Category Archives: South Asia

A crucial moment for women’s rights in Afghanistan

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article by Heather Barr in Human Rights Watch

This is a moment of both fear and hope for Afghan women — and an urgent time for the world to support their hard-won rights. The Feb. 29 deal between the US and the Taliban could pave the way for a peace that Afghans desperately seek. But there are huge risks for women’s rights in this process.


Women walk along a street in the old part of Kabul on February 29, 2020. Women across the country are nervous about losing their hard-won freedoms in the pursuit of peace.  © 2020 WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

Women have suffered deeply during Afghanistan’s 40 years of war, and they desperately long for peace. They have also fought ferociously for equality in the years since the fall of the Taliban government and have made great progress. Today there are women ministers and governors and judges and police and soldiers, and Afghanistan’s parliament has a higher percentage of women than does the US Congress.

But Afghan women’s rights activists have faced resistance from the Afghan government — and lack of support from international donors — as they fought for their rightful place at the negotiating table for peace talks. This exclusion, combined with the Taliban’s relentless discrimination against women and girls, increases fears that women’s rights could easily be a casualty of this process.

The US-Taliban deal is focused on foreign troop withdrawal and preventing Taliban support for international terrorism attacks. It also triggers “intra-Afghan” talks between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other factions, which are slated to start March 10. But women’s rights were not included in the Feb. 29 deal. Zalmay Khalilzad, the lead US envoy to the talks, repeatedly said that women’s rights — and other issues relating to human rights, political structures and power sharing — should be resolved through the subsequent intra-Afghan talks. This has been a source of frustration to activists.

The Taliban remain deeply misogynistic. Their 1996 to 2001 regime was notorious for denying women and girls access to education, employment, freedom of movement and health care, and subjecting them to violence including public lashing or execution by stoning. Taliban rhetoric and conduct has moderated somewhat in subsequent years, with some Taliban commanders permitting girls to attend primary schools, typically in response to community pressure. But the Taliban also continue to carry out violent attacks against girls’ schools and block women and girls from exercising many of their basic rights, and remain deeply opposed to gender equality.

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Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

Is peace possible in Afghanistan?

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In February, a Taliban leader wrote, “[W]e together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected.” Skeptics noted the comma separating women from equal rights, and that from 1996 to 2001 the Taliban also argued that women were enjoying all rights “granted by Islam.”

The Afghan government has been an unreliable supporter — and sometimes even an enemy — of women’s rights. The administrations of both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani have frequently brushed aside women’s rights. Both have mostly rebuffed activists’ demands for women to have full participation in the peace process, as provided under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Foreign donors have been more willing to engage in photo ops and grant agreements than to expend political capital to press for Afghan women to be in the room, at the table, during negotiations.

Lack of clarity about the intra-Afghan talks and the designated negotiators has further heightened fears about the implications for women’s rights. Political infighting following the disputed Afghan presidential election has delayed the appointment of the government negotiation team. Pressure to divvy up these roles among power brokers threatens to squeeze women out. The absence of clear information about what country will host the talks and who will facilitate them prevents women’s rights activists from lobbying for including women.

A fight over whether a release of prisoners will move ahead is muddying the waters further and calling into question the timeline for the intra-Afghan talks. Meanwhile, violence, reduced ahead of the deal’s signing, threatens to escalate again.

Several years back it was common to hear Afghan feminists argue that there should be no negotiations with the Taliban — a group that refused to recognize women’s full humanity. Today those calls are all but gone. Even the staunchest women’s rights activists have mostly accepted that there is no path to peace in Afghanistan but through negotiations with the Taliban.

But protecting women’s rights needs to be one of the key objectives of this process, and for that to happen, women need to be at the negotiating table. Governments increasingly recognize that the role of women in peace processes is not just an afterthought, but critical to sustainable and implementable peace accords. The Afghan government and all its international partners need to back Afghan women, who are in the fight of their lives.

