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Institute of Islamic Studies

(Reg. No. E-8900 (Mumbai)

Muslim Women’s Newsletter - Vol. 1 No. 9. December 2007 E-mail:csss@mtnl.net.in

Address: 602 & 603, Silver Star, Behind BEST Bus Depot, Santacruz (E), Mumbai: - 400 055.

Edited by

Miss. Qutub Jehan Kidwai

Miss. Shirin Huda

From the Editor’s Desk

Personal Laws in Secular India

In India Religion & Law are closely inter wined as far as family laws are concerned. The communities most concerned with the connection between religion and personal law are the Hindus and the Muslims. It should also be understood neither “religion” is monolithic. Each has internalized customary practices. Customs and traditions is as importance as religion. Sikh, Parsis & Christian community also maintain traditional customs and practices.

During British colonial rule British found that they had to increasingly administer personal laws in addition to British law. When matter involving personal laws came to British Courts, religious authorities from the faith concerned assisted and advised British Magistrate. With the independence movement, a demand grew for secular law to protect fundamental, social and economic rights both of individuals and communities. In the Constituent Assembly (1946-1949), after the partition tragedy and its accompanying communal slaughter, members had to resolve the issue of religion and minority rights. Protecting communal rights, restoring communal harmony became the pre-eminent goal.

Eventually, when the constitution was drafted in 1950. As regards to constitutional provision for the personal laws, it is stated that constitution enforce the un-codified religious customary laws of Hindu and Muslim communities, some codified and un-codified laws of Sikh, Christian and Parsi sect as well. There are few central and local statutes protecting, enforcing and reforming these laws.

Presently the Muslim Personal Law Board governs Muslim community when it comes to personal law issues. MPLB is self constituted body established in the year 1973 at a time when then government tabled Adoption Bill in the Parliament and the Ulama and leaders feared that this as an attempt to subvert so called Shariah law or Anglo-Mohammadn Law and is a first step towards Uniform Civil Code. Their aim was to adopt strategies to protect and continue applicability of Muslim Personal Law. However, MPLB has failed to champion Indian women’s rights in all these years. Muslim women are getting victimized under the Un-Islamic practice of Oral divorce (Triple Divorce). MPLB has been continuously ignoring and isolating issues of Muslim women. There is a great need for codification of Muslim Personal Law.

- Ms. Qutub Jahan Kidwai

A Step Forward

Dekha Ibrahim Abdi (Kenya)


"... for showing in diverse ethnic and cultural situations how religious and other differences can be reconciled, even after violent conflict, and knitted together through a cooperative process that leads to peace and development".

Dekha Ibrahim Abdi is a global peacemaker from rural Kenya. She has engaged in peace work and conflict resolution in many of the world's most divided countries. Her comprehensive methodology combines grassroots activism, a soft but uncompromising leadership, and a spiritual motivation drawing on the teachings of Islam.

Dekha's early life

Dekha Abdi, born in Wajir in 1964, grew up in a mixed neighbourhood of different ethnic groups and religions, in which, although a Muslim, her closest childhood friends were Christian and of a different ethnic group. At the secondary school she attended pupils were divided along religious and ethnic lines into two camps, but Dekha and her childhood friends created a space between these opposing camps by sticking together; a space which grew as it was joined by many other students who did not want to be in one camp or another. It is this background which informs her philosophy of inter-religious co-operation and subsequent peace work, for she maintains that working towards positive relations between different faiths is crucial to achieving durable peace.

Starting a grassroots peace initiative: The Wajir Peace Committee

Wajir is one of the Northern Kenyan districts that was under emergency law from 1963-1990, with government forces fighting an active guerrilla movement (the Shifta war). When the emergency and quasi-occupation ended, the security situation deteriorated even more. There was an open conflict which claimed 1500 lives, and which resulted in a lot of hatred between different clans. In 1992 Dekha and other women set up the Wajir Peace Committee, with representatives of all parties - clans, Government security organs, Parliamentarians, civil servants, Muslim and Christian religious leaders, NGOs etc. - to implement the agreement. Dekha, who had been working as coordinator for a mobile primary health care project for nomadic people, was elected as Secretary of the Peace committee hence undertaking dual roles.

Reaching out

The model developed in Wajir, which Dekha describes as "a peace and development committee - a structure for responding to conflict at a local level", was used again in 1998, when the Christian community in Wajir experienced some violence. Dekha assisted in the formation of a disaster committee of Muslim women to assist and make amends with the Christian community. They held prayer meetings with Muslim and Christian women, in which both shared their experience and thereby strengthened their relationship. Subsequently the Wajir Peace Committee began to include Christian women, leading to the formation of an inter-faith committee for peace which has undertaken further activities to intervene in religious conflicts.

Fostering inter-faith dialogue and attempting to resolve tensions and conflict between religions has been a central focus of Dekha's activity since her first involvement in working for peace, and her methods have now been copied not only elsewhere in Kenya, but in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Africa. In addition, Dekha has taught in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Canada, Cambodia, Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, and the UK.

In 1996-97 Dekha was team leader for the Community Development training programme of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project in Kenya. She has written extensively and is the Organising Board Member of Nomadic and Pastoralists Development Initiative, a Kenyan rural development initiative. Also in 1997 she was a founding member of the regional Coalition of Peace in Africa (COPA). As East African Regional Coordinator, she was involved in the Linking Peace Practice to Policy (LPP) programme of the COPA, funded by Comic Relief in the UK. LPP seeks to support and link communities in volatile areas in conflict prevention and peace-building work. Dekha also became in 1998 Training and Learning Co-ordinator of Responding to Conflict (RTC) which engages in conflict transformation: planning, organizing and facilitating a range of conflict resolution training programmes. She is also a Board Member of Co-existence International, an initiative committed to strengthening the field of policymakers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, organizations and networks promoting co-existence. Dekha is a founding Member of a Global Peace Practitioners Network ACTION for conflict transformation and since September 2000, has been a member of a consortium of African and international conflict transformation specialists working together on development of a series of intensive, participatory workshops for the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). UNDESA assists governments and civil society partners in sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen their capacities for anticipating, containing and managing conflict situations. Dekha has also been since 2002 a patron of the London-based NGO Peace Direct. She has worked towards inter-religious/ethnic co-operation in this capacity through co-facilitating a project which aimed to provide a platform for young Muslims from all UK backgrounds, after the London bombings, to explore issues and challenges around being a Muslim and British in current UK society. Dekha is a Member of the International Advisory Board of the University of Ulster, INCORE London-Derry, North Ireland. She recently accepted to be on the Board of the Bergh of Center in Germany.

Dekha now lives in Mombassa and works on peace, conflict and development issues with a number of organizations. She also raises funds to support community groups in peace-building and communication infrastructure and continues to work for the Wajir community with young people to create economic development. She supports Peace Practitioners through mentoring and coaching in order to create a second generation of peace workers in Kenya and on the Horn of Africa.

In Mombassa she has supported the setting up of the Oasis of Peace Centre, helping the local communities in Kikambala to do some basic mediation, and she works as an advisor to the Kenyan government for mediation work in different parts of the country.

In 1999 Dekha was awarded the Distinguished Medal for Service by the District Commissioner for Wajir on behalf of the Kenyan Government, and in 2005 was named Kenyan Peace Builder of the Year. She was also nominated as one among 1000 women for the Nobel Prize in 2005, now known as 1000 Peace women across the globe.

Qu'ran's teaching as background

Dekha's religious and spiritual identity as a Muslim forms a strong foundation for her peace work. Her religious beliefs inform her vision of how peace is to be achieved. She refers to and explores the Qu'ran's teaching on understanding the soul in the context of outlining what is necessary for bringing about a sincere and durable peace. Indeed, Dekha encourages individuals and communities affected by conflict to critically analyse themselves using verses from the Qu'ran, which she states will enable them to build their conflict transformation on a religious and spiritual base.

Dekha's principles for comprehensive peace building

Dekha has defined a set of principles that

summarize her experience of

comprehensive peace building, linking peace theory and policy with pragmatic action¸ and private lobbying/advocacy with public mobilizations. Sometimes she expresses this through the acronym AFRICA: Analysis, flexibility, Responsiveness, Innovation, and Context- specific and awareness, and Action/learning-orientation.

Stop Stoning and Killing Women! Launch of a Global Campaign

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) is launching the Global Campaign ‘Stop Stoning and Killing Women!’ to end the persistent misuse of religion and culture to justify killing women as punishment for violating the ‘norms’ of sexual behaviour as defined and imposed by vested interests. This Campaign is inspired by and grows out of women’s struggles in their own locations to combat various manifestations of this phenomenon, for instance in Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Nigeria. The Campaign will support and enable women’s rights advocates, national and transnational women’s movements to resist those forces which politicize and mis-use culture and religion for subjugating women and the abuse of their human rights.

