28 June 2007

my city

check out these shots of hk. the bbc is doing a series on hk ten years after the handover. ten years, wow. where did the time go?

it's also been ten years since moula's visit.. way too long..

26 June 2007

international day against torture

today, june 26, is the international day in support of victims of torture.

in the majority of asian countries, torture is routinely used by police officers as a means of criminal investigation; the 'confession' obtained during brutal torture is used as 'evidence'. whether the case involves petty theft, corruption, political activity or nothing at all is irrelevant.

until torture is criminalized, and until police officers are held accountable for their crimes, there can be no genuine rule of law or democracy in asia.

21 June 2007

sri lankan chief justice to speak at city university

check out the following flier and mark your calendar!

Chief Justice Sarath Silva holds much of the blame

In 1999 the president of Sri Lanka hand picked Sarath Silva, her attorney general, to be chief justice—over the head of the most senior judge in the court. She did this despite two motions against him alleging that as attorney general he had covered up an alleged rape and embezzlement of funds by a magistrate who is his relative; suppressed documents, and provided false information. He has not denied the allegations. The UN expert on judges and lawyers also warned against his appointment.

Since become chief justice he has
Attacked litigants
: In 2003 Chief Justice Silva sentenced rights petitioner Tony Fernando to one year’s rigorous imprisonment for talking loudly in court. He himself heard and dismissed the appeal. The UN expert on judges and lawyers described it as an “act of injustice”.
See: http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/tonyfernando

Harassed judges: In 2003 nine retired judges made a complaint that Chief Justice Silva had unfairly forced them from the courts; the opposition moved to impeach him, but the president stopped it. This was the second attempted impeachment of the chief justice. In 2006 two senior judges sitting on the Judicial Services Commission with him resigned in protest. The International Bar Association also condemned his actions.
See: http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2006statements/436

Intimidated lawyers: Chief Justice Silva has taken measures to intimidate lawyers who have resisted him, including senior lawyer Elmore Perera, who brought a case against him.

Fixed cases: Chief Justice Silva has controlled the lists of judges sitting on benches. He has excluded senior and independently-minded judges from sensitive cases, causing the most experienced and highly-respected Supreme Court judge to resign from his post.
See: http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2003statement/119

Protected politicians: Before the current president came to power in 2005 the police were conducting criminal inquiries against him; Chief Justice Silva stayed the inquiries and also made an order against the police investigators.
See: http://www.hindu.com/2005/09/30/stories/2005093002651400.htm

Rejected international law: In 2007 Chief Justice Silva ruled that by joining the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights the government had breached the constitution. On this ground, it now refuses to comply with the observations of the UN Human Rights Committee.
See: http://www.alrc.net/doc/mainfile.php/alrc_statements/418

In its 2007 report Transparency International highlighted the “integrity of the chief justice” as a key issue concerning judicial corruption in Sri Lanka, and listed the many allegations against him in detail: http://www.transparency.org/publications/publications/gcr_2007

See also the Asian Legal Resource Centre report,‘Dysfunctional policing & subverted justice in Sri Lanka’: www.article2.org

Prepared by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to inform students and staff of the City University of Hong Kong about the background of one of the invited speakers at “Hong Kong Basic Law: The First Ten Years and its Future”, June 22 and 23, 2007, Wei Hing Theatre, Amenities Building: www.ahrchk.net

UPDATE: so the chief justice is not coming after all, hmmm. check this out for details.

18 June 2007

city girl

four days of living in huts on a beach brought home very forcefully how much of a city girl i am. for the first time, i saw swarms of crabs on the sand at night, and yes, i screamed when one got too close to my foot. i spent all day outside; working, eating and chatting all happened in the sweltering heat. it is in fact possible to get work done without air conditioning. the heat did not however, warm up the water in the shower, and so i got used to washing my hair with cold water.

what i was not able to do as well as i would have wanted, was to relax and be less self conscious. the people around me were just at ease discussing human rights issues as they were doing group stretching exercises or playing in the water. i on the other hand, felt out of my element without my computer, internet access and an office, within which i was aware of the rules and etiquette.

four lifetimes indeed.

17 June 2007

from victims to healers

last weekend, i attended a rehabilitation program for families of disappeared persons in satun, southern thailand. it was an experience that was by turns inspiring, humbling and distressing. this was the second of a series of workshops for the families, and i was told they were doing much better than earlier; there were few tears this time, and a lot of laughter. the group was made up of about 15 women and two men; the disappeared persons tend to be men between the age of 25-50. they came from the southern provinces of yala, pattani and narathiwat, which are under emergency decree. the program's focus was on helping the participants to help others; from being victims to becoming healers.

being so close to not only the victims, but also to the on the ground daily violence in the south was another humbling experience. we received daily cases of rape, torture and shootings. i was shown pictures of a horrific killing inside a mosque that took place just days before. i listened to the difficulties faced by human rights activists working there, most of whom are muslim. very different from my work in hk.

i was there for four days, and it felt like four lifetimes. i have yet to digest all that i saw and felt.

16 June 2007

sex and the ummah

i came across this column by mohja kahf recently, and am not sure what i make of it. i read an interview with kahf about the column, which was much more interesting and well written than the column itself. perhaps a case of the principle/idea being better than the actual product. in other words, breaking away from the notion that sex is an illicit and taboo practice (and topic of conversation) in islam is appealing, but frankly discussing sexual topics is a little distasteful. i am not sure if the distaste comes from the poorly written 'erotic' stories in the column, or whether i would find all such writing distasteful.. and perhaps i don't really want to know!

both the idea and the column intrigued me however, and reading the various debates regarding the issue showed me a muslim community i was unaware of. i would love to know what fellow muslims think of this..

05 June 2007

pure bliss

i had my first ever massage yesterday and it was lovely. scented oils, soothing music and a wonderful touch, ahhhhhh.

i admit i was initially quite embarrassed to be lying there with no clothes on, but that didn't last for long. it was definitely one of the most self indulgent experiences i've had. can't wait to go back!