urges US to reconsider Modi's visa plea
DELHI, March 19: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on
Saturday expressed serious concern over denial of visa to
the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, by the US and said
his Government had urged Washington to reconsider the decision.
Responding to a special mention on the issue by the leader
of Opposition, Mr Jaswant Singh, the Prime Minister said "It
is not a matter of partisan politics, it is a matter of principles...
Government of India's immediate and urgent response equally
shows our principled stand in this matter."
Mr Jaswant Singh's had said that the ground on which Modi
was denied visa was totally unacceptable.
US is assessing India's request for reconsideration of the
decision to deny visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,
American Embassy said here on Saturday. "The request
of the Government of India for review of decision on denial
of visa to Modi has been forwarded to the State Department.
It is being assessed," Embassy spokesman David Kennedy
said. He said the State Department will give a formal reply
to the Indian government after assessing the request but refused
the estimate how much time it would take.
the US has said that its decision to revoke visa to Chief
Minister Narendra Modi was not based on any US government
findings about his responsibility for the Gujarat riots but
the conclusions reached by the National Human Rights Commission
of India in this regard. US State Department Deputy Spokesman
Adam Ereli told newsmen in Washington that it was inaccurate
to say that America have determined that Modi was behind the
riots in Gujarat in 2002.
fact of the matter is that it was the Indians who investigated
the riots and it was the Indian Government who determined
that state institutions failed to act in a way that would
prevent violence and would prevent religious persecution,"
he said here on Friday when asked whether the US investigated
properly before taking the decision.
the US Embassy in New Delhi had said that it had revoked Modi's
tourist/business visa and was also denying him a diplomatic
visa. "So this isn't a matter of the United States saying
something happened or something didn't happen. It's a matter
of the United States responding to a finding by the Indian
National Human Rights Commission pointing to comprehensive
failure on the part of the state government of Gujarat to
control persistent violations of rights," he said.
the basis of those facts, we determined a couple of things.
Number one, we determined that (on) an application for a diplomatic
visa to come to the United States, the terms for issuing that
visa under US law had not been met, and so we decided not
to issue the visa, based on US law and based on findings of
fact by the Indian National Commission," Ereli said.
number two, we determined that an existing visa that Mr Modi
had - an existing tourist/ business visa - should be revoked
under Section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality
Act, which says that any foreign government official who is
responsible for or directly carried out at any time particularly
severe violations of religious freedom should not be eligible
for a visa. So that's the background to those decisions."
When asked why the existing visa, which was cancelled, was
given in the first place, Ereli said: "the visa was given
before the events of 2002; that is my understanding."
denial a courageous stand'
DELHI, March 19: Many Indian American groups have welcomed
the denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
and have called it as "a principled and courageous action"
by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and the State Department.
Expressing its happiness, the Federation of Indian American
Christian organizations of North America (FIACONA) noted that
the US State Department has made a strong decision in the
much as FIACONA is opposed to denying visa to anyone, we see
this decision of the State Department as an important decision
where people are going to be held accountable for their actions
and their policies. FIACONA see this decision by the State
Department as not just about the visas," said Mr John
Prabhudoss, the Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee
Prabhudoss said "this action by the US Administration
is a recognition of Modi's involvement in February 2002 killings
and his continued policies of harassment of religious minorities
in Gujarat." He said "those who invited Modi to
honor him in the US has done so in total neglect for the pain
and suffering he has caused to hundreds of thousands of people
in Gujarat and elsewhere."
asked "would the Asian American Hotel Owners Association
(AAHOA) leadership have invited him if any of their family
members were brutally killed by the state government under
Modi?" Now AAHOA has nobody to blame but himself or herself
for this situation. A little consideration and compassion
for the victims of Modi would have avoided this situation,
National President of FIACONA, Rev. Bernard Malik, said "the
pain and suffering of the people in Gujarat caused by Modi
directly and indirectly have been taken note by the international
community. In the free world one should not be allowed to
get away with such brutal abuse of state power against vulnerable
National Vice President, Mr. Abraham Mammen thanked those
Members of Parliament in India and those Members of US Congress
from both parties, especially Cong. Pitts and his colleagues
for their strong support in this effort. He pointed out "the
fight for justice has not ended. The perpetrators of violence
must be brought to justice in a court of law and FIACONA will
help in making that happen."