Stoning to death has been introduced as a legal form of punishment for ‘adultery of married persons’ (zina al-Mohsena) in Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria (about one-third among 36 states), Pakistan, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. While the penalty has never been carried out by the state in either Pakistan or Iraq, incidents of stoning have been carried out by communities, seemingly encouraged by the the existence of the punishment in law. In May 2007, one such incidence was recorded and the disturbing video footage of a girl being stoned to death in Iraq began to circulate via the Internet. As this video demonstrates all too clearly, stoning is a particularly cruel and dehumanising punishment involving a slow and painful process until death, and takes place in public. Significantly, this public stoning occurred in a non-Muslim community. Recent cases of stoning by state authorities have mostly occurred in Iran, where stoning is not limited to ‘adultery.’ In May 2006, a man and a woman were stoned to death in Mashhad, Iran. A month later, Ashraf Kalhori was handed an official 15-day notification of her impending execution by stoning. Most recently, on July 5, 2007, Jafar Kiani was stoned to death in Aghche-kand village near Takistan, Ghazvin in Iran. Nine others, currently in Iranian prisons, await similar fates, including Kiani’s partner for alleged ‘adultery.’

Despite there being no mention of stoning in the Quran, the practice has come to be associated with Islam and Muslim culture. In fact, stoning is a highly debated topic within the Muslim religious community: reputable Iranian clerics, such as Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, Ayatollah Yousef Saneii and Ayatollah Seyyed Mohamamd Mousavi Bojnourdi, have spoken out against it. Others have led lively theological debates to convey that the practice is not Islamic.

Sentences to death by stoning have been overturned after strong national and international protests in Nigeria and the UAE. For example, Amina Lawal of Nigeria finally escaped her stoning sentence after immense national and international pressure in 2002. In Iran, after a successful campaign by women and human rights activists, the Iranian Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, ordered a ban on the practice in 2002. However, because these efforts were not sustained, these public pressures did not have a lasting impact; and despite the declarations of the religious authorities, stoning is still being used to execute people.

Today, with the advent and propagation of political Islam and other forms of religious extremism, stoning and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of women have been increasing in many parts of the world. With the establishment of the Sharia court in Aceh, Indonesia, women are now subject to caning or whipping for the alleged ‘crimes’ of ‘relationships outside of marriage’ (zina) and ‘improper Islamic dress.’ In Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Sudan and certain regions of Indonesia, the trend towards political Islam is being accompanied by a disturbing rise in the control of women’s bodies in the name of religion and culture.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights acknowledges that so-called ‘honour’ killings have occurred in Great Britain, Brazil, India, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Sweden, and Uganda as well as in Muslim nations such as Turkey, Jordon, Pakistan, and Morocco. In Latin America, ‘crimes of passion’ committed by men are not classified as murders and are instead treated leniently or completely excused. The abuse of women’s human rights cuts across boundaries, cultures and religions.

The Campaign ‘Stop Stoning and Killing Women!’ will be launched on 26 November 2007 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), at 10 AM, in Istanbul (SantralInstanbul, Silahtaraga Kampusu).

Speakers at the launch include: Shadi Sadr (Iran), Ayesha Imam (Nigeria), Sri Wiyanti Eddyono (Indonesia), Nebahat Akkoç (Turkey), Yakin Ertürk (UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women), Farida Shaheed (Pakistan) will chair the launch.

The successful women demonstration in Pakistan

By: Farooq Tariq

The best thing that happened during the week was a defiant demonstration of women belonging to Labour Party Pakistan. On 19th November, 14 brave women went to the busiest area of Lahore demanding an immediate end of martial law in Pakistan. They all were wearing black ribbons of their heads with slogans like no to Martial law, release political prisoners and solidarity with advocates and media.

One newspaper Daily Express Lahore reported on 20th November that LPP women waited for over 30 minutes for police but police did not turn up. The paper reported a disruption of the traffic on several roads because of the demonstration.

It was very well planned and every aspect went according to the planning. A

demonstration in Lahore at any road means an immediate arrest and baton charge.

We had discussed the plan of this demonstration with a title “women against martial law”. It was decided that only those women should be at the demonstration that are ready to be arrested. They should not be arrested peacefully but a resistance will be offered to police. There will be no escape

plan and no one should run away from the scene. The vehicles will only drop women at the place but will not be there to pick them up. This was to safe the comrades who were driving them. No male comrade will accompany them. But we will make sure that the demonstration is well documented. It will be all women show.

It was also agreed that the demonstration will last for half an hour, if police arrive then there will be résistance till the arrests. But we will not wait for the police after half an hour and would disperse afterwards.

It was discussed and agreed that two comrades will contact the media and will only disclose the place half an hour before the demonstration. We will not send any written invitation to the media. In the media, there is a large infiltration of the intelligence agencies and we did not want to take a risk that police should be there before our arrival. To our utmost surprise, no one from the media informed the police and the media was there in large numbers even before the demonstrators arrived.

I waited eagerly at a safe place with another comrade to hear the outcome of the demonstration away from the place of demonstration. I was called by a journalist after 10 minutes of the demonstration telling me of women bravery and that there are intelligence agencies persons here taking photographs of the demonstration, but there is no police yet. He was pleased that many people are stopping and are waving to the demonstrators in happiness. Another journalist told me later that they were looking like Palestinian women fighting a repressive regime with utmost bravery.

A comrade in guise of a press photographer told me later that another journalist told him that 30 minutes gone and the women are still chanting slogans. Are they waiting for police to be arrested? This comrade immediately realized the timing and pointed to the watch hinting to one leading comrade at the demonstration.

She then declared to the press and to the people gathered at the place that we are leaving now, but will be back with more force, we are here to stay and fight, and we will not tolerate the military regime. We are working class women fighting a military regime and we have not much to loose but our chains.

No one was arrested much to our pleasant surprise. It was making a point without many losses. The demonstration has left a very good moral on all the comrades. It has given an extraordinary courage to all our male comrades. They will be on the move and you will hear that too. It was the first show of defiance by a Left group in Lahore where the level of repression is much greater than other parts of the country. The women led the way.

Nepal's Muslim women lead street march against dowry violence


Friday November 9, 02:07 PM

Kathmandu, Nov 9 (IANS) Since she was married four years ago, Hasrun Idrissi has been living a woeful life, abused and regularly beaten up by her husband and her in-laws for her father's inability to pay them the dowry they had demanded. Now, they have tried their best to kill her. No one came to her aid all this while. However, Nepalgunj, a town in southern Banke district with one of the highest Muslim populations in Nepal, saw an unprecedented scene Thursday when dozens of enraged Muslim women marched on the streets, demanding action against Hasrun's in-laws.Though living with violence and death for over a decade now, Nepal was still shocked Wednesday after a private television channel showed the 24-year-old Hasrun fighting for life in a hospital.

On Tuesday, to punish her for her father's inability to pay Nepalese Rs.50,000 (about $780), Hasrun's husband Wasim, his two brothers, sister and mother poured kerosene over the nursing mother and set her on fire.Though she cried for help, no one heard the calls of distress and came to her rescue. Hasrun survived with severe burns, including the lower part of her face. After the trauma, she continued to suffer at home. Her in-laws neither sought medical treatment nor gave her anything to eat.But finally, her neighbours came to learn about her distress, rescued her and took her to hospital.

On Wednesday, Kantipur, Nepal's biggest private television station, aired terrible images of the suffering woman, triggering national outrage.Messages poured in for the SMS poll called by the channel to ask how the guilty should be punished. An overwhelming 85 percent said the culprits should be given life imprisonment.In the wake of the broadcast, dozens of Muslim women, many of them wearing black burkhas and the rest with their heads covered, began demonstrating on the streets of Nepalgunj, demanding punishment for the perpetrators and compensation for Hasrun. Pressured by the outrage, police Thursday arrested Hasrun's husband, his brother and mother. Wasim's family reportedly comes from India. He and Hasrun have a three-month-old son and a two and a half-year-old daughter.The Muslim community of Nepalgunj is one of the poorest in the country, with a low literacy rate.

A large number of women from the community told the National Human Rights Commission, the apex rights body in Nepal, that they were reduced to prostitution and begging after being given talaq by their husbands -- the Muslim system that enables a man to divorce his wife simply by uttering the word talaq thrice.

Sub-continent's first Muslim woman doctor passes away

Posted at Thursday, 08 November 2007 20:11 IST

Dhaka, Nov 8: The first Muslim woman doctor of the Indian subcontinent, Zohra Begum Kazi, died last night at her residence in Gulshan area here. She was 97.

Kazi, also regarded as a pioneer women activist, obtained her medical degree from Lady Harding Medical College for Women in 1935 and received the "Viceroy Medal" for her achievement.

A gynecologist, Zohra was also the first Bengali woman doctor in Bangladesh. She joined the premier Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) after Partition of the subcontinent the 1947 and served as the head of its gynaecology department for a long time.

She subsequently worked in different other health facilities and served as the honorary colonel of Combined Military Hospital and honorary professor of Holy Family Hospital and Bangladesh Medical College.

A 1952 Language Movement veteran, Kazi also directly extended her help to the freedom fighters during 1971 Liberation War.

The Bangladesh government had awarded her with Begum Roquiah Padak while the Bangladesh Medical Association honoured her with a gold medal for outstanding contribution to humanity and medical services.

Kazi was daughter of Dr. Kazi Sattar of western Madaripur and wife of former lawmaker Raziuddin Bhuiyan who died in 1963. She had no issues.

She was buried late last night at Dhaka's Banani graveyard

19-Year Old Saudi Rape Victim Ordered to Undergo 200 Lashes

Thursday, November 15, 2007

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A 19-year-old female victim of gang rape who initially was ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for telling her story to the news media.

