Skip to main content
Sabrang

World

Sabrang

Why UN’s Islamophobia Resolution Troubles Moderate Muslims

It Is Important That UN Defines The Contours Of Islamophobia

22 Mar 2022

Islamophobia

The resolution adopted by the United Nations to mark March 15th as the international day to combat Islamophobia needs to be widely discussed by Muslims themselves. The state of the prime mover of the resolution, Pakistan, is itself a good place to start. Imran Khan promised his people that he will establish a new Pakistan, modelled on the early Islamic state of Medina. Little else to show to his people in terms of educational and economic progress, it comes handy to portray oneself as the savior of the Muslim world. His rule has been marked by increasing attacks on the religious minorities and even marginal Muslim groups like the Ahmadis and the Shias. Moreover, he has time and again succumbed to the Sunni right wing groups who are demanding a greater say in the affairs of the country. These groups have successfully held the government to ransom at many occasions and have demanded changes in the education system which will have far reaching effects on generations of Pakistanis. As Pervez Hoodbhoy has told us, people with little or no knowledge of education have been made in charge to supervise changes in the curriculum. If they have their way, it will be the end of liberal education as we know it. So, while the world is hailing Imran Khan for pushing the UN resolution, let’s also not forget that he has used Islam for nefarious purposes, including his self-promotion.

Almost all Muslim countries have backed the resolution. They have done so under the compulsion of domestic politics and overwhelming sentiment in favour of banning Islamophobia, but also because the term is so amorphous that states can use it to curb dissent and freedom of expression. Almost anything critical of Islam can be termed as Islamophobia and this can include the criticism of the sharia and even the criticism of the state or the government itself. A majority of Muslim countries are non-democratic and rank very low in terms of social and political freedom. A campaign in favour of increasing political representation in one of the Arab states can be construed as weakening the foundation of the Islamic government; the idea of democracy itself can be censured as being non-Islamic. The campaigners can very well be accused as being ‘phobic’ of an Islamic system and hence prosecuted for being Islamophobic. Armed with the UN resolution, such governments will be able to crack down on political dissent with a new found legitimacy.

This is not to say that Islamophobia does not exist. It has existed since centuries and perhaps since the rise of Islam which early Christians dubbed as a false religion. Some evangelical groups still think so and refuse to give Islam the same recognition which they would to other religious traditions. Moreover, in recent years, especially since 9/11, there has been the rise of what has been called the Islamophobia industry. A wide gamut of politicians, policy makers and activists, funded by ideological organizations have made it their past time to ridicule and mock Islam with an express intention to falsify its origin and its significance of giving meaning to multitudes of people. In India, for example, we have the emergence of social media handles and channels whose full-time engagement is to run down Islam and its teachings. They are being supplemented in their efforts by the mainstream news channels who don’t blink an eyelid in peddling fake news about Islam and Muslims.

https://www.newageislam.com/picture_library/Islamophobia_3311_NewAgeI.jpg

Despite this, one should not forget that there can be legitimate criticism of Islam as a system of ideas and orthodoxies. Take for example, the growing trend worldwide of Muslims leaving Islam and calling themselves ex-Muslims. The majority of them have left the faith as they did not find answers to their questions within the religion. Some have left the faith because the religion, according to them, did not accommodate their concerns of scientific verification, gender equality, alternative sexual orientations and even human rights. They argue that there is substantial Muslim population who want to ask questions but cannot ask them as they fear for their lives. Apostasy and blasphemy remain a huge issue in Muslim majority contexts. In Saudi Arabia, citizens like Raif Badawi were charged with blasphemy and deprived of liberty for many years simply because he asked some uncomfortable questions from the ruling family. Some critical minds in the Arab world have been accused of blasphemy. They can get relief from the courts but within the minds of people they remain permanently accused and hence their lives are in perpetual danger. Some of these Arab intellectuals have only tried to bring Islamic theology in line with modernity. Should we discard all of their concerns as Islamophobic?                   

The UN has done well to call out the bigotry in the name of critiquing Islam. But the problem is that it has not defined what will constitute Islamophobia and has not differentiated it from genuine criticism of Islam. Not defining the boundaries of Islamophobia is harmful especially for Muslims across the world who are trying to wrestle the faith from dogmatic interpretations of the entrenched Ulama.  

----

A regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia.

This article was first published on https://www.newageislam.com

Why UN’s Islamophobia Resolution Troubles Moderate Muslims

It Is Important That UN Defines The Contours Of Islamophobia

Islamophobia

The resolution adopted by the United Nations to mark March 15th as the international day to combat Islamophobia needs to be widely discussed by Muslims themselves. The state of the prime mover of the resolution, Pakistan, is itself a good place to start. Imran Khan promised his people that he will establish a new Pakistan, modelled on the early Islamic state of Medina. Little else to show to his people in terms of educational and economic progress, it comes handy to portray oneself as the savior of the Muslim world. His rule has been marked by increasing attacks on the religious minorities and even marginal Muslim groups like the Ahmadis and the Shias. Moreover, he has time and again succumbed to the Sunni right wing groups who are demanding a greater say in the affairs of the country. These groups have successfully held the government to ransom at many occasions and have demanded changes in the education system which will have far reaching effects on generations of Pakistanis. As Pervez Hoodbhoy has told us, people with little or no knowledge of education have been made in charge to supervise changes in the curriculum. If they have their way, it will be the end of liberal education as we know it. So, while the world is hailing Imran Khan for pushing the UN resolution, let’s also not forget that he has used Islam for nefarious purposes, including his self-promotion.

Almost all Muslim countries have backed the resolution. They have done so under the compulsion of domestic politics and overwhelming sentiment in favour of banning Islamophobia, but also because the term is so amorphous that states can use it to curb dissent and freedom of expression. Almost anything critical of Islam can be termed as Islamophobia and this can include the criticism of the sharia and even the criticism of the state or the government itself. A majority of Muslim countries are non-democratic and rank very low in terms of social and political freedom. A campaign in favour of increasing political representation in one of the Arab states can be construed as weakening the foundation of the Islamic government; the idea of democracy itself can be censured as being non-Islamic. The campaigners can very well be accused as being ‘phobic’ of an Islamic system and hence prosecuted for being Islamophobic. Armed with the UN resolution, such governments will be able to crack down on political dissent with a new found legitimacy.

This is not to say that Islamophobia does not exist. It has existed since centuries and perhaps since the rise of Islam which early Christians dubbed as a false religion. Some evangelical groups still think so and refuse to give Islam the same recognition which they would to other religious traditions. Moreover, in recent years, especially since 9/11, there has been the rise of what has been called the Islamophobia industry. A wide gamut of politicians, policy makers and activists, funded by ideological organizations have made it their past time to ridicule and mock Islam with an express intention to falsify its origin and its significance of giving meaning to multitudes of people. In India, for example, we have the emergence of social media handles and channels whose full-time engagement is to run down Islam and its teachings. They are being supplemented in their efforts by the mainstream news channels who don’t blink an eyelid in peddling fake news about Islam and Muslims.

https://www.newageislam.com/picture_library/Islamophobia_3311_NewAgeI.jpg

Despite this, one should not forget that there can be legitimate criticism of Islam as a system of ideas and orthodoxies. Take for example, the growing trend worldwide of Muslims leaving Islam and calling themselves ex-Muslims. The majority of them have left the faith as they did not find answers to their questions within the religion. Some have left the faith because the religion, according to them, did not accommodate their concerns of scientific verification, gender equality, alternative sexual orientations and even human rights. They argue that there is substantial Muslim population who want to ask questions but cannot ask them as they fear for their lives. Apostasy and blasphemy remain a huge issue in Muslim majority contexts. In Saudi Arabia, citizens like Raif Badawi were charged with blasphemy and deprived of liberty for many years simply because he asked some uncomfortable questions from the ruling family. Some critical minds in the Arab world have been accused of blasphemy. They can get relief from the courts but within the minds of people they remain permanently accused and hence their lives are in perpetual danger. Some of these Arab intellectuals have only tried to bring Islamic theology in line with modernity. Should we discard all of their concerns as Islamophobic?                   

The UN has done well to call out the bigotry in the name of critiquing Islam. But the problem is that it has not defined what will constitute Islamophobia and has not differentiated it from genuine criticism of Islam. Not defining the boundaries of Islamophobia is harmful especially for Muslims across the world who are trying to wrestle the faith from dogmatic interpretations of the entrenched Ulama.  

----

A regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia.

This article was first published on https://www.newageislam.com

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

ICJ: Russia must immediately suspend military operations against Ukraine

In a 13 against 2 vote, the ICJ directed Russia to stop attacks on its neighbouring country until a final decision is made

19 Mar 2022

ICJ

Russia must immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine, directed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on March 16, 2022 in a 13-2 vote break-up. Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari was among the 13 people voting to cease the aggressions.

“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine… [It] shall ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction, take no steps in furtherance of the military operations,” said the ICJ in its order.

Members also unanimously asked both countries to refrain from aggravating or extending the dispute before the Court. The ICJ made its decision following an application from Ukraine asking the court to institute proceedings against Russia on February 26, concerning “a dispute . . . relating to the interpretation, application and fulfilment of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”.

Accordingly, The ICJ looked at the rights cited by Ukraine in its application and the link between such rights and the measures requested as well as the risk of irreparable prejudice and urgency. On March 7, Russia sent a document informing the Court that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case and requested to remove the same from its list. However, the ICJ concluded that the case meets the conditions to indicate provisional measures.

“It is therefore necessary, pending its final decision, for the Court to indicate certain measures in order to protect the right of Ukraine that the Court has found to be plausible,” said the Court.

Although the Court declined Ukraine’s request that Russia “provide a report” on measures taken to implement ICJ’s order, it still stressed the need for the Russian government to heed their decision.

“The Court reaffirms that its “orders on provisional measures under Article 41 [of the Statute] have binding effect” and thus create international legal obligations for any party to whom the provisional measures are addressed,” said the Court.

The decision was opposed only by ICJ Russian Vice President Kirill Gevorgian and Chinese Judge Xue Hanqin. The decision was celebrated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other European and US officials.

 

 

India’s stand on the war

Earlier, India abstained from voting on the United Nations resolution regarding the Russia-Ukraine war. For this reason, the favouring of the ICJ decision by an Indian judge caught the eye of many media organisations.

However, in a media briefing on March 17, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the judges work in their individual capacities. Bagchi argued that it would not be appropriate to comment on how ICJ judges vote.

“On the specific thing of the ICJ, I think that they work in their individual capacities. I'm not going to comment on whether the Russian citizen judge or the Chinese citizen judge voted one way or the other,” he said.

Further, he criticised the media description of India’s stand on the issue as “abstention”. He said that the situation is much more nuanced.

“I think that's a very, very loose comment. We have abstained in voting on certain resolutions in certain organizations based on the text that is on the table. Our position has been clarified on various occasions through explanation of vote, which highlight various aspects,” he said.

