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"Asian Spring"
Tracking Freedom Movements in South Asia, Central Asia and the Jasmine in China
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US-based human rights group says Iraq is becoming a 'police state'

US-based human rights group says Iraq is becoming a 'police state' | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
An international human rights group says Iraq's Shiite-led government has cracked down harshly on dissent during the past year of Arab Spring uprisings, turning the country into a budding police state as autocratic regimes crumbled elsewhere in the...

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Time for Solidarity with Balochs

Time for Solidarity with Balochs | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it

By B. Raman

 

1.The Killing Fields of Balochistan have started shocking the conscience of the international community. Not only non-governmental human rights organisations, but even Governmental spokesmen of other countries---including a spokesperson of the US State Department in response to Tweets on the sufferings of the Balochs--- have started getting over their hesitation in expressing their concern over the steady flow of reports from Balochistan about the atrocities committed by the Pakistani security forces on the people of Balochistan.


2. The atrocities have taken many forms. Brutal killing of the Baloch youth in false encounters for opposing State repression. Custodial deaths of Baloch youth rounded up by the security forces for interrogation on their suspected association with the on-going freedom struggle. Hundreds of missing Balochs, who were rounded up by the Security Forces for interrogation and who have since disappeared from public view and public conscience. Frequent recoveries of dead bodies of Baloch youth here, there, everywhere after they were allegedly tortured to death. Despite all this, the Baloch freedom struggle continues unabated.


3. Even the conscience of right-thinking sections of the Pakistani civil society have been shocked by the atrocities committed on the Balochs by the Pakistani security forces which bring to mind the atrocities committed on the Bengalis of the then East Pakistan before 1971.


4. Balochistan is the largest State in Pakistan with the smallest population as compared to East Pakistan which had more people than the then West Pakistan. The atrocities committed by the Pakistani Security Forces in East Pakistan led to the exodus into India of millions of Bengalis. They brought with them dramatic accounts of what was happening in East Pakistan shocking our conscience and that of the international community.


5. There has been no similar exodus of the Balochs. Balochs fleeing from the crushing boots of the Pakistani Security Forces have nowhere to go. They can’t flee into Iran which has been brutally suppressing a freedom struggle of its own Balochs. They can’t flee into Afghanistan which continues to be in a state of war. They can’t flee to other parts of Pakistan which will not accept them.


6. They find themselves bottled up in Balochistan---- slowly and brutally killed one after the other without the rest of the world coming to know about the details. The Baloch diaspora in the West is very small. It is unable to play an effective and articulate role in drawing attention to the goings-on in Balochistan. It is trying bravely to do so, but with very limited success.


7. Even though the Western world has started showing signs of being disturbed by reports suggesting a systematic genocide of the Balochs by the Pakistani Security Forces, they are unable to go beyond expressing lip sympathy for the bleeding Balochs.


8. Against this background, the Balochs have been bewildered by the silence of Governmental and non-Governmental India. The Indian Government has been understandably silent because at a time when it has been trying to improve its relations with Pakistan it would find it difficult to come out openly in moral---if not material---support of the Balochs.


9. But why is the Indian civil society silent? Why is non-Governmental India silent? Why is the world of the Indian media silent? Why are well-known TV personalities like Barkha Dutt, Srinivasan Jain, Sonia Singh, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Suhasini Haider, Rahul Kanwal, Karan Thapar, Arnab Goswami silent? Why is the Indian print media silent? Why are the opposition political forces observing a silence in the matter? Why has the Indian strategic community closed its eyes to Balochistan?


10. We do not have to be defensive just because some sections of our Jammu & Kashmir continue to be alienated. But we do not deal with the alienated sections of J & K the way the Pakistanis have been dealing with the Balochs. Despite occasional acts of violence, we have a thriving democracy in J&K. The Kashmiris are more prosperous than the people in many other parts of India. We have not imposed an Iron Curtain in J&K as Pakistan has imposed one in Balochistan. We ought to be proud of the way we have been dealing with the insurgencies in J & K and the North-East in a humanitarian manner despite occasional aberrations.


11. Let us not allow allegations that emanate from time to time from Pakistan regarding J&K inhibit us from expressing our solidarity with the suffering people of Balochistan. One understands that the Government cannot be articulate and active in this matter. But the civil society has to be articulate and active in giving vent to its shock and anguish over the reports of the suppression of the Balochs.


12. The Baloch youth have shown over the last four or five years that they are capable of keeping their freedom struggle sustained on their own without the need for external support. But they do need the moral solidarity of the Indian civil society. They deserve it.


13. The time for expressing our moral solidarity with them has come.

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Bangladesh Coup “Foiled” | Indian Decade

Bangladesh Coup “Foiled” | Indian Decade | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
Bangladesh's Army says it has foiled a coup attempt from fanatical retired and serving officers.

 

“Instigated by some non-resident Bangladeshis, a band of fanatic retired and serving officers had led a failed attempt to thwart the democratic system of Bangladesh by creating anarchy in the army banking on others’ religious zeal,” said Army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Muhammad Masud Razzaq in a written statement.

 

According to NDTV,the plotters belong to anti-India forces opposed to the growing closeness between New Delhi and Dhaka under the Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

 

Analysts say that Sheikh Hasina has served under the constant shadow of a potential coup since taking office in 2009. Indeed, within a year of taking office elements of the Bangladesh Rifles revolted, killing 57 army officers in the process.

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China to again close Tibet to foreign travelers

China to again close Tibet to foreign travelers | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
BEIJING — For a fifth straight year, China plans to close Tibet to foreign travelers during a sensitive period starting in mid-February, travel agents said Thursday.

 

Another agent with the China International Travel Agency in Lhasa, who wouldn’t give her name, said she’d been told the ban would end March 20.

 

The periodic closure of the Himalayan region encompasses the Feb. 22-24 Tibetan new year festival of Losar as well as the anniversary of a deadly anti-government riot among Tibetans on March 14, 2008.

 

Tensions are especially high this year following the self-immolations of at least 16 Buddhist monks, nuns and other Tibetans. Most have chanted for Tibetan freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

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Why are Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire? .:. Tibet Sun

Why are Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire? .:. Tibet Sun | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
To the 15 Tibetans who were willing to burn in protest, the significance of their actions, and all they were willing to give up to be heard, was already plain.

 

Still, some outsiders watching Tibet say that the level of unrest there now is new, and disturbing.

 

Steven Marshall, a Senior Advisor for the Congressional Executive Committee on China, spent more than two decades researching human rights violations in Tibet. Marshall says that other new laws — which prohibit monks from traveling anywhere without explicit permission from the governments at both ends, and allow arrests for things as small as “reactionary” cell phone ring-tones — are likely to spark more protests. He believes this year’s immolations could be just the beginning of a larger, accumulating outrage.

 

Marshall says that the self-immolaters are remarkably consistent in their call for independence. “Tibetan has two words for freedom,” Marshall says. “One refers to political independence for a country, and the other means individual freedom, as in ‘civil rights’ in English.” He says the demonstrators are using both words. “They are doing this because they’ve reached the end of their rope. They’ve tried everything else. Hundreds of monks are in prison and jails, or were picked up [by the police] and never heard from again.”

 

Even non-monastic Tibetans are struggling with Chinese regulations. While a majority of the population has been nomadic for generations, the Chinese government has started to forcibly settle the herders into compact, fixed communities, effectively ending their traditional herding lifestyle.

 

Over a million people have been settled onto these reservation-like plots over the last five years. For Tibetans, it’s a loss of more than just a way of life — these nomadic groups are perceived to represent the essence of what it meant to be Tibetan. It’s the end of the frontier, and in many ways, the sudden loss of a cultural trope every bit as central to Tibetan identity as were, for Americans, the idealized cowboys of the old west.

 

The Chinese government says these re-settlements make it easier to provide better services like education and health care. Life on the grasslands can be tough, and some Tibetans probably do desire an alternative, easier life, which had not before been possible. In these communities, Tibetans are given Chinese language lessons, and for a period of time after moving, a small living stipend.

 

But that’s not always enough. “People are having a tough time. They gave up everything they have, but they haven’t gained a way of life, a way of livelihood,” says Steve Marshall. “It’s one thing to be put into a shelter, but then what do you do?”

 

This weekend, after a monk identified as Nyage Sonamdrugyu set himself on fire, around 500 angry protesters forced police to relinquish his body, which they then carried through the streets of Gyumai, a town in Tibet. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said that an investigation found Nyage burned himself after his “secret love affair with a local woman was discovered by the woman’s husband.”

 

Radio Free Asia said security in the area has been tightened.

 

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Marshall told me before this latest series of self-immolations. “I’ve been watching the nuns most carefully. If self-immolation were to become a larger trend, that would be very significant.”

 

Marshall meant “significant” as in “significant to Chinese internal dynamics.” But to the 15 monks who were willing to burn in protest, the significance of their actions, and all they were willing to give up to be heard, was already plain.

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Was There a Recent Coup Attempt in China?

Was There a Recent Coup Attempt in China? | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
Unconfirmed rumors of a recent coup attempt remind the world that China's
civilian and military leadership have once again drifted apart.

 

According to a report, around New Year’s day officers in two Chinese air force units were arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup. At the same time, a nuclear submarine on patrol was ordered back to port because some on board were thought to have links with the plotters. This report, circulated on Sunday on a China-watching listserv, remains unconfirmed. This rumor could be linked in some fashion to the detention last month of Colonel Tan Linshu, of the Chinese navy, for subversion.

 

A coup at first glance seems inconceivable, but there has been an evident erosion in civilian control of the Chinese military in recent years. The most important manifestation of this breakdown is that colonels and flag officers have begun openly criticizing civilian leaders and are now speaking out on matters once considered the exclusive province of diplomats.

 

What’s happening? From all indications, senior officers have gained influence in top Communist Party circles as civilian leaders have, since the early part of last decade, looked to them to settle power struggles in Beijing. Today, that trend is continuing as generals and admirals are involving themselves in a major leadership transition set to formally begin at the end of this year at the 18th Party Congress.

 

Moreover, civilians have increasingly relied on troops of the People’s Liberation Army and the semi-military People’s Armed Police to maintain order in an increasingly volatile society. Finally, China’s current civilian leaders are turning to nationalism to bolster failing political legitimacy, and it is the military that carries the flag of the People’s Republic beyond China’s borders and into space. In view of all these factors, we are witnessing the partial remilitarization of politics and policy.

 

At one time, the Communist Party and the PLA were almost one. The first two leaders of the People’s Republic, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, were army officers. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, the next two, are civilians, and this has led to the “bifurcation of civil and military elites.”

 

It is, however, one thing to have a strong military and another to have a coup. At one time, the People’s Republic was rife with coup rumors, especially when Lin Biao appeared to lead an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Mao Zedong in 1971. Since then, generals and admirals have given virtually no indication that they possessed grand political ambitions.

 

Jiang’s elevation to the top spot marked the beginning of a period of rapid decline of military influence. His tenure, for instance, witnessed progressively fewer generals and admirals holding posts in top Communist Party organs. No military officer has served on the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power in China, since 1997.

 

The decline is now being reversed as the PLA has been gaining influence during the tenure of Hu Jintao, the current supremo. In January 2011, then Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke of the “disconnect” between China’s civilian and military leaders. As he suggested, the regime is divided with constituent elements often carrying out their own policies with little evident coordination.

 

As the center continues to fracture during this time of Chinese political transition—something especially evident during Gates’s troubled last visit to Beijing—the one-party system is inevitably splintering, something that has not happened to this degree since the Beijing Spring of 1989 or maybe even since Mao’s death in 1976. As Arthur Waldron of the University of Pennsylvania points out, Chinese history is marked by periods where civilian and military leaders drift apart, and now China is entering one of those eras.

 

Now, things look like they are changing. There have been too many reminders in the Chinese state media that “the Party controls the gun”—that the PLA reports to civilians—to think that this has not become an issue.

 

So was there a coup attempt in China in the last two weeks? Even if there was not, talk of a military takeover indicates someone is trying to destabilize the regime, and that cannot be a good thing for the country’s increasingly shaky civilian leaders.

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The limits of reform in Myanmar

The limits of reform in Myanmar | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it

The release of more than 200 political prisoners and a tentative ceasefire with the rebel Karen National Union represent the latest of steps taken by Myanmar president Thein Sein's government to improve its international image and assuage its many critics at home and abroad. ... 

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How to Really Help Afghanistan's Women - by Lael A. Mohib | The AfPak Channel

How to Really Help Afghanistan's Women - by Lael A. Mohib | The AfPak Channel | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
http://t.co/0olgz009 The AfPak Channel: Afghan solutions for Afghan women - Foreign Policy (blog)...

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VIEW: The balance of power in Pakistan — II —Ishtiaq Ahmed

VIEW: The balance of power in Pakistan — II —Ishtiaq Ahmed | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it

In a rare and unprecedented outburst, Prime Minister Gilani chided the military and the ISI for behaving like a state within the state. He asserted that the Pakistan parliament was sovereign and no institution was above the law ... 

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Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears! —Marvi Sirmed

Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears! —Marvi Sirmed | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it

A coup will remain a coup no matter what you call it. Moralising it through the media and selfish politicians would not earn any legitimacy ... 

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'Neocons, Zionists out to topple Assad'

'Neocons, Zionists out to topple Assad' | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
A report reveals neocons and Zionists are out to take Syrian President Assad down by military force.

 

Michael Weiss, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Henry Jackson Society, suggested in a policy paper that a military intervention in Syria to topple the government of Assad was necessary.

 

The paper is called Safe Area for Syria - An Assessment of Legality, Logistics, and Hazards.

Weiss examined "the way in which foreign military intervention could work for Syria."

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The quiet war in Saudi Arabia

The quiet war in Saudi Arabia | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it

While western powers have been happy to use Saudi Arabia as an ally to ratchet up the pressure on Assad's beleaguered regime in Syria, it has not caught a whiff of the silent crackdown occurring within the kingdom. Since late November the protest movement which was largely snuffed out last spring has returned to the streets in force, largely centered on the oil rich and largely Shia Eastern Province.

 

The Saudi response was both brutal and predictable. Security forces shot and killed three protesters and wounded many more over several days of crackdowns in the eastern city of Qatif. Clashes continued throughout December as demonstrators battled security forces who routinely utilized live ammunition. In a series of retaliatory raids on the homes and districts of protest sympathizers hundreds were arrested and wounded. The killings along with the continued discrimination and mistreatment of the Shia of the Eastern Province has formed the basis of the current protest movement - a protest movement that has suffered heavily like its neighbour in Bahrain, but with little in the way of a headline.

 

Today, while attention was focused on the Strait of Hormuz, on Syria, and on the rising tensions in Bahrain, Saudi security forces launched an assault on the city of Awamiyah killing at least one and wounding half a dozen more. Eye witnesses have stated that soldiers on trucks opened fire on demonstrators, hitting many as they fled. The attack bears all the hallmarks of a planned operation with electricity being cut to the area prior to the assault. The area at the time of writing is apparently still under military lock-down and reflects a state of siege with clashes continuing to occur and gunfire being heard.

_____________________________________

A Pertinent comment on this article :

 by anonim

 

This is a timely and extremely important article. The kingdom has used religion and its association with the two holiest places Makkah and Medinah cleverly to brand the kingdom as the archetypal islamic state. It is this pseudo religious branding that allows the KSA to hide its attrocities within and beyond the Muslim world. Indeed being wealth helps as well as any US or UK politician who can manage to get a defence contract can feel safe for saving or creating jobs. The cost of this indirect support of the KSA along side the more direct support is the blood on the streets.