In a shocking verdict, a Saudi Court has ordered a gang rape victim to undergo 200 lashes and six months in prison for "being in the car of an unrelated male" when the crime was committed.

The 19-year-old victim was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes by judges from the Qatif General Court, but the case was referred back to an Appeals Court after her lawyer had urged a harsher punishment for assaulters, the Arab News reported.

In its verdict, the court, which punished the victim for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape", also suspended her lawyer.

The seven rapists, whose previous sentences ranged from 10 months to five years in prison, also had their prison terms increased to between two and nine years. The verdict came in as a shock to everybody.

A source at the Qatif General Court said the judges had informed the rape victim that the reason behind doubling her punishment was "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media", the report added.

Saudi Arabia enforces a strict Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism and forbids unrelated men and women from associating with each other, bans women from driving and forces them to cover head-to-toe in public.

Clerics seek death for ‘rapist’ father.

Jalpaiguri: Claiming divine sanction, a man here has married his eldest daughter, a teenager who is now five months pregnant. His wife stood by him swayed by talk of Allah’s instruction, but the villagers are up in arms against the incestuous relationship. Strangely he is still a free man as police have not lodged charges against him though the girl is a minor. The family was produced in the Jalpaiguri SDO’s court. Ironically the culprit Afazuddin Ali, a daily wage laborer, should have faced criminal charges as his daughter is a minor, but as the SDO’s court has no jurisdiction in criminal matters, all three were released.

As the news spread Islamic clerics from West Bengal to Uttar Pradesh asked for the head of Afazuddin Ali. While in Lucknow, Naib Imam of the Eidgah Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahadi called for ‘Sangsar’ - a punishment in which the guilty is buried in boulders up to his waist and stoned to death – Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband seminary at Muzaffarnagar declared the marriage “null and void” and said Afazuddin will be punishable under the Shariat laws on charges of rape if he did not break off the marital tie immediately. Stating that Islam prohibits such marriages, the ruling termed the marriages illegal.

Where are the women in Middle East politics?
Rafi'ah Al Tal'ei

The results of the recent elections in Morocco brought the debate on female political representation back into the political arena. Only 34 women won seats in the legislature's lower chamber, compared to 35 in the previous elections, a mere 5% of all representatives.

In Turkey, women won 50 out of 550 seats in the Turkish parliament. Although this is still only 9% of the total, it is an encouraging sign since the number of elected women more than doubled from the last parliamentary elections. This percentage of female representation is the second largest in the region after Iraq, where there are 70 women in the 275-member Iraqi parliament.

Women in the Middle East often suffer from very sensitive and complicated political, social and cultural conditions that restrict their ability to easily engage in the political arena. Many women shun political participation to avoid controversy. Conservative religious interpretations sometimes restrict female participation in public life, or prevent them from mixing with men or assuming public posts. There is also the family dimension to consider, with women still traditionally responsible for household duties.

Women are also often seen as less experienced in public affairs, and as a result, voters – both male and female - are less likely to vote for them. Consequently, women either refrain from running for political office or drop out early from a lack of local support.

This usually helps explain why only a small number of female candidates run for public office. For example, of the 800 candidates in the 27 October Oman elections, only 25 were women.

In addition, there are other factors that serve as obstacles for women to run for political office. These include varying and often unsatisfactory levels of democracy, freedom of expression, pluralism, respect for diversity and open dialogue.

Although these factors affect both women and men alike, when coupled with social and cultural structures that favor men over women in the political arena, women are more severely affected. This tends to influence the development and growth of political awareness among citizens.

Advancing the effective participation and genuine representation of women in politics means raising the awareness of the role of women in public life, training women to assume public posts, and encouraging them to enter the political arena in order to enrich their experience, gain voter confidence and prepare future generations of women to participate in even greater numbers.

One means of improving women's participation is through a quota system, which allocates a percentage of seats for women. In countries where such measures have been adopted, such as Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan, we see more women in politics. Most recently, women fought for and won a 15% quota in the upcoming Yemeni elections.

In addition to adopting quotas, leaders of political parties and heads of civil organizations should be persuaded to nominate women to their election lists and assign them positions of greater authority. Promoting a culture of fundraising to support candidates is also an effective way to overcome the difficult economic situation that may hinder women's participation since in many traditional societies men handle much of the family's finances.

In most Middle Eastern countries, there exist several organizations concerned with women issues and human rights. Networking among civil society institutions concerned with the participation of women, whether in a single country or at the regional and international levels, would help to enrich and support women politically.

Many Middle Eastern countries have a Ministry of Women's Affairs. Though this appears to be a step in the right direction, these institutions often work independently of other ministries rather than taking advantage of the role each ministry could play in promoting a cohesive national strategy to increase female representation.

At the international level, a number of organizations have dealt with local organizations in the Middle East to train women for politics, as well as help them overcome some of the problems they face. In past yeas, American non-governmental organizations such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) have hosted joint activities, such as women's political training in the Levant, the Gulf and North Africa during recent election campaigns. NDI and IRI have also continued to organize conferences and workshops to help women gain experience in this field.

Joint coordination and networking among these organizations and individuals will help resolve obstacles to women's political participant at the grass-root level. Helping women realize the importance of their engagement in politics can lead to greater female participation on all levels.

The road to complete political gender equality is long but the struggle continues. These small advances are signs that there are many people working behind the scenes to shift the balance in the future.


Afghan women's Olympic dream

Friba Rezihi lived and trained in the

Palestinian territories for five years

Robina Muqimyar, who will run in the 100 metres, and Friba Rezihi, who will compete in judo, have been preparing for the Games on the Greek island of Lesbos, ahead of their debut at the games in Athens in August.

Afghanistan was suspended from the Olympic movement in 1999.

"I'm really happy to be participating in these games," Muqimyar told BBC World Service's Everywoman programme.

"I'm really happy that for the first time I will be in these games and I can raise the Afghan flag worldwide."

'The time to dream'

Rezihi said she was thankful to the Greek government for giving the pair permission to train in the country.

"It's a big opportunity for us and our people, and we will take advantage of this opportunity," she added.

"I want to be a role model for my country."

She added that she was not aiming to get a medal - which would be highly unlikely - but to "show people that it's a good chance and it's a good thing".

"It's like a gold medal for us to participate as Afghan women after a long, long time," she added.

Rezihi, who lived in the Palestinian territories between 1995 and 2000, only returned to Afghanistan after the country's hardline Taleban rulers fell.

She took up judo on the advice of her coach.

Both athletes were prevented from training under the Taleban. The national stadium was used to stage executions and floggings.

"We couldn't do any sort of sport. I couldn't feel secure enough to go out," Muqimyar said.

"The moment the Taleban went out of Afghanistan we started again... before this we couldn't do it.

"In the Taleban's time, we couldn't even dream about it. Now the time is our dream has started."

Conservative opposition

Although the Taleban have gone, there are still a number of strongly conservative mullahs in the country's interim government that have voiced opposition to Afghanistan's athletes competing in the Olympics.

I'm not scared of anything at the moment

Robina Muqimyar

Abdul Matin Mutasem Bilal, a mullah at Kabul's Abu Bakar Sidiq Mosque, has argued that they cannot attend because the strict Islamic dress code requires that all but a woman's hands, feet and face be covered.

"When I tell you that her neighbour shouldn't see all her face, how thousands of foreigners, non-Muslims, in a big stadium should be allowed to see her body?" he said.

Zia Dashti, the Afghan Olympic Committee's vice president, has said that the woman competing on the track will be required to wear tracksuits and not show their legs.

Muqimyar said she would "wear whatever they tell me to wear".

But she added that she did not see too many problems: "I'm not scared of anything at the moment.

"I'm really happy and dreaming of going back home to being welcomed by my own people."

And she added that she would be channeling her anger at being prevented from participating for so long into her performance.

"I learned from the Taleban how to be oppressed," she said.

"I'm going to teach people how to struggle against them, how to learn and how to get whatever you want in life."


Shabnam, 15, an Afghan girl who is training to be a boxer offers noon prayers at her house in Kabul, Afghanistan. Shabnam's sisters, Faima and Sadaf, are also training to be part of Afghanistan's first women's boxing team. Practice is held three times a week with the idea of putting together a real team for matches by the end of the year. But it's not just about the sport. The young women admit that the training is helping them raise their confidence and regain self-respect in a male-dominated society.

Faima, 17, an Afghan girl practices her defense stance in the gym at Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan "Move, move, move," coach Saber Sharifi barks at his students. "Steady, watch your left shoulder," he directs. It's like any team training anywhere in the world - with a couple of twists. This training is taking place at Kabul's Ghazi stadium, where the Taliban used to hold public executions in the late 1990s. Today at this venue a new generation is challenging the usual stereotype of Afghan women as shadowy figures concealed from head to foot behind powder-blue burqas.

Bahrain blaze to gold in women’s 200 m

Doha: Ruqaya Al Ghasara of Bahrain won a historic gold medal when she triumphed in the women's 200 metres at the Doha Asian Games on Monday.

Despite a slow start, Ruqaya stormed through on the final bend to win in 23.19 seconds.

Guzel Khubbieva of Uzbekistan took silver in 23.30 seconds, while former champion, Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka, was pushed in to third place in 23.42 seconds.