International Criminal Court Offers Hope to Afghanistan’s Victims

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article by Patricia Gossman from Human Rights Watch (reprinted according to Creative Commons License)

Afghans who are skeptical about whether the US-Taliban agreement  and planned intra-Afghan peace talks  can deliver a better future, now have reason to believe that justice might not be squandered in the process. Today, judges on the International Criminal Court  (ICC) authorized the court’s prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003. 


Afghan family leaves site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 22, 2016.  © 2016 Reuters

It was a rocky road to get here. In November 2017, after a more than 10-year analysis of the Afghanistan situation, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court to approve an investigation  into alleged crimes, including targeted attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other insurgents; torture, rape, and enforced disappearances by Afghan police and security forces; and torture by the United States military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

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Question related to this article:

Can the International Criminal Court provide justice?

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Despite acknowledging the court’s jurisdiction over the crimes and that Afghanistan was making no effort to seek accountability, an ICC pre-trial chamber rejected the investigation  as not being in the “interests of justice.” In the ruling, the judges noted that “changes within the relevant political landscape” – likely referring to the US-Taliban talks as well as the Trump administration’s public attacks  on the ICC – would make an investigation too difficult. 

But in today’s decision, the appeals chamber overruled the lower court’s interpretation of the court’s founding treaty – which had been widely criticized, including by Human Rights Watch  – and allowed the investigation to go ahead. 

Coming amidst genuine movement toward peace talks, the ruling is an important reminder of the costs of impunity. The Bonn Agreement, signed in December 2001 after the defeat of the Taliban government, failed to provide justice for rights violations by all sides and fueled further atrocities by allowing serious human rights abusers to maintain official and unofficial positions of power. 

Today’s decision reaffirms the ICC’s role as an institution that might change these dynamics by challenging entrenched impunity. It has offered Afghans who have long sought justice hope that they may one day see it realized.  

Amnesty International: New generation of young activists lead fight against worsening repression in Asia

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article from Amnesty International

A wave of youth-led protests across Asia is defying escalating repression and a continent-wide crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said today as it published its annual report on human rights in the region.

‘Human Rights in Asia-Pacific: A review of 2019’, which includes a detailed analysis of human rights developments in 25 countries and territories, describes how a new generation of activists are fighting back against brutal crackdowns on dissent, poisonous social media operations and widespread political censorship.

“2019 was a year of repression in Asia, but also of resistance. As governments across the continent attempt to uproot fundamental freedoms, people are fighting back – and young people are at the forefront of the struggle,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific.

“From students in Hong Kong leading a mass movement against growing Chinese encroachment, to students in India protesting against anti-Muslim policies; from Thailand’s young voters flocking to a new opposition party to Taiwan’s pro LGBTI-equality demonstrators. Online and offline, youth-led popular protests are challenging the established order.” 

Hong Kong’s defiance echoes across the world

China and India, Asia’s two largest powers, set the tone for repression across the region with their overt rejection of human rights. Beijing’s backing of an Extradition Bill for Hong Kong, giving the local government the power to extradite suspects to the mainland, ignited mass protests in the territory on an unprecedented scale.

Since June, Hong Kongers have regularly taken to the streets to demand accountability in the face of abusive policing tactics that have included the wanton use of tear gas, arbitrary arrests, physical assaults and abuses in detention. This struggle against the established order has been repeated all over the continent.

In India, millions decried a new law that discriminates against Muslims in a swell of peaceful demonstrations. In Indonesia, people rallied against parliament’s enactment of several laws that threatened public freedoms. In Afghanistan, marchers risked their safety to demand an end to the country’s long-running conflict. In Pakistan, the non-violent Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement defied state repression to mobilize against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

Dissent met with crackdown

Peaceful protests and dissent were frequently met with retribution by the authorities.

Protesters faced arrest and jail in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand as repressive governments across South-East Asia took severe steps to silence their opponents and muzzle the media.

In Indonesia, several people were killed as police clamped down on protests with excessive force. Yet few steps were taken to hold anyone to account for the deaths; no police were arrested nor were any suspects identified. 

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, activists and journalists alike were targeted by draconian laws that restrict freedom of expression and punish dissent online.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article or here for a French version.)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

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And in Hong Kong, police deployed reckless and indiscriminate tactics to quell peaceful protests, including torture in detention. Demands for a proper investigation into the conduct of the security forces have yet to be met.

“The authorities’ attempts to crush any form of criticism and suppress freedom of expression were as ruthless as they were predictable, with those daring to speak out against repressive governments often paying a high price,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director.

“Asians are told their aspirations for fairer societies are fantasies; that economic disparities can’t be addressed; that global warming is inexorable and natural catastrophes unavoidable. Most emphatically of all, they are told that challenging this narrative will not be tolerated,” said Biraj Patnaik.

Minorities feel the weight of intolerant nationalism

In India and China, the mere risk of insubordination in nominally autonomous areas has been enough to trigger the full force of the state, with minorities conveniently deemed a threat to “national security.”

In the Chinese province of Xinjiang, up to a million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been forcibly detained in “de-radicalization” camps. 
 
Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, saw its special autonomous status revoked as authorities imposed a curfew, cut access to all communications and detained political leaders.

In Sri Lanka, where anti-Muslim violence erupted in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dimmed hopes of human rights progress. Another self-styled strongman, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, continued his murderous “war on drugs.”

Governments have tried to justify repression by demonizing their critics as pawns of “foreign forces” and to bolster that repression through sophisticated social media operations. Neither ASEAN nor SAARC, the two main regional bodies, tried to hold their members to account, even in the case of gross human rights violations.

It has been left to the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity committed by the Myanmar military in Rakhine State against the Rohingya in 2017. The court is also looking into the thousands of killings carried out by police in the Philippines, and hearing an appeal on its decision not to authorize an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Australia’s egregious offshore detention policies left refugees and asylum-seekers languishing in deteriorating physical and mental condition on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, Papua New Guinea.

Progress against the odds

People speaking out against these atrocities were routinely punished, but their standing up made a difference. There were many examples where efforts to achieve human rights progress in Asia paid off.

In Taiwan, same-sex marriage became legal following tireless campaigning by activists. In Sri Lanka, lawyers and activists successfully campaigned against the resumption of executions.

Brunei was forced to backtrack on enforcing laws to make adultery and sex between men punishable by stoning, while former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took the stand on corruption charges for the first time.  

The Pakistani government pledged to tackle climate change and air pollution, and two women were appointed as judges on the Maldivian Supreme Court for the first time.

And in Hong Kong, the power of protest forced the government to withdraw the Extradition Bill. Yet, with no accountability for months of abuses against demonstrators, the fight goes on.

“Protesters across Asia in 2019 were bloodied, but not broken. They were stifled, but not silenced. And together, they sent a message of defiance to the governments who continue to violate human rights in pursuit of tightening their grip on power,” said Nicholas Bequelin.

Iran: Children from 41 countries participated in the Global Campaign for the Prevention of Child Marriage

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

Sent to CPNN by Mr. Daniel Petrosiyan

Child Marriage is fundamental violation of human rights, which depriving children from their right to education, health and safety. The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, estimates more than 650 million women alive today had been married off when they were before the age of 18. The statistical analysis show that If child marriage had continued, more than 150 million girls will marry by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have set a target To eliminate child, early or forced marriage by 2030.

According to SDG 5.3 which has targeted the end child of marriage by 2030, Shahin Gavanji and Jahangir Gavanji launched a new international program in 2019 which is called “Painting your dreams for your future”, and invite all children in world to stand against child marriage. In this program they asked all children in the world to paint their dreams for their future.

In the campaign all children in the world were invited to Join the program in taking action to advance gender equality and end child marriage, and children announced that they are artists of their life, and let them to paint their dreams for their future.

Question related to this article:

How can this program help societies to end child marriage?

