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Let us do our bit to expel darkness from Arabia

The fact that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an anachronism has already been made clear by us. Repeated requests for reform have been ignored or crushed in revenge.

The most heinous attack on liberty and democratic awareness – the sentence to imprisonment,fine and an additional travel ban after completing the prison term on a human rights lawyer who argued the case for Raif Badawy – has been condemned by human rights organizations and all other freedom loving individuals. But the regime is not the one to heed.

It seems there will not be an end to repressions and human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia if the present regime continues. Waleed Abul khair is not only a human rights activist, but a specialist lawyer in that field. The fact that he is a defender of victims who had stood against Salafist clergy-sponsored and Shariah based violations of human rights perpetrated by the decadent bureaucracy and ruling dynasty is the sole reason behind the inadmissible and shocking abuses he has been subjected to.

He was born in Jiddah in 1979. He founded the first Saudi Human Rights organization MHRSA registered in Canada in 2012. In 2007, the liberal activists released a petition demanding a constitutional monarchy by means of free elections in place of the present absolute monarchy. They were arrested in February 2007 accusing them of collecting funds for terrorism. Next year he organized a hunger strike for prisoners of conscience. (1)

Saudi monarchy has a dirty history of repressing pluralism and human rights activism. The Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) founded in 2009 was not given permission to function by the Ministry of Interior . Two founders of ACPRA were convicted for breach of allegiance to the monarchy and disobedience, undermining the security, inciting to disturb public order by calling for demonstrations, providing wrong information to foreigners etc. including creation of an unauthorized organization. In March 2013, Abdullah al-Hamid was awarded 10 years’ imprisonment and Muhammad al-Qahtani, 11 years’. They were also put under a travel ban. The court ordered dissolution of the Association, confiscation of its property and closure of its accounts on social networks. Abdul Rahman al-Hamid, Abdullah Hamid’s brother was detained incommunicado for a month and then moved to the prison in Buraydah, qassim province and is being held there without charges (2)

Abul Khair had a role in the creation of several civic initiatives including Women’s driving campaign. In 2011, he was named as one of the top 100 twitter activists with more than 40,000 followers by Forbes Middle east. Since 2010, his international reputation as a genuine representative of Arab human rights activists was viewed with jealousy and irritation by the authorities.

Raif Badawi is, by far, the most famous of Abul Khair’s clients. Raif was convicted for having founded and managed the website “Free Saudi Liberals” and insulting Islam. (3)

The trial of Fowzan al Harbi, the fourth founder member of ACPRA began on 4th December 2013. On June 25, 2014, the Riyadh criminal court sentenced him to seven years in prison along with a travel ban. ACPRA members Umar al-Sa’ id and Abdul Kareem Al-Khudhr were also sentenced to prison. On 8th April, Abdul Azeez al-Ghamdi was detained. On April 17, the Special Criminal Court sentenced Fadhel Maki al-Manaf to 15 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals plus the travel ban. He has been reported to have suffered torture and other ill treatment in detention. (ibid)

The first trial of Waleed Abul Khair was in 2011 after signing the statement denouncing persecution of reformists. On October 29, 2013, he was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment by the criminal court. On February 6, 2014, the Court of Appeal in Mekka confirmed the punishment.

The Special Criminal Court in another case has now sentenced Waleed abul Khair to 15 years in prison,a fine of 200,000Riyals and a travel ban for a further period of 15 years subsequent to his completing the prison term.The trial relating to this began on October 6th,2013. He was arrested without explanation on April 15, and was put in solitary confinement in Al-Hair jail. It is alleged that he was exposed to bright light so as to deprive him of sleep. Then transferred to various detention centres, he is now in Briman prison, Jiddah. (ibid)

We request all the humanists, secularists and other supporters of human rights to call upon the authorities of Saudi Arabia to free Waleed Abul Khair immediately. There is no justification for his detention.

