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     Volume 4 Issue 70 | November 11, 2005 |

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4 Corners of the World


EACH Eid brings along with it unique circumstances, invoking charitable thoughts that demand apt responses from humankind.

Each time it is this dynamism that gives this centuries-old festivity a whole new meaning.

Each occasion enhances its modernity and continuing contextualization in an ever-changing society.

This Eid-ul-Fitr while enjoying your own freedom your thoughts must have been with the unfortunate inmates of the notorious Guantánamo Bay prison. Bush and his lackeys are holding hundreds of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists without charges, some for as long as four years. In the US naval base prison torture and torment by the American forces has been the norm. US interrogators even flushed copies of the Qur'an down a toilet. Amnesty International said Britain and the US are betraying the cause of human rights.

The inmates have been on a lengthy hunger strike demanding justice and better living conditions. The prison authorities have reportedly responded to the strikes by force-feeding weakened inmates by strapping them to tables and inserting long tubes through their nasal passages. Tubes were used on different detainees with no sanitization. When these tubes were reinserted, the detainees could see the blood and stomach bile from other detainees remaining on the tubes.

Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has called on the Bush administration to shut the Guantánamo Bay prison to demonstrate the country's commitment to human rights.

The United Nations wants to send a fact-finding mission to the prison. But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he would not permit UN investigators to interview detainees there, for fear the cat may come out of the bag.

Precisely that is what the now increasingly infamous Bush gang accused Iraqi president Saddam Hussein of holding political opponents without trial, mounting inhuman terror tactics on them and keeping the rest of the world at bay. Well, this is the Guantánamo Bay!

Now should some foreign government thousands of miles away feel like liberating these prisoners by indiscriminately strafing the US civilian population to smithereens they will have precedence as their defence the unprovoked, unnecessary, unjustified and uncivilised USA attack on first Afghanistan and then Iraq? Thank God! No other government in the world is that senseless and selfish. Thankfully also, the people of USA haven lately awoken to the deceit and debauchery of Bush, Blair and Co., as per the unpopularity polls.

This Eid-ul-Fitr while being surrounded by relative calm, your thoughts must have been with the street protestors in Paris where rioters are defying the police for over a week and a half.

The first riots erupted after two boys, aged 15 and 19, one of Tunisian origin, the other from sub-Saharan Africa, were electrocuted on October 27 by high-voltage equipment in an electricity substation, where they took refuge because they were being pursued by police. The police denied there was any pursuit.

French police arrested nearly 300 people as cars and buildings were torched for the ninth consecutive night in Paris suburbs and rioting spread to other cities. Almost 900 vehicles were set ablaze across the nation.

The riots involve mainly African communities living on council estates in the northeast of the French capital, people who are trapped in a cycle of unemployment and poverty. This latest wave of violence has again highlighted the problems facing France's immigrant communities and the tensions that have been simmering for decades.

It may not help to recall that it were the French who discriminated against a harmless religious practice by banning the hijab in schools a few years back.

This Eid-ul-Fitr while sharing your joy with your near and dear ones, your thoughts must have been with the families of the 8 October earthquake victims of Pakistan and India.

Nearly 75000 people have been killed, hundreds of villages have been wiped out, and thousands have been left homeless and injured. Men, women and children are camping in the open. About 5,00,000 tents are needed to shelter the homeless; 3,00,000 have been distributed. Relief workers apprehend the worst during the imminent cold season in the snow prone mountainous region.

The United Nations sought $550 million for emergency quake aid. Donors have pledged $131 million, which is less than 25% of the UN appeal, a far cry from the much appreciated monetary reaction by different countries after the Asian Tsunami.

After the tsunami, the UN had about 1000 helicopters active from the countries concerned, and from the whole international community. The quake-hit area has about one-tenth of that in this grave emergency.

This Eid-ul-Fitr while relishing the delicacies that accompanies the biannual merriment your thoughts must have been with the Monga-hit people of North Bangladesh. The months of October and November are called the "Monga", the period when food stocks run out and job opportunities dry up just before the main rice harvest in December.

Exceptionally severe flooding and other natural calamities in close succession this year have left people with acute food security. A near-famine situation, when food is scarce and prices of whatever amount is available are high, prevails in some areas in the districts of Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Nilphamari and Rangpur. The vulnerable groups of Monga are small, some marginal, labourers, women, children and elders.

This Eid-ul-Fitr there was not much gaiety among these people. One cannot celebrate Eid so soon after burying the dead.

Incidentally, the victims in the four corners of the world are by and large poor or Muslim, or both.

Eid Mubarak!

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