Army mobilisation on cards for poll security
KATHMANDU: The government has planned to mobilise the Army as back-up force for security during the upcoming Constituent Assembly election. Multiple sources said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is quietly working on mobilising the army for CA polls. Its deployment modality would be like that of the May 1999 general election, when the NA was given various election-related security tasks, including patrolling, providing outer security for polling stations and defusing tension from the outer security ring. The army was also mobilised for escorting ballot boxes from polling booths to counting stations and to provide outer security to vote-counting centres
It was even authorised to use ultimate force (i.e. shoot) if other means of security failed. “Homework is being done to mobilise the military exactly the same way it was used during the last general election,” revealed a top official involved in security-planning for next-vote slated for November 19. The army was kept in the barracks because of difficulties in the peace process during the CA election in April 2008.
Nepal Police will be deployed in the front in polling stations. It will be supported by Armed Police Force (AFP); whereas the military will be mobilised for the outer security ring. “It’s only natural that Nepali Army should be involved in integrated security during election,” said a top military officer. Currently, the Directorate General of Military Operations is directly involved in planning security arrangements for the election along with Nepal Police and APF.
“They will be replaced by army personnel in order to create additional police force during election,” said an official at MoHA. Such a strategy was adopted bach in the 1999 poll.“There is high possibility of army-mobilisation as in the form and shape of earlier general election,” Army Spokesperson Suresh Sharma told THT. “Army is ready to take whatever responsibility the government gives.” According to him, NA had played the role of back up, rescue and quick response force, during the last general election .Besides, the government is also mulling other alternatives, including deployment of temporary police.
Such police force was used in the last CA election but was later evaluated as ineffective security strategy for election given their political leanings. “Based on earlier experience, we are now considering mobilising retired security personnel as temporary police,” officials said. HoHA has already gathered data on retired NA personnel, Nepal Police, APF, and even ex-Indian Gurkhas. “Recruiting retired forces as temporary police will prevent possibility of entry of retired Maoist combatants, members of other armed outfits and political cadres,” informed a top official.
A MoHA official, however, argued that they would not be sufficient as majority of them either wouldn’t be available to join such a force due to many factors such as old-age or they may be employed abroad. MoHA requires 70,000 temporary police if the army is not mobilised as back-up force. MoHA spokesperson Shankar Koirala refused to divulge anything on poll security. “I am not in a position to comment on election security as it’s a sensitive issue,” he told THT.
Among China’s students, some hope for a return to Mao-era policies
On the campus of Beijing Normal University, professors say they’ve noticed a trend that worries them: students embracing radical leftism. They advocate a return to the socialist state that Communist Party founder Mao Zedong favored and that Chinese leaders for the last generation have tried to put behind them. The students wear pins with pictures of Mao and carry bags with the former Communist leader’s famous quotations, such as “serve the people.” Some deny the atrocities of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which killed 30 million people, and Cultural Revolution, when millions of China’s elites and intellectuals were persecuted and urban youth were forced to live with peasants in the countryside. Others acknowledge the atrocities of the Mao era, but they’re anti-capitalism and critical of the West, and they think that Maoist values need to be strengthened in modern China.
“Their basic logic is that since the post-Mao era is not good, then the Mao era should be better,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian. How big a movement the new left represents is unknown, but in a country where political thought is strictly controlled, social inequality and government corruption are epidemic and the job market for recent college graduates is considered poor, academics who are closest to the phenomenon admit to fears that it represents a dangerous split in society. “They are either extreme leftists or extreme rightists,” one professor at the university said of her students, requesting anonymity out of concern that speaking about politics might result in retribution from the government. “When they have differences, there is no dialogue between them. This is a worrisome phenomenon and also some reflection of the split in society.”
“In general, there are more rightists than leftists,” she said, “but the leftists are very left.” “There is widespread discontent among students with inequality and corruption, plus frustrations in their own lives,” said Yang Dali, the faculty director at the University of Chicago’s Beijing center. “It is highly understandable that there would be a leftist sentiment.” The rise of a new left comes against a backdrop of decades of China’s ruling class allowing more economic freedom. But advocates of the new left say that 30 years of an export-oriented economy that’s brought hundreds of millions of people from rural areas to cities to fill low-wage jobs in assembly plants has led to extreme inequality and corruption.
“We emphasize that reform and opening to the outside world does not benefit the common people,” said Cui Zhiyuan, a professor at Tsinghua University’s school of public policy and management who’s known as one of the founders of China’s new left movement. The movement has had a tenuous relationship with the government. The ouster last year of Bo Xilai, the party boss in Chongqing, whose government had instituted policies to support the city’s poor, an audacious anti-corruption campaign and the resurrection of the singing of Mao-era “red songs” in public squares, was seen as a blow to leftists, who considered Bo a champion for their cause.
Today, leftist websites – such as Utopia, which strongly supports Bo – remain shuttered. After Bo’s removal from his post and subsequent expulsion from the party, Chinese media launched a full-scale campaign demonizing his Chongqing model, with some newspapers saying his removal guaranteed that China would never have another Cultural Revolution. His trial, likely this month, on charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power almost certainly will end in his conviction. His wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted last year of murdering a British businessman. But that government denunciation has taken a different cast since China’s new president, Xi Jinping, took office in March. Recognizing, perhaps, what the University of Chicago’s Yang calls Bo’s “wellspring of public support,” the government has taken steps that the left embraces.