“The sentencing of a prominent Saudi Arabian lawyer and human rights defender to 15 years in prison has dealt a fresh blow to peaceful activism and freedom of expression in the Kingdom, said Amnesty International.”

He is being punished under the new anti-terrorism law.(6)

“The Specialized Criminal Court is a security and counter-terrorism related court whose rules and procedures remain secret and which activists claim is under the direct control of the Interior Ministry. Ahead of his sentencing Waleed Abu al-Khair stated that he considered the court illegitimate and the judge to be biased and would refuse to defend himself in court. ”

Waleed Abul Khair is a prisoner of conscience. He has been exercising his freedom of expression, association and assembly peacefully. He has every right to do it.

A monarchy which is nothing but an anachronism in 21st century is maintaining a judicial system which is a shame to the entire humanity. It is the responsibility of all lovers of democracy to pressurize all forces concerned to take note of the pathetic condition in to which the top oil exporting country has fallen and to act ethically and responsibly in ‘International Relations’.

We request the international community to bring all possible pressure on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and demand the unconditional release of Waleed Abul Khair and all other human rights activists immediately.

#FreeWaleed

Please sign the Petition To Free Waleed Abul Khair

#FreeRaif

Please sign the Petition To Free Raif

#FreeFadhil

Please sign the petition to Free Fadhil Makki al-Manasif

The brutality and abhorrent despotism of the king is evidenced by the cruelty shown to his four daughters and divorced wife. You can join The Twitter campaign under the hash tag #FreeThe4.

Please sign the Petition to Free The Four Daughters.

Let There Be Light !

Post Script :

1. Update by IHEU on Raif Badawi

Read this also:

“My daughter, no one will marry you if you show your face!” 

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UN Shows Strong Support for Human Rights in Iran with 83-to-36 Vote

UN Shows Strong Support for Human Rights in Iran with 83-to-36 Vote

We are glad to inform you that the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee has passed Resolution A/C.3/68/L.57 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran with 83 votes in favor and 36 against. The resolution will be formally adopted in December this year.

Iran Human Rights Resolution

We are publishing the news of joining together of 25 organizations for the purpose of urging to pass the Iran Human Rights Resolution:

Detailed report by ‘ International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran’

All peace loving individuals, groups, organizations and other activists interested in Human Rights are requested to spread the message.

Radical Humanists Martyred in Bangladesh Genocide

Radical Humanists are revolutionaries. This fact is realized and recognized early by the opponents of love of freedom than those who actually are in need of the message of liberation. While the Pakistani army occupied Bangladesh and carried out a systematic annihilation of intellectuals as part of the genocide, they did not forget to locate Radical Humanist activists in Bangladesh. The following part is taken from a volume published as commemoration of M.N.Roy’s birth centenary. In the article, ‘M.N.Roy’s Influence on Bengali Muslims’, Dr. Tajul Hossain, ‘ surgeon and physician who held high responsible positions in the Bangladesh republic’ recounts the efforts of early Radical Humanists in spreading the philosophy of Radical Humanism. We are also told about the martyrdom of two valiant Radicals: Habibur Rahman and Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurata. We express our indebtedness to Indian Renaissance Institute for the commemoration volume. The relevant part is presented without any changes under quotation marks:
“Roy visited Dacca early in 1948 accompanied by Professor Sibnarayan Ray. Maulana Akram Khan was invited to preside over a meeting of Roy but he declined. Muslim students in Salimullah hall were much interested in listening to Roy on Islam and they invited him. Some personal friends of Roy in the cadre of the former ICS gave him a reception in the Dacca Club. Radicals who migrated from Calcutta formed a new base in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and gradually developed social roots there. Many enthusiastic University and College teachers showed a growing interest in the philosophy of New Humanism and joined many group discussions.
Following the summer camp of May, 1948, K.K. Sinha, Jyotirindra Mohan Sarker and I went to Dacca to arrange a study camp there, with the help of Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurata, Habibur Rahman and others. About 20 participants discussed New Humanism for 5 days. One public meeting was arranged with a good audience which was addressed by Sinha and me.
A programme was drawn for Jyotirmoy and Habibur Rahman to visit some of the district towns like Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Comillah, Sylhet and Chittagong. Individual radicals like Nuruzzaman in Rajashahi, Roonu Choudhury in Mymensingh, Shyamadhan Sengupta in Sylhet, and Anil Roy in Chittagong arranged meetings in Public Halls and Bar Libraries where the principles of New Humanism were explained. Some individuals established discussion centres in different places. Habibur Rahman made the former RDP office at Dacca his residence and he conducted there regular evening and weekly discussion meetings for over 10 years before he was transferred to Rajshahi University. Here, he was killed on March 27, 1971 by the Pakistani Army. He made an enormous contribution to the spread of radical humanism amongst his colleagues and students, in Dacca and Rajshahi.
Salahuddin initiated the establishment of a Friends’ Centre at Dacca with the cooperation of some Quaker social workers from Britain. At a later date, Jyotirmoy became its very vital participant and remained so for more than 10 years besides carrying on his activities in the University and the Humanist forum. He was also killed on March 27, 1971 in his University residence by the Pakistani Army. But he left behind an abiding influence on the Dacca elite circle by virtue of his personality which combined truthfulness, goodness and deep interest in art and literature.”
Pages 98,99;
For A Revolution From Below – An M.N.Roy Commemorative Volume,
Edited by
Sibnarayan Ray;
Published on behalf of the
Indian Renaissance Institute
By Minerva Associates (Publications)Pvt. Ltd.,
Calcutta, 700 029.
First Published: March 1989.