Ruqaya Al Ghasara, distinct in her Arab dress code with a hijab and long track pants, created history at the Asian Games in Doha on a cold and windy day at the Khalifa Stadium on Monday.

The Bahrain girl won gold in the women's 200 metres in 23.19 seconds, beating her much-fancied rivals, Guzel Khubbieva of Uzbekistan and Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka.

Ruqaya was the slowest off the blocks, but caught up with both Guzel and Susanthika on the final bend and then pipped them in to win gold.

For Ruqaya victory was compensation after the 23-year-old could only win bronze in the 100 metres.

"Its an unbelievable feeling. I cannot describe it. Thank god for winning the gold medal. I was completely prepared.": Ruqaya Al Ghasara, Bahrain, Gold Medal, 200 metres.

Ruqaya believes her victory will be a huge encouragement to many Muslim women who doubt their capabilities.

"I'm thankful for being a Muslim. It's a blessing. My achievement today is a glory to Arab women, to the Arab world, to Islam in itself, to Muslim women. Being conservative or wearing conservative clothes has actually encouraged me, it was not an obstacle. In fact quite opposite. It encouraged me and pushed me forward to make more efforts. Wearing a veil proves that Muslim women face no obstacles. In fact, it encourages them to participate in this sport more and more. And I have achieved the greatest or a record this year by qualifying for the World Championship in Osaka.": Ruqaya Al Ghasara, Bahrain, Gold Medal, 200 meters.

Ruqaya may have the most conservative of looks, but there is nothing conservative about her ambition and goal.

Her idol is the American sprinter Marion Jones, with a medal in the Beijing Olympics being the ultimate aim.

Ruqaya is one step closer to her goal already - she will contest in World Championships at Osaka in Japan next year.

Ruqaya's talent was spotted when she was seventeen years old.

With able guidance from her Algerian coach, Ruqaya has now progressed in to being a complete athlete.

She is now the first Bahraini woman to win a gold medal in athletics in the Asian Games.

"Ruqaya is special. She has the quality for a sprinter, for a good, good athlete. The problem is Ruqaya start late? I have this problem, but I alter a little bit. Now she has good stretching, good force. Step by step I work on the objective.” Tabjine Noureddine, coach.

Ruqaya may have started slowly, but with her fierce determination to prove the skeptics wrong, Ruqaya can only inch closer to her final objective of an Olympic medal.

Bureau Report


IIS - Muslim Women’s Newsletter- December 2007

Thursday, January 17, 2008

AI Demands Fresh Enquiry Into HR Voilations at Nandigram


Urgent Inquiry Needed Into Nandigram Violence

(New Delhi, January 15 2008):
The West Bengal state government should immediately create an independent and impartial inquiry into serious acts of violence in Nandigram since early 2007, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.
The state government should prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses and examine both the social-political origins of the violence and the failure of state authorities to provide effective protection to the community.
A fact-finding team—comprised of Justice (Retd) S.N. Bhargava, former Chief Justice, High Court of Sikkim; Vrinda Grover, advocate; Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch; and Mukul Sharma, director of Amnesty International India —visited Nandigram and Kolkata from 28 to 30 November. The team travelled to affected villages, relief camps, and met with the victims of the violence in Nandigram, as well as government officials and rights activists.
"It was obvious during our visit to Nandigram that state authorities had not acted in an impartial manner," said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher with Human Rights Watch. "The political nature of this violence, involving the ruling party of West Bengal , means there must be an independent inquiry to prevent impunity for the perpetrators."
Throughout 2007, tensions over control of land in Nandigram led to a series of violent incidents between supporters of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and farmers belonging to the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC). Protesting villagers blockaded the Nandigram area to oppose a government plan to acquire land for industry. Instead of responding appropriately to violations of the law by protesters, the authorities appeared to treat the protest as a challenge to the CPI-M and used excessive force against the protestors. BUPC members were also responsible for acts of violence. At least 25 people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced from their homes.
In November, CPI-M supporters and armed thugs forcibly ended the blockade. In retribution for the protest, they attacked villagers supporting the BUPC, burned down their homes, threatened further violence if villagers went to the authorities, and humiliated them by compelling them to join CPI-M rallies. The state administration removed police posts before CPI-M supporters advanced into the area, strongly suggesting governmental complicity in the abuses.
Villagers in affected areas reported to the fact-finding team that CPI-M supporters frequently subjected women to violent attacks, including rape and beatings, as well as to threats and harassment. There is no evidence that the police have sought to arrest those named in police complaints. Victims, particularly women who risk social censure by reporting rape, remained vulnerable to threats and further attacks from perpetrators who roam free.
"The tragedy of the reported rapes at Nandigram has been compounded by the failure of the police to seriously investigate these cases, keeping the victims at grave risk," said Ganguly.
Based on the team's findings, Amnesty International has produced a report titled, " Urgent need to address large scale human rights abuses during Nandigram "recapture.'" The report concludes that the inaction of the West Bengal state government, including tacit acceptance of the violent operations of the armed supporters of the CPI-M, resulted in serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, abductions, sexual assault of women and forced eviction and displacement of thousands of people in 2007.
It is disturbing that the West Bengal authorities failed to prevent the violence at Nandigram and failed to arrest the perpetrators," said Mukul Sharma, director of Amnesty International, India, "Weeks after peace had supposedly been restored, we learned that the perpetrators were still roaming free, celebrating their victory by threatening and beating up local residents."
The impunity enjoyed by those perpetrating abuses in Nandigram since the violence began in early 2007 fuelled the widespread abuses committed later in the year. The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, contributed to the violence in November by saying that the protesters had been "paid back in the same coin," a comment which he retracted three weeks later, admitting the events were a "political and administrative failure."
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that access to justice for the victims of the violence went beyond the successful prosecution of those responsible. The West Bengal government has an obligation to protect the rights of all those displaced by ensuring they can safely return to their homes and places of habitual residence and providing restitution for all damage suffered. Women who suffered abuse must receive proper protection and an effective remedy.
"The authorities must show clear political will to end the climate of violence in Nandigram," Sharma said. "For lasting peace, all those responsible for the violence must be prosecuted and the victims must receive redress."

For quotes / interviews:
Justice S N Bhargava: 94-140-44461
Vrinda Grover: 98-108-06181
Meenakshi Ganguly: 98-200-36032
Mukul Sharma: 98-108-01919

Urgent Need to Address Large Scale Human Rights Abuse During Nandigram "Recapture"

Amnesty International India
AI Index: ASA 20/001/2008
January 15 2008


AI Index: ASA 20/001/2008
15 January 2008

Urgent need to address large scale human rights abuses during Nandigram "recapture"

Amnesty International is concerned at reports that a range of serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, abductions, sexual assault of women and forced eviction and displacement of thousands of persons, have been carried out at Nandigram in East Medinipore District in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. This report focuses on recent abuses, in the context of violence in late October and November 2007, which were reportedly carried out by armed supporters of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which leads the ruling Left Front coalition in the state.
The organisation is also concerned that these abuses took place in the face of inaction by or acquiescence of the Government of West Bengal which to date has also failed to order an independent inquiry into the November 2007 violence.

