Islam Edit Bureau
September 11, 2017
the US prison system
By David A Love
America in the eye of the storm
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
the crisis with Europe end?
By Deniz Zeyrek
By Selina Mohsin
the battles of the screen!
By Hussein Shobokshi
problems, opposition’s opportunity
Trump’s War on Science
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
as journalists, politicians are in jail
By Murat Yetkin
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
pressure on Myanmar
The persecution of the Rohingyas by Myanmar has only been
met by sparse and feeble condemnation by the international community, and
consequently we have not seen any attempt or even intention by Myanmar to put
an end to what has been described as an ongoing genocide. What we are
witnessing today is just the latest of a systematic ethnic cleansing that has
been going on in that country for decades. That every few years the violence,
arson, rape and torture flare up and a new batch of refugees risk their lives
to cross over to Bangladesh points towards the failure of regional and
international diplomatic efforts to pressurise the Myanmar government to ensure
the fundamental human rights of the Rohingya community.
Despite hosting Rohingya refugees in the country for four
decades, we have failed to engage with Myanmar about the issue seriously. These
episodic efforts have faded every time the situation returned to a semblance of
normalcy, and therefore, there has been no meaningful resolution to it. As
experts pointed out in a roundtable conference on Saturday, Bangladesh must now
launch a big diplomatic push. A major part of this would be to explain the
humanitarian as well as regional security concerns that the persecution of the
Rohingya entail for South Asia. Getting China and India on board is crucial in
It is also important to set right the Myanmar narrative
of Rohingyas as non-Burmese or as militants. The militancy, in whatever form it
exists, is a by-product of the persecution of the community and not the cause.
By pushing this narrative and terming the reports of persecution as "fake
news", Myanmar is trying to evade its responsibility. Diplomatic efforts
must set this right. Bangladesh needs to play the host as long as necessary, as
it has been doing out of humanitarian concerns. Proper documentation should be
ensured here, not only for future repatriation but also for presenting the
records to international courts if the matter needs to go that far. But the
long process that is ahead of us for ensuring the rights of the Rohingya as
citizens of Myanmar, free of persecution, needs to start with a diplomatic
offensive by Bangladesh and the world.
By David A
Today marks one year since the largest prison labour
strike in US history. More than
24,000 prisoners across 29 prisons in 12 states protested
against inhumane conditions, timing it around the anniversary of the Attica
Prison uprising, a prisoner strike now 46 years old.
That violent uprising originated from prisoners rebelling
against overcrowded cells, unsanitary conditions, medical neglect and abuse.
From Attica to the strike led by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
last year, these protests draw attention to an ugly truth: Prisoner abuse runs
rampant and it has extended into modern-day versions of slavery. Last year's
strike organisers described slavery-like conditions in prisons in the nationwide
call to action.
Slavery persists by another name today. Young men and
women of colour toil away in 21st-century fields, sow in hand. And Corporate
America is cracking the whip.
Influenced by enormous corporate lobbying, the United
States Congress enacted the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program
in 1979 which permitted US companies to use prison labour. Coupled with the
drastic increase in the prison population during this period, profits for
participating companies and revenue for the government and its private
contractors soared. The Federal Bureau of Prisons now runs a programme called
Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) that pays inmates under one dollar an hour.
The programme generated $500m in sales in 2016 with little of that cash being
passed down to prison workers. Stateside, where much of the US addiction to
mass incarceration lies, is no different. California's prison labour programme
is expected to produce some $232m in sales in 2017.
These exploited labourers are disproportionately African
American and Latino - a demographic status quo resulting from the draconian
sentencing and other criminal justice policies ransacking minority communities
across the United States. African Americans are incarcerated at a rate five
times higher than that of whites. In states like Virginia and Oklahoma, one in
every 14 or 15 African American men are put in prison.
We lock people of colour up at alarming rates. We put
them to work. Corporations gain. This story is an age-old American tradition.
Throughout history, our nation has successfully pulled back corporate greed,
but private corporations have always found new ways to reap enormous wealth
from cheap labour.
The historical circumstances following the abolition of
slavery provide the necessary context to understand how corporations function
in a de facto replacement for slavery. Although the US Constitution's
Thirteenth Amendment prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude, it made an
exception - a loophole for "punishment for crime whereof the party shall
have been duly convicted", which made prison labour possible.
Following the Civil War, the Southern economy was in
shambles and the slaves were emancipated. A cheap labour source was needed, and
the convict lease system was invented. States leased out their convicts to
industrialists and planters to work in locations such as railroads, coal mines
and plantations, and entrepreneurs bought and sold these leases.
With little capital investment required and no need to
care for the health of the prisoners, the system of economic exploitation
became highly profitable for businesses and states and even cheaper than
slavery. For example, in 1883 convict leasing provided Alabama with 10 percent
of its revenue, 73 percent in 1898. Leased convicts were treated abysmally,
with death rates 10 times higher than prisoners in states that did not employ
leased convict labour. Secret graveyards contained the bodies of prisoners who
had been tortured and beaten to death.
The viability of the convict lease system required that
black people be returned to their former status as a source of labour. Hence,
the Black Codes were enacted to suppress the rights of the recently emancipated
African Americans, and criminalise them for minor offences such as vagrancy.
Under the vagrancy laws, any black person under the protection of a white
person could be swept up by the system for simply loitering, as black people
were rounded up in this manner to provide a source of nearly free labour.
Today, prison labour is a billion-dollar industry, and
the corporate beneficiaries of this new slavery include some of the largest
corporations and most widely known brands. For example, Walmart has purchased
produce from farms, where women prisoners face bad working conditions,
inadequate medical care and very low pay.