Related:

The Ukraine-Russia Conflict and NATO’s Imperialist Expansionism

Ukraine invasion: Hindu Sena marches in support of Russia!

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

ICJ: Russia must immediately suspend military operations against Ukraine

In a 13 against 2 vote, the ICJ directed Russia to stop attacks on its neighbouring country until a final decision is made

ICJ

Russia must immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine, directed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on March 16, 2022 in a 13-2 vote break-up. Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari was among the 13 people voting to cease the aggressions.

“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine… [It] shall ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction, take no steps in furtherance of the military operations,” said the ICJ in its order.

Members also unanimously asked both countries to refrain from aggravating or extending the dispute before the Court. The ICJ made its decision following an application from Ukraine asking the court to institute proceedings against Russia on February 26, concerning “a dispute . . . relating to the interpretation, application and fulfilment of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”.

Accordingly, The ICJ looked at the rights cited by Ukraine in its application and the link between such rights and the measures requested as well as the risk of irreparable prejudice and urgency. On March 7, Russia sent a document informing the Court that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case and requested to remove the same from its list. However, the ICJ concluded that the case meets the conditions to indicate provisional measures.

“It is therefore necessary, pending its final decision, for the Court to indicate certain measures in order to protect the right of Ukraine that the Court has found to be plausible,” said the Court.

Although the Court declined Ukraine’s request that Russia “provide a report” on measures taken to implement ICJ’s order, it still stressed the need for the Russian government to heed their decision.

“The Court reaffirms that its “orders on provisional measures under Article 41 [of the Statute] have binding effect” and thus create international legal obligations for any party to whom the provisional measures are addressed,” said the Court.

The decision was opposed only by ICJ Russian Vice President Kirill Gevorgian and Chinese Judge Xue Hanqin. The decision was celebrated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other European and US officials.

 

 

India’s stand on the war

Earlier, India abstained from voting on the United Nations resolution regarding the Russia-Ukraine war. For this reason, the favouring of the ICJ decision by an Indian judge caught the eye of many media organisations.

However, in a media briefing on March 17, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the judges work in their individual capacities. Bagchi argued that it would not be appropriate to comment on how ICJ judges vote.

“On the specific thing of the ICJ, I think that they work in their individual capacities. I'm not going to comment on whether the Russian citizen judge or the Chinese citizen judge voted one way or the other,” he said.

Further, he criticised the media description of India’s stand on the issue as “abstention”. He said that the situation is much more nuanced.

“I think that's a very, very loose comment. We have abstained in voting on certain resolutions in certain organizations based on the text that is on the table. Our position has been clarified on various occasions through explanation of vote, which highlight various aspects,” he said.

Related:

The Ukraine-Russia Conflict and NATO’s Imperialist Expansionism

Ukraine invasion: Hindu Sena marches in support of Russia!

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Fr Stan Swamy’s custodial death a ‘stain forever’: UN Group

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asked govt of India to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances that led to Fr Swamy’s death

19 Mar 2022

Stan swamy

 

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called it the “failure of the Government” to heed these prescient warnings on conditions that led to Father Stan Swamy’s “avoidable death in custody.” According to the groups, whose findings were made public recently “while in Taloja central jail in Navi Mumbai, Father Swamy’s health deteriorated and he contracted COVID-19. Father Swamy suffered from Parkinson’s disease and various other ailments… However, his repeated applications for bail were rejected, despite his deteriorating health. Father Swamy died as the Bombay High Court was considering an appeal against the rejection of his bail application.” 

 

The Working Group stated it was  “deeply disturbed” by the allegations that even Father Swamy’s “request to access medical treatment once he had contracted COVID-19 was also initially denied. When the request was eventually granted, it was too late.” The Working Group has referred the case to the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.

 

Fr Stan Swamy (84) was a Jharkhand-based tribal rights defender was arrested on October 8, 2020, by the anti-terror National Investigation Agency in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Maoist conspiracy case and died  at a Mumbai hospital while in judicial custody in July 5 2021, the day year while awaiting bail.Reports have suggested he was ill-treated in jail.
 

The Working Group also noted “with grave concern the source’s submissions about Father Swamy’s treatment in Taloja central jail” when on November 6 2020, he had filed a request for a straw, a sipper bottle and winter clothes, which had been allegedly confiscated by the National Investigation Agency at the time of his arrest. The Working Group stated it was  shocked that the National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai rejected Father Swamy’s request on November 26 2020. The group has made these observations on submissions made to it by a source who has detailed how it was only the public outcry over the way the aged priest and activist was treated in the Taloja jail, that his request for a sipper bottle was granted on November 29 2020 calling it disappointing that “that public outrage was required for Father Swamy to be treated with humanity.” It stated that “it is the duty of all Governments to treat their detainees with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity as a human being, as stipulated in rule 1 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. 
 

The Working Group concluded that “Father Swamy’s arrest and detention lacked a legal basis” and even the Indian government has not refute these allegations against its treatment of Fr Swamy who “had fully cooperated all along in the investigation and was not viewed as a flight risk or as a person who would interfere with the legal process.” His custodial death, it said , was a “failure” on the part of India’s government and will “forever remain a stain” on India’s human rights record. The working group has urged the Government of India to urgently conduct “a thorough, effective and independent investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of Father Swamy while in custody”. And added that this investigation also included a “detailed report by an independent expert on the medical care and other kinds of care provided to Father Swamy after his arrest.” The opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its ninety-second session, may be read here.

Related

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy

Thank you, dear Fr. Stan, you will live forever!

Stand with Father Stan Swamy

Stan Swamy: The oldest activist to be targeted by the government

Fr Stan Swamy’s custodial death a ‘stain forever’: UN Group

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asked govt of India to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances that led to Fr Swamy’s death

Stan swamy

 

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called it the “failure of the Government” to heed these prescient warnings on conditions that led to Father Stan Swamy’s “avoidable death in custody.” According to the groups, whose findings were made public recently “while in Taloja central jail in Navi Mumbai, Father Swamy’s health deteriorated and he contracted COVID-19. Father Swamy suffered from Parkinson’s disease and various other ailments… However, his repeated applications for bail were rejected, despite his deteriorating health. Father Swamy died as the Bombay High Court was considering an appeal against the rejection of his bail application.” 

 

The Working Group stated it was  “deeply disturbed” by the allegations that even Father Swamy’s “request to access medical treatment once he had contracted COVID-19 was also initially denied. When the request was eventually granted, it was too late.” The Working Group has referred the case to the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.

 

Fr Stan Swamy (84) was a Jharkhand-based tribal rights defender was arrested on October 8, 2020, by the anti-terror National Investigation Agency in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Maoist conspiracy case and died  at a Mumbai hospital while in judicial custody in July 5 2021, the day year while awaiting bail.Reports have suggested he was ill-treated in jail.
 

The Working Group also noted “with grave concern the source’s submissions about Father Swamy’s treatment in Taloja central jail” when on November 6 2020, he had filed a request for a straw, a sipper bottle and winter clothes, which had been allegedly confiscated by the National Investigation Agency at the time of his arrest. The Working Group stated it was  shocked that the National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai rejected Father Swamy’s request on November 26 2020. The group has made these observations on submissions made to it by a source who has detailed how it was only the public outcry over the way the aged priest and activist was treated in the Taloja jail, that his request for a sipper bottle was granted on November 29 2020 calling it disappointing that “that public outrage was required for Father Swamy to be treated with humanity.” It stated that “it is the duty of all Governments to treat their detainees with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity as a human being, as stipulated in rule 1 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. 
 

The Working Group concluded that “Father Swamy’s arrest and detention lacked a legal basis” and even the Indian government has not refute these allegations against its treatment of Fr Swamy who “had fully cooperated all along in the investigation and was not viewed as a flight risk or as a person who would interfere with the legal process.” His custodial death, it said , was a “failure” on the part of India’s government and will “forever remain a stain” on India’s human rights record. The working group has urged the Government of India to urgently conduct “a thorough, effective and independent investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of Father Swamy while in custody”. And added that this investigation also included a “detailed report by an independent expert on the medical care and other kinds of care provided to Father Swamy after his arrest.” The opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its ninety-second session, may be read here.

Related

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy

Thank you, dear Fr. Stan, you will live forever!

Stand with Father Stan Swamy

Stan Swamy: The oldest activist to be targeted by the government

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

The Ukraine-Russia Conflict and NATO’s Imperialist Expansionism

“I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because War is bad in essence” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

17 Mar 2022

Ukraine
An old 2019 image of a Russian girl and a Ukrainian boy with their respective national flags have gone viral. Seemingly this image has got nothing to do with the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, but the main aim of this article is to denounce war and promote peace and love, thus nothing can be stronger as an image than this picture.


The ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, that began due to the Russian military expeditions in the Sunflower country, has its causes deeply ingrained in the post- Cold War era geopolitics of Europe and the world at large.  Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the world saw the initiation of a uni-polar and hegemonic global power system, with the core of power concentration lying entirely with the United States of America and its Western allies.

On February 21, 2022, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin unilaterally announced Russia’s official recognition of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic of Eastern Ukraine as free, sovereign and independent States. These regions of Donbass have been under separatist control for a better part of the last 6 years (primarily since Russia’s aggressive annexation of Crimea in March 2014). Following this announcement of recognition, the Russian President on February 24, 2022, ordered a “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine aimed at “De-Weaponisation and De-Nazification” of the ex-Soviet State. Thus the Russian tanks, aircrafts, missiles, heavy artillery and troops started rolling into Ukraine initiating the biggest geo-political crisis since the end of World War II. Since the start of Russia’s military expedition, more than three weeks have elapsed, and humanitarian crises of gigantic proportions have started engulfing Europe (and slowly the entire world). More than 3.5 million Ukrainians (official figures) have fled their native land and taken refuge in Poland, the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania leaving behind relatives, loved ones, homes, establishments, memories and trails of tears. Everyday thousands are seen stranded on roads leading to Western Ukraine and the borders. Food, fresh drinking water, medicine supplies have dried up. Relentless bombardments of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities and suburbs have not only caused enormous destruction of property but have also shattered a million civilian aspirations and dreams. But, if we look in detail into the causes of the conflict, we would see the reasons are partially ingrained in the expansionist and imperialist geo-political policies of the last three decades.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) came into existence in 1949 at the end of the 2nd World War and the beginning of the Cold War. This military strategic alliance which initially started with the US and UK (and later some their Western allies), started rapidly expanding into Eastern Europe following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is widely perceived that the erstwhile US Secretary of State James Baker had famously said “Not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with the erstwhile Soviet supremo Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, as a part of a plethora of assurances regarding long-term Soviet security and sovereignty given by the West to the Soviet throughout the German unification process of 1990. But the West went back on its promises and a fierce NATO expansion started in the last decade of the millennium.

First, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (all members of the Warsaw Pact) were admitted into NATO on March 12, 1999. The next round of expansionism includes all the Baltic States - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia along with Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia on March 29, 2004. The next round of expansionism included Croatia and Albania on April 1, 2009 and the process continued with Montenegro on June 5, 2017 and North Macedonia on March 27, 2020.

“Intensified Dialouge” status is conferred upon NATO aspirant nations whose membership applications are being scrutinized and are under serious consideration. Ukraine and Georgia (both former Soviet states and countries with extensive borders with Russia) have been accorded this status. On the March 10, 2018 NATO added Ukraine in the list of NATO aspirant members, along with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia.

Thus, the military influence of NATO which had already reached Russia’s backyard, was now on the verge of expanding into countries with vast borders Russia. This imperialist expansionism of NATO is not only threatening Russia’s long-term security interests but also the geo-political stability and peace in the region. It is known to all that the US starts installing military hardware and outposts in NATO countries in the name of defence strengthening purposes. Due to these developments, what has transpired is that the US and Russia (the world’s largest nuclear powers) are getting poised directly at each other militarily in East Europe. The only solution for defusing and de-escalating these armaments was to have a neutral buffer zone in East Europe between the NATO countries and Russia. But NATO’s imperial policies have nearly done away with all of the original neutral zones barring Ukraine. In recent years, following the Euromaidan Revolution of 2013 (in which a highly unpopular pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown), Ukraine has moved a lot closer to both the European Union (EU) and the NATO. This coupled with the impending threat of Ukraine’s pending NATO membership seems to have rattled Russia’s security concerns significantly.

Nato

Figure 1 : Map displaying NATO’s expansionist drive | Courtesy: https://mronline.org/2019/01/02/is-russia-imperialist

President Putin has repeatedly stressed upon the fact that Neo-Nazi elements have penetrated deep into the Ukrainian State structure. This assertion might sound a bit far-fetched, but there are some elements of truth and fact in it also. The Azov Battalion is a far-right wing militia, based in Mariupol (Ukraine) formed to combat Russian separatist forces in the region and Donbass. It is well known and documented that they had committed heinous war crimes like mass looting, illegal detentions and torture (according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Several OHCHR reports state that the Azov Battalion conducted grave Human Rights violations in the Donbass region in 2014-15. Some elements of the Azov Battalion are known to infamously use Nazi symbols and propaganda material. In 2014, the Azov was incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine, and since then the Azov members have been serving as soldiers in the Ukrainian National guard. Thus, this makes Ukraine a party to Neo-Nazi elements and ideology that whole of Europe had fought against in the 2nd World War.          

This article is in no way trying to justify Putin’s military adventurism and expeditions in any way, but on the contrary denounces Russia’s aggressive actions which have resulted in a humanitarian crisis. But the reasons behind this war need to be discussed in detail, failing which an amicable and acceptable solution to the problem would remain unachieved. Russia’s actions portray a strong sense of imperialist nationalism. Russia is currently an autocratic, undemocratic, capitalist power (it is no longer the socialist Soviet Union - a fact many of my Leftist friends tend to forget conveniently) where successive elections have been marred with allegations of widespread State-backed rigging in favour of the current dispensation led by Vladimir Putin. Putin’s strong ultra-nationalist image is also portrayed to the internal audience to distract the multitudes from the real issues of high inflation, stagnant growth, unemployment, inequality in the society (since disintegration of the Soviet), Covid mismanagement. Civil liberties, press independence, freedom of speech and political opposition have been under constant attack in Russia. Now coming back to the war, this conflict has actually become a war between two imperial powers – NATO and Russia for one-upmanship where Ukraine and its citizens have become pawns. The NATO is trying to strengthen its grip over Ukraine as an ally country to dump its weapons and Russia is trying to militarily transform it into its Satellite State.

Russian military expedition in Ukraine is basically the first instance of a sovereign country invading another sovereign country in Europe since the 2nd World War. Cities after cities have been destroyed, besieged, bombed and starved by the Russian army. War crimes like bombing the Mariupol hospital and hostile takeover of nuclear plants are being committed by the Russian Army.

Last week, Russian forces indiscriminately attacked and fired upon Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – the Zaporizhzhia plant, which could had led to a nuclear catastrophe larger in scale than Chernobyl 1986 resulting in radioactive destabilization in whole of Europe. Civilian establishments have been under missile bombardment since the beginning of the war. As stated earlier, more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have become refuges and are currently living in temporary camps in the neighbouring Baltic States, Poland, Romania and other countries, and this number is multiplying everyday as we speak. Shortages of food, medicine and drinking water have plagued the battle-torn nation of Ukraine. Humanitarian and refugee crises of unimaginable proportions (not seen since the 2nd World War) are being played out in Europe. Students and professionals from across the globe are still stranded in Ukraine amidst these scenes of destruction, waiting to be rescued and evacuated. The humanitarian corridors (set up as a result of consultations between Russia and Ukraine) aimed at evacuation purposes are being fired upon resulting in these evacuation routes becoming dysfunctional.

Ukraine war
Figure 2 : An aerial view of civilian establishments destroyed by Russian missiles in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine (Image courtesy: REUTERS/Maksim Levin)

The Western media’s role in reporting this war and public opinion formation has also been highly biased and skewed in nature. In the same way, Russia’s dictatorial and autocratic manner of crushing widespread internal protests and dissent against the war has been undemocratic and degrading to say the least.

The West’s efforts at de-escalating tensions before the war and during it have been far from satisfactory (barring French President Emmanuel Macron). The US President Joe Biden and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been crying war rhetoric for far too long which has contributed more towards escalations rather than defusing the situation. Even during the war, the roles of the US and its allies have been provocative to say the least (like promises of dumping more weapons into Ukraine rather than trying to negotiate things). There has to be comprehensive tripartite talks and negotiations involving Russia, Ukraine and the West. Ukrainian neutrality, a halted NATO expansionism and withdrawn Russian military should be the goal going forward if we want a stable and peaceful geo-political solution to this crisis. Imperialist designs of both the West and counter-military expeditions of Russia need to be rebuked and resisted by the International media.

NATO’s expansionist and imperial designs across the globe need to be resisted, because the world has seen the kind of humanitarian crises that has been created due to it in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine (just to name a few in an unending list of victim countries). In Palestine, an entire country lives in inhuman conditions under the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel, without the West even batting an eyelid. This is the kind of Western hypocrisy which also needs to be rebuked and criticized.

The civil society has a very important role in this regard. The Anti-War civil society movements are of utmost importance. Just as anti-war movements in the US during the Vietnam War were a watershed moment in anti-imperial struggles, in the same way anti-war protest images from St. Petersburg (in Russia) have been the highlight in the present resistance against the war. The autocratic and repressive Russian administration has arrested thousands but still sane anti-war voices continue to pour out of the Russian civil society.

The World was slowly limping out of a 2-year pandemic period, when this war has started creating havoc. War in any part of the globe creates crisis of food, shelter, healthcare facilities across the region, which slowly percolates into the entire world leading to higher starvation rates, increased poverty figures, unemployment and displacement. The poor and the working class are hit the most.      

Amongst all the dark clouds hanging over us, there have silver linings and rays of hope emerging in the last few days. Russia-Ukraine negotiations have started in Turkey and are appearing to move in the right direction. The West should look into Russia’s genuine security concerns and on the other hand Russia must immediately halt its military attacks and advances. The solution to this grave crisis can only be sought through comprehensive dialogue between Russia, Ukraine and the West. Ukrainian neutrality along with its future security has to be guaranteed by one and all. Rehabilitation of destroyed Ukrainian establishments, resources have to be pre-empted and taken up as an immediate priority. NATO must stop its eastward expansion and imperialist designs. Russia should also release all prisoners of war (PoW) from Ukraine. Russia should also do more in the areas of Freedom of Speech, civil liberties and release its arrested anti-war protestors and activists. Sane and sensible actions from all sides aimed at de-escalation can save this world from further destruction and catastrophe.

RESIST NATO’S IMPERIALISM AND RUSSIA’S MILITARY CONQUESTS. LET PEACE WIN.

“When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, it loses its social perspective. There is something about a war like this that makes people insensitive. It dulls the conscience. It strengthens the forces of reaction, and it brings into being bitterness and hatred and violence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Related:

Russian TV Staff says "no to war",  quits on-air 

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

 

The Ukraine-Russia Conflict and NATO’s Imperialist Expansionism

“I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because War is bad in essence” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Ukraine
An old 2019 image of a Russian girl and a Ukrainian boy with their respective national flags have gone viral. Seemingly this image has got nothing to do with the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, but the main aim of this article is to denounce war and promote peace and love, thus nothing can be stronger as an image than this picture.


The ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, that began due to the Russian military expeditions in the Sunflower country, has its causes deeply ingrained in the post- Cold War era geopolitics of Europe and the world at large.  Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the world saw the initiation of a uni-polar and hegemonic global power system, with the core of power concentration lying entirely with the United States of America and its Western allies.

On February 21, 2022, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin unilaterally announced Russia’s official recognition of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic of Eastern Ukraine as free, sovereign and independent States. These regions of Donbass have been under separatist control for a better part of the last 6 years (primarily since Russia’s aggressive annexation of Crimea in March 2014). Following this announcement of recognition, the Russian President on February 24, 2022, ordered a “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine aimed at “De-Weaponisation and De-Nazification” of the ex-Soviet State. Thus the Russian tanks, aircrafts, missiles, heavy artillery and troops started rolling into Ukraine initiating the biggest geo-political crisis since the end of World War II. Since the start of Russia’s military expedition, more than three weeks have elapsed, and humanitarian crises of gigantic proportions have started engulfing Europe (and slowly the entire world). More than 3.5 million Ukrainians (official figures) have fled their native land and taken refuge in Poland, the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania leaving behind relatives, loved ones, homes, establishments, memories and trails of tears. Everyday thousands are seen stranded on roads leading to Western Ukraine and the borders. Food, fresh drinking water, medicine supplies have dried up. Relentless bombardments of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities and suburbs have not only caused enormous destruction of property but have also shattered a million civilian aspirations and dreams. But, if we look in detail into the causes of the conflict, we would see the reasons are partially ingrained in the expansionist and imperialist geo-political policies of the last three decades.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) came into existence in 1949 at the end of the 2nd World War and the beginning of the Cold War. This military strategic alliance which initially started with the US and UK (and later some their Western allies), started rapidly expanding into Eastern Europe following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is widely perceived that the erstwhile US Secretary of State James Baker had famously said “Not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with the erstwhile Soviet supremo Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, as a part of a plethora of assurances regarding long-term Soviet security and sovereignty given by the West to the Soviet throughout the German unification process of 1990. But the West went back on its promises and a fierce NATO expansion started in the last decade of the millennium.

First, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (all members of the Warsaw Pact) were admitted into NATO on March 12, 1999. The next round of expansionism includes all the Baltic States - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia along with Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia on March 29, 2004. The next round of expansionism included Croatia and Albania on April 1, 2009 and the process continued with Montenegro on June 5, 2017 and North Macedonia on March 27, 2020.

“Intensified Dialouge” status is conferred upon NATO aspirant nations whose membership applications are being scrutinized and are under serious consideration. Ukraine and Georgia (both former Soviet states and countries with extensive borders with Russia) have been accorded this status. On the March 10, 2018 NATO added Ukraine in the list of NATO aspirant members, along with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia.

Thus, the military influence of NATO which had already reached Russia’s backyard, was now on the verge of expanding into countries with vast borders Russia. This imperialist expansionism of NATO is not only threatening Russia’s long-term security interests but also the geo-political stability and peace in the region. It is known to all that the US starts installing military hardware and outposts in NATO countries in the name of defence strengthening purposes. Due to these developments, what has transpired is that the US and Russia (the world’s largest nuclear powers) are getting poised directly at each other militarily in East Europe. The only solution for defusing and de-escalating these armaments was to have a neutral buffer zone in East Europe between the NATO countries and Russia. But NATO’s imperial policies have nearly done away with all of the original neutral zones barring Ukraine. In recent years, following the Euromaidan Revolution of 2013 (in which a highly unpopular pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown), Ukraine has moved a lot closer to both the European Union (EU) and the NATO. This coupled with the impending threat of Ukraine’s pending NATO membership seems to have rattled Russia’s security concerns significantly.

Nato

Figure 1 : Map displaying NATO’s expansionist drive | Courtesy: https://mronline.org/2019/01/02/is-russia-imperialist

President Putin has repeatedly stressed upon the fact that Neo-Nazi elements have penetrated deep into the Ukrainian State structure. This assertion might sound a bit far-fetched, but there are some elements of truth and fact in it also. The Azov Battalion is a far-right wing militia, based in Mariupol (Ukraine) formed to combat Russian separatist forces in the region and Donbass. It is well known and documented that they had committed heinous war crimes like mass looting, illegal detentions and torture (according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Several OHCHR reports state that the Azov Battalion conducted grave Human Rights violations in the Donbass region in 2014-15. Some elements of the Azov Battalion are known to infamously use Nazi symbols and propaganda material. In 2014, the Azov was incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine, and since then the Azov members have been serving as soldiers in the Ukrainian National guard. Thus, this makes Ukraine a party to Neo-Nazi elements and ideology that whole of Europe had fought against in the 2nd World War.          

This article is in no way trying to justify Putin’s military adventurism and expeditions in any way, but on the contrary denounces Russia’s aggressive actions which have resulted in a humanitarian crisis. But the reasons behind this war need to be discussed in detail, failing which an amicable and acceptable solution to the problem would remain unachieved. Russia’s actions portray a strong sense of imperialist nationalism. Russia is currently an autocratic, undemocratic, capitalist power (it is no longer the socialist Soviet Union - a fact many of my Leftist friends tend to forget conveniently) where successive elections have been marred with allegations of widespread State-backed rigging in favour of the current dispensation led by Vladimir Putin. Putin’s strong ultra-nationalist image is also portrayed to the internal audience to distract the multitudes from the real issues of high inflation, stagnant growth, unemployment, inequality in the society (since disintegration of the Soviet), Covid mismanagement. Civil liberties, press independence, freedom of speech and political opposition have been under constant attack in Russia. Now coming back to the war, this conflict has actually become a war between two imperial powers – NATO and Russia for one-upmanship where Ukraine and its citizens have become pawns. The NATO is trying to strengthen its grip over Ukraine as an ally country to dump its weapons and Russia is trying to militarily transform it into its Satellite State.

Russian military expedition in Ukraine is basically the first instance of a sovereign country invading another sovereign country in Europe since the 2nd World War. Cities after cities have been destroyed, besieged, bombed and starved by the Russian army. War crimes like bombing the Mariupol hospital and hostile takeover of nuclear plants are being committed by the Russian Army.

Last week, Russian forces indiscriminately attacked and fired upon Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – the Zaporizhzhia plant, which could had led to a nuclear catastrophe larger in scale than Chernobyl 1986 resulting in radioactive destabilization in whole of Europe. Civilian establishments have been under missile bombardment since the beginning of the war. As stated earlier, more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have become refuges and are currently living in temporary camps in the neighbouring Baltic States, Poland, Romania and other countries, and this number is multiplying everyday as we speak. Shortages of food, medicine and drinking water have plagued the battle-torn nation of Ukraine. Humanitarian and refugee crises of unimaginable proportions (not seen since the 2nd World War) are being played out in Europe. Students and professionals from across the globe are still stranded in Ukraine amidst these scenes of destruction, waiting to be rescued and evacuated. The humanitarian corridors (set up as a result of consultations between Russia and Ukraine) aimed at evacuation purposes are being fired upon resulting in these evacuation routes becoming dysfunctional.

Ukraine war
Figure 2 : An aerial view of civilian establishments destroyed by Russian missiles in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine (Image courtesy: REUTERS/Maksim Levin)

The Western media’s role in reporting this war and public opinion formation has also been highly biased and skewed in nature. In the same way, Russia’s dictatorial and autocratic manner of crushing widespread internal protests and dissent against the war has been undemocratic and degrading to say the least.

The West’s efforts at de-escalating tensions before the war and during it have been far from satisfactory (barring French President Emmanuel Macron). The US President Joe Biden and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been crying war rhetoric for far too long which has contributed more towards escalations rather than defusing the situation. Even during the war, the roles of the US and its allies have been provocative to say the least (like promises of dumping more weapons into Ukraine rather than trying to negotiate things). There has to be comprehensive tripartite talks and negotiations involving Russia, Ukraine and the West. Ukrainian neutrality, a halted NATO expansionism and withdrawn Russian military should be the goal going forward if we want a stable and peaceful geo-political solution to this crisis. Imperialist designs of both the West and counter-military expeditions of Russia need to be rebuked and resisted by the International media.

NATO’s expansionist and imperial designs across the globe need to be resisted, because the world has seen the kind of humanitarian crises that has been created due to it in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine (just to name a few in an unending list of victim countries). In Palestine, an entire country lives in inhuman conditions under the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel, without the West even batting an eyelid. This is the kind of Western hypocrisy which also needs to be rebuked and criticized.

The civil society has a very important role in this regard. The Anti-War civil society movements are of utmost importance. Just as anti-war movements in the US during the Vietnam War were a watershed moment in anti-imperial struggles, in the same way anti-war protest images from St. Petersburg (in Russia) have been the highlight in the present resistance against the war. The autocratic and repressive Russian administration has arrested thousands but still sane anti-war voices continue to pour out of the Russian civil society.

The World was slowly limping out of a 2-year pandemic period, when this war has started creating havoc. War in any part of the globe creates crisis of food, shelter, healthcare facilities across the region, which slowly percolates into the entire world leading to higher starvation rates, increased poverty figures, unemployment and displacement. The poor and the working class are hit the most.      

Amongst all the dark clouds hanging over us, there have silver linings and rays of hope emerging in the last few days. Russia-Ukraine negotiations have started in Turkey and are appearing to move in the right direction. The West should look into Russia’s genuine security concerns and on the other hand Russia must immediately halt its military attacks and advances. The solution to this grave crisis can only be sought through comprehensive dialogue between Russia, Ukraine and the West. Ukrainian neutrality along with its future security has to be guaranteed by one and all. Rehabilitation of destroyed Ukrainian establishments, resources have to be pre-empted and taken up as an immediate priority. NATO must stop its eastward expansion and imperialist designs. Russia should also release all prisoners of war (PoW) from Ukraine. Russia should also do more in the areas of Freedom of Speech, civil liberties and release its arrested anti-war protestors and activists. Sane and sensible actions from all sides aimed at de-escalation can save this world from further destruction and catastrophe.

RESIST NATO’S IMPERIALISM AND RUSSIA’S MILITARY CONQUESTS. LET PEACE WIN.

“When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, it loses its social perspective. There is something about a war like this that makes people insensitive. It dulls the conscience. It strengthens the forces of reaction, and it brings into being bitterness and hatred and violence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Related:

Russian TV Staff says "no to war",  quits on-air 

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Ukraine invasion: Hindu Sena marches in support of Russia!

A day before UP enters the final phase of election, Indian right-wing voiced support for Russia in the national capital

07 Mar 2022

Hindu Sena marches
Image courtesy: abplive.com

Regular hate offender group Hindu Sena on March 6, 2022 supported a hate-crime of international proportions by supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Members chanted a mix of slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Bharat-Russia Dosti Zindabad’ with singular explanations for their stand.

The RSS-affiliated organisation marched in Connaught Place, central Delhi with saffron, Indian and Russian flags in hand. One Hindu Sena member speaking to local mediapersons, said, “India and Russia are good friends. Whenever India was in trouble at the international level Russia has supported us. If needed, Hindu Sena soldiers will fight for Russia. And Ukraine has always voted against us. India should help Russia in every way.” He went on to say that NATO countries are those of western nations that hinder the progress of Asian countries, completely oblivious to what NATO is and what its objectives are.

As per the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) website, the organisation's purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. Established after World War II, the NATO has not caused any explicit suffering to Asian countries as implied by the Hindu Sena member.

However, the attack on Ukraine by Russia has been condemned by many countries fearing a third world war following a global pandemic. This includes Russian television channel TV Rain (Dozhd) whose staff resigned on-air, declaring “no to war” in its final live telecast.

Meanwhile, when asked about the students stuck in Ukraine, the member said that all children are in contact with the Indian government and are safe. Again, this is at odds with news reports, stating that over 600 Indian students are stranded at Sumy State University, close to the Russian border. Students have complained that the Indian Embassy in Ukraine neither evacuated them nor gave any assurance to that effect.

Yet, when Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University MBBS student Vaishali Yadav asked for help from the Government of India, was trolled by right-wing media. All of this, after the Ministry of external Affairs reported the death of final year medical student Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar on March 1.

Despite such circumstances, the Hindu Sena maintains its support for Russia with slogans like, “Russia tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai (Russia fight, we are with you).”

Already on Tuesday, the same group stuck posters on Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s statue in Delhi that said “Indian Hindus are with Putin and Russia in establishing the Soviet Union. Jai Ho Akhand Russia, Jai Bharat - Hindu Sena”.

The right-wing organisation repeatedly supports instances of aggression. Before the Russia-Ukraine war, it supported the ban of hijab inside classrooms, a controversy that hindered education in Karnataka for at least a month. Before this in 2019, the Hindu Sena even celebrated Queen Victoria’s birth anniversary stating the Britishers brought India together as a nation.