People’s struggle to realize freedom in Bangladesh – I

I. The background
In 1971, a new Nation was born in South Asia. Awami League, an East Pakistan political party had demanded for more autonomy for geographically separated eastern wing of Pakistan. During 1969 to 1972 Martial law was in force in Pakistan under General Yahya Khan who belonged to West Pakistan. In the meantime, in 1970, a national election was held. Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib ur Rahman won a landslide victory. Out of the total of 313 seats, his party emerged victorious in 167 seats. Though he was the rightful contender for premiership, the nearest contender, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan People’s party who had only 81 seats to his credit put stumbling blocks in the way of forming a popular government under Mujib ur Rahman. It has to be noted that while Bhutto had only two-thirds majority from the province of Sind, Sheikh Mujib ur Rahman had won 268 seats out of the total 279 allotted for East Pakistan Provincial Assembly. Bhutto’s strange proposal was to have two Prime ministers, one for each wing of Pakistan. Further, Bhutto refused to accept 6-point Formula put forward by the Awami League. These included:
1. Federal government, Elected Parliament, universal adult franchise
2. Authority of central government to be limited in matters relating to defense and foreign affairs and the rest to be left to federating units
3. Two separate reserve banks& two freely convertible currencies for the two wings. In case of one currency for the whole country, effective provision to be made to put a stop to transfer of funds from East Pakistan to the Western wing.
4. Taxation and collection of revenue to be vested in the federating units
5. Two separate accounts for foreign exchange reserves for the two wings of Pakistan.
6. A separate militia or para – military force for East Pakistan.
As far back as24 March 1966, Field Marshal Mohamed Ayub Khan, the then President of Pakistan, had made it clear that the supporters of the ‘six points’ would be dealt with in the language of weapons. Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rahman who had announced this formula at a news conference in Lahore on 5-2-1966 was arrested in May 1966 . On 7th June 1966, there was a general strike in East Pakistan in support of the six point program. In 1968, a false case was charged known as ‘Agartala conspiracy case’. On February 22, 1969 this notorious case had to be withdrawn. At a massive rally in Dhakka, he was honored as Bangabandhu. The disregard and indifference of the government towards the people of East Pakistan became clear when the deadliest Bhola cyclone hit it claiming about half a million lives in 1970. The utter failure of Pak government and army in providing relief work estranged the people of East Pakistan to a point of no return. The people of East Pakistan felt that the income generated by them was spent fighting wars in Kashmir.
The original date of the 1970 election was fixed for October 5. President, Gen. A.M. Yahya Khan postponed it to December 7 in view of the unprecedented flood situation in East Pakistan! ‘The six Points’ became the manifesto of Awami League in the 1970 General Election. Though only 15 % of the population belonged to non- Muslims, the Muslims of East Pakistan were more liberal than their counterparts in West Pakistan where the minorities were around 3%. Bengalis belonging to all religions were very proud of their cultural tradition. Their love for the language of Bengali did not go well with the insistence of the Western wing in imposing Urdu as the Official language. No less a person than Mohammad Ali Jinnah had declared way back in 1948 that ‘Urdu and Urdu alone’ would be the only official language for all of Pakistan. Hence the opposition movement contained in it a very strong linguistic – cultural strain. The political work of rabid fundamentalist and Islamo-fascist forces added another lethal dimension questioning the existence of a unified Pakistan. The partition of India giving birth to the first modern nation founded on the basis of religion sought its legitimacy in the argument that Hindus and Muslims constituted two entirely different nations who cannot co-exist peacefully as one nation. Now the situation emerging within Pakistan brought forward another question. Aren’t ‘Bangla Desh’ and Pakistan two nations if the two nation theory is to be further reasoned to its logical conclusion? Though India after division had a Hindu majority, it chose to become a secular nation with a multi-religious population.
