching the the number will be higher.

Israel’s official justification for this wholesale slaughter: the murder of three Israeli teenagers which Israel blames on Hamas. That’s not the real reason. First of all Israel has not produced one single piece of evidence implicating Hamas or even a Palestinian in the murders, and in fact the the evidence we do have indicates that that murderers were Israeli. You see on Tuesday July 1st, The Jerusalem Post released the audio of the kidnapped teen’s distress call to police, and in that call the kidnappers can be heard telling the boys to put their heads down in HEBREW. According to the Jerusalem Post prior to being leaked to the public this audio was being held under a gag order by the Israeli government.

So why is Israel really attacking Gaza? It’s not about self defense and it’s obviously not about avenging those three teenagers. Those are just cover stories for the naive. What this is really about is natural gas.

It turns out that Gaza has quite a bit of natural gas on its coastline. One of the largest sources in the region. British Gas, which holds a joint exploration agreement for the area estimates that the fields hold at least 1 trillion cubic feet of gas. That gas belongs to the Palestinian people and they should be the ones to benefit from it. Israel disagrees.

(An interesting side story on this issue: At one point Russia was bidding for a chance to develop Gaza’s gas fields.)

After the death of Yasser Arafat, under questionable circumstances, Israel has controlled those fields, and British Gas has negotiated with Tel Aviv.

With power divided between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Palestinians have been too weak to put up any meaningful ,resistance and Israel would like to keep it that way. The Unity Government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority threatens Israel’s control of those fields, and as such it has to be destroyed.

It’s pretty basic really. These are the real motives of all wars: resources, territory and power. They’ll always come up with an excuse, and it’s easy to fall for them if you don’t do your research, but there’s also a really easy way to avoid getting duped: always stand against wars of aggression. Period. Make it a matter of principle, and the facts and morality will always end up being on your side.

And speaking of morality, even if those teenagers had been killed by Hamas, what kind of psychopath thinks that this gives Israel the right to go and kill over a hundred people who had nothing to do with it? We’re talking about little kids here.

I’m not going to show you the pictures of the dead or dying children here in this video, but I have looked at them, and as a father it’s almost unbearable to see. If hearing about those bombs falling doesn’t phase you emotionally, if this is just a political debate for you, then go look at the pictures (these for example). You have no right to defend what Israel is doing, if you don’t have the courage to even glance at the consequences.

And anyone who would justify these crimes after seeing the civilian casualties should be ashamed of themselves.

The bombing heavily populated residential areas is a war crime, and the U.S. government is funding it with your tax dollars. That’s right. Israel receives over 3 billion dollars in foreign aid from the U.S. each year. (But hey, it’s not like the American people actually need that money, the national debt is only 17 trillion dollars.)

Of course it’s no accident that you’ve never had face what’s being done to the Palestinian’s in your name. If you turn on the mainstream media at any point during this crisis all you’ll see is constant stream of reports focusing on the Palestinian rockets being fired in response. These reports conveniently fail to mention that as of yet these primitive rockets have not killed one single Israeli.

The Obama administration is also running with this artificial narrative.

But the rockets, the rockets! Let’s all bring this back to the puny homemade rockets that the Palestinians are launching out of desperation and frame this as a question of Israel’s self defense.

Pretend for a moment that this wasn’t happening in the Middle East, but rather in the south west of the United States. Hey, just for kicks let’s say it was happening in Palestine Texas. So three teenagers from Mexico are visiting Palestine Texas and they get killed, by somebody, we don’t know who. Mexico of course takes this as an invitation to launch airstrikes, on the entire on the entire region. For ten days the Mexican air force dutifully pummels Palestine Texas, and the surrounding villages, but unfortunately these darn rednecks were unaware that this was perfectly within Mexico’s rights, so they started taking pot shots at Mexican fighter jets with their shotguns and deer rifles, and some started shooting in the general direction of the Mexican border. The bullets didn’t reach their targets, but still they tried to defend themselves, and THAT is unacceptable.

Sound absurd? That’s what you people sound like when you parrot the mainstream media and talk show pundits without thinking. Totally incoherent.

Israel isn’t defending itself against the Palestinians any more than the Europeans were defending themselves against the natives of the Americas. Year after year the Israelis have taken more Palestinian land, bulldozed more homes, set up new settlements, and systematically expelled the inhabitants. You can make up justifications or deny it all you want, but the maps don’t lie.

This isn’t defense, this is ethnic cleansing.

Of course there are those who are actually ok with what these maps tell us. There are people who like to assert that Israel has the right to steal every square inch of Palestinian land because supposedly one thousand five hundred or so years ago their Jewish ancestors were expelled. They call this the right of return.

Ok, let’s go with that.

Rights are an interesting topic. The thing about rights, is that if human right actually exists then it would have to universal to all of humanity.

So what about the Palestinian’s right of return?

Don’t you find it a bit odd that one of the primary stipulations that Israel always imposes upon the Palestinians during negotiations is that in order to reach a peace agreement the Palestinians have to accept that they have no right to return to the land that was taken from them in the past 50 years? We’re not talking about people who have some kind of abstract ancestral claim, these are the actual people who lost their homes, and their farms, and their businesses in this lifetime.

So is the right of return an actual right or is it not? You can’t have it both ways without exposing the dirty underbelly of this issue: which is that Zionism is a fundamentally racist and fascistic ideology.

The video below is an extreme display, but it’s not unique in Israel these days. If you do a little research on the topic you’ll find that hardline Zionism very much resembles a neo-nazi movement.

And no, Zionism is not inseparable from Judaism, and it has nothing to do with who you are genetically.

So what can we do to help the Palestinians? Start by actively engaging this debate everywhere it comes up. Don’t avoid the conversation just to be polite. Women and children are being massacred in Gaza right now, and silence in the face of oppression is to take the side of the oppressors.

It’s time to start confronting those who support what Israel is doing right now. This isn’t a matter of opinion or preference. To defend the use of the military against civilian populations, is shameful, it’s immoral and it has consequences.

A particular weight of responsibility sits on the shoulders of those in the so called conservative churches of the United States, because this is where the bulk of the support for Israel is found. It’s up to you who see what is really going on to wake the people in your church up. If the Pastor in your church defends bombardment of Gaza, or any war for that matter, you need to confront him, and if he doesn’t respond when you confront him in private then confront him publicly. If that sounds extreme to you, then go look at those pictures of the little kids who are on the receiving end of this. Go take a glimpse, but understand that the horror of seeing a photo of a dismembered child is nothing like what their parents are feeling.

And to the people of Israel, you need to do some serious soul searching. Is this the image you want the world to have when they think of Israel? An image of a brutal oppressor that murders civilians without hesitation? But more importantly, is this what you want to be?

Bonus Videos
1. Miko Peled Son of a high ranking Israeli general tells the real story of the Palestinian occupation:

2. Norman Finkelstein ends the argument properly:

Life in Occupied Palestine


Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American, gives her eyewitness perspectives on average citizens living in occupied Palestine. Baltzer spent 5 months in the West Bank working with the International Women’s Peace Service. Her presentation highlights how the Israeli government’s policies have drastically and negatively affected normal Palestinian life, and how this perspective has been omitted from most news outlets in America. A must-see for anyone interested or curious in Israel/Palestine relations.