Coalition Against Genocide, which had planned to hold a protest
outside the Madison Square Garden, has claimed that it represented
the majority of the Indian-Americans and praised the decision
to revoke Modi's visa, saying his effort to put up a moderate
face have failed.
denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is
"a principled and courageous action" by US Secretary
of State Condoleeza Rice and the State Department, said Arjun
Appadurai, provost and senior vice-president of New School
University, in New York. Mr Appadurai, who co-signed a letter
of protest sent to Dr Rice urging the US not to permit Modi
to come on a private visit, said he believed the denial of
visa is a recognition by the US of the controversy surrounding
indicates to the world that the United States retains a deep
commitment to human rights and a deep commitment to the rights
of the minorities and to democratic inclusion across the world,"
he said. Asked to comment on Modi's assertion that the denial
of visa is an insult to the Indian Constitution and gives
a lie to US claim of respect for democracy since no court
has indicted him in connection with the Godhra massacre, Appadurai
said this is "a twisting" of facts. "The fact
that he has not been indicted by court of law is a critique
of our judicial institutions," Appadurai said.
said many independent judicial and citizens' bodies had indicted
Modi and that the Indian state and Indian judiciary should
now confirm these findings.
believe to say that he has not been indicted by law and therefore
the denial amounts to a stifling of democratic rights is not
the correct estimate of this case. In fact, this on the other
hand is upholding of democratic rights," he said.
said in any case the rights of a chief minister to come to
the US on a private invitation do not raise any constitutional
issues at all. "As far as Modi's claim of "insult
to the Indian Constitution" is concerned, it is entirely
a red herring which should not even arrive," Appadurai
said. "And if it arrives at all, it should arrive in
the context of Modi's own activities in Gujarat in 2002 and
how his government violated the rights of the minorities.
That is a real constitutional issue and not this denial of
denies visa to Gujarat CM Modi
DELHI, March 18: In a severe rebuke to Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi, the United States has denied him entry to America.
Taking a strong stand against the senior BJP leader and Hindutva
icon, the US Consular division on Friday denied him a "diplomatic
visa", apparently holding him responsible for the communal
riots in Gujarat in 2002 which claimed over 2000 lives. In
addition, his tourist/business visa, which was already granted,
has also been revoked under a section of US Immigration and
US embassy spokesman confirmed that the "Chief Minister
of Gujarat Narendra Modi had applied for but was denied diplomatic
visa under 214 (b) of Immigration and Nationality Act because
he was not coming for a purpose that qualify for a diplomatic
pointed out that Modi was already holding a tourist-cum-business
visa, the spokesman said Modi's "existing tourist/business
visa has been revoked under Section 212 (a)(2)(g) of the Immigration
and Nationality Act."
Section makes any foreign government official who was responsible
or "directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe
violations of religions freedom" ineligible for the visa.
officials argued that the State Department's stand on Gujarat
riots were based largely on the reports of India's National
Human Rights Commission findings and other independent Indian
conclusions on Gujarat riots and the role of the then BJP
government, state police, and other official organs as well
as Chief Minister Narendra Modi, are all contained in detail
in the US State Department's annual reports on human rights
and religious freedom. Officials
confirmed that with the denial of his visa, Modi now has no
chance of entering the United States, where he has a large
number of right-wing Gujarati following.
was to pay a five-day visit to US from March 20 and some Indian-American
groups had threatened to organise protests against him.
groups, with active support from several US Congressmen have
been carrying out an e-mail campaign against Modi's visit
to the US. Lobbyists had flooded Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice with emails to deny the Gujarat CM a visa.
Tuesday John Conyers Jr, Democrat Congressman from Michigan,
had moved a resolution in the House of Representatives condemning
Modi's conduct during the riots. It blames Modi for his actions
to incite religious persecution and urges the US to condemn
all violations of religious freedom in India.
resolution, which has been referred to the Committee on International
Relations, says the US Commission on International Religious
Freedom has confirmed in its May 2004 report that government
in Gujarat led by Modi has been widely accused of being reluctant
to bring the perpetrators of the killings of Muslims and non-Hindus
Conyers said the US State Department "has discussed the
role of Modi and his government in promoting attitudes of
racial supremacy, racial hatred, and the legacy of Nazism
through his government's support of school textbooks in which
Nazism is glorified." Conyers'
resolution in the House says Modi revised school textbooks
to describe the "charismatic personality of Hitler the
Supremo", while failing to acknowledge the Nazi extermination
policies, the concentration camps, and the religious persecution.
conduct by such a high-ranking foreign official undermines
internationally-recognized fundamental rights and the directives
of Congress under the International Religious Freedom Act
of 1998," the resolution said.
are other active campaigns against Modi in the US by liberal
groups against Modi. Though
Modi had emerged as a Hindutva icon and a star campaigner
for BJP immediately after the riots, in recent times BJP state
units in Bihar, Haryana and Jharkhand have been wary of getting
him to campaign for them in the state Assembly elections.
BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani have admitted
that the riots were a blot in six-year tenure of National
Democratic Alliance government. In
a recent interview, KR Narayanan, who was then the President,
has accused Vajpayee government of blocking his efforts and
requests to restore peace and normalcy in Gujarat.
condemns America's move
DELHI, March 18: BJP has condemned US move to cancel Gujarat
CM Narendra Modi's visa on grounds of religious violations.
a statement issued by the party, spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas
Naqvi said, "The BJP condemns this move by the US. Religious
liberties and democracy are very strongly rooted in India
and are an internal matter. The US need not to worry about
these on any count. The BJP will meet and chart its course
of action on this issue very soon."
US to step up defence, energy, high tech cooperation
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, March 16: Dr Condoleeza Rice's day's visit to New Delhi
marks a new phase in the growing ties between India and the
US. But for couple of disagreements, the two sides had convergence
of views on expanding cooperation in defence, civil aviation,
energy and other sectors. This was visible when the US Secretary
of State had warm, cordial and productive meetings with Indian
leaders including the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the
UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the External Affairs Minister,
Mr Natwar Singh, and the Leader of Opposition, Mr L K Advani.
Rice and Mr Natwar Singh said the two sides have decided to
conclude the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) Phase
II fairly soon. Both the leaders agreed that high technology
trade would continue to grow. It was also decided to have an
expanded dialogue on energy needs of the two countries.
Natwar Singh said "we will cooperate more closely in the
field of energy. Our defence cooperation will be expanded. Civil
aviation is another major area of growth through an Open Skies
Agreement. This will impact positively on our economic and trade
links. Both governments will encourage their business communities
to be more aggressive in exploiting opportunities and challenges."
Rice started the day with a meeting with Mrs Sonia Gandhi. "I
did have a very cordial and wonderful talks with Mrs Sonia Gandhi,"
she said. Their meeting lasted half-an-hour. Apart from being
extremely cordial and warm, almost all issues of mutual interest
thereafter, the United States Secretary of State and her Indian
counterpart Mr Natwar Singh held their first formal bilateral
dialogue and termed it as "productive" and forward
looking. Senior officials from both sides were present during
the delegation level talks. Mr Natwar Singh continued the talks
with her over lunch at the Hyderabad House, former palace of
the Nizam adjoining India Gate. On her first visit to Asia after
taking over as the Secretary of State, Dr Rice arrived here
on Tuesday evening and started her official engagements on Wednesday
Rice informed that President George Bush "wanted me to
come here early in my tenure because this is a relationship
that has transformed in recent years from one that had great
potential to one that is realising its potential." She
told the Indian side that there is "much more we can do",
and said US looks forward to expanding defence cooperation,
which is already "very strong".
the only points where the two sides agreed to differ were sale
of F-16s to Pakistan and Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline.Dr Rice
and Mr Singh agreed on the need for a formal dialogue on the
growing energy needs of the two sides. The energy dialogue seems
to have been agreed upon after India conveyed to the US its
growing needs and the fact that it was looking forward to firming
up the proposed Indo-Iran gas pipeline.
views concerning Iran are very well known by this time. We have
communicated our concerns about the gas pipeline cooperation
between India and Iran. Those concerns are well known to the
Indian government," she said. Mr Singh said, "We have
traditional good relations with Iran, we will expect Iran will
fulfill all demands" of the international community on
its nuclear ambitions.
the general perception about Dr Rice's admiration for India,
Mr Natwar Singh said, "We acknowledge your great political
vision and I felt we are on the same wave length." The
Minister said the two sides had "enormous potential to
shape our global future to our mutual benefit." The two
sides also had convergence of views on Iraq, Afghanistan, West
Asia and restoration of multiparty democracy in Nepal.
Singh also apprised Rice of recent developments in composite
dialogue with Pakistan. However, he said Indo-Pak relations
could only improve if the latter put and end to cross-border
terrorism. The Minister told the visiting dignitary that India
would offer a warm welcome to President George Bush, who, Dr
Rice said, will come to India as a friend. "When a friend
comes to India they do not have to knock at any door, they will
find the door open," said Mr Singh.
Rice told reporters that the possible sale of F-16s to India
and Pakistan came up during the discussions. "The question
of arms sales including F-16s did come up. We are going to have
broad discussion on security needs, defence needs of India,"
she said. Similar discussions would be held when she goes to
Pakistan but she hinted that there wouldn't be immediate decision
on sale of F-16s to Pakistan. Mr Natwar Singh said India expressed
"our concerns on the defence issue as to how it might create
some complications" in the region.
the issue of UN reforms, Rice said the world was only at the
"beginning of UN reforms" and that the US was studying
the entire issue. "The world is changing, there are countries
like India which have been major factors in international economy,
international politics, taking on more and more responsibilities,"
she admitted, but stuck to the traditional stand of US of not
supporting a permanent seat for India in the UNSC.
Singh said the US was fully familiar with India's stand on UN
reforms. He pointed out that India was a "democracy of
one billion people and we are involved in many, many peace keeping
operations" and have played critical roles in de-colonisation
and end of apartheid in South Africa, as he pointed to India's
standing in the global arena. "World of 2005 has nothing
to do with world of 1945," he said.
her meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr Rice conveyed that the
US President, Mr George Bush, has invited him to visit the US.
