THE FOUNTAINS OF DAMASCUS RUN RED: Oct 5th, 2011: Damascus - Protesters in central Damascus dropped red dye into a fountain to symbolize the blood of the lost martyrs of Syria.
New Delhi: Anna Hazare is under arrest and has been produced before a magistrate. The police action foiled his plan to fast at Delhi’s Jai Prakash Narain Park, but the 74-year-old has not eaten or even had water since early morning.
Mr Hazare’s “preventive arrest” came after three hours of his being under “preventive detention.” The Opposition has slammed the government, saying it is Emergency again. The government says there is nothing illegal about it, but in a very high-level huddle, senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram met Rahul Gandhi a little after noon on Tuesday. (Read: Who is Anna Hazare)
At 7.30 am on Tuesday morning, minutes before Mr Hazare was to set out for his fast against corruption, about a dozen policemen in plain clothes detained him at Supreme Enclave in Delhi’s Mayur Vihar, where he was staying. They tried to whisk him away in a white Innova car, but hundreds of angry protesters ensured that the car could barely move for over an hour.
Mr Hazare, with several of his key aides who are now also under arrest, was taken to the Delhi Police Mess near Oberoi Maiden in north Delhi and was produced before a special executive magistrate there. (Do you agree with Anna Hazare’s fast?)
Under attack from all quarters, the government has justified the police action on Anna. Union Home Secretary RK Singh said he was detained because he said he would defy prohibitory orders. Senior Minister Ambika Soni said the arrest was not unconstitutional and that Mr Hazare could have waited till Parliament was not in session to protest.
Parliament opened to chaos on Tuesday. The BJP gave a notice for suspension of Question Hour to discuss the Anna Hazare issue. The government said it was ready for a discussion after Question Hour, at noon. There is no meeting ground - the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till noon, the Lok Sabha at first till 11.30 am and then till noon. Home Minister P Chidambaram has offered to make a statement in Parliament. The Opposition says it will settle for nothing less than a statement from the Prime Minister.
Anticipating arrest, Anna had recorded an appeal to people to come forward for what he called the “second freedom struggle” in peaceful protest and said a second line of leaders would continue to lead the movement. But on Tuesday morning, this second line and core members of Team Anna - Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Kiran Bedi- were detained too and taken to the police mess. Eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan was detained at Rajghat.
A third line of crusading leaders went underground to gather support using mobile phones and social media and surfaced a little before noon to decry Mr Hazare’s arrest and to exhort people to come out in large numbers in protest. In Mumbai supporters in big numbers are courting arrest, in Bangalore, they are lining up to join the India Against Corruption movement. There is massive support in Kolkata too. In Chennai, Mahatama Gandhi’s personal secretary Kalyanam is among about 300 people on hunger strike; 30 people have courted arrest. There are protests in Lucknow too.
In the capital, the supporters that followed Anna’s car as he was being taken away vowed they would move to Rajghat, where Anna was to have gone before setting out for JP Park where he planned to fast. Sources say about 3,000 Delhi University students are expected to assemble at Rajghat too. As they heard of the detention, many office-goers said they were not attending work and would join the protest.
Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 at several places in the Capital, including central Delhi, JP Park, Rajghat and Dilli Gate. At Rajghat, the police is not allowing people to gather in large numbers. Any large groups are being disbanded, put in buses and taken away to Chhatrasal Stadium in Model Town, north Delhi.
At JP Park, where Anna was to sit on fast, protesters are pouring in ready to court arrest. Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said youth from Delhi University would court arrest at 12.30 outside the Chhatrasal stadium. And that at 4pm today, protesters would march from the Pragati Maidan metro station to JP Park. He also announced that at 4 pm on Wednesday, a big march would be organised from India Gate to Parliament House. He appealed to all people to join the march and asked government employees to take mass leave for a day.
Team Anna has asked people to wear black bands and to use social media and SMSes to help gather more people.
