Friday, 20 April 2018
Thursday, 19 April 2018
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
White phosphorus burns in contact with oxygen and causes deep burns when it touches human skin, sometimes reaching to the bone. The weapon is not illegal itself and can be used to provide a smokescreen on the battlefield or as an incendiary weapon against a military target. However, its use is regulated even by customary international law. It must be used in a way that distinguishes between combatants and civilians and cannot be used to target civilians.
Most of the Israeli military's white phosphorus in Gaza was fired in 155mm artillery shells, each containing 116 wedges soaked with the chemical.
In January, the Guardian found one such shell still smoking several days after it was fired, outside the home of the Abu Halima family in Atatra. One white phosphorous shell hit the house directly, killing a father and four of his children. His wife was severely burnt. Human Rights Watch also reported the same case.
Human Rights Watch found 24 spent white phosphorus shells in Gaza, all from the same batch made in a US ammunition factory in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace. Other shells were photographed during the war with markings showing they were made in the Pine Bluff Arsenal, also in America, in 1991.
Human Rights Watch said the Israeli military often used the weapon even in areas where there were no Israeli troops on the ground, which it said, "strongly suggests that the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] was not using the munition for its obscurant qualities but rather for its incendiary effect".
The group said it found no evidence that Hamas fighters used Palestinian civilians as human shields - a key Israeli claim - in the area at the time of the attacks it researched.
Monday, 16 April 2018
Friday, 13 April 2018
Thursday, 12 April 2018
Wednesday, 11 April 2018
“No girls in our family go to coed schools,” he told her, but eventually she wore him down. She is the eldest of six children, five girls and one boy; her brother is the youngest. “My father was always on the elusive chase for a son,” she said. Her parents believed that girls should be educated and permitted to work, but they were also strict. Until Sharmeen left for college, she had to be home by nightfall.
Her maternal grandparents moved from India to Karachi shortly after Partition, inspired by Jinnah’s democratic vision. Her father’s parents migrated from India to Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan, in 1947, and then, in 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War, fled to Karachi. Her grandfather worked for a shipping company. Sharmeen’s father, Sheikh Obaid, began a textile firm, and the family lived in a spacious house in Defence, a wealthy enclave for the élite. Sheikh, who died in 2010, was a loud, warm man with a ribald sense of humor, and he and Sharmeen’s mother, Saba, frequently hosted business guests. Sharmeen and her siblings were accustomed to sitting down to dinners with buyers from Europe, Asia, and North America, and the family accompanied him on trips to the United States. Sharmeen grew up swimming at her parents’ sports club and competing in tennis tournaments. On Sundays, if her father was not travelling, the family drove around the city to try new eateries.
One morning, as a driver took Sharmeen to school, they stopped at a traffic light, and a young girl pressed herself against the window, begging for money. “She had the most beautiful eyes, and wispy hair in front and a little bit of dirt on her,” Obaid-Chinoy recalled. “Her hand was just stretched. She didn’t ever say anything.” For the first time, Sharmeen realized that the comforts she had always taken for granted were uncommon in Karachi. “I was sort of an angry child,” she told me. “I asked my parents a lot of questions about things I saw around me and things that I read.”
At home, she grew increasingly upset about the place of women in society. “I would often hear from my extended family, ‘So-and-So couldn’t finish her studies and was married off,’ ” she said. A girl in her neighborhood play group was engaged at sixteen and had a child less than two years later. “I realized that we accept things for women because that’s just the way they are,” Obaid-Chinoy said. “It made me question what my rights are, and what I will be ‘allowed’ to do. And that became such a troubled word for me. Why should I be ‘allowed’ to do something? Shouldn’t it just be taken for granted that I would be studying, or going to work?” One afternoon in the family’s kitchen, a female relative told Saba that she was unlucky to have so many girls. Obaid-Chinoy retorted that her mother was actually very lucky; her mother quickly removed her from the room. Obaid-Chinoy’s classmate and friend Masoomeh Hilal recalled, “If anyone messed with us, she would be the first one to stick up for her friends. And she was extremely focussed. If there was something she wanted to do, she would find a way to do it.”
Saba, a quiet, intelligent woman, had wanted to be a journalist, but she married at seventeen and stayed home to care for the children. When Sharmeen was fourteen, Saba suggested that she channel her outrage into writing for local newspapers. Saba’s uncle, who worked as a journalist at the News, encouraged Sharmeen to write opinion pieces about the rights of girls to go to school and of citizens to vote; later, she wrote investigative pieces for the newspaper Dawn. Obaid-Chinoy recalled one article about a government office that sold passports to Afghan refugees, and another about students who smoked weed—a taboo subject that shocked the parents. Obaid-Chinoy’s most memorable story was about the sons of wealthy feudal lords at schools in Karachi who ran a bullying ring: they went to parties with guns and, if they weren’t allowed inside, fired them into the air. They would beat up students, tear their clothes, drive them around for hours, and shave their heads before releasing them. “I went undercover and named and shamed them,” Obaid-Chinoy said. The morning the article came out, her father shouted for her to come downstairs. Her family’s name, interspersed with profanities, had been spray-painted across their front gate and down the street for blocks, presumably by the boys she had written about. Obaid-Chinoy was energized. Her father, she recalled, told her, “Amplify that voice. Speak the truth, and I will stand with you."
Tuesday, 10 April 2018
Imam Imadadul Rashidi’s voice was matter of fact when contacted by The Citizen, as if what he had done was what any one would do. Asansol was in the grip of violence threatened by a tornado as the Muslims started gathering to retaliate against the violence triggered by Ram Navami processions. Why? Because the Imam’s 16 year old son had been brutally beaten to death by a communal mob, and the news of the incident had spread like wildfire across the town.
The crowds gathered, with now the police and the state government aware of their own helplessness, when the Imam addressed a congregation of thousands at the funeral prayers of his son Sibtullah Rashidi who had just appeared for teh Class X Board examinations. With his son’s body lying before him, the Imam pleaded for peace in a short address that had the entire crowd in tears, with all then dispersing for their respective homes.
As he told The Citizen this morning, all he said was, “my child has lived the life that Allah ordained for him. Now please ensure that no one else’s child is killed, that there is peace and amity. If you love him, and me, do not turn to violence, but keep peace.”
Asked how difficult a statement this was Imam Rashidi said quietly, “ no it was not, it was clear to me that my child had died, there was nothing we could do about that, and it was thus my duty to ensure no other child died, no house was torched, no family bereaved.” He said he was responding to the anger in “my” Asansol, where people were bent on taking revenge. “I knew I had to stop this, I knew this was necessary for harmony in my shahr (town) and in my country” he said.
“I knew my child has lived the life Allah had marked for him, I pleaded with the people not to kill anyone else’s child, “ he said. The Imam made it clear to the congregation that “if you do not listen to me I will leave Asansol and go away.” He said he was firm about that, as he could not bear the thought of more violence and bloodshed.
The Imam said that he told the people exactly what he believed. “Islam is a religion of peace and amity, it does not preach violence and revenge,” he said. Asked what he would like to convey to the country where communal harmony is currently under stress, he said, “ I would only say please do all you can to ensure there is peace and unity. And no one is able to break that.”