Related:

Russian TV Staff says "no to war", quits on-air
Why is Prime Minister Modi claiming in UP, Indians evacuated from Ukraine?
Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help
Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

Ukraine invasion: Hindu Sena marches in support of Russia!

A day before UP enters the final phase of election, Indian right-wing voiced support for Russia in the national capital

Hindu Sena marches
Image courtesy: abplive.com

Regular hate offender group Hindu Sena on March 6, 2022 supported a hate-crime of international proportions by supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Members chanted a mix of slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Bharat-Russia Dosti Zindabad’ with singular explanations for their stand.

The RSS-affiliated organisation marched in Connaught Place, central Delhi with saffron, Indian and Russian flags in hand. One Hindu Sena member speaking to local mediapersons, said, “India and Russia are good friends. Whenever India was in trouble at the international level Russia has supported us. If needed, Hindu Sena soldiers will fight for Russia. And Ukraine has always voted against us. India should help Russia in every way.” He went on to say that NATO countries are those of western nations that hinder the progress of Asian countries, completely oblivious to what NATO is and what its objectives are.

As per the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) website, the organisation's purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. Established after World War II, the NATO has not caused any explicit suffering to Asian countries as implied by the Hindu Sena member.

However, the attack on Ukraine by Russia has been condemned by many countries fearing a third world war following a global pandemic. This includes Russian television channel TV Rain (Dozhd) whose staff resigned on-air, declaring “no to war” in its final live telecast.

Meanwhile, when asked about the students stuck in Ukraine, the member said that all children are in contact with the Indian government and are safe. Again, this is at odds with news reports, stating that over 600 Indian students are stranded at Sumy State University, close to the Russian border. Students have complained that the Indian Embassy in Ukraine neither evacuated them nor gave any assurance to that effect.

Yet, when Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University MBBS student Vaishali Yadav asked for help from the Government of India, was trolled by right-wing media. All of this, after the Ministry of external Affairs reported the death of final year medical student Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar on March 1.

Despite such circumstances, the Hindu Sena maintains its support for Russia with slogans like, “Russia tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai (Russia fight, we are with you).”

Already on Tuesday, the same group stuck posters on Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s statue in Delhi that said “Indian Hindus are with Putin and Russia in establishing the Soviet Union. Jai Ho Akhand Russia, Jai Bharat - Hindu Sena”.

The right-wing organisation repeatedly supports instances of aggression. Before the Russia-Ukraine war, it supported the ban of hijab inside classrooms, a controversy that hindered education in Karnataka for at least a month. Before this in 2019, the Hindu Sena even celebrated Queen Victoria’s birth anniversary stating the Britishers brought India together as a nation.

Related:

Russian TV Staff says "no to war", quits on-air
Why is Prime Minister Modi claiming in UP, Indians evacuated from Ukraine?
Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help
Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Russian TV Staff says "no to war",  quits on-air 

Staff of TV Rain (Dozhd) took this decision after Russian authorities suspended its operations over its coverage of the Ukraine war

05 Mar 2022

Russian TV Staff says "no to war",  quits on-air 

In protest of the Russia-Ukraine war that began with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the entire staff of a Russian television channel resigned on-air. In its final live telecast the staff of TV Rain (Dozhd) declared “no to war” and walked out of the studio. According to a report in NDTV the staff took this decision “after Russian authorities suspended its operations over its coverage of the Ukraine war. The report stated that channel's co-founder Natalia Sindeyeva, said “No to war” in their final telecast even as the staff members staged a walkout from the studio and the channel issued a statement declaring it has suspended its operation "indefinitely".

The video of mass resignation soon went viral. According to news reports, the dramatic exit of the staff was followed by a telecast of the 'Swan Lake' ballet video on the  channel. This was what had been shown on state-run TV channels in Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It has been reported that Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station, “one of Russia's last remaining liberal media outlets”, has also been “dissolved by its board after coming under pressure over its coverage of the war in Ukraine.”  The radio station reportedly featured interviews with Ukrainian journalists who described the horrors of Russia's invasion.

The United States has accused Russia of launching a "full war on media freedom and the truth" by blocking independent news outlets and preventing Russians from hearing news of the invasion of Ukraine, it stated, “Russia's government is also throttling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms that tens of millions of Russia's citizens rely on to access independent information and opinions."

 

Related

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

Kashmir and Crimea – where is the difference?

Russian TV Staff says "no to war",  quits on-air 

Staff of TV Rain (Dozhd) took this decision after Russian authorities suspended its operations over its coverage of the Ukraine war

Russian TV Staff says "no to war",  quits on-air 

In protest of the Russia-Ukraine war that began with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the entire staff of a Russian television channel resigned on-air. In its final live telecast the staff of TV Rain (Dozhd) declared “no to war” and walked out of the studio. According to a report in NDTV the staff took this decision “after Russian authorities suspended its operations over its coverage of the Ukraine war. The report stated that channel's co-founder Natalia Sindeyeva, said “No to war” in their final telecast even as the staff members staged a walkout from the studio and the channel issued a statement declaring it has suspended its operation "indefinitely".

The video of mass resignation soon went viral. According to news reports, the dramatic exit of the staff was followed by a telecast of the 'Swan Lake' ballet video on the  channel. This was what had been shown on state-run TV channels in Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It has been reported that Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station, “one of Russia's last remaining liberal media outlets”, has also been “dissolved by its board after coming under pressure over its coverage of the war in Ukraine.”  The radio station reportedly featured interviews with Ukrainian journalists who described the horrors of Russia's invasion.

The United States has accused Russia of launching a "full war on media freedom and the truth" by blocking independent news outlets and preventing Russians from hearing news of the invasion of Ukraine, it stated, “Russia's government is also throttling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms that tens of millions of Russia's citizens rely on to access independent information and opinions."

 

Related

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

Kashmir and Crimea – where is the difference?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Western reporters focus on war-affected people being “people like us” and not some “third-world country”, fail to report on racist treatment of non-white people fleeing war zones by Ukrainian authorities

04 Mar 2022

Ukraine war
Image: Wojtek Radawnski / AFP

For the last few days there has been a furore over the manner in which the western news media has reported on the crisis in Ukraine. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and though it earlier committed to targeting only military establishments, in just a few days, it started bombing cities and residential neighbourhoods, forcing residents to flee the battle-torn nation.

And it was at this time, that western media’s interest in the region grew, because, in the words of a journalist, “These are European people, with blonde hair and blue eyes!” And to think, it hasn’t even been a hundred years since the Holocaust, a particularly inhuman period of history brought about by one man’s obsession with those two physical traits!

Other reporters referred to Ukrainian refugees as “prosperous, middle-class people”, “civilized” and that “they look like us”. Yet others claimed that this wasn’t “like some third-world country” or people “trying to get away from “areas in North Africa”. Some like CBS News correspondent Charlie D’ Agata even went as far as to say that this wasn’t “like Afghanistan or Iraq” and that Ukraine was “relatively civilised, relatively European”, as if to suggest that it is somehow more acceptable for those countries to be invaded and their citizens were somehow not “civilized” enough!

In her now viral LA Times article titled In Ukraine reporting, Western press reveals grim bias towards ‘people like us’, television critic Lorraine Ali called it a “painful double standard”. She pointed out, among many examples, Daniel Hannan’s piece in the Telegraph where he said, “Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts, vote in free elections and read uncensored newspapers.” The mention of Netflix and Instagram by the reporter is somehow expected to make the was-affected people more relatable than victims and survivors of America’s military misadventures in the Middle East, or those who survived slavery, genocide and economic oppression at the hand of colonial powers – black and brown people, non-Christian people.

Europe: War and ‘Civilization’

It is noteworthy that the so-called “third-world countries” and many countries in the Islamic world had flourishing civilizations much before Europe, and it was European colonial powers that destroyed their traditional economies, and Americans who bombed them under the guise of giving them democracy!

In fact, Mehdi Hasan minced no words when he called out the racist bias in the reportage, “Europe has been home to some of the worst wars and worst war crimes in human history — I mean, the Holocaust!” He further tore into the biases of western news reporters saying, “When they say – oh civilized cities, and in another clip, well dressed people, this is not the third world – they really mean white people, don’t they?”  

 

 

The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association called for “all news organisations to be mindful of implicit and explicit bias in their coverage of the war in Ukraine.” They gave examples of “racist news coverage that ascribes more importance to some victims of war over others.” It further said, “ AMEJA condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is ‘ uncivilized’ or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict.” The entire statement may be read here:

 

 

Talk show host and stand-up comic Trevor Noah too called out the blatant racism in the reportage, saying, “I was shocked to see how many reporters around the world seem to think it is more of a tragedy when white people have to flee their countries,” and reminded viewers, “Until recently, fighting crazy war was Europe’s thing. That’s all of European history! They even had a 100 years’ war!”

Racism at the borders

Meanwhile, thousands of black and brown people of African, middle-eastern and Indian descent, have been tweeting about discrimination in relief and evacuation processes, particularly at the border. But apart from major international networks like BBC and CNN who have reporters from difference countries, religious backgrounds and races, and media houses from the countries of people facing discrimination, there has been limited reportage on the racism faced by non-white people fleeing Ukraine.

On March 3, 2022, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Tendayi Achiume drew attention to how “Black Africans, Indian nationals, Pakistani nationals, people of Middle Eastern descent and others have sent urgent reports documenting life-threatening racist and xenophobic treatment as they attempt to flee the violence in Ukraine.” She shared their plight and examples of blatant racism and xenophobia in a statement released on the official OHCHR site saying, “Some report being denied access to bomb shelters within Ukraine, many report border guards preventing them from crossing the border or pushing them to the back of queues for transportation that would grant them safe passage out of the country and, in some cases, they report being denied access to consulates of their countries of origin in neighboring countries. Many — including babies — are being forced to wait longer in below freezing temperatures with no shelter. In all of these cases, these individuals and groups are being singled out for discriminatory treatment through racial, ethnic, and national profiling that is prohibited under international law, even in the context of armed conflict.”    

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor also issued a statement saying, “The official and media European positions towards the Ukraine crisis, which resulted in a refugee crisis, have exposed a deep-rooted racist European policy that excludes and discriminates against non-European ethnicities”  It further said, “Over the past days, the security authorities in Ukraine and Poland and other European politicians and journalists showed several forms of racism and discrimination based on race, color, and religion against refugees fleeing the war Russia launched on Ukraine on 24 February.” The Euro-Med team viewed testimonies and videos showing that the Polish border guard follow discriminatory policy against non-Europeans, by impeding the crossing of Africans while allowing Ukrainians to cross and providing them with food and first aid.

