Japan is one of the minor members of Bush's "coalition of the willing" in terms of troop commitment, but the Asian superpower's anti-war movement has made more progress than any other in the world in establishing direct links of human solidarity with the civil resistance in Iraq-groups of the embattled secular left which oppose the US-led occupation and the Islamist insurgents alike.
NEW DELHI: Step one was in July last year when India and US signed the historic nuclear deal. Step two has happened in New Delhi last week that marks another major move towards the recognition of India as the nuclear exception that will enable it to access enriched uranium and nuclear technology from international sources.
While the United Nations human rights structures are under critical examination and Burma is being discussed in the UN Security Council, it is useful to review the UN's efforts to help a transition occur in the country. The military's responses have always been temporary with minor modifications of its heavy-handed rule. In December, at the Security Council, the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, warned "In the longer term, deep-rooted chronic and accelerating poverty, growing insecurity and increasing political tension appear to be moving Myanmar toward a humanitarian crisis."
The recent recovery of several skeletons from a mass grave in Gujarat, most probably Muslim victims of the state sponsored pogrom in 2002, is a ghastly reminder that the culprits of one of the worst communal riots have not been brought to justice.
"We are faced with a country which is at war with its own people" - Justice Rajsoomer Lallah,
former UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Myanmar
The recent plea for UN Security Council Action on Burma from former Czech President Vaclav Havel and the retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has led to strong reactions from the Myanmar (Burma) military-led government. The Burmese government has wildly lashed out at everyone it considers to be a part of the opposition both in the country and in foreign governments and NGOs. The plea for action was accompanied by massive reports of slave labor, systematic rape, the conscription of child soldiers and the massive, deliberate destruction of villages, food sources and medical services, especially against ethnic minorities. Recent interviews have been carried out among the thousands of refugees who have fled to Thailand and a smaller number to Bangladesh.
Even paradise has its seedy side, a fact that comes through clearly in Louise Brown's important book, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (Virago, 2000). Examining the region's sex trade and shedding light on its abuses and exploitations, Brown's book is a wake-up call and a condemnation. But mostly it is a chronicle of commodification, filled with very sad stories about the lives of innocent girls and women forced to sell their bodies as if they were just so much meat.