Rice, on her part, has invited the External Affairs Minister
to visit the US. Dr Rice's had one-to-one meeting with the Prime
Minister that lasted for 25 minutes.
newsmen, Mr Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the Ministry of External
Affairs, said the Prime Minister explained to her India's growing
energy needs in view of its rapid economic growth. Dr Manmohan
Singh underlined the need for an energy dialogue between the
two countries covering all aspects, including various traditional
and non-traditional sources of energy.
his strong commitment to the India-Pakistan dialogue process,
Dr Singh emphasised the need for Pakistan to deliver on its
commitment to prevent cross-border terrorism. This was necessary
to ensure public support for the ongoing peace process in a
democracy like India. Mr Sarna said nuclear energy was one of
the sources India was looking at for meeting its energy needs.
issues to dominate Rice's talks with Indian leaders
DELHI, March 15: The US Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice,
arrived here on Tuesday on a less than 24-hour visit, during which
she will hold talks with the External Affairs Minister, Mr K Natwar
Singh, on bilateral, regional and international issues. Mr S Jaishankar,
joint secretary (Americas) in the external affairs ministry, and
US Ambassador, Mr David Mulford, received Dr Rice on arrival at
the Palam Air Force Base by a special aircraft.
is Dr Rice's first visit to India and the region and the first
by a member of President George W Bush's cabinet in his second
term. Officials have not failed to notice that Rice, who has consistently
promoted US-India relations, has chosen New Delhi for her first
stop of her six-nation Asia tour that will also take her to Pakistan,
Afghanistan, China, Japan and South Korea.
official engagements are all slated for Wednesday, when she will
hold delegation-level talks with Mr Natwar Singh, call on the
Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Leader of Opposition
in the Lok Sabha, Mr L K Advani, before leaving for Pakistan late
afternoon. Mr Natwar Singh would also host a lunch for her. Rice's
visit precedes those by the US Transport Secretary, Mr Norman
Mineta, the Treasury Secretary, Mr John Snow, and perhaps President
Bush himself later in the year.
spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Navtej Sarna
said "She has taken a very close interest in bilateral relations
between India and the US during the first term of President Bush."
He noted that there had been significant developments in bilateral
ties in defence and economic spheres.
"Both governments have been in close touch with each other
on matters of global and regional interest," he added.
Sarna also noted that the ongoing negotiations on Next Steps in
Strategic Partnership (NSSP) had led to the US de-licensing export
of lower-end technology items completely and easing restrictions
on higher-end items. He said further expansion of bilateral cooperation
in technology, economy and security and the regional situation,
including the situation in Nepal, Bangladesh and the India-Pakistan
dialogue, would figure in the talks. Dr Rice will hold talks on
the urgent need for reforms in the United Nations, including the
Security Council, with Indian leaders. The two sides are also
expected to discuss developments in Iraq and assess their ongoing
cooperation in Afghanistan.
Rice's visit to India so early in her new assignment is a mark
of her desire to engage India in a substantive discourse on a
range of issues, a US embassy spokesman in New Delhi. She met
the prime minister briefly in New York last September on the sidelines
of the United Nations summit.
Sarna said there have been significant steps in the bilateral
relationship leading up to this visit. These include cooperation
in the Tsunami response between India and the US. That was a big
boost to our military-to-military cooperation and working relationship
with the US forces. This followed the visit of the Defence Secretary
Mr. Donald Rumsfeld in December 2004.
the economic side there have been some elements which provide
for the basis for expansion of ties i.e. the enhancement of foreign
holding in the telecom, housing, infrastructure, banking and civil
aviation sectors. The positive movement is also indicated by the
progress in the open skies agreement in civil aviation. The economic
dialogue that is headed on the Indian side by the Deputy Chairman
of the Planning Commission will give further momentum to this
the political level, as you know, both governments have been in
close touch and have been having regular consultations on matters
of regional and global interest. Recently we have worked together
with the United States on coordinating our positions on Nepal.
Indian diplomatic circles, she is remembered most for her article
'Promoting the national interest' in Foreign Affairs magazine
during the Bush election campaign of 2000. 'There is a strong
tendency conceptually to connect India with Pakistan and to think
only of Kashmir or the nuclear competition between the two States.
But India is an element in China's calculation, and it should
be in America's too. India is not a great power yet, but it has
the potential to emerge as one,' Dr Rice wrote.
is known to nurse concerns about the implications of China as
the dominating power in south and East Asia. At the same time,
she attaches equal importance to her country's relations with
Pakistan -- an ally in the war against terrorism, a facilitator
of US interests in Afghanistan and an accomplice of the US against
she took over as secretary of state, she said she would follow
an activist foreign policy and that, apart from pursuing vigorously
America's war against terrorism, she would try to mend the country's
relations with the European Union and play a more proactive role
in conflict areas. Her visit to India is preceding an eventful
visit to Europe and the Middle East.
Rice's visit to India is also meant to underline the importance
attached by the US to keeping the dialogue between Delhi and Islamabad
going; to reiterate the importance attached by Bush to the US
relations with India and to plan the second phase of the Next
Steps in Strategic Partnership.
Dr Rice is likely to hear some strong views from the Indian side
on the contradictions in American policy on arms sales in the
India is opposed the proposed sale of American F-16 fighter aircraft
to Pakistan, Islamabad is against the speculated sale of Patriot
missiles to India.
requests AAHOA to recind the invitation to Modi
March 15: Policy Institute for Religion and State (PIFRAS) has
urged the Asian American Hotel Owners Association to rescind Mr.
