இவற்றிற்கான களஞ்சியம் 'US' வகை

Oct 03 2007

US and freedom

Published by under All Africa,Politics,Religion,US

What was interesting about the whole spectacle was that Bollinger had initially defended his decision to invite Mr Ahmadinejad in the face of sustained criticism from the Bush administration and rightwing American media which called him (Bollinger) “a terrorist-coddling liberal egghead” whose extension of the invitation was “a monument to everything wrong in American academia”.

In defending his decision, Bollinger cited the First Amendment to the American constitution that says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the Press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Said Bollinger: “It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honour the dishonourable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.”

But the US media was nonplussed as it tore into the Iranian leader, calling him all sorts of names. While the Iranian leader humbled his hosts, the childishness with which the Bush administration, the US media and Columbia University handled a purely academic exercise should reveal to all that the myth of the so-called “Free World” is just that — a myth.


Zimbabwe: U.S. Can’t Teach Zim Anything

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Sep 23 2007

[The Sentinel] Government Murders And Abuses Continue

Could you imagine if your high-school age son was shot by the army while hanging out with his friends at the beach? Could you imagine if your daughter was walking to her aunt’s house and was found the next day, raped and dead in a well just walking-distance from a navy base? What if your brother or sister was one of 17 aid workers found shot in the head in an area surrounded by army camps? What if your teen-age daughter was one of 61 girls who were killed in a government air strike while receiving first-aid training?

Tamil families in Sri Lanka do not have to imagine this, they are living it. There are countless unheard stories similar to these that I encountered first-hand while working for a local human rights organization in Northeast Sri Lanka. During my one year of service in the Northeast, I crossed paths with too many families who have lost loved ones through attacks by the army and government-backed paramilitaries. I soon learned that these incidents of killings and abductions by the Sri Lankan armed forces were a repetition of events for Tamils. They have endured government war crimes for more than 30 years, and only a few years worth of incidents are being publicized.

Foreign governments perpetuate and implicitly condone the Sri Lanka government’s human rights abuses by providing military assistance. The U.S. must know that its military assistance to Sri Lanka is also fueling these human rights abuses.

The Sri Lankan government claims that it must halt a Tamil struggle for equality and self-determination by implementing a “war on terror.” Except this “war on terror” has claimed many Tamil civilian lives. How many? While I was there, monthly tolls would range from 60 to 100 civilians, which amounted to nearly 4,000 civilians in the past two years, as Amnesty International reports.

I had the opportunity to visit girls in a local hospital days after they survived a government aerial bombing of their school. At the time of the bombing, hundreds of girls were taking a first-aid training. Sixty-one girls were instantly killed. The government quickly plays the “war on terror” card and suddenly the 61 schools girls are terrorists in training. However, ceasefire monitors and UNICEF officials reported that there was no evidence the area bombed was a military installation.

This incident and other killings prompted a team of international observers to monitor a presidential commission to investigate human rights abuses. However, just this week, this international team (one of whom is an American) stated, “the investigation and inquiry process to date fails to comply effectively with international norms and standards.” In other words, the Sri Lankan government’s human rights abuses (under the guise of war on terror) are going uninvestigated and continuing with impunity.

The Sri Lankan government seems to have hit all the human rights violations, including the blockade of humanitarian aid to the Northeast. This blockade is not only preventing aid for the recent displacement, but also prevents post-tsunami aid. So far, the Tamils in the Northeast have not received much of the tsunami aid donated by foreign governments and relief agencies. One example is a U.S-registered agency, Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), to which Americans donated generously. The Sri Lankan government keeps a lockdown on TRO funds for over one year without explanation. Meanwhile almost every tsunami-hit home is rebuilt in the island’s South.

How can these human rights abuses be addressed? I join my fellow advocates in supporting the passage of a small, but important, section of the State, Foreign Operations bill that calls for restrictions on U.S. military assistance to the Sri Lankan government. The bill was recently passed by Senate and awaits passage by the House. It includes significant language that, if passed by the House, would halt U.S. military assistance until the Sri Lankan government improves its human rights record. This is an opportunity for the U.S. government to take a leading role in ending human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

*EDITORIAL* In Our Opinion

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Sep 18 2007

[The Enquirer] Inaction implies not just neutrality, but complicity

If you think Naziism or apartheid are long gone, you would do well to continue reading. Last month in Sri Lanka, 500 Tamils were forcibly evicted by police from the capital city of Colombo. They, along with 300 others who were detained, either lived in the capital or had been visiting for reasons including medical treatment. The police chief’s explanation: ethnic minority Tamils cannot stay in the capital “without a valid reason.”

“Police didn’t listen to us. They tried to beat us, they where scolding and they put us into the vehicles,” explained a 54-year old mother. “They made us to leave the place with whatever cloth we were dressed with. We didn’t even take our clothes.”

Although Naziism may be dead in name, the philosophy behind it is alive and well in Sri Lanka. Even that country’s opposition leader

agrees, comparing this to the treatment of Jews in Germany and blacks in South Africa. Norway and America condemned the mass eviction, and several non-governmental organizations called it a disgrace to humanity.

So should all of us simply join the chorus of condemnation, and then proceed to forget Sri Lanka? If the eviction were an aberration, perhaps. But Tamils know it is just the latest in a decades-long story of state terrorism that amounts to genocide.

If you don’t care much for Sri Lanka, consider this: the U.S. is sending $60 million in aid to the Sri Lankan military. As the Tamils fight a war of liberation, exactly what kind of military has Sri Lanka shown itself to have? It’s not pretty. The armed forces have been criticized repeatedly for murdering journalists, professors, students and members of parliament. The air force is known for bombing schools, churches, refugee camps and orphanages. The army blocks food and medicine from reaching hundreds of thousands of Tamils displaced by the war. Last year soldiers massacred 17 non-governmental organization workers by lining them up and shooting them at close range.

Surely it is reasonable that, when I give up hard-earned money to taxes, I assume it goes to improving our country or maybe helping the needy overseas, not to filling the coffers of a wildly murderous military. Especially at a time when our own forces are near breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan, why are we throwing money at Sri Lanka?

And let’s not forget the Indian Ocean tsunami – how well do disaster victims, many still in temporary camps, fare when an army that kills civilians is given free money? I don’t like seeing my taxes go to random pork barrel spending, let alone foreign military oppression.

During the Holocaust or apartheid in South Africa, the international community did not act fast enough. After the atrocities of Rwanda, we said “never again.” As the horrors of Darfur unfold, Americans are finally taking action. We must do the same for Sri Lanka.

The Nazi-style mass eviction of Tamils is one part of a long genocidal streak, and we cannot sit back and watch. As our government funds the Sri Lankan military, inaction implies not just neutrality, but complicity.

Ahilan Sivaganesan, a junior at Rice University in Houston, has lived in Cincinnati for 20 years.

U.S. shouldn’t help Sri Lanka regime with our tax dollars

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Feb 26 2007

[TamilNet] Stand with the Tamil Americans in support of the inalienable right of self-determination

We, the Tamil Americans of the great country of the United States, that has historically championed human rights, freedom, justice and peace for oppressed peoples of the world, hereby declare our unequivocal support for the self-determination and political independence of the Tamils in NorthEast Sri Lanka.

Last week marked the completion of five years of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the Tamils and the Sri Lankan state. The agreement, negotiated by the Royal Norwegian Government and supported widely by the International Community, failed to bring real peace to the Tamils. The Sri Lanka government defaulted on its obligations embodied in the ceasefire agreement and on commitments reached in the eight rounds of peace talks held with the Tamils.

