Heavy rains and deadly floods have claimed the lives of at least 136 people, with several missing and tens of thousands forced to evacuate – the states of Maharashtra, Goa, and Mumbai have been most heavily affected. Hundreds of homes have been damaged and a rescue mission is ongoing to desperately locate survivors of the heavy monsoon rains as people lose their properties and belongings.
While many factors are attributed to flooding, experts claim climate change and global warming most likely contribute to the extreme rainfall seen in South Asia, as well as flooding experienced by Europe and parts of China this year.
Goa’s floods were the worst in decades, according to its chief minister Pramod Sawant – however, the state did not suffer any casualties as seen in Maharashtra. The Raigad district in Maharashtra suffered coastal landslides, devastating homes, and leading to 47 deaths with 53 people feared trapped among the rubble and mud – the downpour caused rivers to overflow and burst their banks.
Approximately 90,000 people have been evacuated in Maharashtra – near the city of Mumbai, the downpours have caused terrified residents to climb rooftops and upper stories to escape swelling waters.
Water levels rose to nearly 20 feet (six meters) in areas south of Mumbai, completely submerging roads and homes as the region experienced 24 hours of uninterrupted rainfall.
Experts predict the torrential downpour will continue for the next few days – hundreds of villages in the region affected by the monsoon were without electricity and drinking water.
Rescuers are equipped with lifejackets, rubber boats, and other materials to help locate survivors – the National Disaster Response Force, the Indian Army, Coast Guards, Navy, Air Force and state authorities have been deployed in the rescue mission. Many trucks are at a halt on a national highway after reports that parts of the road are underwater. Further, many villages and towns are deprived of electricity and drinking water.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “Unexpected very heavy rainfall triggered landslides in many places and flooded rivers…Dams and rivers are overflowing. We are forced to release water from dams, and, accordingly, we are moving people residing near the riverbanks to safer places.”
In an effort to reassure the nation he further stated, “We will do whatever it takes to save lives and property…This disaster has hit the entire state from Nagpur in the east to Mahabaleshwar in the west. The rains have been unprecedented and we’re facing an unexpected emergency.”
The monsoon season lasts from June to September in India, with heavy rainfalls causing displacements and loss of life each year – farmers depend on the rainfall for agriculture, however climate change has led to more harsh flooding affecting the country. Red alerts have been issues in parts of the nation by the meteorological department with predictions that the rainfall is not due to stop for the next few days.
After the destructive wave of Covid-19, this disaster seems to have shaken India to its core. Struggling to recover from the pandemic, lets hope that India is able to stand back up on its feet after this.
“No, Rwanda is not an uncivilised well of darkness”
As deportations go, being shipped off to Rwanda sounds like the lower end of the scale. It has the echoes of Paddington bear’s Darkest Peru.
And yet, all those who have seen the live action film can probably agree that the fictional bear’s Darkest Peru wasn’t really that dark; luscious greenery in a thriving jungle, trees weighed down with oranges perfect for making buckets of marmalade, constant sun, and blue skies. It’s the perfect description of a luxury holiday.. in Africa? Rwanda maybe?
To be clear, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is not within the confines of British values or even human sense or reason. To spend millions and millions of pounds to deport vulnerable refugees seeking safety four thousand miles away from the apparent beacon of democracy and human rights – that is Britain, by using taxpayers money, seems to defeat the very purpose of sending them out of Britain in the first place. Rwanda, if one is familiar with the events of 1994, and the ever constant threat to the lives of journalists, activists, and opposing political rivals of the government, isn’t exactly a beacon of human rights, democracy, and freedom.
That’s why the European Court of Human Rights – not to be confused with the super-villain that is ‘Europe!’ according to a very loud group of Tory backbenchers – blocked the flight which was to fly seven refugees off to the East African country. Cue the cries of ‘Europe Telling Us What To Do Again’, and lets opt out of that one too – several Conservative MPs called for ties to be cut with the Strasbourg based body.
