An Interview by Dr Kieran James
“When I was sick I was reading the paper. I saw a group of activists in Japan protecting against the fur trade. I saw the word “activist” below the picture. I thought “that’s interesting; I want to be an activist”. I told myself (I was very sick) “if I can survive this I want to do something meaningful in life”. That picture really helped. (I was nine-years-old.)”
The rest of the interview can be found here, and yes, you will realise that I ramble a lot and am unable to stay on the topic at times… :p well that’s because whenever I am speaking to a person, I am also having a conversation with my brain – one of my greatest flaw ever.
Note: Here is another interview of me done by Kieran done much earlier.
Rest in peace, Mr Fish
I received the news with a very heavy heart that one of my favourite local bloggers, Mr Fish who blogs at Feed Me To The Fish, passed on today (20 March 2013). He had always been very encouraging towards me and my work and he is also quite a regular reader of my blog, the same way I often visit his. It is a very sad day for me even though we have never met in real life… or we might have met once or twice or even spoke but because of his desire to remain an anonymous blogger, I never knew. My deepest condolence to everyone in his family… and may Fish rest in peace…
Thank you for sharing all your thoughts as well as the kind words of support that you have always given me.
2,500 pray at Mass for detainees
Source: That We May Dream Again
The Roman Catholic Archbishop Gregory Yong must have felt terrified after his meeting with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 2 June 1987. It led him to take immediate action against his own priests and abandon his full time workers namely, Vincent Cheng, Ng Bee Leng, Kevin de Souza and Tang Lay Lee. Just a week ago, on 27 May 1987, 6 days after 16 people were arrested, he had concelebrated a 90 minute mass with 23 priests at the East Coast parish of the Church of Perpetual Succour. Family members of the four church workers gave moving testimonies of the detainees to a packed church.
To continue reading this, please click here.
Sister of death row inmate – “Are you helping good people or bad people?”
Kirsten Han /
The family of a Malaysian man sentenced to death for trafficking drugs into Singapore has made an emotional plea for his life. At a press conference held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, relatives of Cheong Chun Yin said authorities should reopen the case as there could have been a miscarriage of justice.
“I want to ask Singapore – this drug law of yours, is it to deal with the villains or the victims like us?” Chun Yin’s sister Joanne Cheong told reporters yesterday. “Are you helping good people or bad people?”
Organised by the Save Vui Kong Campaign the press conference was attended by Cheong’s family, lawyer and campaign coordinator Ngeow Chow Ying and Executive Director of Amnesty International, Nora Murat. They were later joined by Malaysian Member of Parliament, Gwo-Burne Loh.
Click here for the rest of the article.
Alan Shadrake on blogs and news
What bloggers say…
We even made it to the news here there and everywhere!
(not in chronological order)
And more to come. Too sleepy to add on now!
We, the Citizens pledge…
By Dr Wong Wee Nam
22 Aug 2009
Like the majority of Singaporeans, I learned to say the National Pledge when I was in school. Since then I think I have lived by the vow that I had made. I am still committed to building a democratic society as I am to speaking out against injustice and inequality. To me a pledge is a solemn promise or a vow. It is not like a New Year’s resolution that you make on the first day of the year and forget it immediately the next day.
When Mr S Rajaratnam crafted the National Pledge, I don’t think he meant it to be just a New Year’s resolution. I believe he wrote it with conviction. It is not just an aspiration to be desired but a goal to be attained.
Read the rest of the article here.
Is Israel guilty of piracy?
Israeli naval ships often attack Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip. (David Schermerhorn)
When the Israeli navy seized a small humanitarian boat flying under the Greek flag on Tuesday, 30 June, did the commandos commit acts of piracy when they forced the crew and 21 passengers — including a former US Congresswoman and Nobel Laureate — to port in Israel? May Israeli officials be prosecuted, and if so where?