Euro-Med further highlighted the plight of black and brown refugees fleeing Ukraine saying, “Students and residents of Arab and African nationalities in Ukraine told Euro-Med Monitor that they were forced to sit for long hours at the Polish border without any help, and some of them---especially with black skin---were prevented from crossing without reasons and remained stuck at the borders. At the same time, great facilities were provided to white Ukrainians, who were allowed to cross without visas and travel by train without tickets.” It also brought to link how Indians faced discrimination at borders and railway stations, “Indians residing in Ukraine also said that they faced great difficulties when fleeing the country, as they were not allowed to board the trains, and their crossing was delayed, while the Ukrainians were allowed to cross first.”   

But somehow, these stories are grossly under-reported. Even when they are reported, it is usually by the mediapersons, publications and news channels catering to non-white populations.

Here are a few chilling videos that have gone viral on social media:

 

 

Meanwhile, the Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied charges of racism and said, “In Ukraine, there is no discrimination based on race, skin colour or nationality, including when it comes to crossing the border by foreign citizens. The first come first served approach applies to all nationalities.”

 

 

The full statement may be read here:

 

 

Related:

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

Kashmir and Crimea – where is the difference?

Ukraine invasion: Racist reportage, yet little mention of racism in Ukraine?

Western reporters focus on war-affected people being “people like us” and not some “third-world country”, fail to report on racist treatment of non-white people fleeing war zones by Ukrainian authorities

Ukraine war
Image: Wojtek Radawnski / AFP

For the last few days there has been a furore over the manner in which the western news media has reported on the crisis in Ukraine. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and though it earlier committed to targeting only military establishments, in just a few days, it started bombing cities and residential neighbourhoods, forcing residents to flee the battle-torn nation.

And it was at this time, that western media’s interest in the region grew, because, in the words of a journalist, “These are European people, with blonde hair and blue eyes!” And to think, it hasn’t even been a hundred years since the Holocaust, a particularly inhuman period of history brought about by one man’s obsession with those two physical traits!

Other reporters referred to Ukrainian refugees as “prosperous, middle-class people”, “civilized” and that “they look like us”. Yet others claimed that this wasn’t “like some third-world country” or people “trying to get away from “areas in North Africa”. Some like CBS News correspondent Charlie D’ Agata even went as far as to say that this wasn’t “like Afghanistan or Iraq” and that Ukraine was “relatively civilised, relatively European”, as if to suggest that it is somehow more acceptable for those countries to be invaded and their citizens were somehow not “civilized” enough!

In her now viral LA Times article titled In Ukraine reporting, Western press reveals grim bias towards ‘people like us’, television critic Lorraine Ali called it a “painful double standard”. She pointed out, among many examples, Daniel Hannan’s piece in the Telegraph where he said, “Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts, vote in free elections and read uncensored newspapers.” The mention of Netflix and Instagram by the reporter is somehow expected to make the was-affected people more relatable than victims and survivors of America’s military misadventures in the Middle East, or those who survived slavery, genocide and economic oppression at the hand of colonial powers – black and brown people, non-Christian people.

Europe: War and ‘Civilization’

It is noteworthy that the so-called “third-world countries” and many countries in the Islamic world had flourishing civilizations much before Europe, and it was European colonial powers that destroyed their traditional economies, and Americans who bombed them under the guise of giving them democracy!

In fact, Mehdi Hasan minced no words when he called out the racist bias in the reportage, “Europe has been home to some of the worst wars and worst war crimes in human history — I mean, the Holocaust!” He further tore into the biases of western news reporters saying, “When they say – oh civilized cities, and in another clip, well dressed people, this is not the third world – they really mean white people, don’t they?”  

 

 

The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association called for “all news organisations to be mindful of implicit and explicit bias in their coverage of the war in Ukraine.” They gave examples of “racist news coverage that ascribes more importance to some victims of war over others.” It further said, “ AMEJA condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is ‘ uncivilized’ or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict.” The entire statement may be read here:

 

 

Talk show host and stand-up comic Trevor Noah too called out the blatant racism in the reportage, saying, “I was shocked to see how many reporters around the world seem to think it is more of a tragedy when white people have to flee their countries,” and reminded viewers, “Until recently, fighting crazy war was Europe’s thing. That’s all of European history! They even had a 100 years’ war!”

Racism at the borders

Meanwhile, thousands of black and brown people of African, middle-eastern and Indian descent, have been tweeting about discrimination in relief and evacuation processes, particularly at the border. But apart from major international networks like BBC and CNN who have reporters from difference countries, religious backgrounds and races, and media houses from the countries of people facing discrimination, there has been limited reportage on the racism faced by non-white people fleeing Ukraine.

On March 3, 2022, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Tendayi Achiume drew attention to how “Black Africans, Indian nationals, Pakistani nationals, people of Middle Eastern descent and others have sent urgent reports documenting life-threatening racist and xenophobic treatment as they attempt to flee the violence in Ukraine.” She shared their plight and examples of blatant racism and xenophobia in a statement released on the official OHCHR site saying, “Some report being denied access to bomb shelters within Ukraine, many report border guards preventing them from crossing the border or pushing them to the back of queues for transportation that would grant them safe passage out of the country and, in some cases, they report being denied access to consulates of their countries of origin in neighboring countries. Many — including babies — are being forced to wait longer in below freezing temperatures with no shelter. In all of these cases, these individuals and groups are being singled out for discriminatory treatment through racial, ethnic, and national profiling that is prohibited under international law, even in the context of armed conflict.”    

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor also issued a statement saying, “The official and media European positions towards the Ukraine crisis, which resulted in a refugee crisis, have exposed a deep-rooted racist European policy that excludes and discriminates against non-European ethnicities”  It further said, “Over the past days, the security authorities in Ukraine and Poland and other European politicians and journalists showed several forms of racism and discrimination based on race, color, and religion against refugees fleeing the war Russia launched on Ukraine on 24 February.” The Euro-Med team viewed testimonies and videos showing that the Polish border guard follow discriminatory policy against non-Europeans, by impeding the crossing of Africans while allowing Ukrainians to cross and providing them with food and first aid.

Euro-Med further highlighted the plight of black and brown refugees fleeing Ukraine saying, “Students and residents of Arab and African nationalities in Ukraine told Euro-Med Monitor that they were forced to sit for long hours at the Polish border without any help, and some of them---especially with black skin---were prevented from crossing without reasons and remained stuck at the borders. At the same time, great facilities were provided to white Ukrainians, who were allowed to cross without visas and travel by train without tickets.” It also brought to link how Indians faced discrimination at borders and railway stations, “Indians residing in Ukraine also said that they faced great difficulties when fleeing the country, as they were not allowed to board the trains, and their crossing was delayed, while the Ukrainians were allowed to cross first.”   

But somehow, these stories are grossly under-reported. Even when they are reported, it is usually by the mediapersons, publications and news channels catering to non-white populations.

Here are a few chilling videos that have gone viral on social media:

 

 

Meanwhile, the Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied charges of racism and said, “In Ukraine, there is no discrimination based on race, skin colour or nationality, including when it comes to crossing the border by foreign citizens. The first come first served approach applies to all nationalities.”

 

 

The full statement may be read here:

 

 

Related:

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

Kashmir and Crimea – where is the difference?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Once persecuted and displaced, today the future of Muslims in Ukraine is plagued by uncertainty

04 Mar 2022

Muslims
Image: Reuters

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, has brought uncertainty to the lives and futures of nearly 4,00,000 Muslims who call the country their home, the majority being Crimean Tatar. According to an estimate, as many as 1,00,000 Muslims are living in the capital Kyiv alone, while others are in other war-torn cities like Kherson, etc.

The other ethnic Muslim groups in Ukraine besides Crimean Tatar are Volga Tatars, Azeris, North Caucasians, and Uzbeks. After the Russian invasion, the future of the Ukrainian Muslims hangs in balance and largely depends on the ongoing diplomatic efforts by world leaders to defuse the escalating tensions.

The Union of Islamic Communities of Italy has urged Muslim communities in the country, and across Europe, to open the doors of their centers so they can be safe havens for those fleeing from war in Ukraine. Muslim communities throughout Italy have been organising local initiatives to collect food and medicine to be donated to Ukraine, in cooperation with the Catholic organisations.

In this regard, there is little effort made by the Muslim countries. In fact, their reaction to the current Ukraine war does not inspire any hope. While Turkish President Erdogan has criticised the Russian invasion, Iran has accused the U.S. and the West of causing the 'problem' in Ukraine. The other Muslim countries are silent about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and they have no words of support for the fleeing Ukrainian Muslims.  

To recall, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea after a disputed and internationally rejected referendum. The occupying forces immediately began to crack down on the Crimean Muslims. The war displaced some 7,50,000 Muslims from the Crimea peninsula and they moved to the capital Kyiv and Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine.

Now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the nightmare of persecution once again looms large over the minds of Muslims and they are worried about their future. The renewed threat of their displacement by the Russians, lays their future uncertain, and they fear being treated in the same way as they were in 2014, during the Crimea war.

The history of Muslims in Ukraine is associated with the Crimean Tatars, the Turkic-speaking descendants of Turkic and non-Turkic peoples who had settled in Eastern Europe as early as the 7th century. The Crimean Tatars are a Muslim ethnic group indigenous to the Crimean Peninsula, on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Muslim settlements are concentrated in the countries in the southern half, particularly in Crimea, although there are Lipka Tatar colonies in other regions such as Volhynia and Podolia.

Muslims established the Crimean Khanate in southern Ukraine in the 15th century. The Khanate soon lost its sovereignty and fell to the Ottoman Empire, although its local rulers retained a significant degree of autonomy. The Khanate ended after growing Russian influence leading to its annexation into the Russian Empire after the Russo-Turkish Wars in the late 18th century. At the time when the Khanate was annexed by Russia, its capital of Bakhchysarai had at least 18 mosques along with several madrassas. Later, at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Muslims constituted one-third of Crimea's population. Nearly all major cities in Crimea had a significant Muslim population.

However, the Russian Empire began persecuting the Muslims. Crimean Muslims were subjected to mass deportation in 1944 by Joseph Stalin who accused them of collaborating with Nazi Germany. This stigma was propagated about the Muslims despite tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars serving in the Red Army.

In 1944, more than 200,000 Crimean Muslims were deported to Central Asia, primarily to Uzbekistan. They were forced onto the cattle trains and exiled. It is estimated that about half of them died due to the harsh journey, starvation, and subsequent diseases.  

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Crimean peninsula became part of Ukraine, and the exiled Muslims were asked to return to their homeland. The repatriation though began in 1989, accelerated after 1991. The returnees faced challenges such as being blocked from buying or renting homes, including those that they had previously owned before the deportation.

Estimates of the Ukrainian Muslim population vary. According to a 2011 Pew Forum study estimate, the Ukrainian Muslim population is about 3,93,000, but the Clerical Board of Ukraine's Muslims claim that there are two million Muslims living in Ukraine. According to another report of 2012 an estimated 5,00,000 Muslims live in Ukraine, among them, are as many as 3,00,000 are Crimean Tatars.