The campaign received 1869 painting from 41 countries in the world (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mauritius, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Turkey, Thailand, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Egypt, Lebanon, Canada, Romania, Sri Lanka, Somalia, The United States, Iraq, Philippines, The United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Malaysia, Italy, Zimbabwe, Croatia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Bahrain, Uganda, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kenya), and children send a united message that Child marriages should be banned and together we can make world free of child marriage.

The goals of this campaign:

Raising awareness on child marriage and declares the negative impacts on overall development, prosperity, and stability.

Send a message that education is a powerful strategy in keeping girls from child marriage, since educated youth paves the way for a better future for the country and every child has the right to dream for his or hers future and it’s a duty of parents to help and encourage them.

Calling the attention of governments to reinforce their commitment to end child marriage by 2030.

(Editor’s note: the World Academy of Medical Sciences informs us that “In this program, more than 31000 brochure were delivered to people in 31 cities in Iran and helped Iranian people getting them informed in full knowledge of the harmful effects of child marriage on physical and mental health. The campaign encourages people to read the brochure thoroughly and share it with families and friends.”)

Iran: Educational program for parents was held by the First National Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse in IRAN

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

Sent to CPNN by Mr. Daniel Petrosiyan

Child abuse is one of the most ignored issues in IRAN. The First National Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse in IRAN (FNCPCA) has held street classes by Shahin Gavanji and Jahangir Gavanji for more than 15000 parents in 31 cities of Iran. In this plan they made small changes in teaching and the parents got familiar with many forms of child abuse and important points to prevent abuse and ways to help their child.

Some parents don’t have free time to attend in classes or conference about this delicate issues so,the purpose of this campaign was to use the time of parents in street and educate them between 5 to 10 minutes with the important ways to protect children and ask them to get involved with other parents in their communities.

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Question related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

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In these classes the important points to prevent child abuse were put in an A4 brochure and presented to parents in the main parks and square of each province. The content of brochures include the:

* Different types of child abuse

* Identifying signs of child abuse

* How to support children including psychological and emotional support

* What we should do when we are the witness of child abuse

We tried to explain all information in the short time and asked them to read the brochure,

The goals of this campaign:

* Face to face meetings with parents and creating supportive environments to empower parents and help them to access with the necessary information to raise and protect their children in a safe place.

* Calling attention to child abuse

* Helping communities to reduce child abuse

* Using the times of parents availability for them to learn important points about prevention of child abuse

Bangladesh: Rohingya children get access to education

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article from Amnesty International

The Bangladesh government has announced it will offer schooling and skills training opportunities to Rohingya refugee children, two and a half years after they were forced to flee crimes against humanity in Myanmar.


Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have been campaigning for the nearly half a million Rohingya children in Bangladesh’s refugee camps to be allowed to enjoy their right to quality education, warning of the costs of a ‘lost generation’.

“This is an important and very positive commitment by the Bangladeshi government, allowing children to access schooling and chase their dreams for the future. They have lost two academic years already and cannot afford to lose any more time outside a classroom,” said Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

“It is important that access to appropriate, accredited and quality education be extended to all children in the Cox’s Bazar area, including Rohingya refugees and the host community. The international community has a key role to play here in ensuring the Bangladesh government has the resources it needs to realize this goal.”

Up to now, the Bangladesh government had resisted calls to grant Rohingya refugee children access to education, limiting learning opportunities to a few provisional learning centres that offer playtime and early primary school lessons scattered across the refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district. A few children who managed to gain access to local secondary schools were expelled on the government’s instructions.

Amid fears of either being forcibly returned to Myanmar or relocated offshore to the uninhabited silt isle of Bashan Char, these children have faced an uncertain future. Many were on the verge of completing their schooling when the Myanmar military attacked their villages, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh and throwing their lives into limbo.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary, Masud bin Momen, told journalists today: “The government has felt the need to keep Rohingya childrens’ hope for the future alive with extending education and skills training to them.”

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Question related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

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Under the government’s plans, Rohingya refugee children will get school education up to the age of 14, through the provision of the Myanmar curriculum, and children older than 14 will get skills training. The schools will need adequately trained teachers who can use the Myanmar curriculum and teach in Burmese.

