Indonesia shrugs at rising religious violence: report Michael Bachelard

Indonesia has experienced a “sharp uptick” in religiously motivated violence, with Islamic gangs regularly attacking Christian churches as well as “deviant sects” of their own faith, a strongly worded new report has warned.

The report by Human Rights Watch warns that the Indonesian Government, police and military are “passively, and sometimes actively” condoning these new extremists, in contrast to the way they “wrestled to the ground” the terrorists of Jemaah Islamiah in the past decade.

The organisation accuses Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of responding “weakly” to the threat, with “lofty but empty rhetoric”.

“With JI they saw a clear and present danger,” said Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, Phelim Kine.

“Now, the government is failing to recognise this less spectacular but equally corrosive and dangerous strain of religious intolerance.” Mr Kine said there were “worrying echoes” of Pakistan’s state of siege against minority Islamic sects, and if intolerance and violence continued to increase in Indonesia, “the confidence of investors in the country . . . might not hold”.

The report, In Religion’s Name, says there were 264 violent attacks on religious minorities in 2012, a 20 per cent increase on 2010. It documents violence against the Ahmadiya, a minority sect of Islam which Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry has declared “heretical”, and Shiite Muslims, as well as atheists and moderate Muslims. Since 2005, more than 430 churches have been forced to close.

But Wahyu, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Religious Affairs minister, Suryadharma Ali, denied the thrust of the report, saying Indonesia was “the example, or the laboratory of religious harmony”.

“It has the best religious harmony in the world. We can judge that because . . . we make all big days of the recognised religions in Indonesian holidays,” Wahyu said.

Neither Mr Yudhoyono’s office nor the police would comment before the report was released.

Many acts of violence were committed by a number of hardline groups such as the aggressive Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which emerged from the Sunni Islam majority after the fall of former president Suharto in 1998, the report says.

FPI recruits among the poor and disenfranchised and might be able to field 100,000 supporters. It was allegedly set up by police during unrest in 1998 to attack protesting students. Its official events have since been attended by the former governor of Jakarta, the national police chief and the religious affairs minister.

The country guarantees religious freedom in the constitution, but 156 statutes, regulations, decrees and by-laws subject “minority religions to official discrimination”, They include the 1965 blasphemy law, the 2006 ministerial decree on building houses of worship and the 2008 anti-Ahmadiyah decree.

In recent years the judicial system has often taken a harder line against minorities who are the victims of religious violence than against the perpetrators.

In 2011, when five Ahmadiyah followers were injured and three killed by an Islamist mob, police stood by, smoking and watching. The killers were not charged with murder, but “assault causing death” and were given sentences of six months or less. An Ahmadiya survivor and witness in their prosecution was later charged with provoking the attack and also given a six-month jail sentence.

A professed atheist, Alexander Aan, was last year sentenced to prison after being attacked by a mob, none of whom was punished.

But Wahyu, the spokesman from the Religious Affairs Ministry, one of the best-funded and most powerful ministries in the government, denied that recent controversies signalled a problem.

A Christian church barred by local officials from opening despite a Supreme Court ruling was “not about religious tolerance, it’s a land dispute”; violence against Ahmadiyah was not a religious problem because, “it’s not a religion, it’s a sect”; and a violent attack on a Shiite group in East Java was simply “a personal problem, it’s not about religion”, Wahyu said.

(“The Sydney Morning Herald,” February 28, 2013)

Explosive WikiLeaks Cables Nail Yudhoyono

Source:
http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3052&Itemid=175

Explosive WikiLeaks Cables Nail Yudhoyono

Written by Philip Dorling   Friday, 11 March 2011

Description:
US embassy in Jakarta has serious doubts about theIndonesian president’s own integrity

When Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won a surprise victory in Indonesia’s 2004 presidential elections, the United States Embassy in Jakarta hailed it as “aremarkable triumph of a popular, articulate figure against a rival[incumbent president Megawati Sukarnoputri] with more power, money, andconnections.