 

Islam in KSA is shamelessly used to maintain the hold of the Royal family. The state is racist beyond belief, corrupt beyond belief and oppressive beyond belief. Indeed it operates a defacto apartheid, which is seldom condemned.

 

More articles like this raising the profile of attrocities committed by the state and a movement from within the muslim world might help the process of balkanisation of this state.

 

The creation of a free state including the holy places of Makkah and Madinah ruled not by the Saud family but by a council of muslims may also allow for a different and new political model for the creation and maintenance of free states not subjected to the sovereignty of the nation state that have been the cause of much grief in the region and beyond.

 

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Indian envoy's residence in Kiev: Ukraine quartet go topless in visa protest

Indian envoy's residence in Kiev: Ukraine quartet go topless in visa protest | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
Sources in Delhi police said more than 3,000 women from these countries were staying in the capital to work as sex workers. "These girls are in demand," an officer said.

 

Four young Ukrainian women braved sub-zero temperatures today to go topless and climb the balcony of the Indian envoy's residence in Kiev with placards pronouncing "Ukraine is not a bordello" and "We are not prostitutes".


The quartet from Femen, a group famous for topless protests against everything from sex tourism to Silvio Berlusconi's peccadilloes, were protesting the alleged tightening of visa rules by the Indian mission in Kiev for Ukrainian women in the 15-40 age group.


The women cited an Indian newspaper report published last week as proof that the mission had branded all Ukrainian women in the 15-40 age group as prostitutes.


The report said the ministry of external affairs (MEA) had instructed its missions in the central Asian republics, along with Russia and Ukraine, to re-examine the visa applications of women aged between 15 and 40 and reject those in which their reasons for visiting India sounded unconvincing.


The report suggested it was being done to keep sex workers from these countries from entering India, particularly with elections in five states round the corner. Both the MEA and the Indian mission in Ukraine have since contested the claim.


A senior MEA official said the report was "weird, if not mischievous and misplaced".

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China 2011: From Jasmine Crackdowns to Grassroots Uprisings

China 2011: From Jasmine Crackdowns to Grassroots Uprisings | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
From the crackdowns on any Jasmine revolution and grassroots uprisings, to debates about future development models, 2011 was another eventful year for China. Oiwan Lam rounds up.

_____________________________________SASFOR carries this content without prejudice, in complete form, to support the act of freedom not of Fragmentation. Asia has already suffered hugely from acts of Fragmentation and artificial borders.

_____________________________________

 

2011 began with a series of crackdowns by the Chinese authorities to prevent the Arab Jasmine Revolution from landing in mainland China. It ended with a series of uprisings in grassroots communities where people have been devastated by corrupt local governments and illegal land acquisitions.

 

Jasmine crackdowns

 

The Jasmine uprising in the Arab world has reminded the Chinese people of their own political history in fighting against authoritarian rule. The downfall of Mubarak in Egypt has of course alerted the illegitimate authoritarian regime in China.

 

Without confronting any real threat, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started off the year with a heavy-handed crackdown, targeting online opinion leaders and human rights activists in February 2011. Amongst them are blogger-activist Liu Di, prominent artist-activist Ai Weiwei, Sichuan writer Ran Yunfei, Shanghai lawyer Li Tiantian, Sichuan legal activist Li Shuangde and Beijing activist Wang Lihong.

 

Even though the atmosphere has been tense, info-activists continued to campaign for all the political detainees. The Free Chen Guangcheng campaign has been ongoing for months since September 2011, and the most recent development was actor-activist Christian Bale's rough encounter with village guards when he attempted to pay Chen a visit.

 

Grassroots conflicts

 

Social conflicts kept bursting in on the grassroots communities throughout 2011. The first case at the beginning of the year was the citizen investigation of the suspected murder of Qian Yunhui, a village head in Zhejiang province who opposed forced land acquisitions in Yueqing county. While official investigation concluded it as an accident, many netizens believed that it was a murder as the county government has too much embedded interests in the developmental projects.

 

While rural areas were ruined by land seizure, urban areas were threatened by property bubbles. The majority of city dwellers believed that the government should introduce policy to cool down the property market. They displayed their anger towards the unrealistic Communist Party propaganda, which claimed that generous rental subsidies are available to help low-income families in Beijing.

 

Instead of helping the poor, many cities have adopted the policy to clear the “unwanted” people. The income disparity and social injustice has resulted in bitter resentment among the “unwanted” poor towards the rich and the government officials.

 

Netizens' reactions on the murder case of Yao Jiaxin reflected the popular feeling. Taxi drivers were among the first social groups to taste the effect of inflation on their living. On the other hand, as the society became more unstable and the economy was taking a downturn, the rich fled, bosses run away and civil servants committed suicides.

 

Children are the most vulnerable social group in such an unjust society. In the rural areas, 58 million children have been left behind by their parents, who went to the cities in search of jobs. Many became the victims of kidnapping. Most terribly, child rapists are protected by the “underage prostitution law”.

 

Food safety remains an unresolved problem.

Poisonous milk scandals kept popping up throughout the year. Mainland Chinese crossing the border for milk powder has resulted in a shortage in Hong Kong. When Japan was facing a nuclear radiation crisis after the earthquake, Chinese people's immediate response was the panic buying of sea salt. However, the impact of radiation is probably less than that of the chemicals found in watermelons and vinegar.

 

Overdevelopment and uprisings

 

Many of the grassroots conflicts were the results of unrestrained development. The impact of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the country's environment is yet to be evaluated.

 

In August, a large scale not-in-my-backyard mobilization took place in Dalian and the local government was forced to accept residents' demand to relocate a chemical factory. The year ended with two successful uprisings in Guangdong province at Wukan and Haimen. Both were against major developmental projects which generated profit by seizing people's land.

 

China Model

 

On one hand, the Chinese authority is very proud of the rise of China as a strong nation. A number of movies, such as Beginning of the Great Revival, have been produced to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the CCP.

 

On the other hand, in order to confront social and political discontents without harsh repressions, the CCP tries to explore different governance models to solve its legitimacy crisis. Some scholars advocated the restoration of Confucianism as the state ideology.

 

The CCP is unwilling to give up its one-party dictatorship model and introduce political reform. It prefers brainwashing education and red propaganda rather than rational change of the political process, and depends on the stability machine for maintaining social and political order. Thus, rights defense actions were taken as insane, independent candidates' campaigns in local elections were suppressed, micro-blogging platforms were under attack, and activists were subject to daily monitoring.

 

The China Model seemed to have entered Hong Kong with the visit of China's future premier Li Keqiang in August 2011. It is the first time in the city's history that a citizen was arrested for wearing a political T-shirt.

 

Geopolitics

 

The costly space race tells Chinese people and the world that the nation is on the rise. Yet in terms of international politics, some scholars believe that China is being boxed-in geopolitically. The Mekong river massacre and the U.S diplomatic strategy in Asia Pacific have alerted the nationalists of China's marginalized diplomatic position in the world.

 

However, the imaginary enemy game can never solve the internal social conflicts. Even though some intellectuals may find another revolution too remote and unrealistic, democracy and freedom have definitely become an aspiration of the commons in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution.

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The BSF as Pornographer: Bravehearts with Bluetooth

The BSF as Pornographer: Bravehearts with Bluetooth | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
So, this is how the borders of the Republic of India are also defended. With sticks, ropes and bluetooth enabled mobile phones. Eight soldiers of the Border Security Force, hold down a young Bangla...

 

This disturbing to say the very least. Editor SASFOR. Here is the so called "full story". Do we believe it ? yes.