On 31, January 1952 an All Party Central Language Action Committee (Shorbodolio Kendrio Rashtrobhasha kormi Porishod )was formed which vehemently opposed the proposal to write Bengali Language in Arabic Script. The Porishod called for an all out protest including strikes and rallies. On 4 th February, the students insisted on the recognition of Bengali with its script and all. The government imposed Section 144, banning gatherings of more than four persons. The massive demonstration of 21 st February 1952 by the students of the University of Dhaka together with other political activists as well as students from colleges of the city and subsequent support from the entire populace had sent the clearest message that cultural domination will not be tolerated by the future generation of Bengalis . A number of students including Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Barkat and Abdul Jabbar had lost their lives. The brutal shooting had killed several people including a nine year old boy. Exact casualty figures were censored by the Government. In 1952, about 54% of the Pakistani citizens were Bengalis. There was enough supporting reason for the idealism and sacrifice of the students.

In the 1954 elections, the Muslim League tasted its historic defeat. Learning its lesson, the Muslim League supported the resolution of the constituent Assembly in 1954 (7th May) when Bengali was granted official status and accordingly on 29th February 1956, Bengali had to be recognized as the second official language of Pakistan. Even afterwards, proponents of Urdu continued to create problems obstructing implementation of official status to Bengali.
Some senior Generals of Pakistan, who understood the significance of the massive demonstrations of 21stFebruary1971, took the fateful decision of eradicating the feeling of self respect by unleashing a campaign of concentrated and systematic genocide butchering male intellectuals and students. This was a military operation planned against civilians. It, in cold calculation, targeted to kill a smart percentage of the populace so that the scared survivors will remain under subservience forever. The plan was code- named ‘Operation Searchlight’. On 22 February 1971, in a meeting of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Khadim Hussein Raza and Maj. Gen. Rao Farman Ali, drew up the plan. Lt. Gen. Shahabzada Yakub Khan and Vice Adm. Ahsan who expressed unwillingness were relieved of their duties. Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan was appointed as both the Governor and GOC of East Pakistan.
On March 1st, General Yahya Khan postponed National Assembly meeting. Mujib ur Rahman announced a non-violent non- co-operation movement. The next day students of Dhaka University, led by A.S.M. Abdur Rab hoisted the flag of ‘Independent Bangla Desh’ on the campus.
On March 3, 1971, President Yahya Khan, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto and Mujib ur Rahman met at Dhaka to resolve the issue. But the talk failed. Mujib ur Rahman called for a nationwide strike.
On March 7, he put forward four more conditions to be met if National Assembly was to meet on March 25. These were:
1. Martial law to be lifted immediately.
2. All military personnel to be withdrawn immediately to their barracks.
3. An inquiry into the loss of life.
4. Immediate transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people before the assembly meeting of March 25.
This evidently sealed the final decision. He called upon the people to turn every house in to a fort of resistance. Without any ambiguity he expressed the decision: Freedom, Independence.
East Pakistani Judges refused to swear in General Tikka Khan as Governor. Workers and sailors refused to unload the ship of the Pakistan Navy in Chittagong. Bengali soldiers refused to obey commands marking a mutiny. Pakistani soldiers in civil uniform were flown in between March 10 and 13. Bengalis in military service were disarmed. Foreign journalists were deported. On March 25, 1971began the atrocities against humanity which has aptly been denounced as Genocide.