1. Background
Throughout 2007, Nandigram has experienced violence as CPI-M supporters and farmers belonging to the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (Anti-displacement front, BUPC) clashed with each other in attempting to gain control over parts of the area.
On 28 December 2006 , authorities at the neighbouring port town of Haldia circulated a notice announcing plans to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Nandigram under the Government of India's Petro-Chemical Petroleum Investment Region (PCPIR) scheme. [1] The project, envisaged as a chemical hub, reportedly required at least 4,000 hectares of land for the proposed SEZ, which was to be jointly developed by the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation and the Indonesia-based Salim group of companies. The land is owned by local farmers.
The BUPC had been formed to protest against forced eviction and displacement of local inhabitants, mostly farmers, as a result of this project. It consisted of activists owing allegiance to several political parties including the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress(I) and former supporters of the CPI-M.
A range of abuses including unlawful killings, forced evictions, excessive use of force by police, widespread violence against women, as well as failure of the authorities to provide protection to the victims, denial of access and information to the media and human rights organisations, harassment of human rights defenders and the continuing denial of justice to the victims have been reported from Nandigram during the year. The scale of such abuses recently intensified when violence broke out towards the end of October between supporters of the ruling CPI-M, and supporters of the BUPC.
In January and March 2007, at least 25 people, mostly local residents, were killed and more than 100 injured and at least 20 women sexually assaulted by armed supporters of the ruling CPI-M, after 1,500 people, mostly CPI-M supporters, were forcibly displaced from their homes as the BUPC set up barricades to prevent access to some of the disputed land. On 14 March, 14 people were reportedly shot dead by police and over 150 injured in violent confrontations between police, supporters of the CPI-M and BUPC supporters protesting against their displacement due to the proposed industrial project. After this, the Government of West Bengal announced that the industrial project would be relocated. However the BUPC continued its blockade as it doubted that the Government of West Bengal would in fact relocate the project.
Protests continued in Nandigram with the demands for justice and compensation to the victims of the 14 March firing being added to the existing demands.
Various Indian activists and human rights organisations have reported that a wide range of human rights abuses occurred during this period. [2] Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the excessive use of force by the police, called for full consultation with those living in the area about the proposed development and called for investigations into the abuses. [3]
During the latest outbreak of violence in Nandigram beginning on 6 November 2007, at least 15 people were reportedly killed, 100 injured and hundreds of people were displaced as groups of armed supporters of the CPI-M commenced an operation to "recapture" the area. Media and human rights organisations reported large scale violence initiated by armed CPI-M supporters, and alleged inaction by the state's law enforcement agencies who, according to the reports, failed to take steps to protect local inhabitants.
Reports stated that armed CPI-M supporters rode their motorcycles into the area on 6 November, attacking local residents with guns and home-made bombs and fighting with BUPC supporters. On 12 November, two units of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed in some of the areas in which violence had occurred, reportedly only after CPI-M supporters had stopped blocking their route. Subsequently five more units of the CRPF were deployed. In the meantime, for over five days CPI-M supporters had reportedly established control of the area, forcibly evicting and displacing scores of people and attacking BUPC supporters and other local residents while looting and burning down houses and destroying property. During this period, the media and human rights organisations were excluded from the majority of these areas as CPI-M supporters blocked the main highways.
On 9 November, the Governor of the State, Gopalakrishna Gandhi, described the situation in Nandigram as a "civil war" and stated that the "armed recapture is unlawful and unacceptable."
[4] India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought a report from the Government of West Bengal on the violence and a six-member NHRC investigative team, which visited the area on 15-19 November, is expected to submit a report in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the NHRC chairperson Justice Rajendra Babu has stated, in a reply to CPI-M members of the Indian parliament that it was incontrovertible that human rights abuses on a mass scale took place at Nandigram. [5]
Reports from survivors, eyewitnesses, and relief workers alleged that months of discussions had taken place in the town of Khejuri between CPI-M supporters on their plans to "recapture" Nandigram. CPI-M supporters, armed with weapons, had reportedly been mobilized from other parts of West Bengal and neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Bihar.
[6] Both the state administration and the police reportedly took little action to protect the local communities during the violence, and in some cases were alleged to have participated in attacks. The reports also stated that CPI-M supporters were involved in searching villages, detaining and interrogating persons suspected to be close to the BUPC and seizing weapons.
Amnesty International also learnt that hundreds of residents including women and children who managed to flee the violence were housed in two camps at Nandigram. A week after the violence, media and human rights organisations, which had limited access to these camps, reported that the camps were largely self-managed with very limited official assistance, and those in the camps did not have secure access to even minimum essential levels of food, water, shelter, sanitation, and health services. Relief materials had been provided mainly by human rights and humanitarian organisations. Medical teams from non-governmental organisations were able to reach the camps only after four attempts were blocked by CPI-M supporters.
Following this, during 28-30 November 2007, Amnesty International India took part in a research visit to Nandigram and Kolkata, the delegation comprising also a former high court chief justice, a senior lawyer and a researcher from Human Rights Watch. The delegation travelled to interior villages and relief camps, and met with the victims of the violence, relevant officials and others. This report sets out Amnesty International's concerns arising out of the findings of the visit

2. Preliminary Findings
a. Failure to protect local communities:
At Bhoota Mar in Gorchakraberia in Nandigram, the delegation members were informed by relatives of CPI-M supporters that, on 28 October 2007, BUPC supporters had vandalized their residences. The police said they had little access to interior villages as blockades had been erected by the BUPC. However, the delegation was informed by officials that there were sufficiently early reports from intelligence officials and local police that armed supporters of the CPI-M were gathering around Nandigram.
[7] This was also admitted by the District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda who informed the delegation that the police had information that "arms and people were being mobilized in the region." [8] The risk of confrontation between BUPC and CPI-M supporters intensified towards 30 October, but the only remaining police posted at Nandigram were withdrawn without any reasons being given. District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda told the delegation members that orders to withdraw the remaining police came from his superiors in Kolkata. [9] However, it was not until 12 November 2007 that CRPF personnel were deployed to Nandigram.
The withdrawal of the state police and the delay before CPRF personnel were deployed left a period of two weeks in which the CPI-M and the BUPC engaged in armed confrontations attempting to assert control over the area. There appears to have been a controversy as to the reasons for the delay in deploying the CRPF. On 13 November, the state Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, alleged that it was the Union Government which had caused the delay.
[10] He said he had requested their deployment on 27 October but that several days later the Union Government informed him that the CRPF personnel could not be sent to Nandigram at that time as it was necessary to send them to other states where state assembly polls were to be held in December (Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh). On 5 November, the day before the armed CPI-M supporters arrived in Nandigram, the state Home Secretary P R Roy said he was not aware when the CRPF forces would be despatched there. [11] However, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sriprakash Jaiswal, said on 16 November that there was no delay in the deployment of CRPF in Nandigram. [12]
The Government of West Bengal had already been excluded from several areas in Nandigram by BUPC barricades and armed CPI-M supporters, and the withdrawal of the state police meant that between the end of October and 11 November there was no significant official security presence in the area. Displaced persons in relief camps and eyewitnesses informed the delegation that during this period CPI-M supporters had closed in on several villages including Sonachura, Adhikaripara, Satengbari and Gokulnagar which had been barricaded by the BUPC. In these villages, residences of BUPC leaders were looted and burnt down by CPI-M supporters. By 11 November, the entire area had been "recaptured" by the CPI-M supporters, resulting in the forced eviction and displacement of hundreds of persons including women and children. During this period, the media (apart from one reporter from the daily Dainik Statesman who chose to stay with the local population) was prevented from entering the villages by CPI-M supporters. On 12 November, a team of social activists from Kolkata was able to start visiting some of the areas in Nandigram. Its report gives a graphic account of the difficulties encountered by that team and the media during the visits.
From the above accounts, it is clear that the recent violence in Nandigram took place against a backdrop of inaction by the Government of West Bengal, including tacit acceptance of the violent operations of the armed supporters of the CPI-M. The state has a responsibility to protect the human rights of everyone within its jurisdiction, and accordingly to uphold law and order. This would include, where necessary, measures by law enforcement agencies such as taking appropriate action to end the blockade by the BUPC. But the manner in which the state authorities have acted, and in particular their failure to take action to prevent abuses by armed supporters of the CPI-M, suggests that they were not acting in an impartial manner. No arrests were carried out prior to the violence despite the flow of intelligence information that arms were being mobilised in the region; no search operations were carried out. No arrests were carried out during the period of the violence, and West Bengal Director-General of Police, Anup Bhushan Vohra has stated that since the police only had access the nearby town of Khejuri, where it was likely that only CPI-M supporters would have been arrested, no arrests had been ordered as "it would have been seen as partisan."
Many local residents were caught up in the violence and, in the absence of sufficient protection from state law enforcement agencies, had to flee their homes and take refuge with relatives or in relief camps. The delegation found evidence to demonstrate that both the state administration and the police appeared to have taken little action or responsibility to exercise due diligence in preventing, stopping and punishing human rights abuses and to protect the local communities during the violence.
b. Victims of violence:
The numbers as well as the identities of persons killed and missing from Nandigram during this period remain unknown. Officials gave the delegation a list of five persons who died during the violence, but local authorities stated to the delegation that at least 42 people were reported missing from the days of the November 2007 violence, many of whom were presumed to have been killed. BUPC activists informed the delegation that an unknown number of persons, including BUPC supporters, had gone missing; some of whom might have gone into hiding fearing attack by CPI-M supporters. The BUPC stated in addition that complaints made to the police about missing persons had not been properly registered.
On 5 December, a grave with the remains of five half-burnt bodies was discovered at Bamanchok village near Khejuri.
[15]. Investigating agencies were trying to establish whether, as claimed by the CPI-M, the five persons were CPI-M supporters, including four from Gokulnagar near Nandigram and one from Belda, 50 km from Nandigram, who were killed in a bomb blast on 28 October. [16] Conflicting information received from local residents by the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), however, alleged that they had been killed while making bombs at Sherkhan Chak [17].
On 8 December, human remains were recovered from the Talpati canal in Bhangabera near Nandigram.
[18] On 12 December, another body with two bullet holes was found in a field at Maheshpur. Shyamali Pramanick, a woman from the area, was reported to have claimed that the deceased was her husband, Harun Pramanik, a BUPC supporter who had been missing since 7 November. [19] On 14 December, two more local women, Sumitra Mirda and Annapurna Mondol, arrived at the Tamluk hospital to lay claim to the body. They said their husbands had been missing since 7 November. [20]
c. Violence against women
The delegation interviewed several women who had been subjected to violence including rape, beating, threats and harassment. In addition, testimony concerning numerous incidents of violence against women has been gathered by several fact-finding teams investigating events that occurred in March as well as November. Anuradha Talwar, an activist who was part of the first fact-finding team which reached Nandigram on 16 November, in a deposition submitted to the delegation, said in Satangabari village alone, local residents informed them that at least seven women had been raped.
[21] In one case, a woman said that she was beaten and her four-month-old son was snatched and flung on the floor. Another woman said that though she was pregnant, she was beaten until she bled. [22]
The delegation questioned officials of the Government of West Bengal and the state police about their efforts to investigate and prosecute violence against women. They found that very few incidents had been reported to the police and there were contradictory accounts from the different police forces as to exactly how many complaints of rape had been filed.
CRPF Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) Alok Raj stated that five cases of rape were registered at Nandigram including three after the November violence.
[23] As against this, the Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station said only two complaints of rape had been filed in the area. [24]
The Chief Secretary of West Bengal told the delegation that the authorities were taking the allegations of rape very seriously: " The accused generally belong to either political party. We have taken the cases of the women away from the local police. These cases are now being enquired by the Criminal Investigation Department of the State Police (CID)."
However, the delegation is concerned that these words have not so far been translated into action. In each of the cases given by the CRPF, some of the perpetrators were named.
[26] Yet, none of these names figured among the list of persons arrested so far. A number of local residents informed the delegation that the offenders were operating with impunity, taunting the people, forcing them to shout slogans in support of CPI-M, or attend CPI-M party meetings
Accounts of both officials and villagers relating to violence against women agreed that the victims were either relatives or sympathisers of BUPC, and named the perpetrators as groups of armed supporters of the CPI-M.
The delegation was told that at least seven women from Nandigram have been admitted to the Government Hospital at Tamluk.. Two of them had been shot at, four were beaten and one was raped. Several others were admitted to hospitals closer to Nandigram.
The delegation met two women
[27] who both said they had been raped by several persons during the violence in November. Among the rapists were men whom they knew and could recognize. Although they had named these men when they made their complaints, three weeks later, the police had not made any arrests. The women said they were too frightened to return home.
One of them, Akhreja Bibi, was still at the Tamluk hospital. She said that several men burst into her home in the middle of the night on 8 November. "I tried to run away but they caught me and beat me up. They raped my daughters in front of me and then they raped me." Akhreja Bibi's daughters, Ansura, 16, and Mansura, 14, are still among those missing from Nandigram. When the delegation asked about them at the Nandigram police station, the Officer-in-Charge said there was news that the girls had joined a circus at Howrah, Kolkata.
The delegation also met Niyoti Patra, a BUPC supporter, who said she was also raped by several persons; she said she could not return home. "I know those men. They came to my house and asked me to join a meeting," she said. "When I refused they came inside and abused me. Then they raped me. There were three men. They were my neighbours. I am frightened. I have named them in my police report. Now they will punish me again." She has since been staying at the Nandigram school relief camp.
Roshomoi Das Adhikari, a woman in her 80s and mother of a prominent BUPC leader, Swadesh Das Adhikari, was beaten with rifle butts by three persons she could recognise as "CPI-M people". She said she was alone at home on 7 November. Her son and most of the villagers had already fled from the area. Three men burst into her house and started throwing things around. "I ran out into the courtyard shouting for help. Two men with big guns were standing there. They started beating and kicking me. They tore at my sari, slapped me, pulled my hair and cursed me. Meanwhile, the others had set fire to my house. As they left they threatened me and told me that they would kill my son. I just lay there bleeding."
[29] She also was able to name the CPI-M supporters.
Another woman, wife of a prominent BUPC member, said her home had been looted and burnt. Living in a relief camp, she said that when she returned to harvest the paddy, CPI-M supporters shouted abuses and threatened sexual violence. She was still in Nandigram school relief camp when the delegation met her, terrified because the district administration wanted to shut the camp and send her home. "I cannot describe the language they used. They told me, 'The CRPF will leave. Then we will come find you. We will chop off your head and kill your husband'."
Several women who returned to their homes after the end of this period of violence, said that threats of sexual violence were made against them if they did not support the CPI-M. One woman said that she was forced to attend a party rally on 28 November because she was warned that she would otherwise be stripped in public and then raped along with her daughters.
[31] Mahamaya Das Adhikari said that she went back to her village on 26 November but had to return to the camp a day later because her parents were threatened by CPI-M supporters. They were told that either their daughter had to publicly pledge her support to the CPI-M or not bother to return. [32]
Threats of violence have continued even after those who were displaced returned to their villages. CPI-M supporters are in "effective control" of most of the villages in Nandigram, and in some areas, particularly former BUPC strongholds like Satengbari, they have reportedly threatened women saying "We'll come back at night – light your lamps and wait for us with open doors. Send your men away, we'll come back to you at night."
From the above accounts, it appears that there has been a deliberate pattern of gender based violence directed against women residents of Nandigram who were left behind as local male residents fled the advancing CPI-M supporters. The violence was directed against those women who were at the forefront of the protest against forced eviction and were unwilling to give up their homes and lands. Also, the delegation was informed by local residents that many women had refused to file police reports as they were still afraid of the consequences if they filed complaints with the police and were also unwilling to risk social censure associated with rape.