 

The BSF as Pornographer: Bravehearts with Bluetooth


JANUARY 20, 2012
tags: Bangladesh, BSF Video, India-Bangladesh Border, torture


by Shuddhabrata Sengupta


So, this is how the borders of the Republic of India are also defended. With sticks, ropes and bluetooth enabled mobile phones. Eight soldiers of the Border Security Force, hold down a young Bangladeshi man accused of cattle smuggling. He is stripped naked, hogtied and then thrashed. He screams in agony and humiliation. The soldiers act as if they are out on a picnic. They discuss whether or not to give him some tea. Where to hurt him, on which body parts. How big a stick to use on him. Someone says “cut his ear off”. They stroll casually around him as he is humiliated. They laugh. He cries, as people usually do in these circumstances, and seems to call for his mother. Someone, probably one of the soldiers, records it all on video, on the 9th of December, 2010, somewhere along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Murshidabad, West Bengal

I am not embedding the video, which is as of now, still available on Youtube and circulating through Facebook Forwards because I feel the images it contains are a little too disturbing to upload on a blog like Kafila. However, all you have to do to see it is to type ‘INDIA: Violence by the BSF at Murshidabad” in the Youtube search bar. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

If you do access the footage online I urge you to remember that this video was taken with the express intention of humiliating the man who is shown being beaten. It is my request that readers of Kafila, and anyone else who comes across this text (and I can do nothing other than request here) refrain from doing anything that might add to the Bangladeshi man’s humiliation while they watch the footage, if they choose to open the link.

The soundtrack you hear is chilling. One of the BSF men, perhaps the man who is filming, (because his voice sounds like it is closest to the recording device), says, “don’t give him tea in our utensils, and wash it out, if he uses it. The sisterfucker, eats cows, the motherfucker”.

One of the other soldiers, he is one of those doing the actual thrashing, asks the person filming to make sure that he has him on camera as he humiliates their captive. He and another soldier pose, like hunters with a trophy. One of them plants one well-shod foot on the prone, naked man. The soldier who asks to be photographed, makes another request to the man doing the filming. He wants it ‘bluetoothed’ to him. And so it goes on. And on. The recording lasts five minutes.

It is alleged that the man was tortured because he refused to pay the soliders at the BSF picket a bribe. If this is true then it becomes especially interesting to observe that the torturer-in-chief, who is so piously offended at beef-eating that he wants anything that touches the offender’s body to be ‘cleansed’ after contact is so eager to take a bribe that he has no moral compunction in unleashing (as punishment) a little bit of non-consensual recreational (for him and his mates) sadism on the side when he is refused one. Is this the kind of sophisticated and nuanced moral sense that prevails amongst responsible members of our security forces stationed at the border?

The Hindu carries a fair and honest report of this incident. And the NDTV report (below) says much of what needs to be said.

 

http://youtu.be/uxHZPMhH6cA

 

 

 

 

It is heartening to see that this story was broken by sections of the mainstream media, and in a welcome departure from the norm, no attempt at

whitewashing the culprits was made this time. The Daily Star, a newspaper from Dhaka, Bangladesh has a comprehensive report of the incident, and names the eight BSF jawans we see in the video.

 

The journalists who filed these reports, and the editors who let them through, deserve our gratitude.

But there has been a surprisingly mute response by way of commentary or public discussion. Remember the kilobytes of outrage that poured out of every media orifice when a few Indian students were attacked in Australia? But then, they were Indians, and that was Australia. It would be fair to say that had this happened somewhere else, heads would have rolled.

 

There would have been demands that the minister concerned, in this case, Mr. P. Chidambaram, resign. I have not heard of the Indian state offering the people of Bangladesh the courtesy of an apology. And if an apology has been articulated, I haven’t heard it being said loud enough. If this had happened to an animal, Menaka Gandhi would have toppled two governments by now.

Nothing of that sort has occurred, as yet. Yes, a senior BSF officer has stated that the eight jawans have been suspended with immediate notice, and an enquiry is underway, and that if found guilty, they will be punished. We need to ask whether this is enough.

 

This is not an an exceptional occurrence. Perhaps in this case the young man being humiliated survived his ordeal. I hope so, because he may just as well not have. Gratuitous violence by the Border Security Force on the India-Bangladesh Border is a systematic and ongoing phenomenon. This has been well documented.

 

‘Trigger Happy : Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border” a report jointly prepared by Human Rights Watch, and two human rights activists organizations from West Bengal (MASUM) and Bangladesh (Odhikar) lists 315 killings of Bangladeshis by the BSF at the India-Bangladesh Border between 2007 and June 20110 alone.

 

Subsequent to the publication of this report (which went largely unnoticed in the media in India), Human Rights Watch says in a statement that the Government of India agreed to draw up guidelines for BSF soldiers not to use lethal weapons at the border. Consequently, while initially, the number of deaths did decrease, the old pattern of killings at the border soon re-established itself. The only difference was, now, the soldiers were not shooting people dead, (because they had orders not to use bullets) they were simply beating them to death, or otherwise torturing them, and sometimes these instances of torture did end in death. Whenever this happened, the bodies would be ‘thrown across the border’.

 

I have written (in an earlier posting – Kashmir’s Abu Ghraib) about the specific genre of pornography that is produced by people in uniform across the world. We all remember the videos of young men being stripped naked and humiliated by security forces personnel in Kashmir that came to surface in 2010. There was, at that time a concerted effort made by unknown agencies to take those videos off from Facebook and Youtube. Home Minister, P Chidambaram denied that they even existed. No departmental enquiry was ordered. No one was suspended. No one punished. But the one thing that those videos (from Kashmir) and this video (from the Bangladesh border) do demonstrate is that there does seem to be a ‘culture’ within the security forces that has, or finds, a place for these kinds of actions. The casualness with which the recordings are made, and the torture undertaken, suggest that what is going on is nothing exceptional.

 

These are not the deeds of a few ‘bad apples’. The suspension, or even dismissal of eight BSF personnel is not going to make this go away. There is a clear pattern of authority between the torturers, some of them give orders, others act on them.

 

These are not wild young men on the loose, with no authority supervising their actions. These are soldiers going about their business. Perhaps it is time for us to consider that this might in fact be the norm. At the very least we have to admit that there seems to have been no effective input in the training of these soldiers that has discouraged this sort of activity. Is it also appropriate for us to ask whether that great Indian pastime of ‘stripping and parading’ all kinds of vulnerable people, dalits, dalit women, and others through the streets of towns and villages that we hear about ever so often is some kind of repressed meme that suddenly replicates itself in other instances where power meets its objects – in police lock ups, interrogation rooms, ‘border areas’ and other liminal zones.

 

It this is the case, then this kind of behavior will probably continue, and the only way for the state to deal with this reality is to try and enforce a lock down on the internet to prevent its secret sense of impunity from being more of what it already is – a public secret. It is not accidental that the state in India seems to be in an impatient haste to crack down on the internet. A judge asks, while deliberating on the recent private complaint against Facebook and Google, on the grounds that some webpages offend the religious sentiments of the population - “if they can be closed down in China, why can’t they be shut down in India ?” How convenient that would be for the brave hearts of the Border Security Force. They could then blue tooth their gonzo blue films to each other with ease, only we would never know.

 

If it is legitimate to consider the shutting down of vast stretches of the internet to assuage the injured sentiments of some, it is, in my considered view, equally, if not actually more legitimate to demand the shutting down of the state because its acts are monotonously injurious (and sometimes lethally so) not just to the sentiments, but to the bodies and dignities of many.

 

Time for an annoying question, and I mean to be annoying, really annoying. So, if an enquiry can be ordered about the Bangladesh Border incident, why can an enquiry not be ordered about what was filmed in Kashmir? Perhaps because it is kind of important not to annoy Bangladeshis more than they have been annoyed already. After all, there might be another attempt at an ‘anti-India’ coup. One was being plotted in the last few weeks. (We and the people of Bangladesh have reason to be genuinely grateful that they are not waking up to yet another spell of military rule.) So, better to admit that something terrible indeed happened. Grit one’s teeth and await the oblivion of an ‘enquiry’, because under the BSF act, generally speaking, only the BSF can act against and investigate its own men. No prosecution of BSF personnel is possible except by the express permission of the Union Home Ministry. I do not know if that permission has ever been granted.