“The former army general and security minister has gone on to win international accolades for strengthening governance, promoting economic reform, and his efforts to suppress the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

While visiting Jakarta last November, US President Barack Obama applauded Indonesia’s democracy and “the leadership of my good friend President Yudhoyono. “However Yudhoyono’s record may have to be reviewed after secret US embassy cables, leaked to WikiLeaks and provided to Fairfax Media, reveal allegations of corruption and abuse of power that extend all the way to the presidential palace.

According to the diplomatic cables, Yudhoyono, widely known by his initials SBY, personally intervened to influence prosecutors and judges to protectcorrupt political figures and put pressure on his adversaries. He reportedly also used the Indonesian intelligence service to spy on rivals and, on at least one occasion, a senior minister in his own government.

Yudhoyono’s former vice-president reportedly paid out millions of dollars to buy control of Indonesia’s largest political party, while the President’s wife and her family have allegedly moved to enrich themselves on the basis of their political connections.

The US embassy’s political reporting, much of it classified “Secret/NoForn”- meaning for American eyes only – makes clear that the continuing influence of money politics, which extends, despite the President’s public commitment to combating corruption, to Yudhoyono himself.

The US embassy cables reveal that one of Yudhoyono’s early presidential actions was to personally intervene in the case of Taufik Kiemas, the husband of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri. Taufik reportedly used his continuing control of his wife’s Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P) to broker protection from prosecution for what the US diplomats described as “legendary corruption during his wife’s tenure.”

Taufik has been publicly accused, though without charges being laid against him, of improper dealings in massive infrastructure projects heavily tainted with corruption. He is believed to have profited from deals relating to the US$2.3 billion Jakarta Outer Ring Road project, the US$2.4 billion double-track railway project from Merak in West Java to Banyuwangi in East Java, the US$2.3 billion trans-Kalimantan highway, and the US$1.7 billion trans-Papua highway.

In December 2004, the US embassy in Jakarta reported to Washington that one of its most valued political informants, senior presidential adviser TB Silalahi, had advised that Indonesia’s Assistant Attorney-General, Hendarman Supandji, who was then leading the new government’s anti-corruption campaign, had gathered “sufficient evidence of the corruption of former first gentleman Taufik Kiemas to warrant Taufik’s arrest.

“However, Silalahi, one of Yudhoyono’s closest political confidants, told the US embassy that the president “had personally instructed Hendarman not to pursue a case against Taufik.”No legal proceedings were brought against the former “first gentleman,” who remains an influential political figure and is now speaker of Indonesia’sparliament, the People’s Consultative Assembly.

While Yudhoyono protected Taufik from prosecution, his then vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, allegedly paid what the US embassy described as “enormous bribes” to win the chairmanship of Golkar, Indonesia’s largest political party, during a December 2004 party congress, US diplomats observed firsthand.

“According to multiple sources close to the major candidates, Kalla’s team offered district boards at least Rp 200 million (over US$22,000) for their votes,” the US embassy reported.

“Provincial boards – which had the same voting right, but also could influence subordinate district boards -received Rp 500 million or more. According to one contact with prior experience in such matters, board officials received down payments …and would expect full payment from the winner, in cash, within hours of thevote.

“US diplomats reported that, with 243 votes required to win a majority, the Golkar chairmanship would have cost more than US$6 million.

“One contact claimed that [then Indonesian House of Representatives chairman Agung Laksono] alone – not the wealthiest of Kalla’s backers – had allocated (if not actually spent) Rp50 billion (more than US$5.5 million ) on the event.”

The US embassy cables further allege that Yudhoyono had then cabinet secretary Sudi Silalahi “intimidate” at least one judge in a 2006 court case arising from a fight for control of former president Abdurahman Wahid’s National Awakening Party (PKB). According to the embassy’s contacts, Sudi told the judge “if the court were to help [Wahid] it would be like helping to overthrow the government.”The intervention of “SBY’s right-hand man” was not successful in a direct sense because, according to embassy sources with close ties to the PKB and lawyers involved in the case, Wahid’s supporters paid the judges Rp3 billion in bribes for a verdict that awarded control of PKB to Wahid instead of adissident faction. However, Yudhoyono’s strategic objective was achieved as external pressure on Wahid’s “precarious position” forced the PKB tore position itself to support the administration.