3. Key areas of concern
a. Due diligence:
Immediately after the violence, the Government of West Bengal defended the violence by the armed supporters of the CPI-M, and blamed the BUPC for the blockade and the subsequent violence. In media briefings Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee claimed that the protesters had been "paid back in the same coin" and that his party was both "legally and morally correct" to "recapture" Nandigram,
[34] a comment which he apparently retracted three weeks later while admitting that the Nandigram events amounted to a "political and administrative failure." [35] Later, on 26 December 2007, he visited Nandigram to express regret for the violence, according to reports. [36]
East Medinipore District Magistrate Anoop Kumar Agrawal informed the delegation members that, after the written notification for withdrawal of the SEZ notice was issued to him on 19 March 2007, he had held meetings with the BUPC and the other parties to resolve the issue; however, by this time, the BUPC appeared to have lost confidence in the administration.
[37] As a BUPC activist, Sudhin Bijoli, put it "The Chief Minister may have said that he would not force us to leave, but he was saying so many things and there was nothing in writing. How could we trust him?" [38]
West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb told the delegation that "we could not create an atmosphere of confidence … We failed to persuade the people to allow the police to enter. They saw the police as partisan and against them."
Amnesty International is concerned by officials' apparent readiness to accept this lack of confidence in the police and by the failure of the state authorities to take proactive steps to rectify it. The manner in which the Government of West Bengal failed to take positive action to address the issue suggests that the government was acquiescent in the human rights abuses by the armed supporters of the CPI-M during the November violence.
Amnesty International opposes human rights abuses whoever commits them and regardless of the cause espoused by the perpetrators. States have a responsibility to respect the human rights of all individuals within their jurisdiction – that is, not to commit human rights violations or to permit their officials to do so. They also have a responsibility to exercise due diligence to protect all individuals within their jurisdiction against human rights abuses by non-state actors by ensuring the maintenance of public order and security by state law enforcement agents authorised to do so and acting in compliance with international human rights standards on law enforcement, and by preventing, stopping and punishing human rights abuses by non-state actors.
Amnesty International is concerned that in this instance the state authorities have not fulfilled their responsibility to exercise due diligence to protect human rights. The recent failure to ensure an effective police presence to maintain law and order permitted, or even encouraged organized groups of armed supporters of the ruling party to step in to quell the protests by the BUPC, instead of the state exercising its responsibility to deal with them lawfully by effective, impartial and proportionate law enforcement measures. Amnesty International is also concerned that that state has not taken adequate measures to ensure that the population whose livelihood will be affected by the development of the SEZ is protected against forced eviction, by being ensured their rights to information, adequate consultation, and just and adequate reparation including resettlement in adequate alternative accommodation.
b. Justice for the victims:
In Nandigram, there has been a general failure on the part of the authorities to ensure progress in investigations into earlier violence in January and March 2007. It is to be noted that no departmental or disciplinary action has been initiated against any administrative or police official for despite loss of life and property in the area. The Kolkata High Court, on response appeal filed by the APDR, the Paschimbanga Khet Mazdoor Samity (PBKMS) and other organisations, ordered an investigation by the CBI into the violent confrontations of 14 March when police used excessive force and fired on demonstrators. The CBI's preliminary report named at least ten CPI-M supporters – who were later released by the state police – as accused persons. The Government of West Bengal obtained a stay on this investigation. However investigations were finally re-instated on 16 November and the CBI commenced its investigations into the 14 March violence on the basis of its preliminary report of 24 March. The CBI, which submitted an interim report to the Kolkata High Court on 17 December, has been directed by the High Court to file its final report by 15 February 2008.
[40] As per interim report, the CBI is reported to have filed four new cases against several CPI-M supporters, including a case of sexual assault, bringing the total number of cases against the CPI-M supporters to seven. [41] Even as the CBI was also inquiring into the allegation whether the state police was aware that the CPI-M supporters fired, along with them, on the protestors, the Government of West Bengal has successfully obtained a stay, from the Supreme Court of India, on the filing of charges against state police officials found responsible for the 14 March police firing. [42].
Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb informed the delegation that the Government of West Bengal had allocated funds for compensation of the victims of the 14 March violence as per the Kolkata high court order and that this was being distributed. However, the District Magistrate informed the delegation that he had received no formal notification nor had funds been released for disbursement.
[43] On 31 December 2007, the compensation amounts were finally paid to 13 of the 14 victims of the 14 March police firing, according to reports. [44]
The Kolkata High Court, in a judgment delivered on 16 November described the police firing on demonstrators on 14 March as unconstitutional and illegal.
Amnesty International believes that the general impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of human rights abuses in Nandigram since January 2007 was a key contributing factor to the widespread abuses committed there since 6 November.
The CRPF was finally deployed on 12 November, and although this brought an end to overt violence, threats and intimidation continued, putting at risk the lives and safety of the local inhabitants. There has been very little sign of effort to arrest perpetrators, who have allegedly been threatening BUPC supporters against filing complaints, demanding their attendance at CPI-M party meetings and suggesting that they admit to looting and burning their own homes.
CRPF DIG Alok Raj expressed to the delegation his view that the state police force personnel did not appear to be interested in arresting the perpetrators and were interfering in the CRPF's operations. The CRPF was given a list of 180 people against whom there are registered cases of murder. But those arrested by the CRPF have all been released by the state police. Alok Raj said, on 21 November, he had sent an official notice to the Government of West Bengal, stating that a complete list of persons wanted in connection with offences in Nandigram was yet to be submitted by the state police and that if those arrested by the CRPF were subsequently released by the state police, it "will not allow normalcy to return in the area."
Amnesty International, while noting that the Government of West Bengal has ordered inquiries as a result of the unearthing of bodies at Nandigram this month, points out that the Government has not so far taken any steps to establish the whereabouts of all those who have been missing from Nandigram since 6 November.
The Constitution of India clearly provides, in Article 32, for constitutional remedies when fundamental rights appear to have been violated, as in the case of the abuses committed during the violence in Nandigram.
Under international human rights standards states have a responsibility to take apporopriate legislative, administrative and other measures to prevent violations and, where they occur, to investigate them effectively, promptly, thoroughly and impartially and where appropriate to take action against those alleged to be responsible. They should also ensure that victims have equal and effective access to justice, and provide them with effective remedies, including full and effective reparation. Reparation should include restitution, compensation for economically assessable damage, rehabilitation, satisfaction – including public acknowledgement of the facts and sanctions against those responsible – and guarantees of non-repetition.
In particular, the obligation of states to conduct prompt, thorough, effective and impartial investigations into killings and other human rights abuses is also provided in international human rights law, including Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by India in 1979. In its General Comment on Article 2 the Human Rights Committee, the expert body charged with overseeing the implementation of this Covenant, has stated, among other things:
"There may be circumstances in which a failure to ensure Covenant rights as required by article 2 would give rise to violations by States Parties of those rights, as a result of States Parties' permitting or failing to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by such acts by private persons or entities. States are reminded of the interrelationship between the positive obligations imposed under article 2 and the need to provide effective remedies in the event of breach under article 2, paragraph 3 ."
Amnesty International urges the West Bengal authorities to ensure that the CBI investigations into the 14 March demonstration are not obstructed any further, and that all incidents of human rights abuses in the context of the violence since early 2007 are thoroughly investigated and the suspected perpetrators brought to justice.
In addition, Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal to urgently set up an independent and impartial inquiry into the violence at Nandigram since early 2007 including the violence since 6 November. Such an inquiry should examine broader issues than criminal responsibility, such as systemic factors, procedural deficiences, contextual factors leading to the violence, and accountability of the state authorities for failures to provide effective protection.
Such an inquiry should in particular include an investigation into disappearances of persons, illegal possession of weapons by all non-state actors at Nandigram and an assessment of the impact and extent of violence against women at Nandigram.
[49] In view of the fact that the Government of West Bengal and different state agencies have been implicated in responsibility for the abuses due to the manner in which they dealt or failed to deal with the violence at Nandigram, there is a need for the inquiry to be carried out by an independent and impartial body . The activities of law enforcement agencies during the violence should also be one of the objects of the inquiry. If the inquiry obtains information indicating that identified individuals or officials may have been responsible for committing, ordering, encouraging or permitting human rights abuses, that information should be passed to the relevant criminal investigation or prosecution bodies. Provisions of immunity should not be allowed to shield those named as responsible for such acts of omission and commission.
The findings of the inquiry should be promptly made public.
c. Reparation and protection of the rights of all internally displaced people (IDPs):