 

In a discussion on Times Now last evening on the foiled coup attempt in neighboring Bangladesh. A former diplomat on the panel made a discreet suggestion that the BSF Bluetooth Blunder at the Bangladesh Border was an unfortunate turn of events. She felt, correctly, that the exposure of the footage might have contributed to damaging India’s ‘image’ in Bangladesh, and therefore we ought to be grateful that an ‘anti-India’ military coup had been averted. She was thoughtful while she said this.

 

Without batting an eyelid, a few minutes later, Arnab Goswami, expressing concern at the volatility of ‘our neighborhood’ stated the following (around 5:00 in the Newshour video fragment linked to above) - “We cannot let this state of anarchy continue in Bangladesh because it is the chicken’s neck that connects all of the North East with India…if China can have military bases in South Asian region, naval bases in Pakistan…Sri Lanka…simple question is, why cannot India have a stronger military or naval presence – in Bangladesh?”. I suppose he was so excited by the thought of BSF soldiers humiliating Bangladeshi cattle traders that he could not resist vocalizing his desire to see Indian security forces personnel humiliate and virtually rape the entire population of Bangladesh, as they do so well in this video with one man when they get hold of him. After all, if the Pakistani army had done this so successfully in the years leading up to 1971. Why should the Indian army not be allowed full freedom to do the same ? What the Pakistani Army can do, in the imagined South Asia of Arnab Goswami’s dream, the Indian Army can do, oh so much better.

 

Despite (or should I say because of) the inspiring presence of Arnab Goswami in our lives, one can still pause to imagine what the shape of justice might be in response to a situation like this. Remember, it is just six days to Republic Day. The spit and polish, pomp and circumstance of the Indian state will be on proud display. There will be tanks and floats and folk dancers, air-crafts in formation, brass brands and marching squads. Imagine just how appropriate it would be if this time, the BSF contingent were to be led by the eight men who stripped and humiliated a Bangladeshi man in Murshidabad district. We should not be denied the inspiring sight of them marching proudly, hog-tied, with bluetooth enabled mobile phones clasped between their teeth, naked, in the cold delhi morning of the 26th of January.

 

Perhaps they could jerk their heads once in salute, biting precisely into the button on their phones that could blue-tooth their brave deeds to the world as they passed the president’s podium. Every Indian would see it on TV and on their mobile phones. We all need to know how well our borders are being defended.

_____________________________________

"General " Palaniappan Chidambaram

 

 

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Beijing Foreign Policy Hurts China

Beijing Foreign Policy Hurts China | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
The Chinese Communist Party’s placement of regime security over national security interests is typical of autocracies. It’s also very dangerous.

 

In contrast, in autocracies, regime security and national security often conflict. Because in such systems the fall of government also means the collapse of the regime, the ruling elites characteristically assign a higher priority to protecting regime security than national security. In other words, regime interests override national interests in autocracies.

 

Moreover, threat perception by autocracies is notable for its political nature. While democracies perceive external threats exclusively in terms of physical security, autocracies see such threats in both political/ideological and military terms.

 

Consequently, autocracies tend to devote costly resources to defending against external political threats and make unnecessary enemies of democracies not because of their military threat, but because of their political threat. So in their pursuit of regime security, autocracies simply can’t avoid undermining the security of the nation, both in terms of wasting national resources and antagonizing major democratic powers they otherwise should befriend.

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Bangladesh army claims to have foiled coup attempt

Bangladesh army claims to have foiled coup attempt | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
Intell­igence offici­als repeat­edly warned that...

 

The Bangladesh army has foiled a coup planned against the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a military spokesman said on Thursday.
Bangladesh has a history of coups with army generals running the impoverished South Asian nation for 15 years until the end of 1990.


“Specific information has been unearthed that some officers in military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance,” Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq told reporters.


He said the officers had been identified. Some had been detained and would be presented before a military court.


Intelligence officials had repeatedly warned that “fanatic” militants with links to the military may try to oust Hasina.


“A band of fanatic officers had been trying to oust the politically established government. Their attempt has been foiled,” Razzaq said.


Hasina took power in early 2009 and has since faced threats from Islamist and other radical groups.
A revolt in the country’s paramilitary forces in February 2009 started in Dhaka and spread to a dozen other cities, killing more than 70 people, including 51 army officers.


The revolt was quelled after two days but the country has since been shadowed by fears of further uprisings.

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Critical report pulled from China’s web

Critical report pulled from China’s web | "Asian Spring" | Scoop.it
A paper runs a research report from Sun Liping (left) detailing major challenges facing China today, but online versions are pulled.

__________________________________________________

SASFOR Takes the Liberty of Curating the Complete Report , support Freedom of the Internet- SASFOR 

__________________________________________________

By David Bandurski | Posted on 2012-01-12
On January 9, the Social Development Task Group of the Sociology Department at Tsinghua University released its 2011 “Research Report Series on Social Progress,” in which it warned that “powerful vested interests” in China were now “holding reforms hostage.” The report, authored by sociology professor Sun Liping (孙立平), the former doctoral adviser to now vice-president and successor apparent Xi Jinping (习近平), argued that China was in the midst of a “transition trap” (转型陷阱) in which the energy and impetus to push ahead with necessary reforms was being lost.

A lengthy summary of the Tsinghua University report was published in the January 9 edition of China Youth Daily, and was quickly posted to a number of major Chinese web portals, including People’s Daily Online. But within hours, links to the article were disabled.

By mid-day the link to the China Youth Daily version at People’s Daily Online called up a warning page that read: “The page you are looking for does not exist. You will be automatically re-directed to the People’s Daily Online homepage in 5 seconds.” A similar warning from the popular Netease web portal read: “We’re sorry, the page you are visiting does not exist or has already been deleted.”

For several hours, users on the popular social media platform Sina Weibo shared a link to a cached version of the China Youth Daily report at Baidu.com, as well as news that the article had been deleted from sites like Netease. By day’s end the Baidu version had been pulled down as well. The page now linked only to the electronic edition of China Youth Daily, where an unreadable image of the original newspaper page could be found but the text to the right only read: “This article has been deleted.”

The China Youth Daily article, mostly a stringing together of various quotes and passages from the report, was a challenge to translate under time constraints — but we offer our version here with the hope readers will find it helpful and informative. We have also pasted the Chinese under the translation.

We welcome any comments and/or clarifications on translation, as well as other observations and context. Please contribute these in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

“We Must Be Alert to ‘Becoming Obsessed With Feeling the Stones, to the Point Where We Don’t Want to Cross the River Anymore’”
China Youth Daily
January 9, 2012

“Today, system reforms have already become mired in difficulties. This, it can be said, is an undisputed truth. In recent years, a number of important reform measures have been shelved, and political reform has failed to move forward.”

Released today by the Social Progress Research Institute of Tsinghua University’s Kaifeng Development Research Center, and by the Social Development Task Group of the Sociology Department at Tsinghua University, the end-of-year 2011 “Research Report Series on Social Progress” points out that what our country most needs to be alert to right now is the “transition trap” (转型陷阱).

Transition Trap: Midway Through Reforms, “Not Wishing to Cross the River” (“不想过河”)

One decade into the new century, domestic observers say that “the disposition of Chinese society is changing”; Some people think that reforms have already ended, already died. “If we say that the 1980s were characterized by reform, and the 1990s were characterized in the first half by reform and the second half by opening, then in the latest 10 years stability preservation has become the defining tone,” [says the report].

What is going on here? Lately there have been two explanations. One holds that China has struck upon the middle income trap that developing nations have experienced before. Another holds that reforms have stalled or are even rolling back.

This report, whose chief author is Professor Sun Liping (孙立平) of Tsinghua University’s Sociology Department, points out that what China most needs to be alert to right now is the “transition trap.”