The condition of the Muslims in Ukraine has been improving since 1991, that is since Ukraine's independence. During the Soviet era, Ukrainian Muslims were not allowed to practice their religion in open but after 1991, Muslims were allowed to pray in their mosques.

There are other notable developments taking place with regard to Ukrainian Muslims since 1991. A Crimean Tatar representative body was formed to be called Mejlis in 1991. In addition, Crimean Tatar language schools were introduced to reverse the effects of the Soviet ban on the study of the language. Now Muslims in Ukraine have 445 communities, 433 ministers, and 160 mosques, more mosques being built there slowly and steadily. There are nearly 360 registered Ukrainian Muslim communities and organisations, including several charitable organisations.

Muslims in Ukraine lead an Islamic way of life. Weddings are conducted as per Islamic rituals, halal food is served, and Islamic education for children and adults and other facilities are provided. Ramadan programs are organised in a big way. During the month of Ramadan, there are about 800-1,000 people who visit the Central Mosque in Kyiv for iftar and Tarawih prayers daily.

The assumption is Russia may not persecute the Muslims of Ukraine as it has done before, because there is no reason for doing so. It is believed that Vladimir Putin has built a brand image for himself in the Muslim world that he is the only leader that can stand up to Western anti-Muslim biases. In the war against Ukraine, he must deploy this Russian capital in the most effective way and spare the Muslims from any harm to gain the support of Muslims from all over the world.

*The author is a journalist based in Chennai.

Related:

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help
Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!
Kashmir and Crimea – where is the difference?

Plight of Ukraine’s Muslims amidst the Russian Invasion

Once persecuted and displaced, today the future of Muslims in Ukraine is plagued by uncertainty

Muslims
Image: Reuters

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, has brought uncertainty to the lives and futures of nearly 4,00,000 Muslims who call the country their home, the majority being Crimean Tatar. According to an estimate, as many as 1,00,000 Muslims are living in the capital Kyiv alone, while others are in other war-torn cities like Kherson, etc.

The other ethnic Muslim groups in Ukraine besides Crimean Tatar are Volga Tatars, Azeris, North Caucasians, and Uzbeks. After the Russian invasion, the future of the Ukrainian Muslims hangs in balance and largely depends on the ongoing diplomatic efforts by world leaders to defuse the escalating tensions.

The Union of Islamic Communities of Italy has urged Muslim communities in the country, and across Europe, to open the doors of their centers so they can be safe havens for those fleeing from war in Ukraine. Muslim communities throughout Italy have been organising local initiatives to collect food and medicine to be donated to Ukraine, in cooperation with the Catholic organisations.

In this regard, there is little effort made by the Muslim countries. In fact, their reaction to the current Ukraine war does not inspire any hope. While Turkish President Erdogan has criticised the Russian invasion, Iran has accused the U.S. and the West of causing the 'problem' in Ukraine. The other Muslim countries are silent about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and they have no words of support for the fleeing Ukrainian Muslims.  

To recall, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea after a disputed and internationally rejected referendum. The occupying forces immediately began to crack down on the Crimean Muslims. The war displaced some 7,50,000 Muslims from the Crimea peninsula and they moved to the capital Kyiv and Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine.

Now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the nightmare of persecution once again looms large over the minds of Muslims and they are worried about their future. The renewed threat of their displacement by the Russians, lays their future uncertain, and they fear being treated in the same way as they were in 2014, during the Crimea war.

The history of Muslims in Ukraine is associated with the Crimean Tatars, the Turkic-speaking descendants of Turkic and non-Turkic peoples who had settled in Eastern Europe as early as the 7th century. The Crimean Tatars are a Muslim ethnic group indigenous to the Crimean Peninsula, on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Muslim settlements are concentrated in the countries in the southern half, particularly in Crimea, although there are Lipka Tatar colonies in other regions such as Volhynia and Podolia.

Muslims established the Crimean Khanate in southern Ukraine in the 15th century. The Khanate soon lost its sovereignty and fell to the Ottoman Empire, although its local rulers retained a significant degree of autonomy. The Khanate ended after growing Russian influence leading to its annexation into the Russian Empire after the Russo-Turkish Wars in the late 18th century. At the time when the Khanate was annexed by Russia, its capital of Bakhchysarai had at least 18 mosques along with several madrassas. Later, at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Muslims constituted one-third of Crimea's population. Nearly all major cities in Crimea had a significant Muslim population.

However, the Russian Empire began persecuting the Muslims. Crimean Muslims were subjected to mass deportation in 1944 by Joseph Stalin who accused them of collaborating with Nazi Germany. This stigma was propagated about the Muslims despite tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars serving in the Red Army.

In 1944, more than 200,000 Crimean Muslims were deported to Central Asia, primarily to Uzbekistan. They were forced onto the cattle trains and exiled. It is estimated that about half of them died due to the harsh journey, starvation, and subsequent diseases.  

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Crimean peninsula became part of Ukraine, and the exiled Muslims were asked to return to their homeland. The repatriation though began in 1989, accelerated after 1991. The returnees faced challenges such as being blocked from buying or renting homes, including those that they had previously owned before the deportation.

Estimates of the Ukrainian Muslim population vary. According to a 2011 Pew Forum study estimate, the Ukrainian Muslim population is about 3,93,000, but the Clerical Board of Ukraine's Muslims claim that there are two million Muslims living in Ukraine. According to another report of 2012 an estimated 5,00,000 Muslims live in Ukraine, among them, are as many as 3,00,000 are Crimean Tatars.

The condition of the Muslims in Ukraine has been improving since 1991, that is since Ukraine's independence. During the Soviet era, Ukrainian Muslims were not allowed to practice their religion in open but after 1991, Muslims were allowed to pray in their mosques.

There are other notable developments taking place with regard to Ukrainian Muslims since 1991. A Crimean Tatar representative body was formed to be called Mejlis in 1991. In addition, Crimean Tatar language schools were introduced to reverse the effects of the Soviet ban on the study of the language. Now Muslims in Ukraine have 445 communities, 433 ministers, and 160 mosques, more mosques being built there slowly and steadily. There are nearly 360 registered Ukrainian Muslim communities and organisations, including several charitable organisations.

Muslims in Ukraine lead an Islamic way of life. Weddings are conducted as per Islamic rituals, halal food is served, and Islamic education for children and adults and other facilities are provided. Ramadan programs are organised in a big way. During the month of Ramadan, there are about 800-1,000 people who visit the Central Mosque in Kyiv for iftar and Tarawih prayers daily.

The assumption is Russia may not persecute the Muslims of Ukraine as it has done before, because there is no reason for doing so. It is believed that Vladimir Putin has built a brand image for himself in the Muslim world that he is the only leader that can stand up to Western anti-Muslim biases. In the war against Ukraine, he must deploy this Russian capital in the most effective way and spare the Muslims from any harm to gain the support of Muslims from all over the world.

*The author is a journalist based in Chennai.

Related:

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help
Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!
Kashmir and Crimea – where is the difference?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help

Vaishali Yadav, was elected Gram Pradhan last year, and is an MBBS student in Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University

02 Mar 2022

Vaishali Yadav, was elected Gram Pradhan last year, and is an MBBS student in Ivano Frankivsk

After Russia launched military action against Ukraine, a video emerged showing Vaishali Yadav, an MBBS student from Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University, appealing to the Government of India to rescue the thousands of students stuck in Ukraine. But the right-wing ecosystem, that does not take kindly to anything that showcases the ineptitude of the regime, decided to focus instead on Yadav's alleged dereliction of duty as Gram Pradhan and started a vitriolic campaign on Twitter against her.

“There is panic here, bombs are being dropped. We are all in the hope that the Indian government will help… we had booked flights but they got cancelled. We are stuck indoors in our flats, the station is unpredictable and anything can happen,” Yadav had said in the video. The 24-year-old had pursued her initial education in Hardoi and Lucknow, before she left to work towards earning an MBBS degree from Ukraine three years ago. Last year, she was reportedly elected Gram Pradhan from Hardoi. 

Now, even as the shocking news of an Indian student being killed in Ukraine, is still being processed, the right-wing ecosystem is busy blaming the students. Today it is Yadav who is being trolled mercilessly for continuing to study in Ukraine even after being elected as Gram Pradhan or village head in Hardoi. 

According to some, the local Panchayat has issued a notice to Yadav “seeking an explanation why she moved back to Ukraine after getting elected as Gram Pradhan”, others claim an enquiry will be done, and one claimed she has been detained by UP police! Meanwhile Yadav still remains stuck in a dangerous war zone like many others. 

Vaishali had recently told Times of India, that she chose to study in Ukraine as its MBBS degree is acceptable across the European Union. “I never thought that I would get stuck here in the crossfire. I have only chosen Ukraine because its degree is accepted for practice anywhere in the EU. I only want a flight back home now,” she said. This is what she had asked in her video as well, seeking help for the entire student community, many of who are still stuck in the country where Russian troops are dropping bombs even in civilian residential areas.

 

 

Interestingly, though the right wing is busy trolling her today, in December 2021, she was praised for discharging her duties as the village head via video conferencing. According to a report in Amar Ujala, Vaishali Yadav was hailed as an example of ‘Digital India’ and was praised for seeking to develop her village Tera Pursali on the same lines as villages in Ukraine. She contested and won the Gram Panchayat elections last year, following in the footsteps of her father Mahendra Singh Yadav who is a former Block President. This is another point that the trolls have brought up now. They are attacking her and accusing her of ‘criticising’ and even ‘defaming' the Indian government for its Gram Panchayat meetings via video conferencing and continuing her studies in Ukraine.    

Some right-wing members have claimed that Yadav has been “detained from Hardoi by UP Police” however no such statement has been made public by the police yet. Others are attacking her claiming “after getting caught maligning India's image" Yadav claimed she "did (it) on my Father Mahender Yadav's behest who is a Samajwadi Leader.” Others are busy copy-pasting from this hate toolkit.

 

 

According to the Times of India, Vaishali Yadav “was planning a virtual meeting with villagers when suddenly, artillery shells struck towns in Ukraine.” Yadav was quoted saying, “I woke my other mates who are from Punjab and Haryana. We reached out to see black smoke engulfing the city.” Vaishali, said the students have been “chanting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’,” to overcome their fears. “I only want a flight back home now,” she said. According to TOI, her father Mahendra Yadav also organised a ‘havan’ for her safety.

Another webportal said Mahendra Singh Yadav shared that his daughter had booked her flight ticket to come to India on February 23 but that was cancelled. He has four daughters and one son, Vaishali Yadav, is the eldest, she had last left for Ukraine in September 2021. According to Amar Ujala, she was keen on returning home and working for her village as soon as she completed her degree. “Just one year to go,” she had told the media then.

 

Related:

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim! 