But just because the legality of a sovereign policy was disputed by the highest court of human rights on the continent, does not mean Britain’s leaders need to throw a strop and exit yet another institution that can hold it accountable for its actions. And just because a policy is draconian and ethically wrong – even the heir to the throne and the Church of England bashed the plans as ‘appalling’ and ‘immoral’ – does not mean that the country which happens to be the designation for said unethical deportation, should be viewed as the uncivilised backwater of the world. It’s almost as if most of the hand wringing of the liberal wing is doubled on hearing that Rwanda is the intended destination.
Patel herself, biggest pusher of the policy, and perhaps in order to justify it, accidentally blurted out some truth to that matter; talking about Rwanda’s past of genocide and recent human rights abuses to the Guardian newspaper, she said that, “It’s scarred the country in the sense that they are rebuilding. If it was France, if we were sending people to Sweden, New York, Sydney, would they (the critics) change their mind? That actually speaks of inbuilt prejudice and, I would even go as far as to say, racism.”
Indeed Patel might have struck gold in identifying the underlying thoughts that exist in the media coverage, and even through the many demonstrations and online petitions which speaks of Rwanda’s less than forgiving record of the impending deportation of refugees.
In the last few days, the word Rwanda has become synonymous with the abuse of human rights, just as Africa has become the poster child for third world poverty and lack of civilisation. Much of that is because poverty is high on the continent and Rwanda does have a murky human rights record; but a lot is because of the portrayal of African countries in Western literature and media dating back to the slave trade of African people. The ‘orientalising’ of Africa is something that is always so unconsciously done. After all, being known not so long ago as the ‘dark continent’ never created the image of a comfortable life, nor of a ‘civilised’ society.
It is true that the leadership of African countries have much to be wished for. But it is precisely in a democracy – one where the votes aren’t rigged by the highest bidder – that a government can reflect the mindset of its people. And for many African nations, including Rwanda where political opposition is often violently quashed, that is not the case. Why is it that the poverty caused by western appeasing, tax guzzling African governments is then applied as a blanket term for the countries as a whole?
Because the perception of poverty – and of education, literacy, all components of ‘civilisation’ – in the eyes of western statistic charts is a number. A man in Uganda with twenty goats and chickens, acres of land with trees producing fresh fruit, sugarcane, and vegetables, probably isn’t very ‘educated’. But he’s able to send all his kids to school and have a heaving table of food with organic homegrown things and without any price tags, for himself and his family every night, without any money leaving the palm of his hand, nor any money entering it. The fact he wakes up at five a.m. isn’t a sign of his difficult uncivilised, impoverished situation, it’s a sign of his work ethic and strength to live a comfortable life that is just different from the western way of living. Lack of money isn’t the only sort of poverty – reliance on it for a comfortable life is too.
In Britain where jobs are getting harder to find and the unemployed are stuck on state handouts, with too much reliance on the latter to make any move towards leaving the cycle of dependence, it is unimaginable that a woman in a place like Kenya can collect hard grass from the sidewalk and bind them to make brooms which she then sells – it’s not much, and there is no way you can glorify capitalism through that. Maybe she won’t have enough to feed her children every night, nor herself. But she is able. Her face, her manners, her way of living does not reflect lack of civilisation or humanity, it does not dignify being labelled as an unable, helpless, illiterate African in dire need of Western rescuing – as is portrayed through western media.
Yes it is true that governments in Africa should spend more on alleviating the result of low or no income, and lack of affordable education – rather than filling their own stomachs – but that doesn’t negate the fact that even without all the comforts of British welfare, the strength and entrepreneurial spirit of the people in countries like Kenya, Uganda, or Rwanda, and so many other ‘underdeveloped’ African countries is unmatched against the ‘civilised’ West who rely on help from the state and without which the cost of living makes it impossible to have a comfortable life.
Only a couple of hundred years ago, the situation was reversed. Ships full of Africans were being forcefully deported from their homeland to Britain, Europe, and the Americas. Now, the descendants of slave traders are paying the descendants of their would-be slaves to take a burden off their hands. It’s not something you can make up and the taste left over is sour to say the least.