Universities have received government orders to ban classroom discussion of seven topics, including human rights and past mistakes of the Communist Party, while increasing ideological education and political training for professors. Top officials, including President Xi, have said Western values must be eradicated and that Mao’s legacy should be strengthened. Yang said the government was hoping that by adopting Bo’s rhetoric it would “inherit some of that support” he enjoyed. “It is ironic, but of course this is a great strategy,” Yang said. On social media, there’s an increase of pro-Maoist commentary as well as vitriolic criticism of liberal scholars who advocate further market-oriented reforms, democracy, free speech and human rights.
Last autumn, during anti-Japanese protests that erupted over a territorial dispute between the countries, many young people carried portraits of Mao. “The new leftists and the neo-liberals, they hate each other,” said Lu Xinyu, a left-leaning professor in Fudan University’s journalism school. “There are a lot of lies told by neo-liberals. A very significant characteristic of them is to always see America as a kind of utopia and that China should meet that standard, but America is facing a serious crisis.” Mao Yushi, a prominent liberal economist who’s publicly criticized Mao Zedong, said he received threatening calls from leftists.
In May, before one of his speeches in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, dozens of protesters, including many young people, showed up with banners calling the economist a traitor. Some of the signs said, “Bring back Bo Xilai,” Mao Yushi said. “When Bo governed, there were a lot of student supporters,” said Luo Kai, a student at Chongqing University. “People now still talk about Bo and yearn for the days when he was in power.” But many are unwilling to have their identities known. A member of a Maoist student group called Centimeter Sunshine, at the Harbin Institute of Technology in northern China, recalls that the group had only about a dozen members when it was established in 2009. Now there are hundreds, he said, asking, however, that he not be identified because he feared retribution. The group reads books on Marxism and travels to rural areas to study social injustice.
Sometimes they sing red songs. Many support Bo’s Chongqing model. “We get together and discuss issues in China, like government ethics, and lack of fairness and justice,” the student said. “I don’t think America’s culture or thoughts have any advanced parts. We still need to rely on the Communist Party of China and the system to come back to the core of serving the people.” The group has faced opposition. In June, other students drafted a petition asking the university to ban the group.
Centimeter Sunshine tells members that “China has been hijacked by pro-capitalist rightists,” the letter said. “They have openly showed support for Bo Xilai, and they hugely poison the minds of modern college students.” “They think Mao Zedong is God,” said an opponent of the organization, who also requested anonymity. “I studied the backgrounds of these students and found that most of them are from impoverished families in rural areas. In reality, a lot of people can’t find hope so they resort to Mao Zedong thoughts.” “What worries me,” he added, “is that I have heard many similar groups are at other universities.”
Police break up ‘small riot’ at St. John’s penitentiary
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was called to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s late Monday to deal with what sources told CBC was a “small riot” inside. The RNC said staff at the penitentiary called for help around 11 p.m. to describe what police described as “a disturbance” on one of the units. In a statement Tuesday, the RNC said “several specialized resources” were called in to bring the situation under control, which didn’t happen until about 4 a.m. Sources told CBC that half a dozen inmates had been drinking jail-house liquor, ripped a door off a shower and tried to use it as a battering ram to smash through a window to get at another inmate.
CBC was also told the inmates had weapons of some kind and that they somehow flooded the unit and smashed windows. The RNC said the unit where the incident happened was “extensively” damaged. Police and guards were able to break up the ruckus. The RNC said negotiators brought the incident to a peaceful resolution. Sources told CBC that the inmates demanded cigarettes and were given them. Sources said three people were taken to hospital. It’s believed they were all inmates. Police said one person was taken to hospital with a pre-existing medical condition. Two police cruisers were seen escorting an ambulance to the Health Sciences Centre just before 4 a.m.
Surat Thani oil-palm plantation protest broken up
A team of some 2,000 police, Army and security volunteers rounded up about 200 demonstrators who had occupied a privately run oil-palm plantation in Surat Thani’s Khian Sa district yesterday morning, but seven protest leaders managed to escape and are now wanted by police. The crackdown on a total of about 1,000 unauthorised land occupants – most of whom came from outside Surat Thani – took place at the plantation at 10am.
The 200 detained protesters were later released back to their hometowns after police collected their personal details. Officials also demolished their makeshift shelters, set up in village-like fashion, replete with homes and shops. The private company has rented the 1,348-rai plantation plot from the Surat Thani Treasury Office since July 12, but the demonstrators insisted the land belonged to the state and occupied a large part of it, defying the provincial authority’s order for them to move out on July 15. Unable to make use of the land, the private company filed a police complaint, leading to the crackdown.
2 Community activists murdered in southern Mexico
Chilpancingo, Mexico, Aug 6 (EFE).- Two Emiliano Zapata Agrarian Revolutionary League of the South, or Larsez, leaders were murdered in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, officials said Tuesday. Raymundo Velazquez Flores and Samuel Vargas Ramirez were found dead Monday afternoon in Poza del Rio, an area outside the city of Coyuca de Benitez, located 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the Pacific resort of Acapulco. The two men, who belonged to an organization that promotes agrarian development and opposes large mining projects in the area, had been tied up and shot in the face, a Guerrero Attorney General’s Office spokesman told Efe. Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre told reporters he had only been informed “that two men were found dead” in Coyuca de Benitez. Velazquez was the head of the organization and staged regular protests against Guerrero’s government to demand more funding for agrarian development projects and efforts to fight poverty in the state’s highland areas. He was involved with the National Revolutionary Civic Association, or ACNR, a political organization considered to have links to guerrilla leader Genaro Vazquez Rojas.