Amid widespread protest, the police say if Anna had agreed to the 22 conditions that it had set, he would have been allowed to fast. But the Gandhian had declared on Monday that these were unconstitutional demands and that he had no fear of police restrictions. “I am starting my fast tomorrow. It is just the start of a struggle for change. We have to fight a long battle. It’s going to be a fight to bring about change in India.”
BJP, Left slam government
The NDA met before Parliament convened today to decide on its strategy and the Opposition has asked for a discussion in Parliament. But in swift reaction to the police action, the BJP slammed the UPA government for detaining Anna Hazare. BJP patriarch L K Advani said he was not surprised at the detention. “I am not surprised at this development. This is the direction in which this government is moving. Instead of dealing with the problem of corruption and owning responsibility, it is trying to find scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests,” Advani said. (Read: Advani slams Govt)
The Left criticized the detention as an attack on the democratic right to protest peacefully, but the CPI also appealed to Anna Hazare not to fast and to have faith in Parliament. (Anna’s detention unconstitutional: Left)
A CPM statement read: “This is an attack on the democratic rights of citizens to protest peacefully. It shows how the Congress leadership is intolerant to any anti-corruption movement as their government is itself steeped in high-level corruption. The Polit Bureau reiterates that the official Lok Pal Bill presented in parliament is weak and inadequate.”
After the deaths of thousands of Syrian civilians, President Bashar al-Assad pledges to continue to “pursue terrorist groups”, despite the international pressure that was placed on the regime from the world’s powers.
Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, says Ankara has urged the Syrian government to stop its “bloody crackdown on anti-government protests” and to “take steps to begin a process of reform”.
According to Aljazeera, Davutoglu and Assad met for “a nearly seven hour meeting”, whereby they discussed “concrete steps” that Syria should take in order to end its crackdown.
We discussed ways to prevent confrontation between the army and the people in the most open and clear way. The bloodshed should end and civilian blood should be prevented from being spilled. All the steps needed for the process of reform to start should be taken.
The Turkish foreign minister further stated that with the “lengthy but friendly” talks with Assad, he hoped Syria would return to peace, reflecting “political reform i nthe future days and weeks”.
Following the success of last weekend’s silent protest, when thousands of protesters took to the streets to make the second anniversary of the disputed election, organisers have called for Green Movement activists to turn Tehran and other cities into a “ghost town” on Wednesday by staying at home and leaving the city streets deserted. The organisers say many shops and cafes in Tehran will be either closed or unoccupied, while streets that are normally filled with cars will be mainly free from traffic, apart from a few empty buses.
Time 11 June · 14:00 - 17:00 Location White House1600 Pennsylvania Ave Created by: Syrian Emergency Task Force, Mouhanad Abdulhamid, Alaa Basatneh, Patricia Dinkelmeyer, Ranya Sabbagh, Radwan Ziadeh, Majd Jadaan, Rafif Jouejati, Mazen Tinawi, Freeblues Blues, Mazen Hasan, Hamdi RifaiLocation : White House Washington DC 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500
When: June 6, 2011
Time: 2:00 PM
Why: Syria is witnessing the atrocities and the massacre of innocent civilians committed by the forces of the dictator.
Human rights are being violated.
Many Syrian cities are under constant attacks.
Many have been killed.
Help bring freedom to Syria
Join us Saturday, June 11 at 2pm to support the people of Syria as they rise against tyranny!
For more information you can contact us at:
(800) 969-2076 Fax
UPDATE (20/5/2011) : Friday of freedom, Protests in Qamishli, Hama, Swydaa, Idelb, Hassakeh, Der Azzur, Amouda, Jableh, Maart Noman, Damascus, Bukamal. Whilst Daraa, Inkhel, Jasem, Harra, are under siege.
