Friday, August 22, 2008

Rich and Poor...How McCain defined it....!!!


If somebody asked you, you probably wouldn't have to think about it.

But when a reporter asked John McCain how many houses he owns, he stumbled and said, "I think -- I'll have my staff get to you."

If you're like the millions of people who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage, you might have a different perspective.

Not only does John McCain have trouble keeping track of all his houses, he looks at record gas prices and a crippling foreclosure crisis and thinks the economy is fundamentally "strong." And last weekend he said anyone making less than $5 million a year isn't rich.

This is the side of John McCain his campaign wants to hide.

So yesterday, we launched a TV ad to show everyone how out-of-touch John McCain is with the economic realities of regular Americans.

But if we're going to get the truth out, it's going to take all of us working together to make it happen.

Watch the ad and write a letter to your local newspaper exposing the real John McCain:

The more we hear from John McCain about the economy, the more we see just how out-of-touch he is.

You don't have to be an economist to understand that we can't afford eight more years, or four more years, or even one more year of the same failed economic policies that George Bush has put in place.

Now we need your help to make sure the word gets out.

Watch our ad now and write a letter to your local papers:

If John McCain understood what Americans are dealing with, he'd know that we need to be doing more.

Barack has a plan to cut taxes for middle class families by $1,000 and offer students who perform community service a $4,000 tax break to pay for college tuition. But John McCain's tax plan does nothing for 101 million middle class families.

Barack will set the minimum wage to rise with inflation. But John McCain is more concerned about making sure limits on campaign contributions rise with inflation -- and he's voted against raising the minimum wage 19 times.

That's a difference that should be easy to remember.

Thanks for your help,


David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Asian Centre forHuman Rights
(ACHR has Special Consultative Status with the UNECOSOC)
C-3/441-C, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058,India
Phone: +91-11-25620583, 25503624 Website:

1 August 2008

Sri Lanka No.1 Human Rights Violator in South Asia
SAARC urged to draftregional human rights mechanism

New Delhi: The Asian Centre forHuman Rights (ACHR) today releases a
comparative assessment of thehuman rights records of South Asian
governments at a press conferencein New Delhi.

The "South Asia Human Rights Index2008"
( finds that underthe
ACHR’s index scoring system Sri Lanka (with 52 points) is the worsthuman
rights violator in South Asia followed by Bangladesh (45), Bhutan(43),
Pakistan (41), Maldives (23), Nepal (24) and India (24).Afghanistan has
not been included for indexing purpose. Afghanistan’ssecurity is ensured
by international forces over which the governmentof Afghanistan has no
mechanism to establish accountability - anecessary condition for

The indexing system is based oncomparative assessment of nine thematic
issues crucial for theenjoyment of human rights: political freedom, right
to life, judiciaryand administration of justice, status or effectiveness
of NationalHuman Rights Institutions, press freedom, violence against
women,violations of the rights of the child, violations of the rights of
theminorities and indigenous/tribal peoples and repression on human

While Sri Lanka is the worst in the region, the reportalso underlines
that all countries in the region have very poorrecords. The regional
analysis also shows a high level of commonalityin human rights patterns.
Discrimination is endemic, institutionalisedand in many cases legalised.
Human rights violations are integral tocounter-insurgency operations
conducted by the military andpara-military forces. Human rights
violations are routinely perpetratedin detention. Security laws tend to
be poorly framed, routinely abusedand used as blanket cover to silence
legitimate dissent rather thantackle security.

These facts are not the assertions of Asian Centrefor Human Rights but
repeatedly confirmed by national, regional andinternational NGOs, bar
associations, media organisations and thevarious UN bodies established to
monitor human rights.

South Asiarequires reforms: (i) reform of archaic and punitive criminal
and penallaws and the regime of sovereign immunity for the government and
itspersonnel; and (ii) reform of the official mindset with regard to

Reform will not happen if human rights violations, committedboth by the
security forces and armed groups, are not promptly,thoroughly,
independently and impartially investigated and thoseresponsible brought
to justice, the system which allowed them to committhose crimes remains

South Asia is becoming increasingly avictim to internal conflicts as a
result of the failure to reform whereimpunity to the security forces and
the Armed Opposition Groups is therule.

Sri Lanka: No. 1 Violator

With52 points, Sri Lanka is South Asia’s worst human rights violator.Sri
Lanka had the worst human rights records for violations of theright to
life, the rights of the child, attacks on human rightsdefenders and
violations of the rights of the minorities. On pressfreedom, it ranked
second worst violator only after Bhutan – which hasno independent press.
These increased violations are a directconsequence of the war. Civilians
in Sri Lanka are deliberatelytargeted by all sides to the conflict.

“Discrimination lies at theheart of the war with the Tamils and the
introduction of restrictionson Tamils travelling to Colombo are a
powerful symbol of governmentintent. The political ramifications of the
exclusion - not least interms of prospects for a peaceful settlement of
the conflict - of anentire ethnic group from the nation’s capital are of
deep concern.” –stated ACHR.

In Sri Lanka, attacks on freedom of expression were ofparticular concern
and led the killing of seven journalists in2007.

There are no precise figures on the number of civilians killedbecause
reporting on war is banned.

“The beginning of any solutionis good information. Not only is Sri
Lanka’s conflict resulting insystematic violations of human rights of
civilians, but by deliberatelyoppressing journalists and freedom of
expression, this measure closesoff any means for the government to have
access to independentinformation and understand the extent of the problem
and the negativeconsequences of its own actions.” - said Suhas Chakma,
Director of theAsian Centre for Human Rights.

In April 2007, Police Chief VictorPerera stated that the Police have to
go beyond the law to combatcrime.

“This is an extraordinarily dangerous and irresponsibleinstruction to a
police force with a reputation for high levels ofdiscrimination, human
rights violation and disregard for the rule oflaw”.

The results are there: disappearances began to rise again: 540persons
disappeared across Sri Lanka from January to August 2007 withethnic
Tamils suffering disproportionately –78.89% compared with1.85%
(Sinhalese) and 3.52% (Muslims) with 50% of the cases beingreported from
Jaffna district alone.

“Sri Lanka’s Human RightsCommission became the first one in South Asia to
be downgraded toObserver Status by the International Coordinating
Committee of NationalInstitutions the international body governing
National Human RightsInstitutions citing government influence on its
independence. The SriLankan Human Rights Commission is the worst one in
South Asia”

“Inno other South Asian country, so many human rights defenders havebeen
killed. By September 2007, at least 43 aid workers were killed and14
others were missing in Sri Lanka since the escalation of theconflict.” –
asserted Mr Chakma.

Sri Lanka has the highest number ofchild soldiers in South Asia with
6,248 recorded cases of recruitmentof by the LTTE and 453 cases by the
Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal(TMVP), the Karuna faction. “It is
government policy to allow theKaruna group and the Eelam People’s
Democratic Party (EPDP) to recruitchild soldiers.” – stated ACHR.

Bangladesh: The land of Kangaroojustice

With 46 points,Bangladesh was ranked No. 2 human rights violator in the
region. Onpolitical freedom, Bangladesh scores the worst in the region
with aneffective ban on politics. In the first 10 months of 2007, a total
of440,684 people had been arrested and of these, only 239,480 wereissued
arrest warrants. Only 778 were wanted by the police for criminaloffences.

The Rapid Action Battalion and other security forcescarried out 184 in
so-called “cross-fire” killings – a euphemism forextrajudicial killings.
The use of torture in Bangladesh is routine.Impunity for human rights
violations is total.

Bangladesh is theonly country where any law i.e. Emergency Powers Rules
of 2007 havebeen applied retroactively – a non-derogable principle inthe
administration of justice under international human rightslaw.

On press freedom, the government arrested numerous journalistsin cases
that raised serious concerns over the application of thelaw.

Indigenous/tribal peoples and minorities continued to be thetarget of
attacks by the majority and the State. The government hasintensified
illegal settlement of plain settlers into the ChittagongHill Tracts. The
extent of the discrimination is hard to believe. A newstudy by Dhaka
University showed that some 1.2 million or 44 per centof the 2.7 million
Hindu households in Bangladesh were affected by theEnemy Property Act,
1965 and the Vested Property Act, 1974. Effectivelythe law is empowered
to describe 2.7 million innocent citizens as‘enemies of the State’ and if
they so wish seize theirproperties.

Human rights activists were subject to surveillance.Those defenders from
or working with indigenous and minoritycommunities were the subject of
particular harassment. The governmenthas failed to punish the guilty
responsible for the custodial killingof indigenous Garo leader, Choles
Ritchil in March 2007.

Pakistan:PEMRA, the most draconian press regulatory body in SouthAsia

The human rights situation in Pakistan deteriorated in 2007 asPresident
Musharraf increased repression in an attempt to retainposition and power.
In 2007 Hundreds of people have been disappeared.Arbitrary and
incommunicado detention and torture in detention remainedroutine.
Impunity for human rights violations remained veryhigh.

Pakistan’s judiciary receives praise in the Index for standingup to
repression and maintaining its independence by striking downthe
suspension of Justice Ifthikar Muhammed Chaudhry, taking suo motuactions
against disappearances and rescuing many victims of illegaldetentions by
bailiffs/ raid commissioners/ lower court judges.

“InSouth Asia, the Indian judiciary has always demonstrated thehighest
levels of independence but in 2007, it must gracefully yield tothe
Pakistan’s judiciary for its struggles against oppression.”- statedACHR.

On press freedom, Pakistan Electronic Media RegulatoryAuthority (PEMRA)
was the most draconian press regulatory body in SouthAsia. At least six
journalists were killed, one disappeared afterabduction and many were
attacked by law enforcement agencies, politicalactivists and
fundamentalists groups in 2007.

Pakistan’s systematicdiscrimination against half of its population -
women – continued.Apart from being legalized discrimination for the
offences of Zina(Enforcement of Hudood Ordinance of 1979), honour
killings and rape ofwomen at the order of jirga (traditional court) were
common. BetweenJanuary and December 2007, at least 1,305 people including
792 womenand 34 minor girls were victims of honour killings.

Pakistancontinued systematic and legalised discrimination against
religiousminorities. Religious minorities particularly Hindus and
Christians,and Ahmadiya sect of Islam were targeted under blasphemy laws.
In 2006,90 cases of blasphemy were reported. Out of these, only 48were
registered with the police in which 27 accused were Muslims, 10Christians
and 11 Ahmadis.

Bhutan: India underwritesracism

Bhutan made gains over pastyears but the watershed development for
allowing two-party guideddemocracy in Bhutan was discredited by the ban
on 70,000 alleged“foreigners”, ethnic Nepalese, to participate in the
mock electionsheld in 2007.

On the judiciary, the King of Bhutan not only remainedthe absolute
authority to grant pardon, appoint and dismiss judges butof the five new
judges appointed in 2006, three were senior civilservants who have no
legal background.

On press freedom too, Bhutanwas the worst performer. Bhutan allowed the
registration of twoprivate newspapers - The Bhutan Times and The Bhutan
Observer. In June2007, the “” website was blocked
from viewing inBhutan.

India underwrites Bhutan’s racism. In May 2008, Indiaprevented “Long
March” of Bhutanese refugees to Bhutan at least onerefugee youth
identified as Saha Bahadur Dewan was shot dead and atleast 100 others
were injured by India’s securityforces.

Maldives: A judicial belief that children are willingpartners in gangrape

Though Maldives has been making slow but perceptible progresstowards
democracy since 2005, the independence of judiciary remains theMaldives
weakest point.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom not onlyremains effective head of the
Judiciary but also decisions of theCourts were atrocious when it came to
rape. The sentences wereextraordinarily lenient when it came to rape and
in no sense reflectedthe gravity of the crime. The punishment for rape is
banishment to anisland and not imprisonment.

On 31 January 2007, a 12-year-old girlwas gang raped by four men after
breaking into her home at Kurendhoo inLhaviyani Atoll. However, the four
accused were cleared of rape and thejudge sentenced them to eight months
exile for sex outside marriage inJuly 2007. The Judge noted in his ruling
that: “the girl had reachedpuberty” and claimed “she was a willing
partner,” because she had notscreamed, struggled or told her
sister-in-law or step mother about theevent.

“President Gayoom did nothing as the head of the judiciary tooverrule
such atrocious judgments” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma.

Onpress freedom, the Maldives remain repressive. It attempted tobring
flawed Draft Bill on Freedom of the Press. A number ofjournalists were
arrested and assaulted by the securityforces.

Nepal: Non-State actors are responsible for moreviolations

In 2007 human rights remained more positive than during theconflict. The
biggest concern in Nepal was not so much state violationbut rather de
facto absence of state; an absence that in 2007facilitated political
violence by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)and the proliferation of
armed groups and violence in the Terai.

TheMaoists and Mahdesi armed oppositions groups were responsible formore
violations than the security forces in 2007.

On the right tolife, Nepal performed poorly. Nepalese NGOs estimates 33
persons werekilled by the security forces in 2007. The Maoists and
Mahdesi armedopposition groups were also responsible for significant
numbers ofkillings. Torture remains systematic in Nepal.

“Nepal’s peace is nota given. Nepal lives under the shadow of a highly
politicisedanti-democratic Army, the Peoples Liberation Army and the
YouthCommunist League and a host of other armed criminal gangs who are
notaccountable to anyone except themselves.” – stated Asian Centrefor
Human Rights.

In the absence of state in 2007, the UnitedNations Mission to Nepal
(UNMIN) and Office of the High Commissionerfor Human Rights played
critical role to the peace process, confidencebuilding and addressing
human rights violations.

“However there is avested interest at work against the UNMIN and OHCHR’s
missions. This isa dangerous strategy given the high potential of the
situations inNepal deteriorating into wider conflict to the detriment of
long termand durable peace” – stated ACHR.

India: Booming economy’s boomingconflicts threatenrights

India is the best human rights performer in South Asian region becauseof
the existence of institutional mechanisms. However, its record onhuman
rights continued to be poor.

India continued to fail to ensurepolitical freedom and inclusion to
vulnerable groups like Dalits,Sikhs, who migrated from Pakistan to Jammu
and Kashmir in 1947 and theChakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh.

“India records high numberof cases of blatant violations of the right to
life through custodialdeaths, fake encounter killings, torture and
killings through thedisproportionate use of fire-arms. From 1 April 2007
to 31 December2007, a total of 1,459 cases of custodial deaths were
registered. Itimplies over 5 persons were killed in custody every day.

“It isimpunity which directly contributes to such large-scalecustodial
deaths”. – Stated Mr Chakma.

India’s National Human RightsCommission has failed to reduce custodial
deaths. It suffers fromcredibility crisis due to statutory limitations
and operational flaws. NHRC is facing nine writ petitions from Asian
Centre for Human Rightsfor denying the opportunity of hearing to the
victims andcomplainants.

Vulnerable groups like Dalits and indigenous/tribalpeoples continued to
face gross human rights violations. The NationalCrime Records Bureau
reported that a total of 5,791 cases wereregistered for atrocities
against Scheduled Tribes in 2006 compared to5,713 cases in 2005. This
means an increase of 1.4% in 2006 from 2005.During the same period,
27,070 cases were also registered foratrocities against the Scheduled

“Asian Centre for HumanRights considers these statistics as inaccurate
and just tip of theiceberg. After all, the National Crime Records Bureau
absurdlyreported that 2 custodial rape cases in 2006, 7 in 2005 and 2 in
2004despite reports of rape pouring in on regular basis”. – stated Mr

“What is most disturbing is that children are increasinglybeing used by
the State and the AOGs in armed conflict situations. Itis not only in
Chhattisgarh, it is increasingly becoming a feature inmost conflict
situations in India”.

The NCRB recorded a total of18,967 cases of crimes against children
reported in the country during2006 as compared to 14,975 cases during
2005, reflecting an increase of26.7%.

India also discriminates against tribal internally displacedpersons.
There are about 4,50,000 internally displaced persons as aresult of
conflict including about 200,000 Santhals, Bodos and Muslims,- 43,740
persons in 20 relief camps in Chhattisgarh,- 55,476 KashmiriPandit
families and - 35,000 Brus of Mizoram sheltered inTripura.

“The discrimination is clear and stark. Presently, Kashmiripandits are
provided cash assistance of Rs 1,000/- per head per monthsubject to a
maximum of Rs 4,000/- per family per month both at Jammuand Delhi relief
camps besides basic dry rations. This assistance hasbeen proven to be
inadequate. Yet, a Bru tribal adult gets cash of Rs2.90 per day (i.e. Rs
87 per month) and a minor gets Rs 1.45 per day(i.e. Rs 43.5 per month)
and 450 gram of rice is being provided to peradult Bru per day”.

The government of India and various Stategovernments perpetrated similar
discrimination against tribalsdisplaced by development projects. Forcible
displacement withoutjustice and adequate compensation have been
contributing to India’sgrowing conflicts whether in Nandigram of West
Bengal or Tipaimukh ofManipur. Each Special Economic Zone and each
Memoranda of Understandingsigned with State governments for dams and
other projects is apotential zone of conflict.

“Checks and balances in any democracy areneither static nor guaranteed.
If not defended, protections weaken overtime particularly when challenged
by the demands of internal conflicts.India is facing a crisis of
protection. The killing of 14 members ofthe anti-land acquisition Bhumi
Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (LandEviction Resistance Committee) in
Nandigram, West Bengal on 14 March2007 is emblematic of the crisis of
protection and the conflictsgulfing India.” – warned Asian Centre for
Human Rights.

Apart fromstrengthening the national mechanism to address such
violations, AsianCentre for Human Rights recommends that 15th SAARC
Summit establish aworking Group of Eminent Persons of South Asia to
explore thepossibility of drafting a South Asia Human Rights Convention
with fulland active participation of civil society groups andother
stakeholders. ACHR also urges the National Human RightsInstitutions in
South Asia to emulate the role of their counterparts inSouth East Asia to
establish a South Asia Sub-Regional human rightsmechanism.[End]

[For any further information, please contact Mr SuhasChakma, Director,
Asian Centre for Human Rights at 9810893440,25620583, 25503624]