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Mainstream, VOL L, No 49, November 24, 2012

Palestinians’ Plight, Rohingyas’ Predicament, Mumbai Girls’ Harassment

Saturday 1 December 2012, by Humra Quraishi

Seeing shots of complete disaster in the Gaza belt, one is left wondering where are the so-called world leaders who talk of peace! Where is US President Barack Obama, who ought to start his second term by try saving lives of the hapless Palestinians! Where is the United Nations! And where is our own government!
One is sitting ashamed and shocked at the muted response to the barbaric killing of the Palestinians. With an irony attached—the Palestinians getting killed and pushed to the edge in their own homeland. And yet we sit so quiet, so very mute. Our pro-America and pro-Israel tilt is more than apparent and a far cry from those earlier times when Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had developed close personal ties with the Arabs and with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. I’d attended at least two receptions in New Delhi where Indira Gandhi had honoured Yasser Arafat and he in turn had showered praises on ‘sister’ Indira. And it’s a rather well-known fact that in the 1950s Nehru had gifted a sprawling bungalow, on New Delhi’s Prithvi Raj Road, to the first Iraqi envoy to India…well, the bungalow still stands tall and elegant but is just about vacant. After Iraq lay well intruded into by American forces, the Iraqi embassy here shrank rapidly, reduced to a nothingness of sorts…

In fact, it pains me to see the shrinkage around. Covering the so-called social scene of this Capital city for almost three decades, I have witnessed those years when the traditional Arab hospitality and warmth held sway. Those frequent parties and luncheon meets at the homes of envoys of Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Kuwait and Qatar were not just vibrant but relayed warmth and that Arab-India bonding…till about the time America and allied forces invaded Iraq. Pounding not just a people but an entire civilisation. And as American intrusions in that region are increasing, the decay-cum-unrest is spreading around, affecting the Arab and Palestinian lands and those hapless people.

In fact, even today the plight of the Palesti-nians gets buried, along with the hundreds dying. There is that tendency to overlook the complete picture, those historical backgrounders, those basics to the very problem. Of course, in the confines of this column I cannot possibly offload all related facts and figures, as space constraints stare, but let me quote what Pales-tinian envoy to India, Osama Musa, had told me: ‘We have been under occupation all these years, these decades….Can’t America see the killings taking place on a daily basis! I tell you that without America’s support Israel is zero. Israel cannot survive a single day if America didn’t support it. Don’t overlook the fact that Israel is supported by America…it is equipped by tanks and warplanes whereas we Palesti-nians only have a police force which is armed by mere pistols…You are asking how peace will come about? It will only and only come about the day Israelis end their occupation. That day peace will automatically come about. In fact, we have been telling the Israelis to leave us alone. The Palestinians are restricted to only 23 per cent of the total land that originally belonged to us. The rest—almost 80 per cent—has been occupied by Israel. Tell me, how would you feel if the fields which once belonged to you and your father were forcibly grabbed by someone through sheer might? Israeli policies have affected over six million Palestinians—the three million displaced Palestinians and the other three million who though live in their own land but as slaves and not as free citizens.’

Why This Quiet?

WE have this tendency of going overboard. Writing this in the background of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to New Delhi. Well, this time we’d gone so completely overboard that we missed reporting her silence on the plight of the Rohingyas of her country. And though several activists tried protesting, raising slogans at the venue of her lecture, but they were sidetracked and forcibly removed from the scene. Why! All that they were asking were her comments on the very survival of the Rohingyas who live in the Rakhine province, formerly known as Akyab. Under a law passed in 1982 by the Burmese military government, they were summarily deprived of their nationality unless they could prove that their forefathers were living in Burma back in 1832… Termed as the most persecuted religious community of the world, even to this day their plight seems ongoing. Last June onwards news reports more than suggest they are being attacked, killed, their villages burnt and they are forced to live in refugee camps in their own country or else go fleeing towards Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and other neighbouring countries.

Crux Or What!

THOUGH even the most barbaric act shouldn’t shock one in the lopsided times we are living in, but yes, the harassment of the two Mumbai girls for their post on Facebook did send those absolute shock waves. The two arrested by Mumbai cops for their post showed the very bias and tilts in the very police force. Also, strengthening the much in vogue, popular theory that there’s a nexus between the police and the politicians of the day. The two together. To harass and torture and arrest those targeted.

In fact, this brings me to write that this week, on November 22, several well known activists and academics and student organisations have staged a protest meet at the Jantar Mantar, to voice their concern at the arrests made by the police forces—hundreds of innocents are getting picked and arrested and detained, under the pretext of trying to control terror and terror related activities.

Who is terrorising whom? Who can match state terrorism?

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