Dr. Haneef: The plight of being a Muslim under John Howard

Decent people the world over heaved a sigh of relief when John Howard’s regime announced there was no proof of Dr. Haneef’s involvement in the so called ‘UK terror attacks’ even though there was a twist to the wording. The twist being the innuendo that there was no doubt of his involvement but the government being democratic, and yes, civilised too, couldn’t proceed further because there was ‘no proof.’

There was hope the young doctor could go back to his home in Bangalore and hold his newborn baby, which is what he wanted to do when he bought the one-way ticket out of Australia. Still fingers were crossed. You never know with civilisation, do you? Anything can happen.

And sure enough, something did happen. The next day news had it that the Dr. Haneef had given his SIM card to a cousin who happened to be involved in the ‘UK terror attacks.’ He would be charged with ‘recklessness,’ for which he could go to jail for 15 years if convicted. Chances are he will be ‘convicted’ and then be deported. The corporate media will then tell us the nice white guys had freed the Muslim doctor cum ‘terrorist’ and then, ever so subtly, sing their own praises.

The latest news is Dr. Haneef has been given bail, but the Aussie authorities have revoked his work visa and continue to keep him in custody. He’s been given bail but is still in jail! And what’s more, he’s being kept in solitary confinement. Why solitary confinement? Oh, that’s to ‘respect his privacy,’ according to Australia’s envoy in India. This is the height of cruelty. And it’s supposed to be civilised.

The Aussie envoy went on to say Dr. Haneef would be accorded his rights according to Australian law. For God’s sake, what kind of law is this that sends someone to jail for 15 years for being ‘reckless’? Where are the human rights guys? There is only one word to describe John Howard’s law, draconian. But John Howard defends this law with the vigour emperor Bush has provided him with. Some civilisation this!

Here we have an innocent guy whose only ‘crime’ was to give his SIM card to a distant cousin who the British say was involved in the ‘UK terror attacks.’ That’s all. For this he could go to jail for 15 years. Look at it this way. The guy was leaving the UK and he did not have any use for his SIM card anymore and so he gave it to his cousin. Big crime. Send the bloke to jail! For 15 years no less. That’s the way civilisation operates in the free world. Hurrah.

Australia’s draconian laws are a throwback to the McCarthy days in the US. Anybody seen with a commie then was guilty of being a commie. Guilty by association, they called it. The other catchy phrase was ‘red under the bed.’ This was scare mongering at its best. The American ruling elite – the oligarchy – have forever kept their people under a scare so as to prevent them from scrutinising their conduct as the conglomerates they are aligned with rake in the shekels, euros, dollars and what have you.
In the sixties and seventies it was the red menace. The propaganda was so effective we all believed the commies were the bad guys. And yet Red Russia, China or Cuba was not even as fractionally bad as we were trained to believe. All the while it was America who was killing countless non-whites. In Vietnam, America, with a little help from Australia, killed over three million people and currently, as it continues its genocide of non-white people, over a million have been slaughtered in Iraq and Afghanistan…. and still counting. All this to make the world safe for capitalism... sorry…. I mean globalisation... no... no... I meant democracy.

Man, all along it was America and its satellites that were the bad guys, not the commie countries. Right now it’s the ‘Islamic fundamentalists,’ ‘Islamofacists,’ ‘Islamists,’ ‘Jihadists’ or ‘extremist Muslims’ who are the ‘Red Indians’ or ‘savages’ as the cowboy comic books depicted them. Now we know they were the good guys and the good guys were the bad guys. Maybe in a few years from now, if Uncle Sam has not nuked us for our own good and we are happily still alive and kicking, the so-called ‘enemies of freedom and democracy’ may not be the bad boys they are propagated to be.

In the meantime B.T. Venkatesh, Dr. Haneef’s lawyer in India, hit the nail right on the head when he said the Australians were punishing his client because he was Asian and because he’s a Muslim. But then there is nothing new in what Venkatesh says. There has always been a racist tendency among Australia’s ruling elite. Remember the slogan ‘Keep Australia White’? Fantastic. They grab the land from the blacks and then want to keep it white.

Australia’s racism extended even to sports. Eddie Gilbert, the fastest bowler of his time, - faster than even Larwood, according to Sir Donald Bradman – was prevented from playing for his country. Why? Simple. Because he was black. He was an ‘Abbo.’ That’s why.

As Dr. Haneef’s family moves from hope to despair, John Howard is trying every trick in the book to fix Dr. Haneef so as to save face and curry favour with Emperor Bush. However, news just in says he would be deported even if he were innocent. Three cheers for civilisation! Hip... hip…
Hameed Abdul Karim


Delay over Widows’ and Orphans’ Pensions

How long must it take for a woman, after her husband who was a permanent and pensionable labourer and later a watcher in the government service had expired, to draw her widow’s pension?
Here is a strange case in the Agrarian Services Department at Ampara, where a widow, who has now completed her seventy-ninth year and is the mother of 12 children, has still not been paid her W&OP although her husband expired six years ago in 2001 and the department was furnished with his death certificate promptly.

Three Members of Parliament of the Ampara and Batticaloa Districts had made representations to the head of the department and one member had even raised this in parliament last year. Yet the situation remains dismal.
The department is so barren that it has no records of his service and the widow had to furnish copies of her husband’s letters of appointments and promotions from papers he had left behind.

Where has the breakdown been in this case? When the deceased husband was appointed as a permanent and pensionable labourer and later as watcher in 1960, the department should have obtained the necessary marriage registration entry and furnished it to the W&OP Department for her to have been issued with a W&OP number on a card.
Sweet nothing had been done on this then, leading to the groping in the dark now. The department was then a money spinner involved in the purchase and sale of paddy and does not seem to have taken care of its labour folk.