Workers flipping burgers and frying french fries for
minimum wage at McDonald's wear uniforms that were manufactured by prison
Further, UNICOR manages 83 factories and more than 12,000
prison labourers who earn as little as 23 cents an hour working at call
centres, manufacturing items such as military body armour, and in past years,
defective combat helmets. In 2013, federal inmates made $100m worth of military
UNICOR has also provided prison labour in the past to
produce Patriot missile parts for defence contractors Raytheon and Lockheed
Martin, and parts for others such as Boeing and General Dynamics.
Corporations such as Starbucks, AT&T, Target, and
Nordstrom have also profited from prison labour at some point in the past as
Some critics oppose the characterisation of the US prison
system as a slave labour camp. For example, James Kilgore argues that prison
labour is infrequently used, and identifying multinational corporations that
profit from it loses sight of the key issues behind mass incarceration.
Kilgore is correct in his analysis that a lack of
economic opportunity coupled with draconian laws results in a perverse private
incentive to drive up mass incarceration. We should enhance employment options
for former inmates to reduce recidivism and integrate returning citizens back
into society. However, this does not mean that corporations do not profit from
prisons and prison labour today and it is obscene that this still happens.
The Trump administration reversing the Obama-era order to
phase out private prisons and enacting new law-and-order policies to increase
arrests and fill these prisons will only increase opportunities for profit for
Trump's corporate donors and their many investments in mass incarceration.
Exploiting prison labour is consistent with this troubling trend.
Over a century and a half since the abolition of slavery,
the dreaded institution still lives on in another, dressed up form. Taking
advantage of a constitutional loophole, corporate profiteers continue the
modern-day version of the convict lease system. In the land of the free, the
dollar still takes precedence over human rights, and that which can be
monetised and exploited for profit will be, regardless of ethical or moral considerations.
Once again, race, criminal justice and capitalism have
joined forces to deprive captive black and brown bodies of their human rights.
In the age of President Donald Trump and hardliner Attorney General Jeff
Sessions, the return to "law and order" and a war on drugs signals a
reversal of progress the US was making untethering itself from the expansive
grip of a carceral state.
The anniversary of last year's prison strike is a
chilling reminder that one need not point to authoritarian regimes in distant
countries to find examples of blatant labour rights violations. If you want to
find slavery in the US, look no further than its penitentiaries, jails and
detention centres where the consequences of being locked-up extend much farther
than doing time.
Vijay Das is a Washington-based essayist and policy
advocate who writes on social, economic and criminal justice issues.
David A Love is a Philadelphia-based freelance journalist
and commentator, and adjunct instructor at the Rutgers University School of
Communication and Information.
11 September 2017
As Hurricane Irma pummeled the low-lying keys in the
state of Florida before moving toward its mainland on Sunday, Texas is still
counting the cost of Hurricane Harvey, which left in its wake upended lives and
enormous property damage, estimated by some at up to $180 billion. But these
storms also raise deep questions about the US economic system, and its
It is ironic, of course, that an event so related to
climate change as Hurricane Harvey would occur in a state that is home to so
many climate-change deniers — and where the economy depends so heavily on the
fossil fuels that drive global warming. Of course, no particular climate event
can be directly related to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
But scientists have long predicted that such increases would boost not only
average temperatures, but also weather variability — and especially the
occurrence of extreme events such as Harvey and Irma. As the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change concluded several years ago: “There is evidence that
some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including
increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.” Astrophysicist
Adam Frank succinctly explained: “Greater warmth means more moisture in the air
which means stronger precipitation.”
To be sure, Houston and Texas could not have done much by
themselves about the increase in greenhouse gases, though they could have taken
a more active role in pushing for strong climate policies. But local and state
authorities there and in Florida could have done a far better job preparing for
such events, which hit the area with some frequency.
In responding to hurricanes — and in funding some of the
repair — everyone turns to government, just as they did in the aftermath of the
2008 economic crisis. Again, it is ironic that this is now occurring in a part
of the country where government and collective action are so frequently
rebuked. It was no less ironic when the titans of US banking, having preached
the neoliberal gospel of downsizing government and eliminating regulations that
proscribed some of their most dangerous and anti-social activities, turned to
government in their moment of need.
There is an obvious lesson to be learned from such
episodes: Markets on their own are incapable of providing the protection that
societies need. When markets fail, as they often do, collective action becomes
And, as with financial crises, there is a need for
preventive collective action to mitigate the impact of climate change. That
means ensuring that buildings and infrastructure are constructed to withstand
extreme events, and are not located in areas that are most vulnerable to severe
damage. It also means protecting environmental systems, particularly wetlands,
which can play an important role in absorbing the impact of storms. It means
eliminating the risk that a natural disaster could lead to the discharge of
dangerous chemicals, as happened in Houston. And it means having in place
adequate response plans, including evacuation.
Effective government investments and strong regulations
are needed to ensure each of these outcomes, regardless of the prevailing
political culture in Texas and elsewhere. Without adequate regulations,
individuals and companies have no incentive to take adequate precautions, because
they know that much of the cost of extreme events will be borne by others.
Without adequate public planning and regulation, including of the environment,
flooding will be worse. Without disaster planning and adequate funding, any
city can be caught in the dilemma in which Houston found itself: If it does not
order an evacuation, many will die; but if it does order an evacuation, people
will die in the ensuing chaos, and snarled traffic will prevent people from
America and the world are paying a high price for
devotion to the extreme anti-government ideology embraced by President Donald
Trump and his Republican Party. The world is paying, because cumulative US
greenhouse-gas emissions are greater than those from any other country; even today,
the US is one of the world’s leaders in per capita greenhouse-gas emissions.
But America is paying a high price as well: Other countries, even poor
developing countries, such as Haiti and Ecuador, seem to have learned (often at
great expense and only after some huge calamities) how to manage natural
After the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina
in 2005, the shutdown of much of New York City by Sandy in 2012, the havoc
wrought in Texas by Harvey and now the imminent devastation of Irma, the US can
and should do better. It has the resources and skills to analyze these complex
events and their consequences, and to formulate and implement regulations and
investment programs that mitigate the adverse effects on lives and property.