Other US embassy reports indicate that Yudhoyono has used the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to spy on both his political allies and opponents.The president reportedly also got BIN to spy on rival presidential candidates. This practice appears to have begun while Yudhoyono was serving as co-ordinating minister of political and security affairs in former president Megawati’s government. He directed the intelligence service to report on former army commander and Golkar presidential candidate Wiranto.

Subsequently, at a meeting of Yudhoyono’s cabinet, BIN chief Syamsir characterised Wiranto as a “terrorist mastermind.”

Through his own military contacts Wiranto learnt that he was the subject of”derogatory” BIN reports, but when he complained he was told by presidential adviser TB Silalahi that no such reports existed.

The leaked US embassy cables are ambiguous on the question of whether Yudhoyono has been personally engaged in corruption. However, US diplomats reported that at a 2006 meeting with the chairman of his own Democratic Party, Yudhoyono “be moaned his own failure to date to establish himself in business matters,” apparently feeling “he needed to ‘catch up’ … [and] wanted to ensure he left a sizeable legacy for his children.

“In the course of investigating the President’s private, political and business interests, American diplomats noted alleged links between Yudhoyono and Chinese-Indonesian businessmen, most notably Tomy Winata, an alleged underworld figure and member of the “Gang of Nine” or “Nine Dragons,” a leading gambling syndicate.

In 2006, Agung Laksono, now Yudhoyono’s Co-ordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, told US embassy officers that TB Silalahi “functioned as amiddleman, relaying funds from Winata to Yudhoyono, protecting the president from the potential liabilities that could arise if Yudhoyono were to deal with Tomy directly.

“Tomy Winata reportedly also used prominent entrepreneur Muhammad Lutfi as a channel of funding to Yudhoyono. Yudhoyono appointed Lutfi chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Co-ordinating Board.

Senior State Intelligence Agency official Yahya Asagaf also told the US embassy Tomy Winata was trying to cultivate influence by using a senior presidential aide as his channel to first lady Kristiani Herawati.

Yudhoyono’s wife and relatives also feature prominently in the US embassy’s political reporting, with American diplomats highlighting the efforts of the president’s family “particularly first lady Kristiani Herawati …to profit financially from its political position.

“In June 2006, one presidential staff member told US embassy officers Kristiani’s family members were “specifically targeting financial opportunities related to state-owned enterprises.” The well-connected staffer portrayed the President as “witting of these efforts, which his closest operators (e.g. Sudi Silalahi) would advance, while Yudhoyono himself maintained sufficient distance that he could not be implicated.

“Such is the first lady’s behind-the-scenes influence that the US embassy described her as “a cabinet of one” and “the President’s undisputed top adviser.”

The embassy reported: “As presidential adviser TB Silalahi told [US political officers], members of the President’s staff increasingly feel marginalised and powerless to provide counsel to the President.

“Yahya Asagaf at the State Intelligence Agency privately declared the first lady’s opinion to be “the only one that matters.

“Significantly, the US embassy’s contacts identified Kristiani as the primary influence behind Yudhoyono’s decision to drop vice-president Kalla as his running mate in the 2009 presidential elections.

With Bank of Indonesia governor Boediono as his new vice-presidential running mate, Yudhoyono went on to an overwhelming victory. The president secured more than 60 per cent of the vote, defeating both former president Megawati, who had teamed up with former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto, and vice-president Kalla, who allied himself with Wiranto.

In January 2010 the US embassy observed: “Ten years of political and economic reform have made Indonesia democratic, stable, and increasingly confident about its leadership role in south-east Asia and the Muslim world.

Indonesia has held successful, free and fair elections; has weathered the global financial crisis; and is tackling internal security threats.

“However, America’s diplomats also noted that a series of political scandals through late 2009 and into 2010 had seriously damaged Yudhoyono’s political standing.

A protracted conflict between the Indonesian police and the national Corruption Eradication Commission had damaged the government’s publicanti-corruption credentials, while a parliamentary inquiry into the massive bailout of a major financial institution, Bank Century, called into question the Vice-President’s performance as former central bank governor.