Narendra Modi's invitation to the US for the upcoming four-day
AAHOA convention from March 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Unfortunately AAHOA's decision to invite Mr. Modi will deeply
polarize the Indian American community with some groups calling
for a boycott of AAHOA, while others organizing a campaign against
Modi in the media which will unnecessarily get AAHOA's name muddled
in the process. Regardless of what one may think, this invitation
will be seen as an endorsement of Mr. Modi's politics of divisiveness
and violence, by the public, says a letter from PIFRAS to AAHOA
It is well documented by various reputed national and international
organizations that Mr. Modi has been complicit in the violence
against Christian and Muslim populations in Gujarat. In 2002 violence
more than 2,000 fellow Indians were killed and over 100,000 lost
their homes, many of whom are women and children. These facts
have been established by several independent inquiries, including
reports published by the British High Commission, Indian Citizen's
Tribunal and the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
India has seen many religious violence in the past including,
the horrific riots in 1947 during India's partition and then in
1982 when Sikhs were victimized, among many other. These wrongful
events from the past could not justify the actions of present
political leaders, says Mr J. Prabhudoss, Executive Director,
PIFRAS, in the letter.
Three years after the killings, Mr. Modi has failed to seek justice
for the victims in his own state, prompting India's Chief Justice
VN Khare to declare: "I have no faith left in the prosecution
and the Gujarat Government."
Given the established role Mr. Modi played in the religious violence,
his visit to the US may raise legal issues as well, as it is in
violation of Section 604 of the US International Religious Freedom
Clinton bowls over young Indian MPs
DELHI, March 1: She came, she spoke and she conquered. US Senator
Hillary Clinton left an indelible impression on young and first-time
Indian MPs during an all-too-brief 15-minute interaction with
them during her visit here. "She was amazing. We all were
very excited," gushed first-time Congress MP Naveen Jindal
when asked about the meeting during Clinton's three-day visit
to India last week.
meeting, though "short but sweet", gave the MPs a chance
to listen to her views on India-US relations, share their concerns
about the two democratic countries and ask her questions about
various issues ranging from Iraq to new US visa rules. The MPs,
who were completely bowled over by the former US first lady, did
not conceal their excitement about the meeting. "She looked
stunning in her black trousers and fuchsia coloured silk jacket,"
said one of them.
she smartly dodged our queries on her prospect of becoming the
next American president," said Jitin Prasada, also a first
time Congress MP.
MPs pointed out that Clinton spoke of her "special bonding"
with India. "India has been closer to my heart since I visited
this country with my daughter Chelsea in 1995. That bond strengthened
when I visited here with my husband (former US president Bill
Clinton)," one of the 25-odd MPs who attended the meeting
quoted Hillary Clinton as saying.
also still cherishes her memories about India. It's vital to have
closer interactions between the two democratic countries,"
the senator added. When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ravi Shankar
Prasad, a former minister, asked Clinton about the US' "tilt"
towards Pakistan, she admitted that India played a crucial role
in fighting terrorism, but said the US wanted Pakistan also to
was very diplomatic, supported the Bush government's foreign policies
and was frank enough to say that she also believed an immediate
troop withdrawal from Iraq would not be good," Madhu Goud
Yaskhi, a New York attorney who won his first Lok Sabha victory
on the Congress ticket, said.
assured Yaskhi, who asked if there was a move to increase H1-B
visas, that the Democrats would support such a move in the senate.
Yaskhi will forever remember the meeting.
I told her that I was once her constituent and was now a member
of the Indian Parliament, she asked me about what I was doing,
why I had come back and how I felt here. She was very sweet,"
businessman-turned-politician Vijay Mallya, who spoke of the difficulties
Indians faced due to visa restrictions, Clinton said: "You
have to understand what we are going through in the post-September
11 scenario. One has to live with this." The senator also
urged the Indian government to facilitate investors if it wanted
to improve inflows into the country. "I would always prefer
India to China because it's a democratic country," she told
Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress.
necessary, Clinton did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. "You
do not have good airports or good roads, so how will you attract
investments. Look at China, they have developed all the infrastructure
facilities required," she maintained. Onkar Singh Kanwar,
president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
Industry, and banker Deepak Bagla, apart from a few other businessmen
also attended the meeting, organised by the Young Parliamentarians'
opts out of US Missile Defence
Feb 25: In a move that can further strain brittle relations with
the United States, Canada has opted out of the US missile defence
programme. Prime Minister Paul Martin, ending nearly two years of
debate over whether Canada should participate in the development
or operation of the multibillion-dollar programme, made the announcement
on Thursday, but added Ottawa would remain a close ally of Washington
in the fight against global terrorism and continental security.
said he intended to talk to President Bush and that Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice had been informed of the decision earlier
The decision is said to please a majority of Canadians, who fear,
the shield could lead to an international arms race. A US State
Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that
despite this decision, Washington expects cooperation with Canada
will continue on a wide range of issues.
to reporters after his foreign minister announced the move in the
House of Commons, Martin said Canada would focus on strengthening
its own military and defence in proposals laid out on Wednesday
in the federal budget. "Canada recognises the enormous burden
that the United States shoulders, when it comes to international
peace and security," Martin said. "The substantial increases
made yesterday to our defence budget are a tangible indication that
Canada intends to carry its full share of that responsibility."
armymen rape women detainees
Feb 23: The US military is investigating an allegation that a US
servicemember raped a female detainee and has closed another criminal
investigation into an alleged rape of a second female detainee for
lack of evidence, a Pentagon spokesman said. Allegations of sexual
misconduct by US military personnel surfaced last year during the
Abu Ghraib prison scandal, but these are the first known cases of
soldiers being accused of raping female detainees.
of those cases has been thoroughly investigated and was closed,
and there was insufficient evidence," Pentagon spokesman Bryan
Whitman told reporters on Tuesday. "The
second one is an ongoing investigation." Whitman said he did
not know when or where the rapes were alleged to have occurred.
got prisoners, detainees under the control of the United States.
Some allegations were made. The allegations are being investigated
or have been thoroughly investigated, and to date there is no substantiation
of any allegation that a US servicemember has raped an Iraqi female
prisoner," he said.
Pentagon disclosed the investigations only after senators last week
asked US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers,
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whether any US personnel
were reported to have raped Muslim women. Both
Rumsfeld and Myers said they did not know.
demands removal of Tarlochan from Minority Commission
DC, Feb 21: The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations
of North America (FIACONA) on Monday demanded the removal of the
Chairman of the India's National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan
Singh. FIACONA has expressed its deep disappointment and shock over
the insensitive statements and actions of Mr Tarlochan Singh in
regard to the Christian community in India.
a statement released in Washington DC by Mr. John Prabhudoss, FIACONA
said that Mr Singh has consistently acted in a manner unbecoming
of the high office he occupies. In a situation where episodes of
communal violence are on the increase in the country and inter community
relations are severely strained, the Chairman Tarlochan Singh has
added fuel to the fire by his unfortunate and insidious statements.
Instead of being a pacifying and unifying force the Commission has
become an instrument for spreading suspicion and hatred under the
Chairmanship of Mr Tarlochan Singh.
Bernard Malik, President of FIACONA said " It is quite incredible
that Mr. Tarlochan Singh is more concerned with the reportedly growing
Christian population in one district of the North Eastern India
than in dealing with serious issues such as recent killings of innocent
Christians in several States. He refuses to take note, much less
intervene, when 250 students of the Emanuel Bible College of Andhra
Pradesh arriving by train in the early hours of February 19 to attend
their graduation ceremony were brutally attacked at the Kota railway
station by a 300 strong mob of Bajarang Dal activists".
a separate incident activists from the Dharma Raksha Samiti of the
VHP unleashed a reign of terror against Christians living in Firozpur
district in Uttar Pradesh forcing over 5,000 of them to publicly
renounce the Christian faith.
Abraham Mammen (National Vice President) said, "Chairman Singh's
record on defending the rights of the citizens belonging to the
minority community in Gujarat and his lack of support for the freedom
of conscience of India's citizens as enunciated in the Constitution
of India makes him ineligible to hold such a high office".
Chairman has been doing mostly Christian bashing in his current
post as the Chairman of the Commission and has grossly failed in
his impartial duty therefore Christian community can no longer place
any faith in the integrity of Mr. Tarlochan Singh. Before he does
more harm to the secular fabric of the country FIACONA demands that
the Prime Minister immediately intervene and remove Mr. Tarlochan
Singh from the office.
soldier details sexual tactics
JUAN (Puerto Rico), Jan 28: Female interrogators tried to break
Muslim detainees at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay by sexual
touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case
smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according
to an insider's written account.
manuscript obtained by The Associated Press is classified as secret
pending a Pentagon review for a planned book that details ways the
US military used women as part of tougher physical and psychological
interrogation tactics to get terror suspects to talk. It's the most
revealing account so far of interrogations at the secretive detention
camp, where officials say they have halted some controversial techniques.
have really struggled with this because the detainees, their families
and much of the world will think this is a religious war based on
some of the techniques used, even though it is not the case,"
the author, former Army Sgt. Erik R. Saar, 29, said.
didn't provide the manuscript or approach AP, but confirmed the
authenticity of nine draft pages AP obtained. He requested his hometown
remain private so he wouldn't be harassed. Saar, who is neither
Muslim nor of Arab descent, worked as an Arabic translator at the
US camp in eastern Cuba from December 2002 to June 2003. At the
time, it was under the command of Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, who had
a mandate to get better intelligence from prisoners, including alleged
al-Qaida members caught in Afghanistan.
said he witnessed about 20 interrogations and about three months
after his arrival at the remote US base he started noticing "disturbing"
practices. One female civilian contractor used a special outfit
that included a miniskirt, thong underwear and a bra during late-night
interrogations with prisoners, mostly Muslim men who consider it
taboo to have close contact with women who aren't their wives.
in April 2003, "there hung a short skirt and thong underwear
on the hook on the back of the door" of one interrogation team's
office, he writes. "Later I learned that this outfit was used
for interrogations by one of the female civilian contractors ...
on a team which conducted interrogations in the middle of the night
on Saudi men who were refusing to talk." Some Guantanamo prisoners
who have been released say they were tormented by "prostitutes."
another case, Saar describes a female military interrogator questioning
an uncooperative 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken
flying lessons in Arizona before the September 11 terror attacks.