What America does not have is a coherent view of
government by those on the right, who, working with special interests that
benefit from their extreme policies, continue to speak out of both sides of
their mouth. Before a crisis, they resist regulations and oppose government
investment and planning; afterwards, they demand — and receive — billions of
dollars to compensate them for their losses, even those that could easily have
One can only hope that America, and other countries, will
not need more natural persuasion before taking to heart the lessons of the
• Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is
University Professor at Columbia University and Chief Economist at the
Roosevelt Institute. His most recent book is The Euro: How a Common Currency
Threatens the Future of Europe.
Bilateral crises with European countries such as Germany,
France and the Netherlands are causing serious destruction in Turkey’s EU
membership process. Turkey-EU relations are going through their worst period
since the European Council meeting in Luxembourg on Dec. 12-13, 1997. EU
countries are discussing suspension of the negotiations that began 13 years
Some of my readers have sent me messages that I can
roughly summarize as: “We have understood there is a crisis with the EU, but
write about how this crisis will be resolved.” I do not have a prescription on
how it will be overcome. However, I can tell how crises have been overcome in
the past by reminding of the roadmap of Turkey-EU relations, which I had
followed non-stop for 22 years.
Relations broken off 22 years ago
I had followed the European Council meeting in Luxembourg
as the diplomacy correspondent of daily Radikal. “Starting full membership
negotiations with 10 former Eastern bloc countries, the Greek Administration of
Southern Cyprus and Malta” was on the agenda. It was expected that Turkey would
be included in the EU enlargement process but EU leaders did not give passage
to that. Despite Turkey’s harsh objection, it was also decided that full
membership negotiations with the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus would
Mesut Yilmaz was the prime minister and all the European
journalists who were following the meeting were asking us: “Will Yilmaz come?”
Yilmaz did not attend the meeting but his plane landed in Brussels while
heading to the U.S. and he addressed the EU from the EU capital: “We are breaking
off the political dialogue with the EU. If you start negotiations with the
Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus, we will launch the unification process
with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”
That day, the EU Council had announced it would not begin
negotiations with Turkey due to “political and economic reasons.” That meant
Turkey had not met the Copenhagen Criteria in the political field and also
failed to meet the Maastricht Criteria in the economic field, according to the
The crisis on that day was resolved two years later. In
the cold of Finland, we, journalists who were following the Helsinki Summit on
Dec. 10-11, 1999, returned with one good news and two bad news.
Turkey had been declared a “candidate” but full
membership negotiations did not begin. Negotiations with the Greek
Administration of Southern Cyprus had officially been launched.
AK Parti’s reform success
The fate of relations changed during the Justice and
Development Party (AKP) government period, which had clinged itself to the EU
agenda. During the EU summit in Helsinki in Dec. 2004, it was stated Turkey had
largely completed its adaptation to the Copenhagen Criteria and it was declared
that the accession negotiations with Turkey would be launched without delay.
The fact the AKP fully implemented reforms after the 2001 economic crisis paved
the way for the country to also reach the economic criteria.
The AKP governments passed eight harmonization packages
from the parliament between 2002 and 2009 to meet the political criteria.
Capital punishment was abolished during the same period. Re-trial in line with
the European Court of Human Rights decisions was accepted. International
conventions were regarded above the domestic law. The status of the National
Security Council was changed and the right to personal application to the
Constitutional Court had been brought.
The issue of knowing one’s own faults before blaming
others for theirs
While all those developments were happening, the EU
implemented many double-standards on Turkey. However, the AKP governments did
not decelerate on their road to the EU until 2009 despite all those
implementations. President Tayyip Erdogan said, “We will make those standards
Ankara standards and continue our way, if required,” and continued his way.
Erdogan’s stance in favor of dialogue even softened Merkel’s attitude, who had
sharply objected to Turkey’s full membership.
Today the scene has changed 180 degrees. Yes, the EU
countries’ attitude regarding FETÖ (Fethullahist Terror Organization) and PKK
(Kurdistan Workers’ Party) terror organizations is disturbing. They deserve to
be blamed for their faults. But, it should not be forgotten that the
fundamental human rights issues, such as “arrested journalists,” “freedom of
thought and expression” and the “right to a fair trial” that we thought had
become a thing of the past due to reforms by the AKP governments from 2002 to
2009, have begun to be a problem again. If we had known our own faults and had
turned the EU criteria into Ankara criteria, we would have been much stronger
in telling them of their mistakes regarding FETÖ and the PKK and their lies and
Turkey: Convergence of interests in Syria
9 September 2017
The silence of Russia and Turkey on Hezbollah’s deal with
the ISIS is quite remarkable. Is it because the deal sets Iraq as the
destination for ISIS fighters? Forces funded by Iran in Iraq have accused the
US of displaying double standard and of opening a way for ISIS fighters from
Tal Afar to escape towards Kurdistan. A representative of Hezbollah Brigades in
Iraq said on Al-Mayadeen television channel on Sunday that he had proof that the
President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, had issued orders for receiving
them. Is there a conspiracy being hatched against the Kurds in Iraq, or against
the Kurds in general? Is this why Russia and Turkey have remained silent? There
is enough cause for speculation.
against the West
Last year, relations between Russia and Turkey improved.
It seems the two countries think it is necessary to cooperate in different
fields as their main concern has been to focus on the war in Syria where their
interests converge. Improving bilateral military and economic relations is also
important. According to Turkish and Russian officials, preparations have been
made for Turkey to buy Russian S-400 defense system. This worries Turkey’s
allies in NATO – although some analysts believe the deal may not materialize in
the end. They also doubt whether Turkey will ever receive the surface-to-air
missile defense batteries. It is even contended that the motive here is not the
defence acquisitions but the sending of a message to the West.