One prominent anti-corruption non-government organization privately told the US embassy that it had “credible” information that funds from Bank Century had been used for financing Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign.

Former vice-president Kalla strongly criticized the bailout, alleging thatthe Bank of Indonesia under Boediono had been negligent in supervising Bank Century and arguing that the bank should have been closed as its failure wasdue to fraud perpetrated by major share holders.

Against this background the US embassy reported that Yudhoyono was increasingly “paralyzed” as his political popularity rapidly diminished.

“Unwilling to risk alienating segments of the parliament, media, bureaucracy and civil society, Yudhoyono has slowed reforms. He is also unwilling to cross any constituencies …

Until he is satisfied that he has shored up his political position, Yudhoyono is unlikely to spend any political capital to move his reform agenda, or controversial aspects of US -Indonesia relations,forward.

“Over the past 13 years Indonesian democracy has undoubtedly strengthened. The Suharto dictatorship has been replaced by a competitive political system characterized by robust debate and free media.

However, as the leaked US embassy’s reports show, in what is only a glimpseof the inside workings of President Yudhoyono’s tenure, some of the secretive and corrupt habits of the Suharto years still linger in Indonesian presidential politics.

Another version of this story appeared in The Age in Melbourne, Australia.

SBY Threatened to be Overthrown by FPI

Islamic Defence Front (FPI) criticized the firm statement of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over his order to disband anarchist mass organizations.

Besides judging the president’s statement as unqualified, FPI even threatened to overthrow him such as what Tunisians did to President Ben Ali should SBY keep on making sort of statement. “If the president insists on exposing the statement on the disband, Islamic mass organisations and followers are ready to overthrow him since he is going to be considered of being in position of evil” said Advocate Chief of FPI Munawarman to Kompas.com, Friday.

Munarman judged the president’s statement as the most unqualified conveyed by a president as he blamed that Ahmadiyah was behind the violent mob in Cikeusik, Pandenglang. “He addressed the statement to the wrong addressee. Ahmadiyah caused all of the problem, how mass organisations could be blamed for that.” (LIN)
(Kompas.com)

Religion and life

In my country, people are known practice their religion as their way of life. But religion could not build a better life between religions.

For example A group of 500 Islamic extremists blocked Christians from the Huria Protestant Church (Hkbp) in a field where the Sunday service was taking place. The incident occurred last July 18 in the city of Pondok Timur in Mustika Jaya subdistrict, district of Bekasi (West Java).

The most important to remember, that government can not protect the minority. The minority from other faithful still under pressure of the islamist extremist.

But some of Mohammedan can live together with other people  from ather religion (e.g. Christians).

Something to be reflected, what is a religion? Is religion bring peace and the ability to live better with others.  I think that religion in herself, not wrong, but the persons who can internalized the value of religion.

Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting

07/21/2010 14:09

INDONESIA
Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting
Mathias Hariyadi
More than 500 blocked the entrance to the field where the function was being held. The Huria Protestant Church celebrates in the open because their prayer hall was declared illegal. Thanks to the police, there were no consequences for the faithful.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of 500 Islamic extremists blocked Christians from the Huria Protestant Church (Hkbp) in a field where the Sunday service was taking place. The incident occurred last July 18 in the city of Pondok Timur in Mustika Jaya subdistrict, district of Bekasi (West Java).

Muslims blocked all routes to prevent Christians leaving the field and began to insult them, terrorizing them. The group of Protestant believers pray outdoors because their hall for religious functions was closed on the grounds that it was illegal.

The situation improved when a representative of the Bekasi Office for Religious Affairs, along with 200 policemen, arrived at the site.  Luspida Simanjutak, head pastor at the Hkbp church, told AsiaNews: ” We were forced to sign a pact with them, forcing us to stop our faith celebration but we strongly rejected the proposal. We asked the representative to help our congregation to leave the site without harm. Their goal is one and one alone, to eradicate all churches from Mustika Jaya”.

It is not the first time that the Hkbp church was targeted by Islamic extremists. “At Pondok Timur – continued the pastor – the Muslims have forced local government to outlaw the place where we held our services. They’ve already done so twice”.