A pilot project led by UNICEF and the Bangladesh government will start off with the involvement of 10,000 children. The scheme will then be extended to other children, including those from the host community, who will be taught separately according to Bangladesh’s national curriculum.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, a binding treaty which Bangladesh has ratified, makes clear that education can and should ensure the development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential while enhancing respect for human rights and preparing them for a responsible life in a free society.

“The benefits of educating children cannot be underestimated, with the positive effects rippling through their communities and broader society. They can speak up for themselves, claim their rights, and lift themselves and others out of a difficult situation. But the costs of denying children education can be severe, including leaving them vulnerable to poverty and exploitation. We welcome this significant breakthrough and look forward to the government delivering on its commitments,” said Saad Hammadi.

Amnesty International’s campaign for the right to education

On World Refugee Day last year, Amnesty International held an ‘art camp’ for children in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar. Working with a group of Bangladeshi artists, they spent two days drawing sketches depicting their aspirations for the future – some of whom wanted to become teachers, doctors, pilots and nurses. In collaboration with UNICEF, the works of art were exhibited in Dhaka and later made their way to Washington DC, London and other major world cities.

In August 2019, Amnesty International published a briefing, “I don’t know what my future will be”: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, detailing conditions in the camps, particularly for children who had not seen the inside of a class room since arriving in the camps in 2017.

Amnesty International also launched a global petition, calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to ensure children in the refugee camps and the host community are provided quality education. 

Two of Bangladesh’s best-known YouTube stars developed a hip-hop music video in collaboration with Amnesty International, echoing the petition’s call.

Tens of thousands march in southern India to protest citizenship law

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article by Vinod Babu and Manoj Kumar from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Over one hundred thousand protesters, many carrying the Indian tricolour flag, took part in a peaceful march in the southern city of Hyderabad on Saturday [January 4], chanting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law.


Demonstrators hold placards and flags as they attend a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Hyderabad, India, January 4, 2020. REUTERS/Vinod Babu

The protest, dubbed the ‘Million March’, was organized by an umbrella group of Muslim and civil society organizations. More than 40 percent of Hyderabad’s estimated population of nearly 7 million are Muslims.

Demonstrators were still pouring into the protest site late on Saturday afternoon, according to a Reuters witness, despite police saying no march would be allowed and that permission had only been granted for a 1,000-person gathering.

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Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

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The Indian government has faced weeks of acrimonious and, at times, violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed by Modi’s government in December.

The Hyderabad protesters held placards with slogans including “Withdraw CAA immediately,” and “India’s only religion in Secularism.”

The Reuters witness said the protest remained peaceful, and estimated that more than one hundred thousand people were in attendance.

The new law eases the path for non-Muslim minorities from the neighboring Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship. But, if combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics of the CAA fear it will discriminate against minority Muslims in India and chip away at India’s secular constitution.

Modi’s government maintains the new law is necessary to help minorities facing persecution in Muslim-majority nations, and it has called the pan-India protests politically motivated.

At least 25 people have been killed in protest-related clashes with police since early December.

Elsewhere, protests against the CAA also went ahead in several other Indian cities on Saturday with hundreds turning out for protests in cities in the southern state of Karnataka.

Hundreds of men and women gathered at a rally in the tech hub of Bengaluru, with some accusing Modi’s government of trying to divide India along communal lines, to distract from a sharp domestic economic slowdown and job losses.

Nagaland, India: Festival on ‘cultures of peace’ underway in Kohima

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the Nagaland Post

Peace activist, Niketu Iralu suggested that Northeast India must come together to create a wider common stability through a platform or meetings to achieve development in the region. 


Photo from culture of peace seminar

To this, he said change was needed to achieve for development and added that without stability, peace, mutual trust and cooperation, the neighbouring community cannot grow together. 

He was speaking at the two-day festival on “Cultures of peace” which began at Kohima on Monday organised by Zubaan, the Heinrich Boell Foundation in collaboration with Morung Express.