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it right:
“If I were not African, I wonder whether it would be clear to me that Africa is a place where the people do not need limps gifts of fish but sturdy fishing rods and fair access to the pond. I wonder whether I would realise that while African nations have a failure of leadership, they also have dynamic people with agency and voices.”
The answer to Adichie?
No, none of these things are so easily realised by those so programmed for centuries to look down upon, enslave, and brutalise the inhabitants of the cradle of civilisation itself.
Illegal Maasai eviction for wildlife hunting
Tanzania to forcefully evict indigenous community in illegal move for wildlife hunting ground
The government of the United Republic of Tanzania is currently planning on removing the Maasai people from their ancestral land in 2022. The land is being cleared so it can be leased to wildlife hunting firm Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC) owned by Dubai Royals and for tourism reasons.
The 1,500 km2 area is located in the Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region. Known as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) it is home to many locals who do not want to leave.
If the leasing plan is passed, it will displace around 70,000 indigenous Maasai people and more than 200,000 livestock, according to an urgent alert by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). The Maasai were told of this plan in January of this year by Regional Commissioner for Arusha, John Mongella. The forceful eviction is also being condemned by the Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI) organization.
But the land of the NCA is also under threat from other international organisations such as UNESCO and safari businesses. Allegedly posing a threat to ecological sustainability and wildlife tourism, the government of Tanzania believes that the area is overpopulated which could impact surrounding wildlife. The Multiple Land-Use Model (MLUM) was previously developed so the land could be used for more than one purpose. However, there is evidence that in the past this plan has led to serious problems for the locals.
Current protests against the proposed evictions and demarcation of land for conservation have been met with violence. On June 10th police fired on at least 18 men and 13 women, and 13 were wounded with machetes with one person confirmed dead. The protests began back in January.
The eviction of the indigenous peoples is illegal according to Tanzania law and international law and a violation of the Village Land Act of 1999. According to international law, forced evictions are a violation of human rights and can only be allowed in extreme conditions whilst strictly complying with specific standards and legal processes. However, a representative of the Tanzanian government, Malik Hassan Shafi refuted claims of enforced evictions stating that the government would “never hurt its own people it has sworn to protect”, and that anti-government agitators were to blame for the discord.
But a local Maasai leader attending the protest insisted, “We have nowhere else to go. Losing this land will mean the extinction of our community. We have taken care of our environment and lived in harmony with other living and nonliving things. And we are not ready to lose our traditional lifestyle we have lived for times immemorial. ”He added, “Over 70% of our homelands has been taken for conservation and investment reasons. We are appealing to human rights organizations, media and other citizens who value Indigenous human rights to share our plight and put pressure on the government of Tanzania to respect the rights of its citizens, and particularly indigenous people.”
As well as protesting, the Maasai community has also written a letter to appeal to Western leaders for support to stop the forceful eviction, but so far there has been little response. There are fears it could mirror the forceful eviction of Palestinians which was approved by an Israeli court earlier this year.
Israeli Blockade Causes Depression in 80% of Palestinian Children
A recent report put out by Save the Children, titled “Trapped”, shows that four out every five children living in Gaza suffer from depression, sadness and fear. The report followed 488 children and 168 parents and caregivers in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Blockade of the Gaza Strip began in 2007. Not only did The Israeli government prevent items such as livestock, shampoo and musical instruments from going into Gaza, but they also blocked aid groups from sending basic learning items such as paper and crayons. The blockade severely impacted the area’s economy and restricted travel of its citizens.
800,000 Palestinian children have only ever known life within the blockade, living through traumatic violence by Israeli military and living in constant fear for the duration of their whole lives.
Building upon past research, the latest report by Save the Children shows that the mental health of not only children, but also youth and caregivers, has deteriorated severely since their last report four years ago. The number of children with emotional distress increased from 55% to 80%. The report also showed an increase in children feeling fearful, sad, nervous, depressed and in grief.
More than half of Gaza’s children have had thoughts of suicide, with three out of five children thinking of self-harm.
Many factors have been contributing to the poor mental health of Gaza’s children due to the blockade, such as lack of basic services such as healthcare and other needs. Another study published in 2020, showed high levels of anxiety disorders and PTSD in Palestinians. It reported that they were at a higher risk for these mental illnesses due to continuous exposure to polital violence, prolonged displacement, and limitations of education, professions, financial opportunities and mental health services.