That’s why different Hkbp communities decided to hold their services in an open field. Theopilus Bella an activist for interfaith dialogue, believes the incident last Sunday was premeditated. “Many of the faithful – he tells AsiaNews – received text messages from Islamic extremists which warned them of what they would do” and what in fact happened.

Despite threats by Islamic Rev. Simanjutak says that her community will continue to recite the Mass in the same place.

For years the Christians of Bekasi have been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists. Early in 2010, radical groups blocked religious services, prevented Christians from access to existing churches and stopped the construction of new churches. Since 2009, more than 17 churches have been affected by Islamic extremists. The Hkbp church, besides having to close its premises many times because deemed “illegal” in 2010, suffered the destruction of a church in 2004, after receiving permission to construct it.

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Bekasi,-insults-and-threats-from-Islamic-extremists-at-a-Protestant-prayer-meeting-18994.html#

Bibles with ‘Allah’ are Confiscated

 http://www.latimes. com/news/ nationworld/ world/la- fg-briefs30- 2009oct30, 0,7232083. story

 
October 30, 2009
 
MALAYSIA

Bibles with ‘Allah’ are confiscated

Malaysian authorities have confiscated more than 15,000 Bibles because they referred to “God” as “Allah,” a translation that has been banned in this Muslim-majority country, Christian church officials said.

The Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said authorities seized a consignment of 10,000 copies sent from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Kuching, in Sarawak state, on Sept. 11 because the Indonesian-language Bibles contained the word “Allah.”

An additional 5,100 Bibles, also imported from Indonesia, were seized in March, said an official from the Bible Society of Malaysia.

A Home Ministry official said he was not aware of the seizures.

Church officials say “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam but is an Arabic word that predates Islam.

West Java: Christians have won a court battle restoring the right to worship in their building in Depok

West Java.: Christians have won a court battle restoring the right to worship in their building in Depok

http://www.charisma mag.com/index. php/news/ 23489-indonesia- church-wins- legal-battle- to-worship- in-building

Christians have won a court battle restoring the right to worship in
their building in Depok City, West Java.

Depok Mayor Nur Mahmudi Ismail on March 27 had revoked the building
permit for a multipurpose building and house of worship for Gereja
Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) church following protests by
Muslims. A court in Bandung on Sept. 17 rescinded the order that
revoked the church building permit, paving the way for congregants to
resume worship there.

Head Judge A. Syaifullah read the decision of the three-judge panel,
which found the mayor’s reasoning for canceling the building permit
inadequate. The mayor had said that most people living near the church
objected to its building in Jalan Pesanggrahan IV, Cinere Area of
Depok City.

“These objections by the local residents should have been raised when
the building permit was going through the approval process, not
protesting afterwards,” said Syaifullah.

Syaifullah added that the mayor also should have taken the views of
church members into consideration.

“In this case, the revocation of the building permit was based upon
the objections of one group in the community without considering those
from the church,” he said.

Construction of the church building had begun in 1998, shortly after
the permit was issued, but halted soon afterward due to a lack of
funds.
When the project began anew in 2007, members of a Muslim group from
the Cinere Area of Depok City and neighboring villages damaged the
boundary hedge and posted protest banners on the walls of the
building. Most of the protestors were not local residents.

The court determined that lawyers for the church successfully
demonstrated that church leaders had followed all Depok City
procedures for the building permit. Betty Sitompul, vice-chair of the
HKBP church building committee, stated that the church court win was a
victory for all Christians.

“We won because we had followed all the procedures and had completed
all the required documents,” she said.

In early June the church had filed suit against the mayor’s action in
a provincial court in Bandung, with church lawyer Junimart Girsang
arguing that the mayor’s revocation of the permit was wrong.

Girsang said that the court had finally sided with justice for all Indonesians.

“The judges made the right decision and had no choice, because all of
the papers for the permit were done properly,” he said.

The church had been meeting in a naval facility located about five
kilometers (nearly three miles) from the church building since the
permit was revoked, causing great inconvenience for church members,
many of whom did not have their own transportation.

In South Sumatra Province, another HKBP church outside the provincial
capital city of Palembang is trying to overcome objections by Muslim
protestors in order to complete construction of its building in Plaju.