According to a British political analyst, Moscow and
Ankara are playing up this cooperation to show that the West is displeased with
them. Ankara in particular may be doing so as it is frustrated by Washington’s
continuous military cooperation with Syrian Kurds.
Russia is helping Turkey develop a nuclear station and is
participating in building a Turkish gas pipeline project which will enable
Russian gas exports to reach south Europe by circumventing Ukraine. The war in
Syria is thus just one of the arenas where they can cooperate. Although each
one has a different point of view regarding the future of Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad, Moscow and Ankara are also cooperating to control regional
aspirations of Kurds inside Syria.
wary of Iran
Russia has closely worked with Iran ever since the Syrian
civil war first broke out in 2011. This cooperation distanced Turkey from
Russia. However, there are increasing signs of growing disagreements between
Russia and Iran over the future of Syria. The Iranian formula to support the
Syrian regime does not include any concessions to the Assad family,
particularly for Bashar. Meanwhile, Russia has always been willing to make
concessions on the diplomatic front as long as its basic interests in Syria are
guaranteed, i.e. its military bases and its political influence.
In Syria, Russian and Turkish perspectives in terms of
restraining Iran’s regional ambitions also coincide. Ironically, the factor
that is pushing Ankara and Moscow to cooperate is the US. Turkey is a NATO
member and it is expected to be an ally of Western powers in Syria. However,
Turkey has been serving its own interests, which are based on its geopolitical
realities and interests in the Middle East. There is no secret that Ankara is
worried of US aid to Kurds in Syria and is upset by Washington’s changing
points of view regarding the future of the Assad regime. The same applies to
Russia which is worried of American operations in Syria – although US President
Donald Trump recently suspended military aid to the Syrian opposition and
Washington and Moscow brokered a ceasefire in southwest Syria in July. Thus,
Turkish-Russian rapprochement is partially pushed by the two countries’
opposition of American interests.
Apart from these problems in the Middle East, Turkey and
Russia have also had difficult relations with the EU. Before Chancellor Angela
Merkel said Turkey should not become an EU member, Ankara was strongly
criticized by Brussels. Moscow has also had disagreements with Europe since the
2014 Russian intervention in Ukraine.
Still, age-old territorial disputes between Turkey and
Russia continue to the day. Thanks to its geography, Turkey has the longest
coast on the Black Sea. It naturally controls the straits of Bosphorus and
Dardanelles which makes it capable of exercising its military and economic
prowess over the Black Sea.
The region has historically been a battlefield between
the Russian and Ottoman empires from the 18th century until the Cold War. Both
countries have natural interest in expanding their influence in the Black Sea.
This offers little chance for both to find a mutually acceptable solution for
the long term. Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, Moscow has
gained the upper hand in terms of military infrastructure and capability over
all Black Sea shores.
East of the Black Sea and south of Caucasus, Turkey and
Russia face their long-term historical battle over Georgia, Armenia and
Azerbaijan. Ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, Turkey has worked to
reconnect South of Caucasus with its growing market for energy consumption by
launching different energy and infrastructure plans from the East to the West.
The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline and the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway are some of
the projects which Ankara currently supports. Although it’s highly unlikely for
Turkey to militarily confront Russia in the region now, it does not mean Ankara
will not consider increasing Georgia’s and Azerbaijan’s military capabilities.
There are other deep-rooted disagreements between Russia
and Turkey such as the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Russia has
its own interests for resolving this issue and in fact it prefers to keep the
status quo for as long as possible. This is why Russia wants Turkey,
Azerbaijan’s ally, to stay away from this conflict for as long as is possible.
It is said that Moscow seeks to deploy its peacekeeping troops in Karabakh in
lieu of having Armenia give up few areas around Karabakh. Meanwhile, east of
Central Asia, Ankara is capable of seeing itself as the natural ally of all
Central Asian countries as there are strong ethnic ties between Turkey and the
Turkic people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan has always been more influenced by Iranian culture.
Both Russia and Turkey cannot afford to remain hostile to
each other now. Turkey sees in Russia a door to Syria and the cover that Ankara
needs if it has to accept Assad’s stay in power instead of accepting a Kurdish
autonomy. Russia and Turkey will continue to work together in Syria whether
there is peace or conflict. The two countries’ present exigencies will push
them to find common ground to cooperate and oppose Iranian and American
interests in the Middle East. Turkey cannot bear the loss of its last influence
over an Arab territory. Economic and military communications will improve
between them because Russia cannot lose the Turkish market which is very
important for its gas exports. Furthermore, Russian-Turkish relations will be
subjected to geopolitical pressures due to geographic and security causes. The
Black Sea and south Caucasus – as well as Central Asia to a lesser degree –
will be the most contentious regions between Moscow and Ankara.
There are interests, ambitions, military bases and
cultures between these countries that clash and coalesce with each other. The
two have taken Syria as their arena to meet, cooperate and to impose their
influence. Russians, Iranians, Turks, Europeans and the Americans are involved,
and there are also Chechens, Uzbeks and Kyrgyzstanis who are fighting with the
ISIS and whom we’ve seen as captives in videos broadcast by the Kurdish
television in Iraq. Where is the Arab role in all of this? We have not seen it
is a political writer who focuses on Middle East geopolitics.
To promise peaceful reconciliation and then make it
impossible makes violent extremism inevitable. These words come to mind as the
Rohingyas flee from Myanmar to save their lives while Suu Kyi, state counsellor
and NLD leader, first remains silent and now seems to endorse ethnic cleansing.
Oxford educated and an honorary fellow of the School of
Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Aung San Suu Kyi and her family returned
to Burma in 1988 to care for her ailing mother. Burma was tense with mass
demonstrations for democracy after General Ne Win had stepped down in August.