Importantly, the half-a-million Tamil people displaced by the war were not allowed to resettle in their homes and rebuild their war-shattered lives in a situation accorded to other citizens of the country. The internationally assisted agreement to share Tsunami aid was not honored. The traditional Tamil homeland of the Tamils in the North and East that was unified under the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 was once again bifurcated.

Emboldened by the muted response of the International Community to its violations of the CFA, the Sri Lankan State has intensified its campaign to subjugate the Tamils. Despite the ceasefire, over 1500 Tamil civilians were killed and more than 600 disappeared in the past year. Through aerial bombarding, shelling, grabbing Tamil land, and displacing another 210,000 Tamils the Sri Lankan State is now engaged in ethnic cleansing of genocidal proportions.

We Tamil Americans note and respect the legitimacy rendered by the Tamil people to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by electing 22 legislators of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in 2004. Over 90% of Tamils voted for the TNA on the platform that the LTTE are the authentic representatives of the Tamils to advance their interests.

We commend the LTTE for not retaliating against Sinhalese civilians, despite intense provocations by the Sri Lankan government and its armed forces in terrorizing the Tamil population.

We plead with the International Community to not be an impediment to the Tamil people realizing their self-determination. The just aspirations of the Tamils should not be held hostage by fictitious claims of protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a failed state. Rather, the International Community must recognize the current de-facto Tamil state should their authentic representatives exercise the right to external self-determination.

We call upon the US Government to recognize the Tamil struggle for what it is – a legitimate freedom struggle. We should resist the propaganda by interested parties to portray their violence against the Tamil people and their political rights as a war against terrorism. Tamils’ quest for self-rule should be accepted just as much as we yielded to the ultimate wishes of the Kosova people without worrying about Serbian sovereignty.

Finally, we call upon our fellow Americans to stand with the Tamil Americans in support of the inalienable right of self-determination for the kith and kin we have left behind in the Tamil homeland.

Association of Tamil Americans
Carolina Tamil Americans
Center for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation – USA
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – California
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – Florida
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – USA
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – Vancouver-Portland – Washington
Midwest Tamil Sangam – Illinois
Ohio Tamil Association – Ohio
Tamil Heritage International – USA
Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization – California
World Tamil Organization – Illinois
World Tamil Coordinating Committee – USA
World Tamil Women Organization – USA


American Tamils call for Recognition of Tamil Sovereignty for NorthEast Sri Lanka

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Feb 23 2007

[San Francisco Chronicle] Crossing from USA to Canada?


There was a time not long ago when a trip across the border from the United States to Canada was accomplished with a wink and a wave of a driver’s license. Those days are over.

Take the case of 55-year-old Lake Tahoe resident Greg Felsch. Stopped at the border in Vancouver this month at the start of a planned five-day ski trip, he was sent back to the United States because of a DUI conviction seven years ago. Not that he had any idea what was going on when he was told at customs: “Your next stop is immigration.”

Felsch was ushered into a room. “There must have been 75 people in line,” he says. “We were there for three hours. One woman was in tears. A guy was sent back for having a medical marijuana card. I felt like a felon with an ankle bracelet.”

Or ask the well-to-do East Bay couple who flew to British Columbia this month for an eight-day ski vacation at the famed Whistler Chateau, where rooms run to $500 a night. They’d made the trip many times, but were surprised at the border to be told that the husband would have to report to “secondary” immigration.

There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was “a person who was inadmissible to Canada.” The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.

In 1975.

Welcome to the new world of border security. Unsuspecting Americans are turning up at the Canadian border expecting clear sailing, only to find that their past — sometimes their distant past — is suddenly an issue.

While Canada officially has barred travelers convicted of criminal offenses for years, attorneys say post-9/11 information-gathering, combined with a sweeping agreement between Canada and the United States to share data, has resulted in a spike in phone calls from concerned travelers.