Before the blockade even started, a study was conducted in 2004, under Israeli occupied Gaza, of 403 refugee children living in four camps on the Gaza Strip. The study included that children living in occupation and blockade zones were at high risk of suffering from PTSD.
According to the Save the Children report, 59% of children show signs of speech, communication and language difficulties, even temporary reactive mutism, a sign of trauma or abuse. In the last few years, 79% of children have suffered from bed-wetting.
The effect of these symptoms on the children’s learning, development and social interaction is immediate and long term, warned Save the Children. Jason Lee, Country Director in Palestine for Save the Children, said “The physical evidence of their distress – bedwetting, loss of ability to speak or to complete basic tasks – is shocking and should serve as a wakeup call to the international community.”
Save the Children called on Israel to take immediate steps on lifting the blockade on Gaza and ending the ongoing occupation.
Russia’s War on the World’s Food Supplies
When Russia invaded Ukraine, the country didn’t just declare war on Ukrainians, but also the world’s food supply. According to the UN chief, the consequences for the world’s food security, energy and finance have been severely impacted by the Russian invasion. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, went on to say that the war “threatens to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and misery, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake.” He warned that this year, access to food will be a major problem, but next year the crisis might be about lack of food itself.
Ukraine has been a major exporter of wheat, especially to the Middle East and Africa.. With Russia’s Navy blockade of Ukraine’s main ports in the Black Sea, millions of tonnes of grain are stuck, which leaves many countries without necessary food. Many of those countries have been battling famine and cannot afford another food crisis.
Western countries have accused Russia of withholding food supplies for millions around the world, although Russia denies weaponizing food supplies.
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of stealing approximately 600,000 tonnes of grain, exporting some of it. Russia counters that Ukraine must first de-mine the waters off the coast of the Black Sea to create corridors for exporting the grain.
The US has accused Russia of attempting to sell the stolen grain to drought stricken African countries. In Mid-May, a State Department cable alert was sent to 14 Countries, most of which were in Africa, stating that Russian cargo ships were seen leaving Ukrainian ports with wheat.
The Russian official in charge of the Russian occupied Ukraine region of Zaporizhzhia, Yevgeny Balistky, said the wheat was on freight trains bound for Crimea, then further on to the Middle East. Russia and Turkey’s foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, discussed the grain issues, however the talks were inconclusive. Lavrov denied any wrongdoing on Russia’s part, saying his country was not obstructing any wheat exports. He said that Ukraine needed to de-mined the Black Sea corridors near Odessa and other ports. Ukrainian officials argued back, saying that if they de-mines the waters then Russia would use those corridors to launch an attack on southern Ukraine.
Russia also put much of the blame on the West, saying they have put up sanctions during a time of food crisis.
Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, stated that Russia was shipping stolen grain to Crimea, with Turkey being one of its final destinations. He continued “We have made our appeal for Turkey to help us and, upon the suggestion of the Turkish side, are launching criminal cases regarding those stealing and selling the grains”.
Mykola Gorbachov, chief of Ukraine Grain Association, warned that if exports could not resume quickly, then the next harvest, starting in late July, would be negatively impacted. He went as far as to say Ukraine’s grain exports could be limited to 20m tonnes next year, whereas last year’s exports were 44.7m tonnes.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the country had 85 million tonnes worth of storage capacity, however due to the destruction of infrastructure and Russian occupation, that capacity has fallen to 60 million tonnes.
Wheat is not the only key food supply that is threatened by the Russian invasion. Ukraine is also responsible for 42% of the world’s sunflower oil exports, 16% of maize and 10% of barley, with wheat bringing up 9% of the world’s exports.
India’s Islamophobic Pop Songs
Islamophobic pop songs in India gain popularity
Indian pop-music is being used for right-wing political agendas as Islamophobic songs sweeps the nation.
Singers like Krishnavanshi and Dubey are of the few that found recognition through their Islamaphobic songs and upon receiving praise from government officials, have a belief that their actions are righteous and play a key role in saving their homeland against Muslims.