Enlarge Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators participate in a silent march to protest drug violence — which has left tens of thousands dead — and the military strategy that has failed to stop it, in Mexico City’s Zocalo Square on Sunday.Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators participate in a silent march to protest drug violence — which has left tens of thousands dead — and the military strategy that has failed to stop it, in Mexico City’s Zocalo Square on Sunday.
The men and women took to the stage in the Mexico City’s vast plaza and tearfully told stories of how they lost their loved ones: how a son was kidnapped, tortured and dumped dead in a car trunk; how a brother was killed for standing up to gangsters; how a child died in crossfire.
But while such stories have become tragically common in Mexico, this was the first time the mourners could vent their grief in front of tens of thousands of sympathizers and TV cameras from across the world.
And in this media spotlight, the protesters made a new demand — amid the failure of the government to provide security, they cried, the Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna must resign.
“We don’t want more dead. We don’t want more hate,” protest leader Javier Sicilia told the crowd. “President Felipe Calderon — show you are listening to us and make the public safety secretary resign.”
The demand announced at Sunday’s rally gave a new edge to a movement that has been steadily rising amid the massacres and mass graves of Mexico’s drug war.
Up until then, protesters had come out with a mix of condemnations — of the cruelty of cartels, abuses by the army and the failure U.S. war on drugs — but not a clear solution.
However, rallying to topple a particular official is a tactic that has successfully unified movements throughout history, from the French Bastille to modern Cairo.
In fact, many protesters in Mexico City’s central plaza said they were directly inspired by the uprisings in the Arab world.
“People are standing up to transform their societies in Egypt and in Syria. We have to do the same thing here — to change our country from the bottom up,” said Ruben Bueno, a 42-year-old school teacher, who said two of his students had been gunned down in the violence.
Like many protesters, Bueno marched 60 miles from the spa town of Cuernavaca to Mexico City’s central plaza, where the number of protesters was estimated to be between 50,000 and 150,000.
Dozens of smaller protests were held simultaneously across Mexico as well as in New York and London. Thousands of Zapatista rebels also resurfaced to join the marchers in the southern city of San Cristobal.
The protests have mushroomed since their leader Javier Sicilia, a poet and journalist, lost his son Juan Francisco to violence in March and called for people to take to the streets.
A 24-year-old student, Juan Francisco Sicilia was kidnapped and murdered along with six friends after they left a bar. According to reports, they may have been targeted for simply having a loud conversation about the drug war, which made some gangsters accuse them of being snitches.
Almost 40,000 people have died in apparent drug-related violence since December 2006, when Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels.
“Why did the president launch the army in an absurd war that has cost 40,000 victims and left millions of Mexicans in fear?” Sicilia asked in his speech in the plaza. “Every day, we hear terrible stories that wound us and we ask ourselves, ‘When and where did we lose our dignity?’”
Calderon responded on Monday that he would meet with Sicilia and other protest leaders.
“I also want a Mexico in peace. I also want a Mexico without violence. I also want Mexico without the repression of organized crime,” Calderon said in the presidential palace, before setting off to meetings in the United States. “I salute the march for the peace.”
He did not say he would change his strategy, however, or mention the demand for Public Safety Secretary Garcia Luna to resign.
The former head of Mexico’s Federal Intelligence Agency (the equivalent of the FBI), Garcia Luna has been the architect of Calderon’s campaign.
Under his leadership, Mexico has expanded a federal paramilitary police force, which has worked with the army in making record busts and arresting or shooting dead dozens of drug kingpins.
Critics argue the military approach has thrown oil on the fire of violence, while not tackling the roots of the problem.
April was Mexico’s bloodiest month so far, with the discovery of two mass graves holding more than 300 victims.
Some analysts say that Garcia Luna cannot be solely blamed for such bloodshed and the protesters are looking for a scapegoat.
“Why the head of Garcia Luna?” wrote TV presenter and pundit Ciro Gomez Leyva. “In the plaza, Sicilia sacrificed a beating heart to try and get the reward of the gods.”