The “transition trap” refers to the creation in the process of reform and transition of powerful vested interests (既得利益集团) that obstruct further reforms, demanding that the prevailing system of the transitional period be firmly established in order to create a “mixed system” (混合型体制) maximizing the benefits [accruing to the vested interests], an eventuality that would result in the malformation of social and economic development and the accumulation of economic and social problems. “It is like an inferior and temporary shelter that people then re-decorate. They set up a makeshift kitchen, get married, have children. The residence becomes their world [despite its slapdash nature].”

The report argues: “In the past, we have placed too much emphasis on the advantages of gradual reform. But looking [at the situation] now, there is much greater risk of a country gradually reforming sinking into the transition trap. This is because gradual reform presents more opportunities in the process of transition for stalling and for hardening [of institutions] (定型化), and the conditions are more conducive to the emergence of powerful vested interests.”

[The report argues further that:] “Actually, the challenges facing reform in China today are not as they have been described by some, who say that, ‘Reform has entered a deep zone, in which [further] reforms cannot get off their feet.’ In the early days of reform, raising [the metaphor of] ‘crossing the river while feeling the stones’ was a realistic choice. But the problem today is that we’ve become so obsessed with feeling the stones that we don’t even wish to cross the river anymore.”

Taking Stock of Five Major Symptoms: Using the Excuse of “Stability Preservation” to Avoid Reform

The report analyzes “five major symptoms” of the transition trap. The first symptom is the growing ponderousness and constant malformation of economic development.

The report points out that the most real problem in China’s economy right now “is not stagnation, but rather development that is hyperactive (畸形) and malformed (畸形).” On the one hand, the potential provided by the development of backward regions, industrialization, urbanization and other factors is still there. On the other hand, nature of China’s political system gives the government powerful latitude in combating the slowdown of economic growth.

Within the pattern of the transition trap, the situation for private enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized enterprises is difficult, and the private impetus (民间动力) for economic activity goes down. This means there can only be greater and greater reliance on the government to drive the economy forward, which means demolishing buildings everywhere and rebuilding (大拆大建), holding large-scale events (办大活动), constructing huge buildings (盖大高楼), building huge plazas and squares (修大广场), and even erecting big statues (造大塑像).

The report refers to this as “incremental capital over-dependency” (增量依赖症): “In the transition trap, major system reforms have not been relied upon to resolve problems, and so the only answer is to rely upon enlarging the cake, using incremental capital from development to relieve problems, under the precondition of not touching powerful vested interests.”

Under this sort of incremental capital over-dependency, the people may not necessarily benefit from economic expansion; but if there is no growth, the people will suffer damage as a result.

The second symptom is that institutional factors in the transitional period become hardened.

Quite surprisingly, the report points out that “loss of momentum in reforms is not merely a question of the reform-minded wishes of the leadership classes, but an issue of doubts already emerging among the masses about reform.”

“If it were the case that the people demanded continued reform and powerful vested interests resisted and opposed them, then the situation would perhaps be relatively simple,” [the report says]. The report goes on, “The problem is that powerful vested interests have caused reforms to become deformed and lose their shape, and they have sought to enrich themselves in the name of reform. This has engendered antipathy toward reform among the people. Just like we can see in our daily lives, that now as soon as anyone starts talking about reform ordinary Chinese get jumpy. So the result is not only that real efforts to reform are constrained, but that the whole notion of reform has fallen out of favor.”

For example, in the midst of healthcare reforms in a number of regions unreasonably high prices for medicines have been brought down and the cost of medical care itself correspondingly raised in order to do away with over-reliance of the medical profession on expensive prescriptions. But after a period of time, the prices of medicines shot up again, with the result that the previous situation of low-cost medical care and high-cost medicines became a system of high costs across the board, and the burden on patients went up.

The third symptom is the trend toward hardening of the structure of society, hardening into a fractured society “stratified into rich and poor.”

The report cautioned that most in need of attention was the current social atmosphere or social psychology: First, as the thresholds in society had been raised [for access to all manner of benefits, etc.], society has seen a substantial drop in vigor and vitality. Second, the sense of opposition between various levels of society is now pronounced, and the collective sense of “hatred for the rich” (仇富) or “disdain for the poor” (嫌贫) were on the rise. Third, an ordinary sense of imbalance has been replaced among a portion of people with a sense of despair. “For example, among farmers, migrant workers and those at the lower rungs of society, there is a sense of despair and hopelessness. The intensification of some social tensions is inevitably related to this.”

The fourth symptom is an overcautious mentality and policies oriented toward “stability preservation”, which is rooted in misjudgment over social tensions and conflicts.

“In recent years, social tensions have shown a clear increasing trend. It should be said that there are many tensions that can arise as a matter of course in a market economy, and of these the vast majority do not constitute a serious threat to political power or to basic institutional frameworks. But in recent years, relevant parties [i.e., political leaders] have made a serious miscalculation [in assessing threats to basic stability], resulting in a fantasy of instability.”

The regime of “stability preservation” [in China] has emerged on the basis of this reading of the situation. Big or small, it lumps all matters together under the prerogative of stability preservation, “mobilizing the resources of society for an all-out campaign of stability preservation, taking special [extreme] measures meant for special [extreme] situations and normalizing them, systematizing them, with the result that the political, social and economic life of our nation has been thrown in a [chronic] state of ab-normalcy.”

The report points out that using “stability preservation” at a rationalization for not carrying out substantive reforms is classic “transition trap” logic. The ultimate outcome of the rigid thinking of stability preservation and the massive stability preservation project is in fact the intensification of social tensions, and it even takes a number of tensions arising normally from daily life and transforms them into doubt and resentment toward the system [as a whole].”

The fifth symptom is an ever more salient sense of social defeat. “This is seen first and foremost in the way government power in some local areas is out of hand, [for example] the violent interception of petitioners (暴力截访), violent [property] demolition and removal [of residents] (血腥拆迁). The direct result of runaway power is the decline of the society’s ability to preserve fairness and justice. As a result, loss of bottom line social [standards], slipping morality, the loss of professional conduct and professional ethics have become extremely common phenomena.”

How Did the “Transition Trap” Emerge”?

The report points out that [the "transition trap"] is the special product of the odd alliance between power and the market. “[The "transition trap"] is often [seen in] the alternate and combined use of power and market means, turning to power means when power means are convenient, and turning to market means when market means are convenient.”

According to the report’s analysis, in the process of the emergence of powerful vested interests, [abuse of power through] the following processes play important roles: “official profiteering” (官倒) [in which Party or government organs engage in profiteering activities against the regulations of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce], restructuring of state-owned enterprises, the exploitation of coal and other resources, land development, property speculation, public listing of enterprises . . . [Through these activities] powerful vested interests quickly come to dominate land, mining, financial resources, basic infrastructure nationwide, urban development, public works projects, the development of rural water projects as well as energy, electrical power, telecommunications, manufacturing and other important industries.

“The so-called China Model is a development model derived from this sort of system. [It is about], in the context of strengthening [government] administrative capacity, taking a market system and shattering it into market factors, then using power to reorder these market factors in order to achieve a high degree of monopolization of resources.”

The report also analyzes the chaotic nature of the debate lately between the intellectual “left” and “right.” “For a number of years, in fact, people have been habituated to viewing the market and power as two things in wide opposition, as being inversely related.”

In this context, the “left” can be understood [in the simplest terms] as [a sense of] alertness to the “market” or “capital” factors within this [above-mentioned] mixed system, while the “right” can be understood as sensitivity to “power” factors. Put another way, the “left” advocates for factors of “power” while the “right” advocates for “market or capital” elements.

“Before the transition trap is broken through, either [camp of] advocates might be used by powerful vested interests, turned into means by which their interests can be maximized.”

As people are debating over whether the transition to the market economy has gone far enough or too far, the connection between non-market power and maketized products has become the most effective means by which [vested interests] can profit. “For example, [officials] can obtain land at a cheap price through administrative means and then turn around and sell it for a high price on the market. Is there anything more valuable than this [method] to powerful vested interests in the amassing of wealth?”