Suu Kyi addressed a gathering stating, “I could not, as my father's daughter,
remain indifferent to all that was going on.” While her English husband and her
sons returned to Britain she formed the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Claiming to be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, she held
peaceful rallies for free elections. They were suppressed by the army who
seized power in September 1988 and later placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. The
military government offered her freedom if she left the country for good, but
she bravely refused.
She remained under house arrest or in prison for 15
years, over a 21-year period. The military regime offered to let her go abroad,
but it was evident she would not be allowed to return. In 1995 she met her
husband in Myanmar for the last time, four years before his death from cancer.
After a bloody suppressed 'Saffron Revolution', in
November 2010 Suu Kyi was released. It was apparent that the regime saw they
needed rapid economic growth to escape the sanctions imposed by western
In 2015 the military government of President Thein Sein
held the first openly contested general election in 25 years. The NLD won
two-thirds of the contested seats in parliament (a bloc of 25 was reserved for
the military). As her children held foreign passports Suu Kyi could not run for
president. However, as the undisputed NLD leader, she is Myanmar's de facto
So what is this respected woman and active proponent of human
rights and democracy really like?
Her Nobel Peace Prize awarded in Oslo on June 16, 2012
was described as the “most remarkable in the entire history of Nobel Prizes.”
Her acceptance speech stated “...when the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace
Prize to me, they were recognising that the oppressed and the isolated in Burma
were also a part of the world, they were recognising the oneness of humanity...
The prize we were working for was a free, secure and just society where our
people might be able to realise their full potential.”
When asked after the NLD's 2015 victory what democratic
model she intended to see in Myanmar, Suu Kyi replied, “We have many lessons to
learn from various places.” She would not make changes too soon but would aim
for reconciliation, like Nelson Mandela.
Yet now, her silence in the face of the persecution of
the Rohingya Muslim minority has turned to open endorsement of the latest
military crackdown while denying, as misinformation, its violence and carnage.
She appears to accept the real misinformation—that the Rohingya are illegal
Some Rohingya Muslims are recorded to have been in
Buddhist-majority Burma since the 12th century. There are around 1.1 million
Rohingyas in the coastal state of Rakhine. During the British rule (1824–1948)
more entered as labourers, but since Burma was a province of India such
migration was considered internal (Human Rights Watch). After independence
Rohingyas who could prove residence for at least two generations were allowed
to apply for a form of ID card. But the 1982 citizenship law did not recognise
them as one of the country's 125 official ethnic minorities. They had long
suffered discrimination, including movement restrictions, withholding of land
rights and exclusion from education and public service. They essentially became
stateless. By 2013 Human Rights Watch was already protesting ethnic cleansing
and large numbers had fled to Bangladesh. In 2015, the 14th Dalai Lama, the
most revered Buddhist leader, requested Suu Kyi to help the Rohingya, but was
To stem international condemnation, Suu Kyi in August
2016 asked for recommendations from an Advisory Commission led by Kofi Annan.
Its mandate was flawed as it was limited to development, health and education
in Rakhine and excluded human rights violations. She claimed to welcome its
initial recommendations but made no move to implement them. The final report
calling for an end to violence and a review of the basic citizenship issue has
been ignored. The government claims the burning of 60 villages was the work of
the Rohingya themselves and describes the newly formed Arakan Rohingya
Salvation Army (ARSA)—a virtually unarmed peasant resistance group—as
She has failed both morally—in terms of the Rohingyas'
suffering—and as a national leader in the face of Buddhist nationalist
intolerance. For decades Rohingya village elders have tried to restrain their
young men but violent military suppression has not only now brought doomed
attempts to fight back but has opened the path to Islamist extremism amongst a
minority people whose tradition has been more peaceful Sufist Sunni. According
to International Crisis Group, ARSA and its leader have links with Rohingya
groups living in Saudi Arabia and Salafist influence is growing. The refugee
influx is not only a threat to Bangladesh but also to the world.
Suu Kyi once said, “It is not power that corrupts, but
fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge
of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” Now that she has seemed to
abandon her own ideals, is she now corrupt? Insensitive, politically sharp and
ambitious, Suu Kyi has created more problems than solutions.
Mohsin is a former ambassador.
IN open wars there are smart weapons and unconventional
weapons, which are used to achieve victories of another kind. Perhaps one of
the most important of these unconventional weapons is TV serials and dramas
that are shown on different screens around the world.
Today, Israel seeks to exploit this effectively. Israel
is aware that the Hebrew market is very limited. The speakers of this language
are not more than nine million people around the world, so they translate their
works into languages like English, French, Spanish, German and non-traditional
languages such as Hindi, Korean, Chinese and Portuguese.
Israel is preparing to release a big film of its
production in the name of “the angel.” From an Israeli point of view, it tells
of the services provided by Ashraf Marwan “as a spy” to Israel during his long
stint. (Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stated at the time of Ashraf
Marwan’s death that he was “a national hero and played an important role”). But
Israel wants to market a certain stereotype of itself to the world that it is
“smarter” than its enemies and is therefore capable of penetrating them and
always beating them.
Israel always tries to carry the same message in most of
its dramas for the world that it is a country that seeks to live in peace and
it’s neighbors are terrorists who are striving to eliminate it. One of the most
important Israeli serials that promoted this idea was the series “Prisoners of
War”, and the other series which was a remarkable success, was the series
“Homeland”, which presented a terrible example of the Palestinians and Muslims.
Israel sees the economic returns through the promotion,
export and marketing of these dramas around the world. As a matter of fact its
revenues in 2016 amounted to 270 million dollars, four times what it was in
2006 and it seeks to provide a global interesting material and succeed like the
success of Turkish, Brazilian, Mexican, Hindi, Korean and Japanese dramas.
Israeli dramas have become quite identical having almost the same script in
which the hero who comes from the Israeli intelligence saves his country from a
terrorist preparing to blow himself up among innocent people.