Church leaders acknowledge they had not finished the application
process for a permit before beginning construction. They said they
went forward because after they applied to the mayor of Palembang, he
told them to talk with the governor of South Sumatra. After talking
with Gov. Alex Noerdin and securing his approval on Feb. 10, church
leaders began construction on a donated plot of 1,500 square meters
only to face a demonstration by members of several Muslim
organizations on June 27.

The South Sumatra Muslim Forum (FUI Sumsel) organized the
demonstration. Carrying a copy of a mayoral decree dated May 2009
ordering a halt to construction, the protestors gathered outside the
building site, listened to speeches and then destroyed a bridge
leading to it before demanding that the government ban the building
project.

Applications for church permits are often fraught with difficulty in
Indonesia, leaving many congregations no choice but to worship in
private homes, hotels or rented conference facilities. Such gatherings
leave churches open to threats and intimidation from activist groups
such as the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front), in recent
years responsible for the closure of many unregistered churches.

———— –

Moslem in China: The Uighur say Beijing’s repression of their culture led to the outburst of violence [EPA]

Tuesday, July 07, 2009
12:36 Mecca time, 09:36 GMT
 
FOCUS: CHINA  
 
Uighurs blame ‘ethnic hatred’
 
 By Dinah Gardner in Beijing  
The Uighur say Beijing’s repression of their culture led to the outburst of violence [EPA]
 

The riots that rocked the city of Urumqi in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region are the area’s worst for more than a decade. 

In the 1990s, Uighur insurgent groups staged several deadly bomb attacks across the region; in 2008, attacks on police and government targets in Xinjiang ended with more than two dozen deaths.

What makes these riots different, however, is the high number of causalities. Exile groups say violence erupted after police moved in on Sunday to break up a peaceful demonstration protesting against the killing of two Uighur migrant workers in southern China last month.

Many Uighurs – the Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic minority of the region – and overseas scholars say the recent violence is rooted in deep-seated and long-standing resentment between the Uighur people and the Han Chinese majority, who account for 92 per cent of the population.

Andrew James Nathan, a political science professor at Columbia University in the US, says deteriorating relations between the Uighur and the Han are to blame for the latest riots.

“I don’t know what triggered this specific event, but the underlying tension that broke out in this as well as previous events reflects the alienation of the Uighur residents from the kind of rule imposed by Beijing, which is insufficiently respectful of their culture, religion, identity, and interests,” he says.

Ethnic tensions persist

From her exile in the US, Kadeer denied any involvement in the unrest in Xinjiang [AFP] 

The government, though, is clear about who is to blame – outside forces, in particular Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of the US-based World Uighur Congress (WUC).

“The unrest was a pre-emptive, organised, [and a] violent crime. It was instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country,” a government spokesperson said.

Kadeer, a former political prisoner in China who now runs the WUC as a Uighur rights organisation, rejects the accusations.

“I did not organise any protests or call on the people to demonstrate, ” she says.

A young Uighur man, who has been living in Beijing for the past five years, agreed to an interview on the condition that he remain anonymous, saying he feared repercussions from the authorities.

He says Kadeer and the WUC could not have been behind the violence.

“Ever since I was born until now there has been this problem between Uighur and Han,” he says.

“Han people don’t treat us or our culture with any respect, and the key thing is that there are more and more Han coming to live in Xinjiang. And that means us Uighur people are losing our culture and we have less freedoms.”

Relations are so bad, he says, that Han taxi drivers will not even pick him up on the streets of Urumqi.

Uighur children, he says, are barred from learning their own language in schools – from middle school onward studies are solely in Chinese.

“They don’t allow us to teach our children about Islam in schools. They are not allowed to study religion until they are at least 18.”

“They have taken away our language and our culture. Han people treat us like dirt.”

Outside forces

Tensions had been reaching boiling point in the past week or so after the deaths of the two Uighur migrant workers. They were killed in a fight in a toy factory in Guangdong province following a rumour that six Uighur men had raped two Han Chinese women.