Suspected September 11 hijacker Hani Hanjour received pilot instruction
for three months in 1996 and in December 1997 at a flight school
in Scottsdale, Ariz.
female interrogator decided that she needed to turn up the heat,"
Saar writes, saying she repeatedly asked the detainee who had sent
him to Arizona, telling him he could "cooperate" or "have
no hope whatsoever of ever leaving this place or talking to a lawyer.'"
The man closed his eyes and began to pray, Saar writes.
female interrogator wanted to "break him," Saar adds,
describing how she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting
T-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing
them against the prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent
erection. The detainee looked up and spat in her face, the manuscript
interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could
break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell
the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure
to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash. Strict interpretation
of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women other than a
man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are considered
concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her
he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and
gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."
The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar
writes. "She then started to place her hands in her pants as
she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As she circled
around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her
pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to
be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He
then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.
then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his
lungs, spat at her and lunged forward" - so fiercely that he
broke loose from one ankle shackle. "He began to cry like a
baby," the draft says, noting the interrogator left saying,
"Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."
Saar describes resemble two previous reports of abusive female interrogation
tactics, although it wasn't possible to independently verify his
November, in response to an AP request, the military described an
April 2003 incident in which a female interrogator took off her
uniform top, exposed her brown T-shirt, ran her fingers through
a detainee's hair and sat on his lap. That session was immediately
ended by a supervisor and that interrogator received a written reprimand
and additional training, the military said.
another incident, the military reported that in early 2003 a different
female interrogator "wiped dye from red magic marker on detainees'
shirt after detainee spit (cq) on her," telling the detainee
it was blood. She was verbally reprimanded, the military said.
tactics used by female interrogators have been criticized by the
FBI, which complained in a letter obtained last month that US defense
officials hadn't acted on complaints by FBI observers of "highly
aggressive" interrogation techniques, including one in which
a female interrogator grabbed a detainee's genitals.
20 percent of the guards at Guantanamo are women, said Lt. Col.
James Marshall, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command. He wouldn't
say how many of the interrogators were female. Marshall wouldn't
address whether the U.S. military had a specific strategy to use
women. "U.S. forces treat all detainees and conduct all interrogations,
wherever they may occur, humanely and consistent with U.S. legal
obligations, and in particular with legal obligations prohibiting
torture," Marshall said late Wednesday.
some officials at the U.S. Southern Command have questioned the
formation of an all-female team as one of Guantanamo's "Immediate
Reaction Force" units that subdue troublesome male prisoners
in their cells, according to a document classified as secret.
one incident, dated June 19, 2004, "The detainee appears to
be genuinely traumatized by a female escort securing the detainee's
leg irons," according to the document, a U.S. Southern Command
summary of videotapes shot when the teams were used. The summary
warned that anyone outside Department of Defense channels should
be prepared to address allegations that women were used intentionally
with Muslim men.
Guantanamo, Saar said, "Interrogators were given a lot of latitude
under Miller," the commander who went from the prison in Cuba
to overseeing prisons in Iraq, where the Abu Ghraib scandal shocked
the world with pictures revealing sexual humiliation of naked prisoners.
Several female troops have been charged in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
said he volunteered to go to Guantanamo because "I really believed
in the mission," but then he became disillusioned during his
six months at the prison. After leaving the Army with more than
four years service, Saar worked as a contractor briefly for the
Department of Defense has censored parts of his draft, mainly blacking
out people's names, said Saar, who hired Washington attorney Mark
S. Zaid to represent him. Saar needed permission to publish because
he signed a disclosure statement before going to Guantanamo. The
book, which Saar titled "Inside the Wire," is due out
this year with Penguin Press.
has about 545 prisoners from some 40 countries, many held more than
three years without charge or access to lawyers and many suspected
of links to al-Qaida or Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime, which
harbored the terrorist network.
Rice sworn in as US Secretary of State
Jan 27: Condoleezza Rice was today sworn in as the new Secretary
of State at a White House ceremony following her confirmation as
America's top diplomat by the US Senate. On Thursday the Senate
confirmed Rice as President George W Bush's new Secretary of State
in an impressive 85-13 vote, making her the first black woman to
hold the post.
is likely to go to the State Department early this morning to greet
the staff and move into her new office. Rice, 50, National Security
Adviser in Bush's first term in office, succeeds Colin Powell. She
was Bush's most trusted security aide and an architect of policies
on Iraq and war on terror.