These songs encourage Indians to buy land in Kashmir and marry a Kashmiri woman.
Kashmir, a state with 97.6% Muslim majority is now concerned that without the protection of Article 370, it might be facing a cultural and demographic change.
Hindus and Sikhs are expected to settle into the region as encouraged by the Hindu-led government and transform the dynamics of the war-torn state.
Countless, Indian artists have paid homage to the motherland in the past by singing patriotic songs, some have been songs about harmony and others about authority.
Their Islamophobic songs suggesting that Muslims of India are ‘anti-Nationals’ and ‘invaders’ has been the backdrop to the recent marches and hate-crimes rampant across the Indian states. As the Hindu majority weaves an intricate plot to assert dominance across the nation, whether it may be mistreating the Sikh farmers or Muslim citizens, music plays a central role in conveying their agenda to the masses.
Why Extremist Jews in Israel Want The Temple Mount
Exclusive interview with a leading expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Jewish supremacy
Hundreds of ultra-right Jewish nationalists brandishing Israeli flags and shouting “Death to Arabs”, “Another Nakba”, “Let your village burn down” and other obnoxious slogans stormed the Haram-al-Sharif (Temple Mount) compound in East Jerusalem in a show of Jewish supremacy.
It marked the beginning of the national Israel Day parade – a celebration of Israel’s victory of the six day war in 1967. Israeli forces occupied the rooftop of the prayer hall, and fired rubber bullets at Palestinian worshippers to disperse them and make way for the passage of Israelis streaming through.
After Israel’s victory in 1967 and its capture of East Jerusalem, which caused the displacement of about 80% of Palestinians, it handed back the custodianship of the Temple Mount to Jordan, and thus arrived the internationally recognised ‘status quo’. Jews may visit the compound but due to their religious belief that the site was too sacred under Jewish law to have any Jew pray there, only Muslims could pray within the compound. Last week saw yet another violation of this internationally recognised agreement as radicalised nationalist sentiment within Israel increases.
We spoke to Mouin Rabbani, a leading Middle East analyst and expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict about the origins of the contention over the rights to the Temple Mount.
He explained: “During the 1980s, radical extremist groups, including militias, began fairly regular attempts to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque, and then in 1990 there was an invasion of the Haram-e-Sharif by the Israeli police and military which resulted in 20 or 21 dead.”
One of the most notorious Zionist Jews in history was mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, who walked into the Ibraheemi Mosque of Hebron in Ramadhan and shot dead 29 Palestinian worshippers, injuring 125.
A shrine was built honouring Goldstein after his death and it became a pilgrimage site for many Jews who aligned with his mindset of a Jewish Supremacist state; the epithet on his tombstone today still reads that Goldstein was a martyr with a clean heart who “gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.”
The predominantly Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah, was the site of forced evictions by the Israeli state last year. The overwhelming support among Israelis for the events in Sheikh Jarrah was an alarming but normal indicator of the increasing militarisation of Israeli society as a whole.
Rabbani says this kind of Jewish supremacy is “nothing new” and “Israel has often been described as, not least by Israeli political scientists and commentators, an army with a state as opposed to a normal country where a state has an army. The security establishment is thoroughly dominant in Israeli politics and society in ways that have few contemporary parallels.”
Temple Mount, Zionism & Jewish Supremacy
So what exactly is the issue over the right to the Temple Mount?
“Zionism as it emerged in the late 19th century… was a preponderantly secular movement that made use of religious imagery and religious symbolism when it suited it, to rationalise and justify its position. Zionism is often characterised and rightly so as Jewish nationalism, but it is Jewish in the ethnic sense, not the religious sense.
What you have is these groups who are increasingly powerful and influential within the Israeli state. For them, the ultimate prize is full, exclusive hegemonic dominance over the Haram-e-Sharif, ultimately tearing down the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock and replacing them with a Jewish temple.”
The racist, ethnic centred slurs of the scores of Jewish-Israeli youths and their acts of aggression towards Palestinians within the Haram-e-Sharif compound are a telling show of Jewish supremacy.