A story after the terrorist events around the world has
gained an international acceptance. Israel now seeks to develop drama
production to include stories far from the Arab-Israeli conflict to show its
success as a state focusing on the strength of its economy and the success of
its symbols through dramatic dramas in order to establish a deep mental image
in the minds of the West that Israel is a successful state among failed states
in the region.
The Arab-Israeli war films and series witnessed a
stirring movement in the eighties. Films such as “Rise to the Abyss”, “Well of
Treason”, “Dead Execution”, “The Road to Eilat” and “Tears in the Eyes of a
Slut” provided the Arab memory with positive morale in the confrontation with
Israel has an “expansionist” plan to occupy new spaces in
the young mentality around the world based on digital entertainment and away
from traditional television and cinema. It plans to collaborate with digital
giants such as Netflix and HBO to ensure access to the widest possible
Israel proactively occupies vast areas of global
mentality in the virtual entertainment field to devote its mental image to it.
It has a firm belief that this is an arena that is no less important than
United Nations lounges and battlefields. Israel has managed to control the
production in a very economical way until it is known as the cheapest around
the world and thus ensures the lucrative returns on its dramatic action
economically and it benefited from the culture of savings established by the
military structure of the state.
The message that will focus on the Israeli drama in his
message, according to Israeli art critic Einav Chif, “is that the world has
become insecure.” A person does not need much intelligence to know where the
finger is pointing with such a proposition!
IT is three years since Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra
Modi came to power in India, promising “good days” which, among other things,
meant better governance, faster development and an end to corruption.
There was the excitement that comes from the injection of
a leader who, though new to the national scene, had served as three-time chief
minister of an important state and an entirely new ideology. Part of the reason
for his government’s popularity was the discredited one it replaced. Any
country usually awards some sort of honeymoon to a new president or prime
minister. In Modi’s case, it has lasted longer than he could have hoped for.
Media too was indulgent.
But latest reports indicate that all this is not enough
to mask his many vulnerabilities. News from the economic front is particularly
bad. Indian economy has been slowing for each quarter for the last five ones.
This means it has remained stagnant for the last 15 months. Government data
shows the economy has been growing at only 5.7 percent. After three years, the
country is back to where it was in the last days of the Congress-led Manmohan
Singh government. From January to March of this year, Indian growth sank to six
percent, down from seven percent in the previous quarter. They also brought
growth over the last twelve months down to its lowest point for three years.
Worse still, there is no sign of the 10 million jobs Modi
promised. If the economy has been slowing for five straight quarters, it means
only one thing: There is something fundamentally wrong with the way this
government manages the economy.
Government’s own admission on the less than satisfactory
results of demonetization shows what they are.
It was on Nov. 8, 2016, that Modi announced, to a shocked
nation, that 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender. Of
course, there would be some temporary inconvenience for the common man but the
prime minister dangled, in front of them, the prospect of corrupt officials,
businessmen and criminals — who are believed to hoard large amounts of illicit
cash — being stuck with “worthless pieces of paper.”
However, the Reserve Bank of India’s annual report on
Wednesday suggested that most holders of the old currency had managed to
dispose of it, estimating that banned notes worth 15.28 trillion ($239 billion)
were returned to the bank. This amounts to 99 percent of the 15.44 trillion of
the high-value notes that were in circulation. Naturally, people are asking
whether demonetization was a clever ploy designed to help corrupt officials,
big businessmen and criminals to convert black money into white.
Another supposed benefit of demonetization — curbing
terrorism which in India usually means violence in Kashmir — too failed to
materialize. Depriving terrorists, real or perceived, of the sources of their
funds, demonetization would help combat violence. Facts, however, tell a different
story. Last year, there were 267 violence-related deaths in the Himalayan
state. There have been 239 deaths in the first eight months of 2017.
Even those who agreed that demonetization would have
long-term benefits had warned that its short-term economic cost would outweigh
them. What has really happened is that the economy has been dented severely
with no prospect of recovery in the near future.
Adding to Modi’s woes are the dismal performance of BJP
chief ministers in states. In UP, dozens of infants died in two hospitals due
to a delay in providing them with oxygen and medicines. In Haryana, there was
complete breakdown of law and order after a court verdict against a man many
Modi is still the most popular politician in India. But
there are enough signs to show his aura of invincibility is fading. The real
question is whether India’s opposition parties can unite on a common platform
to mount a credible challenge to him in the 2019 elections.
By THE EDITORIAL
SEPT. 9, 2017
The news was hard to digest until one realized it was
part of a much larger and increasingly disturbing pattern in the Trump
administration. On Aug. 18, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and
Medicine received an order from the Interior Department that it stop work on
what seemed a useful and overdue study of the health risks of
mountaintop-removal coal mining.
The $1 million study had been requested by two West
Virginia health agencies following multiple studies suggesting increased rates
of birth defects, cancer and other health problems among people living near big
surface coal-mining operations in Appalachia. The order to shut it down came
just hours before the scientists were scheduled to meet with affected residents
The Interior Department said the project was put on hold
as a result of an agencywide budgetary review of grants and projects costing
more than $100,000.
This was not persuasive to anyone who had been paying
attention. From Day 1, the White House and its lackeys in certain federal
agencies have been waging what amounts to a war on science, appointing people
with few scientific credentials to key positions, defunding programs that could
lead to a cleaner and safer environment and a healthier population, and, most
ominously, censoring scientific inquiry that could inform the public and
Even allowing for justifiable budgetary reasons, in
nearly every case the principal motive seemed the same: to serve commercial
interests whose profitability could be affected by health and safety rules.
The coal mining industry is a conspicuous example. The
practice of blowing the tops off mountains to get at underlying coal seams has
been attacked for years by public health and environmental interests and by
many of the families whose livelihoods depend on coal. But Mr. Trump and his
department heads have made a very big deal of saving jobs in a declining
industry that is already under severe pressure from market forces, including
competition from cheaper natural gas. An unfavorable health study would inject
unwelcome reality into Mr. Trump’s rosy promises of a job boom fueled by
“clean, beautiful coal.”