Iralu viewed that if one dealt with these issues, one could build mutual trust, while also apologising in times of need was important for the region. 

Iralu believes that Northeast region will be able to see wider common stability and to do that, the people needed to go to one another and express their concern to neighbouring states to build up the relationship.

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Questions for this article:

Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

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Stating that the region is a fragile community, he said if NE stays united, it can become very strong as the region was in sensitive, strategic meeting point. 

He opined that “if we cannot solve our common problem, we will be used by others or used other for immediate instant desire for vengeance for ourselves, such community will not survive.”

He was also of the view that northeast has to do away with the culture of bandh and that calling a bandh will not solve problems. 

Towards this end, Iralu maintained that the bandh is not at all sustainable, but that people have to think to serve for more sustainable doctrine revolution and society building.  

While mentioning that the aspirations of each state was sacred and varied according to the geography, Iralu said “we forget our responsibility to be worthy of our aspiration, we have to have our aspiration declared and have the world respect, we must live life in such a way, we will began to solve our problems, the problems that the quality of our  life’s will be solved.”

He said “our aspiration, our slogans are very young compared to the other around us, recently declared and defended, they have been ignored or treated with, sense of superiority by other people of India.”

Earlier, short introductions were given by publisher of Morung Express, Akum Longchari. Chock Tsering of Heinrich Boell Foundation India, said the culture of peace aimed to bridge the gap between Northeast and mainland India to bring them closer through such events. 

Highlight of day included panel discussion among chairman of Kohima Educational Society, P. Ngully, dean, School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Guwahati, Xonzoi Barbora, senior journalist and writer,  Pradip Phanjoubam, moderated by advisor, Naga Mothers Association (NMA), prof. Dr. Rosemary Dzuvichu.

Nepal urges concrete plans to tackle climate emergency

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Lok Raj Joshi based on articles in The Himayan Times, The Kathmandu Post , the UN climate Summit and the United Nations Climate Change website.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Conference of Parties, COP-25) is in progress in Madrid, Spain. The event started on December 2 and will conclude on December 13. Heads of state/governments and environment ministers from 197 countries as well as representatives of various organizations working in the climate change sector are participating. The conference aims to negotiate plans to limit global warming in line with the Paris Agreement. Under the Paris Agreement, governments had agreed to update their climate plans by 2020.


(Click on image to enlarge.)

However, it has been reported that a little (not much) progress has been made till now in COP-25 on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement that calls for minimizing unfair carbon markets. It needs to be noted that carbon emission is the prime cause of global warming. It has also been reported that responsible parties are far from finding compromise positions on mobilizing finance and support for loss and damage. This has drawn huge attention from the victims of global warming, climate scientists, social justice protesters and people around the globe. An estimated 500,000 people, led by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg marched through Madrid on Friday night. One million people marched in Santiago, Chile.

A government team from Nepal led by the Minister for Forests and Environment, Shakti Bahadur Basnet, is taking part in COP-25. He is scheduled to address the special session of COP-25 on Wednesday. Nepal is going to propose formulating a plan for coping with the adverse conditions resulting from global warming. Nepal is also lobbying for the Green Climate Fund. Highly affected countries like Nepal are entitled to receive it as compensation from the responsible countries that are releasing large quantity of carbon into the atmosphere.

Although Nepal has not been able to raise the issue of global warming strongly in the international forums, Nepal is serious about the disasters caused by it. Scientific evidence clearly shows that Nepal is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the planet and it is already facing the disasters of the man-made global warming. The latest landmark study in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, which covers 3,500 kilometres across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan, has projected an alarming future for economically and geographically challenged developing countries like Nepal. The study by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has concluded that the region would lose one-third of the region’s glaciers by the end of the century.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Considering the geographical and economic characteristics of Nepal, climate change is an urgent matter for Nepalese people. First, its northern region is comprised of the snow-covered Himalaya mountains including the top of the earth Sagarmatha (internationally famous as The Mount Everest) and the south is the Terai (plain area). The middle hilly region is mostly dependent on water flowing from the Himalayas and the crops from the Terai. The Terai itself depends on water from the north and supplies food to the rest of the nation. This relationship makes the adverse effects of global warming even more complex, more intense and more widespread creating a vicious cycle of disasters in Nepal. Second, agriculture and tourism based on natural beauties including the Himalayas, rivers, glaciers, lakes, jungles and wild animals are the major sources of income for Nepal. Hydroelectricity is the most potential area that is expected to contribute to realization of the Nepalese dream of prosperity. Unfortunately, these all have been the first targets of global warming.