West Bengal Chief Secretary, Amit Kiran Deb, informed the delegation that humanitarian assistance, including the provision of rice, cash payments and medical care was being provided by the authorities. In addition, Rs. 7 million, as compensation to the victims of the 6 November violence, has been released from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund
[50] in order to compensate for the loss of homes and other property in the violence.
At least two relief camps were functioning at Nandigram for those displaced since violence began in January 2007. However, neither of these camps were run by the state nor has the state carried out a survey to establish the extent of damage to property.
One relief camp (shivir) is located at the Brij Mohan Tiwari Siksha Niketan in Nandigram Block-I town, and at its height housed around 3,000 to 4,000 persons. Following the violence since 6 November, a fresh influx of local residents had arrived in the camp. However, by 29 November the number of persons housed in the camp had dwindled to around 250, the reason being that a large number of displaced persons had left the camp to stay with relatives and friends.
The delegation found that the camp was being run on limited resources by the Nandigram Bazaar Committee, Bharat Sevashram, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and a few other NGOs which had supplied rice, other essential food items and blankets. TMC leaders also contributed relief materials to the camp. Medical services are confined to the voluntary services of local doctors.
The second camp was located at a high school at Khejuri and was run by CPI-M party workers who provide some essential services. Most of the villagers, reportedly numbering 1,500, who supported CPI-M had taken refuge in this camp in the wake of the BUPC blockade in January 2007. Towards the end of December, the camp was reported to be hosting around 750 people. The delegation was able to interview several local residents who returned home from this camp after the November 2007 violence.
Amnesty International is concerned that the Government of West Bengal has not taken the necessary concrete steps to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction are protected from forced eviction and displacement, and that all those forcibly displaced during the violence are ensured at the very least minimum essential levels of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care and education, as well as their right to voluntary return or resettlement, and reintegration.
Amnesty International is concerned that not all those displaced have access to essential services such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical services.
There is a similar need to ensure access to justice and adequate reparations without discrimination for all of those who were forcibly displaced as well as those who suffered other human rights abuses.
The Government of West Bengal is responsible to ensure the protection of all internally displaced persons within its jurisdiction. This duty arises inter alia from India's Constitution, which guarantees to everyone in India the right to the protection of life and personal liberty (Article 21) (which Indian courts have consistently interpreted to include the right to access the minimum essential levels of food, shelter, and other requirements to live with dignity) and the equality of all persons before the law (Article 14).
The duty of the state to protect the rights of all IDPs is reflected in the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (the Guiding Principles)
[53] which clearly affirm, in Principle 3(1), that "national authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction." The state also has a duty under its international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to provide essential services to all IDPs without discrimination. This is reflected in article 18(2) of the Guiding Principles, which state that:
"At the minimum, regardless of the circumstances, and without discrimination, competent authorities shall provide internally displaced persons with and ensure safe access to:
(a) Essential food and potable water;
(b) Basic shelter and housing;
(c) Appropriate clothing; and
(d) Essential medical services and sanitation."
Amnesty International emphasises the right of all IDPs to voluntary return to their homes or places of habitual residence or resettlement, and reintegration and restitution of their homes and other property, and calls upon the Government of West Bengal to ensure a safe and dignified environment for their return. The organization believes that this will not be achieved unless there is a clear political will on the part of the authorities to put an end to the atmosphere of violence in Nandigram. Amnesty International is concerned that displaced persons who wish to return to their homes will be unable or unwilling to return if those responsible for human rights abuses against them during the violence remain at large, sometimes in positions of authority.
Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal that all those responsible for human rights abuses are brought promptly to justice, and to ensure full reparations for victims including adequate compensation delivered promptly and on a non-discriminatory basis.
Amnesty International also urges the Government of West Bengal and the Government of India to ensure that those returning home at Nandigram, irrespective of their political affiliation, are able to return to their homes or places of habitual residence or resettlement, voluntarily and in safety and dignity. They should also be guaranteed their right to reintegration and restitution of their homes and other property, and where this is not possible to adequate compensation, In order for this to happen, there should be the continued and effective deployment of adequate CRPF personnel.

4. Recommendations:
Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal to:
Ensure that all incidents of human rights abuses in the context of the violence since early 2007 are thoroughly investigated and that the suspected perpetrators, whether or not they are officials and regardless of their political affiliation, are brought promptly to justice:
Establish an independent and impartial inquiry into all the violent incidents at Nandigram this year including the violence since 6 November. Such an inquiry should include an investigation into disappearances of persons, illegal possession of weapons by all non-state actors at Nandigram and an assessment of the impact and extent of violence against women at Nandigram. The findings of the inquiry should be made public.:
Ensure that all those displaced have access, without discrimination, to essential services such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical assistance:
Put in place a policy of adequate reparation, including restitution, compensation and guarantees of non-repetition.
Amnesty International urges the Government of West Bengal and the Government of India to:
Ensure that those returning to their homes or places of habitual residence in Nandigram, irrespective of their political affiliation, are able to return to their homes or places of habitual residence, voluntarily and in safety and dignity. They should also be guaranteed their right to reintegration and restitution of their homes and other property, and where this is not possible to adequate compensation and resettlement. In order for this to happen, there should be a continued and effective deployment of adequate CRPF personnel:
Ensure that unlawful methods are not used, or allowed to be used, to quell protests against forced eviction or displacement and ensure that the human rights of all those protesting against forced eviction or displacement are fully protected;
Protect the rights of the affected communities to information, consultation, participation, and freedom from forced eviction (which requires ensuring their rights to information, adequate consultation, and just and adequate reparation, including resettlement in adequate alternative accommodation.