References:
1. http://xanthis.wordpress.com/category/sheikh-mujibur-rahman/
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengali_Language_Movement
3. http://www.welovebd.com/history/sheikh-mujibor-rahman-p3.php
4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anushay-hossain/beyond-partisan-politics-_b_2653072.html
5. http://www.profile-of-bengal.com/p-b/www.profile-engal.com/0815_70_elections_shifted.htm
6. http://www.profile-of-bengal.com/p-b/www.profile-bengal.com/0831_70_airgram_amembassy_rawalpindi.htm
7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y4N3XyH6NI

(to be continued)

The Radical Humanist Program

“Fascism today, under varying euphemistic concealment, stands as the consolidation of all the barriers to social progress. Its psychological foundations are fear, unreason, groove-habit and surrender to group homogeneity, which are all expressions of the moral and intellectual inertia of the common man. Its political expression is the totalitarian state in which all power is concentrated in the hands of a few representatives of the social vested interests, and in which all possibility of individual freedom is purposively eliminated. Its economy is that of monopoly production or sheer destruction, and delimitation of consumption through control of wages – in short, an economy of contraction. In it technology is employed to the purpose of war and mass – conditioning. All creative endeavour is under ban.
The method and program of social revolution today must be based on a reassertion of the basic principles of social progress. The method falls into two parts. The first is that of social renaissance, which can only come through determined and widespread endeavour to educate the people in the principles of freedom and rational co-operative living. Large-scale creative propaganda to counteract the goose step method of the fascists is thus of supreme importance. Simultaneously with it, there is the necessity of organizing the people into effective democratic bodies, on the one hand to resist the institutional units of Fascism at every step and, on the other, to build up the socio-political foundation of the post – revolutionary order. Social revolution today requires, in rapidly increasing number, men of the new Renaissance and a rapidly expanding system of people’s committees, and an organic co-ordination of both. The process of automatic structural groupings (e.g. the formation of class bodies) shall have to be integrated in the democratic institution of the people’s committees.
The program of revolution (which means the draft plan of the new society) shall have similarly to be based on the principles of freedom, reason and social harmony. Negatively, this will mean elimination of every form of monopoly and vested interest in the regulation of social life. The new economy will be based on production for use and distribution with reference to human, and not merely effective, demand. Its political organization will be based on the direct participation of the entire adult population in the running of institutional life, and not on mere delegation of power. Its surplus will be canalized to consumption through free universal utility services. Its culture will be based on universal irradiation of knowledge, and on minimum control and maximum scope and incentive to scientific and creative activity. The new society, being based on reason and science, will necessarily be planned. But it will be planning with the freedom of the individual as its main purpose. The new society will be democratic, politically, economically, as well as culturally. Consequently, it will be democracy that can defend itself.”

Sibnarayan Ray

pp. 63 – 64, essay:“Radicalism as a Philosophy of Revolution in our Times”
Book: Ripeness is All- Reflections of A Radical Humanist
Renaissance Publishers Private limited
15 Bankim Chatterjee street
Calcutta 700 073

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