While Chinese media is acknowledging the link between the Urumqi riots and the tragic killings in Guangdong, it is insisting that outside forces used the incident “in the name of revenge” to “sow the seeds of racial and religious hatred in Xinjiang”.

Al Jazeera approached several Chinese scholars for comment on the riots in Xinjiang but they declined to be interviewed, saying they do not have permission to discuss the issue with journalists.

The killings were definitely the spark for this latest violence, says Dru Gladney, a professor of anthropology and Xinjiang specialist at Pomona College in California.

“I think it is connected [with the Guangdong killings] at least that’s what I’ve been told by Uighurs I have spoken to,” Gladney says, adding that this time because the violence took place in Urumqi it is likely the protest is rooted in anger at Han treatment rather than any religious-based fight for independence.

“I think it was significant that it took place in Urumqi because Uighurs there only make up about 10 per cent of the population,” he explains by phone.

“Most protests have historically been outside Urumqi, in rural areas in the south or in Yili in the north … There are more worker solidarity issues [in Urumqi] – a lot of the Uighur intellectuals and more secular nationalist Uighurs are based in urban areas like Urumqi whereas more religious activists are in the countryside and places like Kashgar.”

Blaming insurgent groups

Beijing says the insurgent groups are fighting for independence and may be connected to al-Qaeda, but for the average Uighur, independence seems an unattainable dream.

The young Uighur man in Beijing says his people are powerless and it is useless pursuing notions of independence.

“China has caught and suppressed our culture and religion. They have destroyed our history and our ancient buildings in Kashgar. And now it’s all gone.”

Meanwhile, in Urumqi, the city is under lock-down, according to western media. Curfews have been imposed and mobile phone and Internet links cut, much as authorities crushed anti-government riots in Tibet last year.

Despite the crackdown, the chances are, say scholars, that this is not the end of it.

“Protests in Xinjiang have been increasing slowly for many years and I think the prospect is that they will continue to occur, both this year and in future years,” says Nathan.

Anniversary celebrations

Some analysts hope the level of violence will convince Beijing to heal rifts with the Uighur

The government is particularly on edge this year because of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.

While officially, the government insists this problem is caused by exile separatists and local “outlaws”, Gladney is hopeful that the scale of the violence will convince Beijing that the solution lies less in an authoritarian approach and more in trying to heal the rifts between the ethnic groups.

“I think some of us are hoping that it may cause them to rethink their strike hard tactics that they’ve used up until now, but certainly not until things settle down,” he says. “Clearly with this level of [violence] it should cause them to really rethink that.”

How do the local people see an eventual solution to the ethnic strife?

The Uighur man strokes his beard and laughs nervously.

“I don’t know how to solve this problem,” he says. “I wish I was in Xinjiang now but I’m not there. I feel helpless.”

 
 Source: Al Jazeera

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney

By Paul Craig Roberts

May 21, 2009 “Information Clearing House” — – America has lost her soul, and so has her president.