They are shocked to hear that the sins of their youth might keep them out of Canada. But what they don’t know is that this is just the beginning. Soon other nations will be able to look into your past when you want to travel there.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” said Chris Cannon, an attorney representing the East Bay couple, who asked that their names not be used because they don’t want their kids to know about the pot rap. “It’s a disaster. I mean, who didn’t smoke pot in the ’70s?”

We’re about to find out. And don’t think you are in the clear if you never inhaled. Ever get nabbed for a DUI? How about shoplifting? Turn around. You aren’t getting in.

“From the time that you turn 18, everything is in the system,” says Lucy Perillo, whose Canada Border Crossing Service in Winnipeg, Manitoba, helps Americans get into the country.

Canadian attorney David Lesperance, an expert on customs and immigration, says he had a client who was involved in a fraternity prank 20 years ago. He was on a scavenger hunt, and the assignment was to steal something from a Piggly Wiggly supermarket. He got caught, paid a small fine and was ordered to sweep the police station parking lot.

He thought it was all forgotten. And it was, until he tried to cross the border.

The official word from the Canadian Border Services Agency is that this is nothing more than business as usual. Spokesman Derek Mellon gets a little huffy when asked why the border has become so strict.

“I think it is important to understand that you are entering another country,” Mellon says. “You are not crossing the street.”

OK, but something changed here, didn’t it?

“People say, ‘I’ve been going to Canada for 20 years and never had a problem,’ ” Lesperance says. “It’s classic. I say, ‘Well, you’ve been getting away with it for 20 years.’ ”

A prior record has always made it difficult to cross the border. What you probably didn’t know was that, as the Canadian Consulate’s Web site says, “Driving while under the influence of alcohol is regarded as an extremely serious offense in Canada.”

So it isn’t as if rules have stiffened. But what has changed is the way the information is gathered. In the wake of 9/11, Canada and the United States formed a partnership that has dramatically increased what Lesperance calls “the data mining” system at the border.

The Smart Border Action Plan, as it is known, combines Canadian intelligence with extensive U.S. Homeland Security information. The partnership began in 2002, but it wasn’t until recently that the system was refined.

“They can call up anything that your state trooper in Iowa can,” Lesperance says. “As Canadians and Americans have begun cooperating, all those indiscretions from the ’60s are going to come back and haunt us.”

Now, there’s a scary thought. But the irony of the East Bay couple’s situation is inescapable. Since their rowdy days in the ’70s, they have created and sold a publishing company, purchased extensive real estate holdings and own a $3 million getaway home in Lake Tahoe.

“We’ve done pretty well since those days,” she says. “But what I wonder is how many other people might be affected.”

The Canadian Border Services Agency says its statistics don’t show an increase in the number of travelers turned back. But Cannon says that’s because the “data mining” has just begun to pick up momentum.

“It is too new to say,” he says. “Put it this way. I am one lawyer in San Francisco, and I’ve had four of these cases in the last two years, two since January. And remember, a lot of people don’t want to talk about it (because of embarrassment).”

Asked if there were more cases, attorney Lesperance was emphatic.

“Oh, yeah,” he says. “Just the number of calls I get has gone up. If we factor in the greater ability to discover these cases, it is just mathematically logical that we are going to see more.”

The lesson, the attorneys say, is that if you must travel to Canada, you should apply for “a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation” to wipe the record clear.

Oh, and by the way, if you don’t need to travel to Canada, don’t think you won’t need to clear your record. Lesperance says it is just a matter of time before agreements are signed with governments in destinations like Japan, Indonesia and Europe.

“This,” Lesperance says, “is just the edge of the wedge.”

Who would have thought a single, crazy night in college would follow you around the world?

Rules for gettinginto CanadaFor more information on offenses that prohibit entry to Canada, go to the Canadian Consulate’s Web site at geo.international.gc.ca/can-am/seattle/visas/inadmissible-en.asp.

For more information on visiting Canada, go to cic.gc.ca.


This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Going to Canada? Check your past

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