Hijab ban: News media loses interest but student protests continue

West Bengal: Anis Khan solidarity protests lead to police-student conflict

Centre excludes overseas humanities and social science courses from SC/ST scholarship

Trolls hound UP village leader stuck in Ukraine for asking GoI for help

Vaishali Yadav, was elected Gram Pradhan last year, and is an MBBS student in Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University

Vaishali Yadav, was elected Gram Pradhan last year, and is an MBBS student in Ivano Frankivsk

After Russia launched military action against Ukraine, a video emerged showing Vaishali Yadav, an MBBS student from Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University, appealing to the Government of India to rescue the thousands of students stuck in Ukraine. But the right-wing ecosystem, that does not take kindly to anything that showcases the ineptitude of the regime, decided to focus instead on Yadav's alleged dereliction of duty as Gram Pradhan and started a vitriolic campaign on Twitter against her.

“There is panic here, bombs are being dropped. We are all in the hope that the Indian government will help… we had booked flights but they got cancelled. We are stuck indoors in our flats, the station is unpredictable and anything can happen,” Yadav had said in the video. The 24-year-old had pursued her initial education in Hardoi and Lucknow, before she left to work towards earning an MBBS degree from Ukraine three years ago. Last year, she was reportedly elected Gram Pradhan from Hardoi. 

Now, even as the shocking news of an Indian student being killed in Ukraine, is still being processed, the right-wing ecosystem is busy blaming the students. Today it is Yadav who is being trolled mercilessly for continuing to study in Ukraine even after being elected as Gram Pradhan or village head in Hardoi. 

According to some, the local Panchayat has issued a notice to Yadav “seeking an explanation why she moved back to Ukraine after getting elected as Gram Pradhan”, others claim an enquiry will be done, and one claimed she has been detained by UP police! Meanwhile Yadav still remains stuck in a dangerous war zone like many others. 

Vaishali had recently told Times of India, that she chose to study in Ukraine as its MBBS degree is acceptable across the European Union. “I never thought that I would get stuck here in the crossfire. I have only chosen Ukraine because its degree is accepted for practice anywhere in the EU. I only want a flight back home now,” she said. This is what she had asked in her video as well, seeking help for the entire student community, many of who are still stuck in the country where Russian troops are dropping bombs even in civilian residential areas.

 

 

Interestingly, though the right wing is busy trolling her today, in December 2021, she was praised for discharging her duties as the village head via video conferencing. According to a report in Amar Ujala, Vaishali Yadav was hailed as an example of ‘Digital India’ and was praised for seeking to develop her village Tera Pursali on the same lines as villages in Ukraine. She contested and won the Gram Panchayat elections last year, following in the footsteps of her father Mahendra Singh Yadav who is a former Block President. This is another point that the trolls have brought up now. They are attacking her and accusing her of ‘criticising’ and even ‘defaming' the Indian government for its Gram Panchayat meetings via video conferencing and continuing her studies in Ukraine.    

Some right-wing members have claimed that Yadav has been “detained from Hardoi by UP Police” however no such statement has been made public by the police yet. Others are attacking her claiming “after getting caught maligning India's image" Yadav claimed she "did (it) on my Father Mahender Yadav's behest who is a Samajwadi Leader.” Others are busy copy-pasting from this hate toolkit.

 

 

According to the Times of India, Vaishali Yadav “was planning a virtual meeting with villagers when suddenly, artillery shells struck towns in Ukraine.” Yadav was quoted saying, “I woke my other mates who are from Punjab and Haryana. We reached out to see black smoke engulfing the city.” Vaishali, said the students have been “chanting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’,” to overcome their fears. “I only want a flight back home now,” she said. According to TOI, her father Mahendra Yadav also organised a ‘havan’ for her safety.

Another webportal said Mahendra Singh Yadav shared that his daughter had booked her flight ticket to come to India on February 23 but that was cancelled. He has four daughters and one son, Vaishali Yadav, is the eldest, she had last left for Ukraine in September 2021. According to Amar Ujala, she was keen on returning home and working for her village as soon as she completed her degree. “Just one year to go,” she had told the media then.

 

Related:

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim! 

Hijab ban: News media loses interest but student protests continue

West Bengal: Anis Khan solidarity protests lead to police-student conflict

Centre excludes overseas humanities and social science courses from SC/ST scholarship

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

When questions were asked on government’s lack of response and empathy towards students, the victim blaming began

01 Mar 2022

Indian student killed
Image Courtesy: naveenbharat.in

Shocking videos of scores of Indian students, walking long distances to reach safe border points, as well as those sending distress messages, have flooded social media. Every parent's worst nightmare, however, was confirmed when it was officially announced by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that an Indian student was killed in Ukraine on Tuesday. The young man has been identified as Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar (21), a final year medical student who hailed from Chalageri in Karnataka's Haveri district. He was killed when Russian soldiers blew up a government building he was standing near, stated media reports. 

According to a report in NDTV, Pooja Praharaj, a student coordinator in Kharkiv, told the media, “He lived near the Governor's House and had been standing in the queue for food. Suddenly there was an air strike that blew up the Governor's House and he was killed." According to Praharaj a Ukrainian woman picked up his phone, and said “the owner of this phone is being taken to the morgue" The news went viral even as this morning, the Indian Embassy issued an advisory to all Indian citizens, including students, to leave Ukraine capital Kyiv "urgently today, by trains or any other means available."

According to NDTV, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called in the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to "reiterate India's demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals." However there are conversations doing the rounds that India’s response to the crisis and the need for urgent evacuation has been slow to say the least. Students and aid workers, both, have been sending regular appeals which have also found their way onto social media. Some students have managed to also appeal by jumping into the video frames of television anchors who are in the region reporting on the evacuations.

Critics say that the Indian government may have ignored the early warning signs such as the “United States notification to its officials to evacuate”. 

However, humanity was shamed most, as soon as the news of the student’s death came in, and questions began being asked on the lack of response and empathy from the government. The right-wing ecosystem of Hindutva-fed influencers began blaming the victim himself. Tweet after tweet they said that Navin was “ignoring” the advisories from the Indian government. Pro-government media further amplified this blame game against the victim.

 

 

 

According to NDTV, satellite images showed a convoy of Russian military vehicles on roadways northwest of Kyiv and “around 16,000 Indian students are still stranded in Ukraine.” Scores of students continue to share images, from underground bunkers, metro stations and bomb shelters, where they have been hiding since the Russian attack started last Thursday. So far, only around 9,000 Indian nationals have left by various special flights, stated NDTV. Many Indian students remain stuck in eastern parts of Ukraine, which are most affected by the Russian military offensive. The students are facing grave challenges to reach the western borders and have been reportedly walking “in sub-zero conditions, hoping to cross over and take a flight home”. The embassy asked students to go to the railway station in Kyiv, where special evacuation trains have been arranged by Ukraine to take people to the western region. However, many students complained that they were not allowed to board the trains or they were mistreated by officials. 

Back home, these students have also been vilified by none other than Union Minister Prahlad Joshi, who, on Monday, told the media that “90% of medical students who go abroad for studies fail in NEET”. This is the entrance exam students must clear with high scores to earn a medical medical seat in the country. Joshi had mocked the students who went abroad to study medicine as ‘failures’.

 

As soon as the right-wing IT cell, and their media’s insensitive reactions went viral, the BJP politicians condoled Naveen’s death. But by then it was clear, that the condolences were merely an image repair exercise.  

Related:

Hijab ban: News media loses interest but student protests continue
West Bengal: Anis Khan solidarity protests lead to police-student conflict
Centre excludes overseas humanities and social science courses from SC/ST scholarship

Ukraine invasion: Indian student killed in Kharkiv, right-wing blames the victim!

When questions were asked on government’s lack of response and empathy towards students, the victim blaming began

Indian student killed
Image Courtesy: naveenbharat.in

Shocking videos of scores of Indian students, walking long distances to reach safe border points, as well as those sending distress messages, have flooded social media. Every parent's worst nightmare, however, was confirmed when it was officially announced by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that an Indian student was killed in Ukraine on Tuesday. The young man has been identified as Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar (21), a final year medical student who hailed from Chalageri in Karnataka's Haveri district. He was killed when Russian soldiers blew up a government building he was standing near, stated media reports. 

According to a report in NDTV, Pooja Praharaj, a student coordinator in Kharkiv, told the media, “He lived near the Governor's House and had been standing in the queue for food. Suddenly there was an air strike that blew up the Governor's House and he was killed." According to Praharaj a Ukrainian woman picked up his phone, and said “the owner of this phone is being taken to the morgue" The news went viral even as this morning, the Indian Embassy issued an advisory to all Indian citizens, including students, to leave Ukraine capital Kyiv "urgently today, by trains or any other means available."

According to NDTV, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called in the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to "reiterate India's demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals." However there are conversations doing the rounds that India’s response to the crisis and the need for urgent evacuation has been slow to say the least. Students and aid workers, both, have been sending regular appeals which have also found their way onto social media. Some students have managed to also appeal by jumping into the video frames of television anchors who are in the region reporting on the evacuations.

Critics say that the Indian government may have ignored the early warning signs such as the “United States notification to its officials to evacuate”. 

However, humanity was shamed most, as soon as the news of the student’s death came in, and questions began being asked on the lack of response and empathy from the government. The right-wing ecosystem of Hindutva-fed influencers began blaming the victim himself. Tweet after tweet they said that Navin was “ignoring” the advisories from the Indian government. Pro-government media further amplified this blame game against the victim.

 

 

 

According to NDTV, satellite images showed a convoy of Russian military vehicles on roadways northwest of Kyiv and “around 16,000 Indian students are still stranded in Ukraine.” Scores of students continue to share images, from underground bunkers, metro stations and bomb shelters, where they have been hiding since the Russian attack started last Thursday. So far, only around 9,000 Indian nationals have left by various special flights, stated NDTV. Many Indian students remain stuck in eastern parts of Ukraine, which are most affected by the Russian military offensive. The students are facing grave challenges to reach the western borders and have been reportedly walking “in sub-zero conditions, hoping to cross over and take a flight home”. The embassy asked students to go to the railway station in Kyiv, where special evacuation trains have been arranged by Ukraine to take people to the western region. However, many students complained that they were not allowed to board the trains or they were mistreated by officials. 

Back home, these students have also been vilified by none other than Union Minister Prahlad Joshi, who, on Monday, told the media that “90% of medical students who go abroad for studies fail in NEET”. This is the entrance exam students must clear with high scores to earn a medical medical seat in the country. Joshi had mocked the students who went abroad to study medicine as ‘failures’.

 

As soon as the right-wing IT cell, and their media’s insensitive reactions went viral, the BJP politicians condoled Naveen’s death. But by then it was clear, that the condolences were merely an image repair exercise.  

Related:

Hijab ban: News media loses interest but student protests continue
West Bengal: Anis Khan solidarity protests lead to police-student conflict
Centre excludes overseas humanities and social science courses from SC/ST scholarship

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Subscribe to World