A despairing country elected a president who promised change. Americans arrived from every state to witness in bitter cold Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The mall was packed in a way that it has never been for any other president.
The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.
The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.
Obama has not been in office four months and already a book could be written about his broken promises.
Obama said he would close the torture prison, Guantanamo, and abolish the kangaroo courts known as military tribunals. But now he says he is going to reform the tribunals and continue the process, but without confessions obtained with torture. Getting behind Obama’s validation of the Bush/Cheney policy, House Democrats pulled the budget funding that was to be used for closing Guantanamo.
The policy of kidnapping people (usually on the basis of disinformation supplied by their enemies) and whisking them off to Third World prisons to be interrogated is to be continued. Again, Obama has substituted a “reform” for his promise to abolish an illegal policy. Rendition, Obama says, has also been reformed and will no longer involve torture. How would anyone know? Is Obama going to assign a U.S. government agent to watch over the treatment given to disappeared people by Third World thugs? Given the proclivity of American police to brutalize U.S. citizens, nothing can save the victims of rendition from torture.
Obama has defended the Bush/Cheney warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency and broadened the government’s legal argument that “sovereign immunity” protects government officials from prosecution and civil suits when they violate U.S. law and constitutional protections of citizens. Obama’s Justice Department has taken up the defense of Donald Rumsfeld against a case brought by detainees whose rights Rumsfeld violated.
In a signing statement this month, Obama abandoned his promise to protect whistleblowers who give information of executive branch illegality to Congress.
Obama is making even more expansive claims of executive power than Bush. As Bruce Fein puts it: “In principle, President Obama is maintaining that victims of constitutional wrongdoing by the U.S. government should be denied a remedy in order to prevent the American people and the world at large from learning of the lawlessness perpetrated in the name of national security and exacting political and legal accountability. ”
Obama, in other words, is committed to covering up the Bush regime’s crimes and to ensuring that his own regime can continue to operate in the same illegal and unconstitutional ways.
Obama is fighting the release of the latest batch of horrific torture photos that have come to light. Obama claims that release of the photos would anger insurgents and cause them to kill our troops. That, of course, is nonsense. Those resisting occupation of their land by U.S. troops and NATO mercenaries are already dedicated to killing our troops, and they know that Americans torture whomever they capture. Obama is fighting the release of the photos because he knows the barbaric image that the photos present of the U.S. military will undermine the public’s support for the wars that enrich the military/security complex, appease the Israel Lobby, and repay the campaign contributions that elect the U.S. government.
As for bringing the troops home from Iraq, this promise, too, has been reformed. To the consternation of his supporters, Obama is leaving 50,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The others are being sent to Afghanistan and to Pakistan, where on Obama’s watch war has broken out big time with already one million refugees from the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
Meanwhile, war with Iran remains a possibility, and at Washington’s insistence, NATO is conducting war games on former Soviet territory, thus laying the groundwork for future enrichment of the U.S. military/security complex. The steeply rising U.S. unemployment rate will provide the needed troops for Obama’s expanding wars.
Obama can give a great speech without mangling the language. He can smile and make people believe his rhetoric. The world, or much of it, seems to be content with the soft words that now drape Dick Cheney’s policies in pursuit of executive supremacy and U.S. hegemony.

Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review.


U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Weere Sodomized In Iraq Prison

U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Were Sodomized In Iraq Prison

By Washington’s Blog

May 21, 2009 “Washington’s Blog” —  Many people have heard Pulitzer prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh’s claim that boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib and that the Pentagon has video of the rapes.

Many people think that they’ll believe it when and if they ever see the video. But we don’t need to wait for the military to release the videos. There is already proof that Hersh is right.
For example, the Guardian wrote in 2004:

The October 12 memorandum, reported in the Washington Post…came to light as more details emerged of the extent of detainee abuse. Formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator.. .

According to the leaked memorandum … it also called for military intelligence officials to work more closely with the military police guards at the prison to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses”. ..

In the Washington Post report, one detainee, Kasim Hilas, describes the rape of an Iraqi boy by a man in uniform, whose name has been blacked out of the statement, but who appears to be a translator working for the army.
“I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass,” Mr Hilas told military investigators. “I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.”

It is not clear from the testimony whether the rapist described by Mr Hilas was working for a private contractor or was a US soldier…

Another inmate, Thaar Dawod, describes more abuse of teenage Iraqis. “They came with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Grainer [Corporal Charles Graner, one of the military policemen facing court martial] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners,” he said.

More convincingly, the Telegraph wrote in 2004:

America was braced last night for new allegations of torture in Iraq after military officials said that photographs apparently showing US soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death and having sex with a female PoW were about to be released.

The officials told the US television network NBC that other images showed soldiers “acting inappropriately with a dead body”. A videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys.

(If that link becomes broken, see this).

There you have it: the Telegraph implied in 2004 that U.S. officials admitted that there was a video of guards raping boys. Even if the Telegraph’s implication is wrong, there is strong evidence that such rapes did in fact occur as Hersh said.

And whether or not any of the rapists were U.S. soldiers or contractors, at the very least, American soldiers aided and abetted the rape by standing around and taking videos and photographs.

Whether or not Obama releases the photographic evidence, he must prosecute all of those who committed such atrocities, stood around and watched, ordered them to be committed, or created an environment in which they could occur.