[1] Since 2005, India has been promoting SEZs across the country. The policy of acquiring land for such industrial projects in several states has sparked protests from local communities fearing forced displacement and threats to their sustainable livelihood.
[2] Paschimbanga Khet Majoor Samity Report (PBKMS), People's Uprising against Forced Land Acquisition: All disquiet on the Nandigram front , 22-24 January 2007; Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), PBKMS and Manabidhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), Report of Investigation Into Nandigram Mass Killings, 23 March 2007; Sramajibi Swastha Udyog, People's Health and Janaswastha Swadikar Mancha, Report of the Medical Team from Nandigram, 5 April 2007; Report of All India Independent Fact-finding Team on Nandigram Massacre, 10 April 2007; All India Citizens' Initiative, Report of the People's Tribunal on Nandigram, 26-28 May 2007.
[3] Amnesty International public statements: India: Deaths in West Bengal during protest against new industrial project , AI Index: ASA 20/004/2007, 11 January 2007; India: Deaths in West Bengal due to police firing during protests against new industrial project, AI Index: ASA 20/008/2007, 15 March 2007; Amnesty International public statement: India: Need for effective investigations and prosecutions as political violence continues in West Bengal, AI Index: ASA 20/020/2007, 9 November 2007. .
[4] Press release of West Bengal Governor, Kolkata, 9 November 2007, cited in Time of India, 10 November 2007.
[5] NHRC Chairperson's reply to Members of the Parliament on Nandigram, 21 November 2007.
[6] Profile of a hooded hunter, The Telegraph, 18 November 2007.
[7] Interview with East Medinipore District Magistrate Anoop Kumar Agrawal, Tamluk, 29 November 2007; Interview with Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station, Sub-Inspector Champak Chowdhary, 29 November 2007.
[8] Interview with East Medinipore District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda, Nandigram, 29 November 2007.
[9] Interview with East Medinipore District Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash Panda, Nandigram, 29 November 2007.
[10] Buddhadeb accuses Centre of delaying CRPF deployment, Times of India, 13 November 2007.
[11] Prime Minister concerned over violence in Nandigram, Daily News and Analysis, 5 November 2007.
[12] Centre did not delay deployment of CRPF in Nandigram, Dailyindia.com, 16 November, 2007.
[13] Report on Nandigram Events, Based on visit by social activists and intellectuals, 8-15 November 2007, p. 2-4.
[14] Interview with West Bengal Director-General of Police Anup Bhushan Vohra, Kolkata, 30 November 2007.
[15] Five half-burnt bodies found near Nandigram, Times of India, 5 December 2007.
[16] CID to probe Nandigram graves, Times of India, 7 December 2007.
[17] Communication received from APDR, Kolkata, 8 November 2007.
[18] More bones found in Nandigram, Daily News and Analysis, 8 December 2007.
[19] Body with bullet holes dug out: Wife of BUPC supporter says shirt belonged to her husband, The Telegraph , 13 December 2007.
[20] More claimants to the body from grave, The Telegraph, 14 December 2007.
[21] Report on Nandigram events based on visit by social activists and intellectuals, 8-15 November 2007, p. 12.
[22] Report on Nandigram Events, Based on visit by social activists and intellectuals, 8-15 November 2007, p. 12.
[23] Interview with CRPF DIG Alok Raj, 29 November 2007.
[24] Interview with Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station, Sub-Inspector Champak Chowdhary, 29 November 2007. Of the two victims, one is at the Government Hospital at the District headquarters, Tamluk, while the other is at a relief camp.
[25] Interview with West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, 30 November 2007.
[26] The names of perpetrators in the five rape cases given by CRPF DIG Alok Raj:
A. Case No 316/07 dated 22 November 2007 under sections 448/363/361/380/325/354/506
Mir Aahsaan s/o Mir Masi Mir
Mir Barik s/o Abu Bakar
Mir Ilyass s/o Mir Kadir
Mir Kalu s/o Mir Akram
Mir Bachhu s/o Mir Akram
Maha Aditya Das s/o Sadanand Jha
Babun Dass s/o Nishikanta
Arubindo Mandal s/o Rishiesh
B. Case No 192/07/dated 11 November 2007 under IPC 376
Kallu s/o Ahsaan
Barrick s/o Abdul Rafe
C. Case No. 30/07 dated 4 March 2007 under sections 448/376 (2)
Sri Hari Samantra s/o Vijay Kalicharan
D. Case No 260/07 dated 17 November 2007 under sections 376 (2)/506
Kalipara Ganadass s/o Sudarshan
Sagar Das s/o Lal Mohan
E. Case No 47/07/19 March 2007 under sections 147, 148, 149, 448, 323, 326, 376, 511 IPC
Badal Gara Das s/o Netri
Sunil Das s/o Kalachand
Sudarshan Gora Das s/o Netai
Gopal Garu Das s/o Sudarshan
Khorna Rai Das wife of Badal
Chargan Shil s/o of Srini Dash
[27] Except in two cases which were registered by the police and whose names have been widely reported in the Indian media, this report is withholding the identity of rape victims.
[28] Interview with Officer-in-Charge, Nandigram police station, Sub-Inspector Champak Chowdhary, 29 November 2007.
[29] Interview with Roshomoi Das Adhikary of Adhikaripara, Gokulnagar, 29 November 2007.
[30] Interview with a victim in Nandigram, name withheld, 28 November 2007.
[31] Interview with a victim in Nandigram relief camp, name withheld, 28 November 2007.
[32] Interview with Mahamaya Das Adhikary of Adhikaripara, Gokulnagar, at Nandigram relief camp, 28 November 2007.
[33] Interview with a victim at the Government Hospital, Tamluk, 28 November 2007.
[34] Buddhadeb accuses Centre of delaying CRPF deployment, Times of India, 13 November 2007.
[35] "I regret saying rivals paid back on the same coin": Buddhadeb, Hindustan Times, 4 December 2007.
[36] This time Buddha goes to Nandigram to say sorry, Indian Express, 27 December 2007. Later, according to reports, the Chief Minister announced that the Government of West Bengal has sent a fresh proposal to relocate the project at Nayachar island, also near Haldia and the BUPC has once again opposed it. See: Bengal government sends proposal on PCPIR to Centre, The Hindu, 4 January 2008 & BUPC to oppose chemical hub at Nayachar, Economic Times, 7 January 2008.
[37] Interview with East Medinipore District Magistrate Anoop Kumar Agrawal, Tamluk, 29 November 2007.
[38] Interview with Sudhin Bijoli, Nandigram, 28 November 2007.
[39] Interview with West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, Kolkata, 30 November 2007.
[40] Nandigram: court directs CBI to file report by 15 February, The Hindu, 17 December 2007.
[41] Nandigram: CBI files four new cases, Times of India, 19 December 2007.
[42] Nandigram: CBI restrained from filing cases against police, The Hindu, 14 December 2007.
[43] Interview with West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, Kolkata, 30 November 2007; Interview with East Medinipore District Magistrate, Anoop Kumar Agrawal, Tamluk, 29 November 2007.
[44] Compensation paid to Nandigram victims, Hindustan Times, 31 December 2007.
[45] Interview with villagers, Adhikari pada, 29 November 2007.
[46] Interview with CRPF DIG Alok Raj, Khejuri, 29 November 2007.
[47] These principles are set out in numerous human rights instruments as well as the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law , adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147 of 16 December 2005.
[48] Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 31 on Article 2 of the Covenant: The Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant, UN Doc. CCPR/C/74/CRP.4/Rev.6, 21 April 2004, para. 8.
[49] Amnesty International is aware that a consultation paper regarding the protection of the rights of witnesses was drafted in 2004 by India's Law Commission and subsequently submitted to the Government of India. Despite this initiative, the Government of India is yet to introduce a witness protection scheme. Amnesty International fears that in absence of a witness protection scheme and against a context in which police are feared to have colluded with CPI -M supporters in attacks against women in Nandigram and where a fear of security and safety remain, that victims and witnesses may refrain from registering First Information Reports or from pursuing cases through the criminal justice system.
[50] This contradicts what the East Medinipore District Magistrate informed the delegation when it met him on 28 November. He had said that no money has been released; only an announcement for it has been made to the media by the Chief Secretary.
[51] Delegation's visit to Brij Mohan Tiwari Siksha Niketan relief camp in Nandigram, 28 November 2007.
[52] According to reports, West Bengal Home Secretary P. R. Roy has stated that the camps at Nandigram were empty and all the inmates had left them while admitting that some of the inmates might have gone to stay with their relatives. See All Inmates in Nandigram relief camps have left: WB government, Times of India, 3 January 2008.
[53] UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, UN Document E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2, 11 February 1998.
[54] After the delegation's visit, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was reported to have informed the state assembly that the Government of West Bengal was looking into complaints received from some CPI-M supporters in Nandigram that they were harassed by the CRPF. See: WB Government looking into CRPF excesses: Buddhadeb, Times of India, 13 December 2007. Earlier, state Home Secretary P. R. Roy stated that the CRPF would remain in Nandigram till 12 February 2008. See: CRPF to stay in Nandigram till February 12: Buddhadeb government, Times of India, 12 December 2007.

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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values