On the morning of 29 June, the Spirit of Humanity set sail from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip carrying approximately three tons of medical aid, olive saplings, children’s toys and other humanitarian items for the area’s 1.5 million residents. The Spirit traveled through international waters when, at approximately 1:30am, several Israeli gunships surrounded the boat, jammed its GPS, navigation and radar systems and threatened to open fire. Heavily-armed Israeli naval commandos boarded the boat, ordered the Spirit’s passengers to lie face down, roughed up several, and ultimately forced the humanitarian volunteers to Israel where they were held for days in hot, crowded, cells before all but two (both Israeli citizens) were ultimately deported.
The Israeli navy routinely harasses Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza, and has on occasion seized boats and detained their crews , just as it did with the Spirit of Humanity.
An act of piracy, as defined by the law of nations, includes illegal acts of violence or detention committed on the high seas or outside the jurisdiction of any state. While today piracy often conjures up ideas of buried treasure, sunken ships and Johnny Depp at his best; olden-day pirates instilled a sense of terror in seafarers traveling in no-man’s zones, outside the protection of any state.
Israel’s commandeering of the Spirit last week shares a lot in common with these traditional acts of piracy: the Spirit’s unarmed passengers traveled on the high seas, vulnerable, uncertain if they would live or die when the Israeli navy surrounded them and took them prisoners. But do Israel’s actions constitute piracy? The answer is: Yes.
Israel committed clear acts of violence and detention against the Spirit’s passengers, acts, which, under the UN Convention on the High Seas, are unlawful. A warship may legitimately board a foreign ship on the high seas in only three circumstances: there is reason to believe the boat was engaged in piracy, the slave trade or the boat — despite its flag — is really of the same nationality as the warship. None of these circumstances apply here.
According to a 1 July press release from the Free Gaza Movement, the Spirit of Humanity was in international waters when the Israeli navy captured it. However, even if the boat was in Gazan waters, the above acts still constitute piracy because Gazan waters are outside the jurisdiction of any state — and certainly outside Israel’s jurisdiction. Jurisdiction, it should be noted, is different from control. While Israel exercises de facto control over Gaza, it has no legal de jure jurisdiction over Gaza.
Furthermore, while piracy has traditionally been defined as a private act, there is no reason why Israel’s seizure of the Spirit, its passengers and its humanitarian cargo should not be considered an act of state or state-sponsored piracy.
Israel committed an act of piracy by hijacking the Spirit, forcing its passengers to Israel, imprisoning them and taking their cargo and personal items. But why is it important that Israel be charged with piracy, especially when it already faces a host of new war crimes accusations?
The law of nations has long upheld the principle that pirates are “hostis humani generis” — an “enemy of all mankind.” In the 18th century, nations reached a consensus that piracy was universally wrong and every nation has a right to prosecute pirates of any nationality. In United States v. Smith, 18 U.S. 153 (1820), the US Supreme Court held that the principle of universal jurisdiction applies to punishing all persons, whether “natives or foreigners, who have committed [piracy] against any persons whatsoever ….”
In other words, piracy was one of the first criminal acts recognized by international law. Today, international law confers on piracy, along with slavery and genocide, the status of a jus cogens — a norm or a right that can never be derogated. This means a state is bound by a jus cogens norm whether or not it consents to its application. As an example, a country may not engage in slavery simply because it has enacted laws making it permissible to do so.
Filing indictments against Israeli government officials and senior army commanders for crimes related to piracy is important not only because the perpetrators of the 30 June hijacking must be brought to justice, but also to reinforce the legitimacy of international law, which is increasingly viewed as being selectively used by rich countries as a tool to oppress poorer ones. The War on Piracy has been highlighted most recently by UN Security Resolution 1851, initiated by the US, which calls on all states to actively take part in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia, and even authorizes states to take measures inside Somalia.
The laws of piracy should not be selectively applied to poor Africans who hijack huge tankers belonging to rich corporations. Just as US prosecutors in the Southern District of New York indicted a Somali national on ten counts including piracy and hijacking, similar charges should be brought against the Israelis who committed, aided and abetted in the 30 June act of piracy and any others against Palestinian vessels. But more importantly, governments and international civil society must do all they can to pull Israel back into the bounds of international law and truly support the self-determination and human rights of all peoples, including Palestinians.
Radhika Sainath is a Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney. She recently returned from a National Lawyers Guild fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip and is an editor and author of Peace Under Fire: Israel/Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement.