Regular Column

Letters to the Editors

Volume 16, Issue 3 | Published 03/03/2020  

A critique (last of three) by Karim Hirji of articles in AwaaZ Volume 15, Issue 2 2018.

Kofi Annan

In the year prior to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, there were tell-tale signs that something terrible was about to unfold. Hate radio programs were gathering momentum, and the political atmosphere was getting bleak. As RPF mounted attacks, the state authorities began to prepare for the worst. But the nations of the West who made many personnel on the ground did not do anything. France continued to arm and give full backing to the government and the US supported both the sides. The UN Peace Keeping forces, under Kofi Anan, remained lethargic.

Within a couple of days from the start, it was abundantly clear to the rest of the world that civilians, young and old, were being massacred in their thousands. Bodies were floating in the rivers. Something had to be done immediately to stop the carnage.

According to the UN Charter the invasion of or military attacks on one nation by another without explicit authorization from the UN Security Council is `a supreme war crime.’ Though there is one exception provided to this rule. In the case of an unfolding genocide, the member states of the UN are in fact obligated to intervene in that nation to stop it.

Cinema Nostalgia

Volume 16, Issue 3 | Published 03/03/2020  

London Calling by Ramnik Shah

My earliest memory of going to the cinema is being taken to the Majestic Theatre in Mombasa by my sisters, in the company of their neighbourhood friends, to `zenana` shows to see Hindi movies (the term Bollywood was unknown then). These were ladies only afternoon matinées, to which boys of my age could be sneaked in as part of a family group.  And I can still virtually savour the aura of the sweet smelling scented burqa clad Arab, Swahili and Asian Muslim women who, once they got in, dared to bare their colourful inner finery beneath the black bui buis! So freed from the male gaze, they would indulge in much bonhomie, loud yelps of joy and deafening chatter all around.  Other than that, I don`t recall much, except that sitting in the front row of the balcony seats, it felt overpowering to look at the celluloid images flashing by across the black and white screen.  I could see the action but not understand what was being said.

This Is Our Legacy

Volume 16, Issue 3 | Published 03/03/2020  

By Marge Piercy

(Nov 01, 2019)

Topics: Capitalism , History , Political Economy

Places: Americas , United States

How will they curse us,
the 3rd, 4th generations,
the ones that survive
the deaths we left them?

Nandita Haksar: ‘We do not seem to realize that the cultural diversity of 220 communities in the Northeast is a resource for development’

A jumble of assertions has engulfed India over the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and plans for a National Register of Citizens (NRC). Similarly, the normally harmless exercise of updating the National Population Register (NPR) has now become controversial.

A majoritarian government with a brute majority in Parliament seems to have plunged the country into social turmoil of a kind not witnessed in the past six decades. Students are up in arms on the most docile of campuses and middle-class folk have been holding protests in the streets.

Civil Society spoke to Nandita Haksar on what to make of these developments. A civil rights lawyer, activist and a close observer of life and politics in the Northeast, Haksar’s is a clear and knowledgeable voice. Excerpts from a lengthy conversation at her home in Dona Paula in Goa where Haksar now lives with her husband, Sebastian M. Hongray, an author, human rights activist and a Naga.