This is a president who has never shown much fidelity to
facts, unless they are his own alternative ones. Yet if there is any unifying
theme beyond that to the administration’s war on science, apart from its
devotion to big industry and its reflexively antiregulatory mind-set, it is
horror of the words “climate change.”
This starts with Mr. Trump, who has called global warming
a hoax and pulled the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change.
Among his first presidential acts, he instructed Scott Pruitt, the
Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to deep-six President Obama’s
Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired
power plants, and ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to roll back Obama-era
rules reducing the venting from natural gas wells of methane, another powerful
Mr. Trump has been properly sympathetic to the victims of
hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the fact that there is almost certainly a
connection between a warming earth and increasingly destructive natural events
seems not to have occurred to him or his fellow deniers. Mr. Pruitt and his
colleagues have enthusiastically jumped to the task of rescinding regulations
that might address the problem, meanwhile presiding over a no less ominous
development: a governmentwide purge of people, particularly scientists, whose
research and conclusions about the human contribution to climate change do not
support the administration’s agenda.
Mr. Pruitt, for instance, is replacing dozens of members
on the E.P.A.’s scientific advisory boards; in March, he dismissed at least five
scientists from the agency’s 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, to be
replaced, according to a spokesman, with advisers “who understand the impact of
regulations on the regulated community.” Last month the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration dissolved its 15-member climate science advisory
committee, a panel set up to help translate the findings of the National
Climate Assessment into concrete guidance for businesses, governments and the
In June, Mr. Pruitt told a coal industry lobbying group
that he was preparing to convene a “red team” of researchers to challenge the
notion, broadly accepted among climate scientists, that carbon dioxide and
other emissions from fossil fuels are the primary drivers of climate change.
Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at
Texas A&M University, called the red team plan a “dumb idea” that’s like “a
red team-blue team exercise about whether gravity exists.” Rick Perry, the
energy secretary, former Texas governor and climate skeptic, endorsed the idea
as — get this — a way to “get the politicians out of the room.” Given his and
Mr. Pruitt’s ideological and historical financial ties to the fossil fuel
industry, it is hard to think of a more cynical use of public money.
Even the official vocabulary of global warming has
changed, as if the problem can be made to evaporate by describing it in more
benign terms. At the Department of Agriculture, staff members are encouraged to
use words like “weather extremes” in lieu of “climate change,” and “build soil
organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency” instead of “reduce greenhouse
gases.” The Department of Energy has scrubbed the words “clean energy” and “new
energy” from its websites, and has cut links to clean or renewable energy
initiatives and programs, according to the Environmental Data & Governance
Initiative, which monitors federal websites.
At the E.P.A., a former Trump campaign assistant named
John Konkus aims to eliminate the “double C-word,” meaning “climate change,”
from the agency’s research grant solicitations, and he views every application
for research money through a similar lens. The E.P.A. is even considering
editing out climate change-related exhibits in a museum depicting the agency’s
The bias against science finds reinforcement in Mr.
Trump’s budget and the people he has chosen for important scientific jobs. Mr.
Trump’s 2018 federal budget proposal would cut nondefense research and
development money across the government.
The president has proposed cutting nearly $6 billion from
the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s single largest funder of
biomedical research. The National Science Foundation, a government agency that
funds a variety of scientific and engineering research projects, would be
trimmed by about 11 percent. Plant and animal-related science at the
Agriculture Department, data analysis at the Census Bureau and earth science at
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would all suffer.
It is amazing but true, given the present circumstances,
that the Trump budget would eliminate $250 million for NOAA’s coastal research
programs that prepare communities for rising seas and worsening storms. The
E.P.A.’s Global Change program would be likewise eliminated. This makes the
budget director, Mick Mulvaney, delirious with joy. He complains of “crazy
things” the Obama administration did to study climate, and boasts: “Do a lot of
the E.P.A. reductions aim at reducing the focus on climate science? Yes.”
As to key appointments, denial and mediocrity abound.
Last week, Mr. Trump nominated David Zatezalo, a former coal company chief
executive who has repeatedly clashed with federal mine safety regulators, as
assistant secretary of labor for the federal Mine Safety and Health
Administration. He nominated Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from
Oklahoma with no science or space background, as NASA administrator. Sam
Clovis, Mr. Trump’s nomination to be the Agriculture Department’s chief
scientist, is not a scientist: He’s a former talk-radio host and incendiary
blogger who has labeled climate research “junk science.”
From the beginning, Mr. Trump, Mr. Pruitt, Mr. Zinke and
Mr. Perry — to name the Big Four on environmental and energy issues — have been
promising a new day to just about anyone discomfited by a half-century of
bipartisan environmental law, whether it be the developers and farmers who feel
threatened by efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act, oil and gas drillers
seeking leases they do not need on federal land, chemical companies seeking relaxation
from rules governing dangerous pesticides, automakers asked to improve fuel
efficiency or utilities required to make further investments in technology to
reduce ground-level pollutants.
“The future ain’t what it used to be at the E.P.A.,” Mr.
Pruitt is fond of saying of his agency. These words could also apply to just
about every other cabinet department and regulatory body in this
administration. What his words really mean is that the future isn’t going to be
nearly as promising for ordinary Americans as it should be.
I received a letter two days ago, seemingly sent to many
other colleagues by Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of the Kurdish
problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been in jail in the
western province of Edirne for more than 10 months without having appeared
before a judge.
It is not clear when he is going to appear in court,
since two separate courts so far refused to try him regarding the indictment
prepared by prosecutors accusing him of helping making propaganda for the
outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) through his speeches in and outside of
the Turkish parliament.