The report argues that the actual impetus of social change [in China] has already grown weaker and weaker. “The transition trap can become a ‘snare’ because at this time the [status-quo] system has already made detailed preparations to repress change, the monopolization of resources grows more and more serious by the day, vested interests are expanding, and society is more and more tightly controlled. This doesn’t mean, however, that there is no longer any impetus in society for change.”

“Lately dissatisfaction with the stalling of reforms has increased, and demands for change are coalescing. In addition, as groups who benefit from vested interests are shrinking, many segments of the population are being shut out [from the benefits of development]. These both provide potential impetus for change, but the problem is how to transform this potential impetus into real impetus.”

The report argues that there are three roads out of the “transition trap”: the first is the government carrying out top-level [institutional] design, and promoting these [institutional reforms] with sufficient strength; the second is to use existing potential factors to promote the development of social forces (社会力量), using these social forces as an impetus to break through the status quo; the third is passive change in the midst of tensions and crises, “but this depends upon the self-examination and consciousness of vested interests.”

Regardless of which path is taken, there are four measures, according to the report, that are “unavoidable”:

1. “[China must] move in the direction of the mainstream world civilization.” The report holds that the “mainstream world civilization” has as its core values “freedom, rationality, individual rights, market economics, democratic politics and rule of law.”
2. “Recreating social vitality through political reforms.” “Political reform and social construction (社会建设) offer the most practical impetus [means] of moving out of the transition trap.” The report argues that resolving the problem of black case work (暗箱操作) [or behind the scenes dealing], and promoting the open operation of power, creating mechanisms to check power (制约权力的机制), can serve as the breakthrough points for political reform (政治体制改革的突破口). In recent years, the central party has already promoted open government information (政务信息公开).
3. Carrying out reforms in terms of top-level [institutional] design on the basis of public participation (民众参与). “In fact, one of the most important reasons that reforms have taken a malformed path in recent years is a lack of participation in reform by the masses. In the 1980s reforms were supported by the enthusiasm of an idealism [in society], and the defect of inadequate public participation was not yet so readily apparent. But once this idealism faded, interest [self-interest, the profit motive, etc.] became the chief factor driving reforms. Reform, in the absence of public participation, can quite easily become a large-scale dividing of the spoils (大规模的‘分赃’). Many clear examples of this could be seen in the restructuring of state-owned enterprises in the 1990s.”
4. Finally, the report advocates using “equity and justice” to form a consensus on [further] reforms. “What people feel most readily in the midst of the transition trap is disaffection, that equity and justice have been destroyed. Therefore, re-coalescing a consensus on reform must be done by defining equity and justice and the most basic value and objective [of reform]. In this sense, the building of democracy and rule of law must be the core content of future reforms in China.”

The report concluded: “In an era like today, what China needs above all else is courage, the courage to face vested interests head on, to break through the fabric of vested interests and through the logic of the ‘transition trap’, the courage to move beyond the present deadlock and morass.”

——————

须警惕“石头摸上了瘾,连河也不想过了”
2012-01-09 03:19 来源:中国青年报

“在今天,体制改革已经陷入困境,可以说是个不争的事实。近些年来,一些重要的改革措施被搁置,政治体制改革尚未进一步推进。”

清华大学凯风发展研究院社会进步研究所、清华大学社会学系社会发展课题组今天发布2011年度“社会进步系列研究报告”,指出我国目前最需警惕的是“转型陷阱”。

转型陷阱:改革中途,“不想过河”

在新的世纪走完10年后,国内的观察家说“中国社会的气质正在发生变化”;有人则认为改革已经终结,已经死亡。“如果说上世纪80年代的特征是改革,90年代的特征前期是改革后期是开放,而最新的这10年,维稳则成了最基本的基调。”
这究竟是怎么回事?目前流行的有两种解释。一种是认为出现了发展中国家经历的“中等收入陷阱”,另一种认为是改革处于停滞甚或倒退状态。

而这份由清华大学社会学系孙立平教授主笔撰写的报告指出,中国现在最需要警惕的,不是上述两者,而是“转型陷阱”。
“转型陷阱”指的是,改革和转型过程会造就一个既得利益集团,这个集团会阻止进一步变革,要求把过渡时期的体制定型化,形成使其利益最大化的“混合型体制”,由此导致了经济社会发展的畸形化和经济社会问题的不断积累。

“这就如同在一幢烂尾的大楼中,人们简单装修一下就搭灶做饭,娶妻生子,也俨然成为一片天地。”

报告认为:“过去,我们过多地强调了渐进式改革的优势,但现在看,一个渐进式改革的国家陷入转型陷阱的危险会大大增加。因为在渐进中,使转型过程停滞并定型化的机会太多,既得利益集团从容形成的条件更为有利。”

“其实,现在中国的改革困境并非像有些人所说的那样:‘改革开始进入深水区,已经改不动了’。在改革初期,提出‘摸着石头过河’是一种现实的选择,但现在的问题是,可能是摸石头摸上瘾了,连河也不想过了。”

盘点五大症状:用“维稳”的理由,拒绝改革

报告分析了转型陷阱的“五大症状”。第一个症状是,经济发展步履沉重并日益畸形。

报告指出,中国在经济上最现实的问题“不是停滞,而是亢奋、畸形的发展”。一方面,落后地区发展、工业化和城市化的潜力等仍然存在,另一方面,体制决定了 政府“反放缓”、“反停滞”的能力是极强的。“在转型陷阱的格局中,民营企业尤其是中小型民营企业处境艰难,经济活动的民间动力下降,于是,只能越来越依 靠政府推动,大拆大建,上大项目,办大活动,盖大高楼,修大广场,甚至造大塑像。”

报告把这称为“增量依赖症”。“在转型陷阱中,人们没有通过重要的体制变革来解决问题,于是只能寄希望于做大蛋糕,在不触动既得利益格局的前提下,用发展形成的增量来缓解问题。”

在这种增量依赖症中,经济增长了,民众不见得会受益;但如果不增长,民众则会受损。

症状之二是,过渡的体制因素被定型下来。

出人意料的是,报告指出“改革动力的丧失,并不仅仅是领导层的改革意愿问题,而是在民众中已经对改革发生了疑问”。
“如果现在是民众要求继续改革,而既得利益集团在那里阻挠和反对,事情也许还比较简单。”报告分析,“问题在于,既得利益集团让改革走样变形,以改革的名 义获取利益,由此引起一般民众对改革的抵触。正如我们在现实生活中能看到的,现在老百姓一说起改革就心惊肉跳。其结果是,不仅实质性改革受阻,而且这个字 眼都在失去民心。”

比如,在一些地区的医疗改革中,需要降低不合理的高药价,相应提高医疗的价格,改变“以药养医”的现象。但过一段时间,压下去的药价又高了,结果是由过去的药价高、医疗价格低变成两者价格都高,患者的负担进一步加重了。

症状之三是,社会结构趋于定型,固化为“贫富分化”的断裂社会。

报告提醒,值得注意的是现在的社会氛围或社会心态:其一,由于社会中的门槛加高,社会活力大大下降。其二,阶层之间的对立情绪凸显,“仇富”与“嫌贫”的 集体意识在蔓延。其三,普遍的不平衡感为部分人的绝望感所取代。“比如在农民、农民工和城市底层等群体中,存在看不到希望的绝望感。一些社会矛盾的激化往 往与这个因素有关。”

症状之四,就是误判社会矛盾形成的拘谨心理和“维稳”政策导向。

“近些年来,社会矛盾有明显增加的趋势,应当说,一些本来是市场经济中正常存在的矛盾,其中绝大多数并不会形成对政权和基本制度框架的严重威胁。但近些年来,有关方面产生了严重的误判,形成了一种不稳定的幻象。”

在这种判断的基础上,“大维稳”模式形成了。它将社会的大小事都与稳定联系起来,“动员社会资源进行全方位维稳,将一些特殊时期的特殊做法常规化、体制化,使我国政治经济社会生活处于一种很不正常的状态”。

报告指出,用“维稳”的理由拒绝实质性改革,是“转型陷阱”的典型逻辑。“僵硬的维稳思维以及大维稳模式,最终结果往往反而是激化社会矛盾,甚至把一些日常生活中的矛盾演变为对体制的怀疑和怨恨。”

症状之五,社会溃败日渐明显。“首先表现为一些地方政府权力失控,暴力截访、血腥拆迁;权力失控的直接结果,是社会维护公平正义的能力在降低。于是,社会底线失守,道德沦丧,职业操守和职业道德的丧失成为相当普遍的现象。”

“转型陷阱”是如何形成的?