For us, the Nepalese people, it is unfortunate to see the reluctance of the responsible parties to accept the scientific conclusions regarding global warming and to internalize the gravity of the adversities caused by it. Its serious adverse effects which are unpredictable at the same time, have threatened the livelihood of the Nepalese people. In the most recent instance of extreme weather events in the country, incessant heavy rainfalls, floods and landslides claimed more than five dozen lives in various parts of the country. 


The Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Oli has said, “The country is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change although our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is negligible. Rising temperature, retreating glaciers, erratic rainfall and extreme weather events are causing damages to our people and economy. The climate is becoming more vulnerable and unpredictable. We received a delayed monsoon. We also had first tornado in our recorded history. As a result of rapid industrialization, the adverse impact of climate change is also increasing. Some countries are well prepared to deal with them, but countries like Nepal are most vulnerable. I urge scientists to consider small mountainous and small-island nations while preparing the report.” This is what Prime Minister Oli said addressing the Second Lead Authors Meeting of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC Working Group (II) held in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, in July this year.

More than 260 climate scientists from more than 60 countries and bureau members IPCC had gathered to discuss the pressing issue. As an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, the IPCC provides scientific evidence of climate change; its impact on various sectors. It also informs about the natural, political and economic impacts of global warming along with possible solutions. “Meeting here in Kathmandu reminds us in a very direct way of the strong interdependence of human and natural systems, and how both are threatened by climate change. Key aspects of our report and reasons to act on climate change are very evident here,” said Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.

From the global viewpoint, no country in the world is going to benefit from global warming in the long run. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all people around the world to tackle this issue wisely and timely. No development can be called a real development when it does not care about the future of humanity and the home planet. Also, it is not only a pure environmental issue; it is a case of social injustice too. Innocent people are facing the dreadful consequences of irresponsible activities by others. It is high time that all environmental scientists, youths, civil societies, political leaders and all responsible citizens around the world raise their voice to make all the concerned parties realize the gravity of the issue and take appropriate actions without any delay.

Nepal: A senior supports grand seniors with walking sticks

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article by Lok Raj Joshi based on a news article in Kantipur

Mr. Chandra Prasad Acharya has started a unique campaign to support the senior citizens. He himself is now 63 years old, retired from a middle income government job. At his own expense, he buys the raw materials and prepares walking wooden sticks for senior citizens. He then draws beautiful images of birds, fishes or flowers on the sticks. To deliver these gifts, he visits the elders on his own and for those who live far away, he posts them through their relatives.

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“For elders, stick is like a family member and a close friend as it is not possible for their sons and daughters to be with them 24 hours. That’s why I have started this campaign.”- Mr. Acharya explained.

Mr. Acharya initially planned to distribute the supports to 108 seniors above 80 years but later he came to realize that many of them will be left aside. Then he decided to make it 1008. These figures, 108 and 1008, carry special meaning in religious practice, he believes. In the last 8 months, his gifts have reached 550 senior citizens. He shared his joyful experience of delivering his gift to Mr. Nandalal Phunyal, 108 years old.

Mr. Acharya is currently targeting the seniors in his neighborhood in Khotang district in the eastern Nepal and thinking of reaching out to all above 100 years throughout the nation later. His friends are also happy to see his enthusiasm.

His campaign is a good example of culture of peace that expresses love and respect for senior citizens and supports them through efforts at an individual level. It shows that generosity is about great hearts rather than thick purses. His energy also indicates that being retired does not mean being tired.