And such a mindset is loudly echoed in Israel’s recent efforts to ban the Palestinian flag from University campuses and other state funded institutions in Israel.
Does Israel Want Peace?
“Well, peace is not an agenda. Sure, you say if I managed to get you to capitulate and fully eradicate your rights and you stop fighting back then we’ve achieved peace. What is really going on is Israel is seeking to establish its uncontested domination and hegemony over the land and the people. The maxim that is often used in this respect is – maximum land and minimum Arabs.”
“And the fact that Palestinians have such corrupt and incompetent leadership and really don’t have the organisation and wherewithal to contest these Israeli acts of aggression, there isn’t organised resistance, certainly can’t be mistaken for peace.”
But how about Hamas attacks on Israel?
“Well, you know, Israel is a nuclear power and the only nuclear power in the Middle East. It has the most powerful army in the region. Ariel Sharon used to brag that the Israeli army could conquer Algiers, Baghdad and all territory between in the space of a week. You can choose to believe that or not but the fact that he said, I think says something. Israel has not only the most sophisticated armaments in the region at its disposal but has the full, unconditional and uncritical backing and support of the most powerful state that has existed in history, namely the United States, and it also enjoys what I call the active acquiescence of the European Union and its member states. That is pretty hard to beat. “
“Hamas by contrast, you know if we talk about the same collection of states, is effectively a delegitimised pariah, with very few military means at its disposal. The one territory it does control, the Gaza strip, has been under international and particularly Israeli- Egyptian blockade since 2006. Has it managed to substantially improve its military capacity? Yes very much so. But are these in any way a match for Israel’s military capabilities? Absolutely not. I mean it’s the contest between a goldfish and a great white shark.”
“Israel got away with it“
To demonstrate the utter neglect for Palestinians, the murder of Palestinian journalist and American citizen Shireen Abu-Akleh is summed up by Rabbani: “Israel got away with it.”
“That’s the hard and bitter truth. It is definitively confirmed that she was shot dead by a trained Israeli sniper. Snipers don’t usually make up their own minds and act independently in these situations. They follow the orders and authorisation of their commanding officers. And there is growing evidence, some would say also conclusive, that she was deliberately targeted, not only as a journalist but her individually. And she was also a US citizen. The normal procedure in such cases when an American citizen is murdered abroad in this kind of situation is that the U.S government and particularly the FBI launches an independent investigation to get to the bottom of things and then ensures that the perpetrators are brought to justice in the U.S court.
Shireen Abu Akleh was summarily executed by the Israeli military. Judging by the international response thus far which I don’t expect to change, Israel will enjoy continued impunity and lack of accountability and as a result Israel will feel itself free to murder additional journalists and there has been one more case at least since then.”
How can peace be achieved?
“The international consensus calls upon Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied territory including the West Bank, the Gaza strip and the Syrian Golan heights.
Another formula would be a secular democratic or bi-national arrangement in which all those who either reside within the territory of what was formally mandatory Palestine, including those who were ethnically cleansed from that territory in 1948 and to a lesser extent after 1967 would enjoy either equal individual rights or a combination of equal individual and communal rights, and ultimately of course that is the preferred outcome for anybody who believes in justice and equality.
It would take many decades to achieve a one state solution. In fact there already is a one-state, now and to transform that would require massive efforts and entail truly horrific levels of suffering, not least because the west, Europe and the United States are thoroughly committed to the perpetuation of Israel as a Jewish state.
Peace cannot be achieved by bilateral negotiations and agreement the way that you can resolve the outstanding issues of Brexit between London and Brussels. You’re here talking about a colonial reality, where to put it simply, Israel is too powerful and the Palestinians too weak to reach a just, comprehensive and durable resolution of the Question of Palestine.”
“Israel don’t even intend to negotiate with the Palestinians, they are, again, committed to this regime of Jewish Supremacy, not only its perpetuation but its expansion.
On the Palestinian side you have a leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is wholly committed to a negotiated two-state solution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict but is essentially completely powerless, completely illegitimate in the eyes of his own people.”
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