“转型陷阱”下的体制,是怎么逐步定型下来的?

报告指出,它以权力与市场的奇异结盟为特征。“往往是权力与市场手段的交替结合使用,在权力手段方便的时候使用权力手段,在市场手段方便的时候使用市场手段。”

报告分析,在既得利益群体崛起的过程中,下述过程起到了重要的作用:“官倒”、国企改制、矿产资源开发、土地开发、房地产热、企业上市融资……既得利益集 团迅速支配了土地、矿产、金融资源,涉及遍布全国的基础设施、城市开发、公共工程、农村水利建设以及能源、电力、通信、制造等重要行业。

“所谓中国模式,就是在这种体制中派生出的发展模式。在行政能力继续强化的前提下,把市场体制打碎为市场因素,通过权力重组市场因素,实现对资源的高度垄断。”

由此,报告也解析了目前中国思想界“左派”和“右派”争论的混乱。“因为在过去许多年中,人们一直把权力和市场看成是两个截然对立的东西,两者关系是此消彼长的。”

在这种情况下,可以把“左”理解为对这个混合型体制中“市场”或“资本”因素的警惕,将“右”理解为对“权力”因素的警惕。反过来说,“左”是在为“权力”因素呼唤,而“右”是在为“市场或资本”因素呼唤。

“在打破转型陷阱之前,无论哪种呼唤,都有可能被既得利益集团借用,变成完善利益最大化的手段。”

而当人们还在为我国“市场化改革不彻底还是过头”争论的时候,一些权力的非市场化和商品的市场化相衔接,已经成为最有利的牟利方式。“比如从行政上获得廉价的土地和资源,然后再以高价格卖到市场,还有比这种方式更有利于既得利益集团聚敛财富的吗?”
靠什么打破“转型陷阱”?

报告承认,目前变革社会的现实动力已经越来越微弱。“转型陷阱之所以能成为‘陷阱’,就是因为此时的体制已经对遏制变革作出了周密安排,资源垄断日益严重、利益集团坐大、社会控制愈益严密。但这并不意味着社会已经完全没有变革的动力。”

“目前对改革停滞的不满在增加,变革的要求也在凝聚,另外,由于既得利益集团的圈子在不断收窄,许多群体被甩出圈子之外。这都是进行变革的现实动力,问题是如何将这种潜在的动力变成现实的动力。”

报告认为,可能走出“转型陷阱”的道路只有三种:一是由政府实施改革顶层设计,并有相应的力量推动;二是利用现有可能的因素推动社会力量的发育,使社会力量成为打破现状的动力;三是在矛盾和危机推动下的被动改变,“但这要取决于既得利益集团的自省和觉悟”。
不管哪一条路,报告呼吁,有四大措施是“不可回避”的:

首先是,“汇入世界主流文明的方向”。报告认为,这个“世界主流文明”的核心价值包括“自由、理性、个人权利,市场经济、民主政治、法治社会”。

第二,“以政治体制改革再造社会活力”。

“政治体制改革和社会建设,是走出转型陷阱最现实的动力。”报告认为,可以将解决暗箱操作、促进权力公开运作、形成制约权力的机制,作为政治体制改革的突破口。近些年来,中央政府已在推进政务信息公开。

第三,在民众参与的基础上进行改革的顶层设计。

“实际上,近些年来,改革之所以会走样变形,重要原因之一就是缺乏民众对改革的参与。在上个世纪80年代,改革是由理想主义的激情来支撑的,缺少民众参与 的弊端还没有充分显示出来。但在理想主义消退之后,利益成为主导改革的重要因素,缺少民众参与的改革很容易演变为大规模的‘分赃’。上世纪90年代的国企 改革中就有很多明显的例子。”

第四,报告最后呼吁,用“公平正义”凝聚改革共识。

“在转型陷阱中,人们感受最深的、最不满的,是公平正义受到了破坏。因此,能够重新凝聚改革共识的,就是将推进公平正义作为改革的基本价值和目标。从这个意义上说,民主与法治建设应当是未来中国改革的核心内容。”

“在今天这样一个时代,中国最需要的是一种勇气,一种能够正视既得利益格局,冲破既得利益格局,打破‘转型陷阱’的逻辑,走出目前僵局与困境的勇气。”报告最后写道。

[NOTE: We have changed the phrase "transformation snare" to "transition trap" per the valuable suggestion of Duncan Innes-Ker below. The term "trapped transition" is used by economist Minxin Pei in his book China's Trapped Transition.]

 

James Zeng says:
2012-01-12 at 4:26 pm
The article can be found at the following web addresses:
http://finance.sina.com.cn/g/20120109/025911153462.shtml
http://internal.dbw.cn/system/2012/01/09/053626134.shtml
http://finance.workercn.cn/c/2012/01/09/120109080145814615718.html

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The basic narrative of General Musharraf consists in his view that the two mainstream political parties — the PML-N and the PPP — have time and again been ‘tried, tested and failed’, and that there is a need for a third political force in the country

 

God help us, the poor lot. There is a strange breed of natural disasters surrounding us on all four sides — a breed which is, paradoxically enough, man-made. ... 

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An Uncertain Future for Iraq's Intelligence Services

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Summary

 

The institutionalization of a new Iraqi intelligence apparatus after the fall of Saddam Hussein has been a tumultuous process. The country's underlying geopolitical imperatives have changed little since it was first created after World War I, so the roots of these services can be found in those of previous regimes. However, the fall of Hussein's regime in 2003 and the subsequent complete rebuilding of the Iraqi state have led to a period of uncertainty in the country's intelligence community as several ethno-sectarian factions vie for control over it. Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to be consolidating his power, but his position is by no means stable. As political battles continue, so too will fighting within these services.


Analysis


Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, Iraq has been setting the foundations for its new state, including the institutionalization of a new set of security and intelligence services. Over the past eight years, Iraq has been following the mold of most nascent intelligence communities, slowly taking into account its geopolitical situation -- as well as bureaucratic, institutional and personal battles -- to create operational, analytical and decision-making protocols that will remain relatively constant even as the country's political leadership changes.

Since the beginnings of modern-day Iraq after World War I, its geopolitical imperatives have changed little, and the roots of these modern intelligence services can thus be found in those of previous governments.

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We did not raise arms simply to be a part of the parliamentary system,” says C.P. Gajurel, secretary of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M). The Maoists insist Nepal must have an executive president directly elected by the people and a prime minister elected by parliament and close the debate on the model of governance future Nepal should have. 


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It is not ruled out that if the democratic facade of imperialism creates a crisis that threatens to unravel the economic system, the imperialist bosses would not hesitate to revert back to military dictatorship ... 

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Baloch plight attracts US attention amid tense ties with Pak

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Baloch separatists achieved a significant diplomatic breakthrough on Friday, getting the US administration to recognize their grievances against the Pakistani state and persuading Washington to urge Islamabad to address their issues through dialogue.

 

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''The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Baluchistan, especially targeted killings, disappearances and other human rights abuses,'' spokesperson Victoria Nuland continued, adding that Washington takes the allegations of human rights abuses ''very seriously'' and had discussed these issues with Pakistani officials.

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