What is worse, even certificates of marriage end death registration entries sent by the widow by registered post to the commissioner in 2001 appear to have been lost or misplaced and copies had been called for again after six years!
The question arises as to what could have happened to the W&OP contributions recovered from the deceased husband while he was in service.
Incidents of this nature call for case studies. If the department had been a private institution, ugly incidents of this nature would not occur!
K. A. Thavarasa
Colombo 15


Those vehicle permits for parliamentarians

There is much talk about vehicle permits issued to parliamentarians. Will the Members of Parliament please come public and voluntarily declare:
1. That no vehicle permit was obtained or
2. That a vehicle was purchased with the permit obtained, which vehicle is presently being used by him or her to serve the people or
3. That the vehicle purchased using the permit was donated for political party use.
If, however, no vehicle was purchased using the permit, what was done to the permit needs to be explained. Will a journalist ‘with pen and paper’ please collect the information and publish it?
Upali S. Jayasekera
Colombo 4


Impurities in soft drink bottle

A fortnight ago I purchased a bottle of cream soda and when I got home, I noticed many impurities floating inside the bottle. I took the suspect bottle back to the shop and upon complaining to the seller, I was told that he was unable to examine and check each and every bottle he bought. He suggested that I should exchange the suspect bottle for another. However, had I done as he suggested, this complaint would have gone unnoticed and several such cases would go unnoticed.

I wrote a complaint to Cold Stores Ltd., but they don’t seem to be interested for I have received no reply to my complaint. As an alternative I wish to complain about this matter to the government authority which deals with subjects of this nature. I would be thankful if I could be informed as to who the authority is and where the office is located. I would appreciate if I could be supplied with the postal address of the relevant authority in order to communicate with him on this subject.
I am proud to say that ever since its entry into the newspaper business, I have been a patroniser of The Nation. I will continue to read The Nation for I am fully satisfied with the money I spend buying your paper.
Hector Cooray


Sharia! Whose Sharia in Saudi Arabia?

The case of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan housemaid sentenced to death on June 16 by beheading with a one month period for the right of appeal by a Saudi Court in Dawadimi, has once again brought into question the system of justice practiced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In February, four Sri Lankans were executed for armed robbery and their headless bodies left on public display in Riyadh.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia are justifying the execution by reference to the Sharia which they claim that they are implementing. In 2005, 191 persons were executed. After dropping to 38 in 2006, in 2007 it is already at least 102 including three women, according to Amnesty International.

To say that they are implementing the Sharia which is of divine origin is ridiculous. If the Sharia is truly implemented, it is the rulers, not the subjects, who should be executed as they have no legal right to rule.
Under the Sharia, Islam does not permit monarchial dynastic rule and all monarchies in the persian Gulf region including Saudi Arabia are thus illegal. The system in Saudi Arabia which is flaunted as the Sharia is in actual fact a tribal and traditional system drawing its legitimacy from the pre-Islamic Jahili system of tribal and clannish rule.

The autocratic Saudi regime which in fact is the ruling Al-Saudi family, something unheard of in Islam and Islamic history, exercises absolute power and control of the wealth of the country as its hereditary birthright, with no accountability to anyone at all. They have invested their oil wealth in the US and Europe, forsaking poor countries worldwide. The claim that they are implementing Sharia law is a huge deception.

Amnesty International has pointed out that “court proceedings fall far short of international standards for fair trial and take place behind closed doors. Defendants do not have the right to formal representation by a lawyer and in many cases are not informed of the process of legal proceedings against them. They may be convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress, torture or deception.”

Speaking on the housemaid’s sentence, Kate Allen of Amnesty International further called it “an absolute scandal that Saudi Arabia is preparing to behead a teenager who didn’t have a lawyer at her trial.”
“The Saudi authorities are flouting an international prohibition on the execution of child offenders by even imposing a death sentence on a defendant who was reportedly 17 at the time of alleged crime,” she said.

In Islamic law, it is an obligation of an Islamic government to provide all facilitie to legally defend those facing criminal charges. However, in the Saudi system the government asserts it has no obligations to provide legal assistance. The total cost of the appeal for Rizana Nafeek is US$ 40,000, approximately Rs. 5 million. The accused has no chance whatsoever! She had no access to lawyers either during interrogation or her trial and was believed to have confessed to murder during police questioning. She has since retracted her confession, suggesting that her confession had been taken under duress.

The Saudi regime is making the Divine Sharia a travesty and a mockery to bring ridicule on the divine religion of Islam and its just Sharia. In the latest development at time of writing, to save Rizana Nafeek, the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Saudi Arabia appealed to the media to be cautious in its coverage. This is due, he said, to concerns that the coverage could influence decisions made during the course of negotiations between the two sides in the case.

“The disclosure of certain details as well as mischievous reporting on a global perspective could have serious repercussions on Nafeek’s case,” Sri Lankan Ambassador A.J.M. Sadique told Arab News without elaborating.
“Now that the imminent danger to Rizana’s life has passed, and the matter is before the courts for judicial consideration, we would like to ask for every effort to avoid public discussion of the case, lest it be construed as contempt of court which could be prejudicial to Rizana’s case,” said Ambassador Sadiq.

Such disclosures are in fact irrelevant as it was the media’s role in highlighting the plight of poor Rizana that motivated concerned people and international human rights organisations to agitate for justice for Rizana, thus exposing the so-called Sharia system in Saudi Arabia as a façade.
Saybhan Samat,









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