As she takes up her new assignment, there is intense speculation
whether there will be any change in policy.
may double bounty on Osama's head
YORK, Jan 24: With the trail of Osama bin Laden having gone cold,
the Bush administration is expected to double the sum on the terror
mastermind's head to 50 million dollars by the end of February,
besides chalking out a new publicity blitz to help trace him. As
part of the publicity blitz, the US State Department is reminding
Afghans and Pakistanis of the existing 25 million dollar bounty.
the end of February, the White House is expected to double the sum
on bin Laden's head, to 50 million dollars, acting on a legislation
passed in November by Congress, Time magazine reports. Bin Laden
is still thought to be hiding somewhere along the 2,500-km mountainous
Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but intelligence officials in Kabul
and Islamabad believe there has been no trace of him for the past
to increase H1B visas for Indian professionals
DELHI, Jan 6: The US has said outsourcing to India was "unavoidable"
as the latter had earned its place as the world's knowledge capital
in the BPO sector and that it was actively considering increasing
the H1B visas for Indian workers.
appeals were made by the US citizens to put a stop to outsourcing
to India but were outright rejected as the US felt that outsourcing
to India, the knowledge capital of the world in the BPO sector,
was unavoidable," an Assocham statement said here, quoting
US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert O Blake.
at an interactive session organised by the industry body, he said
the US was now thinking about increasing the number of H1B visas
to Indian professionals. "This decision is based on the fact
that the US recognises India's contribution in the fields like accounts,
software, engineering and law," he said.
closer cooperation between the small and medium sized companies
of the US and India, he said, "Such technological advancements
will be of great use to Indian small-scale sector." He said
the fact that the US was sending several senators to India next
week proves that the country was serious in boosting economic cooperation
will give India an opportunity to showcase itself to an important
legislative arm of the US Government," he said. India's imports
from the US stood at five billion dollars in 2003 while the exports
to the US were valued at over 13 billion dollars, it added.
sensitive to Indian concern on arms sale to Pak
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Dec 9: India on Thursday conveyed to the US its concern over
repercussions of American arms supplies to Pakistan on the ongoing
Indo-Pak dialogue and the deal's impact on its positive sentiments
for Washington. The Indian leaders conveyed this to the visiting
US Defence Secretary, Mr Donald Rumsfeld. This is the first visit
of an US official to New Delhi at the Cabinet level after the re-election
of President George Bush.
Rumsfeld conveyed to New Delhi that the US understood Indian sensitivities
in this regard and would remain continually in touch, according
to Mr Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The spokesman said the two sides also shared perspective on their
respective ties with Pakistan. Concern was expressed from our side
about the repercussions of US arms supply on the ongoing India-Pakistan
dialogue currently poised at a sensitive juncture.
was noted that India-US relations had seen significant transformation
during President Bush's first term and that US was now perceived
as a strategic partner. These arms sales could impact on the positive
sentiment and goodwill for the US in India. Mr Rumsfeld assured
New Delhi that the US did not envisage relations with India and
Pakistan as a zero-sum game and it was a US objective to have good
relations with both countries.
his stay here, Mr Rumsfeld called on the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan
Singh, and held discussions with the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab
Mukherjee, the External Affairs Minster, Mr K Natwar Singh, and
the National Security Adviser, Mr JN Dixit.
a joint brief interaction with the newsmen after his meeting with
Mr Mukherjee, the visiting Defence Secretary said in his opening
remark the ties were "strong one and something that we intend
to see further knitted together as we go along the months and years
ahead". Mr Mukherjee said "we had excellent discussion
and we discussed all kinds of things that are important for our
two ministries." The two did not take questions at the press
spokesman said the defence cooperation has imparted a significant
impetus to the emerging Indo-US strategic partnership. "The
role played by the Department of Defence in the growth of our bilateral
ties was recognized during the discussions today. It was also noted
that India cherishes its relations that are based on our shared
belief in democracy. During the discussions considerable emphasis
was also laid on the maintenance of the strategic focus of our bilateral
relationship," he said.
spokesman said the visit provided an excellent opportunity to review
the current bilateral defence cooperation. There was satisfaction
expressed at the rapid growth of this relationship including the
effective working of the dialogue mechanism, military to military
contacts, exercises, visits, education and training.
said there was visible interest in broadening the ambit of the defence
cooperation. Both sides also agreed and reiterated their commitment
to work closely together in war against terrorism and combating
WMD proliferation. The NSSP (Next Steps in Strategic Partnership)
and related initiatives between India and the United States were
international and regional issues also came up for discussion. In
particular there was an exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan
where Secretary Rumsfeld has just been for the inauguration of President
Karzai. He expressed deep appreciation for the reconstruction assistance
being extended by India.
represented an example where India and US have cooperated closely
to advance their shared agenda. The Indian side also made suggestions
on steps that could facilitate aid and assistance that we are currently
providing to Afghanistan.
the context of other global and regional issues , Secretary Rumsfeld
also shared his assessment of the situation in Iraq expressing his
optimism that the holding of elections would lead to an improvement.
"From our side our stakes in the Gulf region and traditional
friendship for the people of Iraq were highlighted," said the