In his letter, Demirtas said his arrest (on Nov. 4, 2016)
and captivity was against the 83rd article of the Turkish constitution, which
suggests that members of parliament cannot be held responsible for what they
say in parliament and the repetition of the same speech elsewhere. He was
arrested due to an amendment on May 20, 2016, which lifted the immunities of
MPs, who have had indictments against them sent to the Justice Ministry on
activities up until then but did not cover events after that.
“It was a grave mistake,” Demirtas said. “Parliamentary
immunities are lifted retrospectively, not for future activity. It is a weird
situation where I have legal immunity and don’t have it at the same time,” he
added. He said it was the reason why no court can try him and nine other MPs of
the HDP. “We have been arrested upon the orders of politicians, not courts,” he
The constitutional amendment in May 2016, encouraged by
President Tayyip Erdogan and submitted by his ruling Justice and Development
Party (AK Parti), was supported not only by Devlet Bahçeli’s Nationalist
Movement Party (MHP) but also Kemal Kiliçdaroglu’s social democratic Republican
People’s Party (CHP).
Ironically, the first MP who was sentenced and put in
jail, on June 14, from the CHP was Enis Berberoglu, with a sentence of 25 years
Berberoglu was accused on espionage and “helping
terrorism” charges because of providing - already published but later on
restricted by a court - material to the prominent center-left newspaper
Cumhuriyet. It was the jailing of Berberoglu which triggered the 450-kilometer
“justice march” by Kiliçdaroglu from June 15 to July 9 from Ankara to Istanbul
and later a “justice congress” between Aug. 26 and 29 where he claimed the lack
of justice was the biggest problem in Turkey.
Following that, Erdogan started to accuse Kiliçdaroglu
and the CHP of acting “in line with terrorists” and of “not being native and
national.” The reference “terrorists” in Erdogan’s speech was including both
the PKK and the illegal network of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-resident Islamist
preacher who is indicted of masterminding the July 15, 2016, military coup
attempt in Turkey.
On Sept. 8, Erdogan particularly picked on one CHP deputy
chairman, Sezgin Tanrikulu, who claimed that an armed drone used effectively in
the fight against the PKK might have hit civilians in an operation in the
southeastern province of Hakkari, bordering both Iraq and Iran. Erdogan said
instead of being proud of natively-designed and produced - by an aerospace
company owned by Erdogan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar - Kiliçdaroglu was
letting his deputy slander anti-terrorism efforts. Right after Erdogan’s
remarks, an Ankara prosecutor filed a lawsuit against Tanrikulu on accusations
he was helping terrorists. As Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said one of the
wounded people in the drone attack admitted that he had met with a PKK
terrorist, Tanrikulu said prosecuting him was a violation of article 83 of the
constitution about parliamentary immunities.
The HDP, being the third biggest group in the Turkish
parliament, is already suffering court cases under accusations of helping
terrorists. The CHP is not only the main opposition but the founding party of
the Turkish Republic, with a staunch 25 percent voter support, and labeling the
CHP terrorist might seem beneficial for the AK Parti in the short- run before
elections in 2019 (first locals, then general, to be held with the presidential
vote), but may trigger new fault lines in politics.
And it is not only the court cases against politicians
which are prompting strong criticisms against Erdogan from outside Turkey under
the state of emergency, launched after the thwarted coup attempt.
The situation of jailed journalists and media employees
is another painful problem especially when considered in relations with the
European Union. Erdogan is under attack because of the current situation of the
independence of courts as well as media freedom and freedom of expression.
Today on Sept. 11, four Cumhuriyet journalists are going
to appear in an Istanbul criminal court. Kadri Gürsel, also the head of the
Turkish chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI), Murat Sabuncu and
Akin Atalay have been under arrest for 316 days. Ahmet Sik has been imprisoned
for 254 days, being sought life imprisonment for helping two different
terrorist organizations - the Gülenist network and the PKK - at the same time.
Senior columnists Sahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç, from the
newspapers Zaman, Bugün and Taraf, known for adhering to Gülen and now shut for
that reason, have already finished 410 days behind bars, along with Nazli
Ilicak. Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Murat Aksoy have completed one year already.
They were also writing for papers like Zaman, Bugün and Taraf. Journalists of
different nationalities like Deniz Yücel, a German citizen, have further
strained diplomatic relations between Turkey and Germany. According to the
Turkish Journalists Association (TGC), there are 160 journalists in prisons
currently, this being the highest number in the world, yet the government says
they are not imprisoned because of journalism but over terrorism and espionage.
Amid these developments in Turkey, a U.S. court has
indicted and issued an arrest warrant against a former Turkish economy
minister, Zafer Çaglayan, in relation with the Iran-origin Turkish citizen Reza
Zarrab, who is currently in prison in the U.S. accused of breaking sanctions on
Iran. Same applies to Süleyman Aslan, the former head of the Turkish state bank
Halkbank. Çaglayan was accused of receiving bribes from Zarrab, and Aslan was
announced as being arrested by the police with $4.5 million in cash hidden in
shoeboxes in his bedroom during the Dec. 17-25, 2013, graft probes. The
accusations against them in Turkey were dropped, and prosecutors and judges
involved in those probes are either now on the run or imprisoned for receiving
instructions from the illegal Gülenist network.
Erdogan, who has been criticizing the U.S. administration
for harboring Gülen and his followers in the country who have been indicted for
trying to overthrow the Turkish government through a military coup, slammed the
latest ruling as an action taken against Turkey on Sept. 8.
Later on Sept. 9, Erdogan had a telephone conversation
with U.S. President Donald Trump and the matter is expected to be discussed
during a meeting between the two at the United Nations General Assembly later
in September. Another issue within that framework is an arrest warrant issued
against Erdogan’s bodyguards for attacking protesters during a visit by Erdogan
in Washington D.C. in May.
“You may be a strong country, a big country” Erdogan told
U.S. authorities regarding the Çaglayan case on Sept. 8, “But it is important
to be a state of justice.” A sentence with which I can fully agree.