SAJAforum: Quantifying India’s Encounter Deaths and Disappearances

Graph-encounterIn recent weeks, human rights violations in India have slowly been seeping into the mainstream Western consciousness — and not just because of Sergeant Srinivas. A flurry of media stories and human rights reports draws attention not only to particular extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and incidents involving torture at the hands of Indian police and security forces, but also to the prospect that such incidents may be part of more systematic patterns of abuse than is typically assumed.

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SAJAforum: Five questions for South Asians for Obama

IMG_4424In 1993, the last time I was in Washington to attend a presidential inauguration, Representatives Robert Matsui and Norman Mineta cohosted the first significant Asian American reception in connection with any U.S. presidential inauguration. While some attendees had mixed feelings, since by then it had become clear that President Clinton’s initial round of cabinet nominees would not include any Asian Americans, there was nevertheless a sense that the Asian American community had marked an important political milestone.

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SAJAforum: Muslim conference prompts gay-evangelical love, peace, harmony

Ahmad-EtheridgePresident-elect Barack Obama‘s selection of conservative fundamentalist minister Rick Warren, who supported California’s Proposition 8 in last month’s elections, to deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration has caused many of Obama’s progressive supporters to feel a sense of “betrayal,” as Neil Buchanan has written at Dorf on Law. Singer, songwriter, and Prop 8 opponent Melissa Etheridge, who is openly lesbian and has been a longtime activist for gay rights and other progressive causes, had much the same initial reaction. While she had never previously heard of Warren, she wondered whether Warren was a “hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others,” and whether she should boycott the inauguration on account of his selection.

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SAJAforum: Valuing Different People’s Lives

We’ve previously noted the Guardian‘s observation of a disconnect in coverage of last month’s terrorist attacks in Bombay, between “headlines of wealthy westerners fleeing Mumbai’s terror frontline” and “ordinary Indians who bore the brunt of the bloody attack[s].” This week, a handful of articles explore similar themes, this time concerning media and public responses to the attacks within India itself.

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SAJAforum: Sri Lankan Perspectives on the Bombay Attacks and Their Aftermath

This weekend, The Guardian reminded us that “[b]ehind the headlines of wealthy westerners fleeing Mumbai’s terror frontline, it was ordinary Indians who bore the brunt of the bloody attack[s]” in India’s financial and cultural capital this past week. Those same headlines might easily lead one to conclude that the Bombay attacks are significant only or primarily for their geopolitical, economic, and personal consequences for people in the West.

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SAJAforum: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry of Pakistan to accept NYC Bar honor

Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad ChaudhryOn Monday, November 17, 2008, Pakistan’s ousted Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, will be in New York to speak at the New York City Bar Association and to accept an Honorary Membership, which is one of the Association’s highest honors. The invitation to receive the award was originally extended to Chaudhry in October 2007, following a unanimous recommendation by the Association’s honors committee a month earlier, but Chaudhry was unable to come to New York to accept the award, since he was detained for several months under house arrest after General Pervez Musharraf’s extraconstitutional suspension of the Pakistan Constitution in November 2007. The New York City Bar ultimately conferred the award in absentia in January 2008, breaking with the Association’s longstanding policy requiring honorees to accept the recognition in person.

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SAJAforum: Rekha Basu on John McCain’s Meeting with the Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board

Last Tuesday, Sen. John McCain met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in a bid to once again obtain the paper’s endorsement. (In December, shortly before the Iowa caucuses, the Register endorsed McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the nominees of their respective parties.) As news outlets widely reported, and as you can see for yourself in the video to the right, the interview at times became somewhat contentious.

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SAJAforum: McCain and Obama Debate Afghanistan and Pakistan

The South Asian subcontinent continued to feature prominently in the presidential race this week, as Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama clashed over U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan during their debate on Friday night. In the New York Times, David Sanger characterizes the exchange as a "role reversal," with Obama seeming "more aligned" than McCain "with President Bush’s current policy of authorizing American special forces to cross the Afghan-Pakistan border into Pakistan’s tribal areas that Al Qaeda and the Taliban have used as a sanctuary."

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SAJAforum: South Asian Women React to Sarah Palin

Aisha SultanSAJAer Aisha Sultan, the home and family editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has a column this weekend discussing what she calls the "Palin Paradox," the irony of Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin’s intense support among social conservatives who, not long ago, might have "pilloried" a woman and mother who made the kinds of choices that Palin has made in her career:

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SAJAforum: Five Questions for Rinku Sen

Rinku Sen with Fekkak Mamdouh, The Accidental AmericanThis month, Rinku Sen launches a new book, "The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization." In the book, Sen, along with Fekkak Mamdouh, narrates the story of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, an organization that supports and organizes workers in New York’s restaurant industry. ROC-NY was initially founded by Mamdouh and fellow organizer Saru Jayaraman to support workers, like Mamdouh himself, who were displaced from their jobs at Windows on the World, the restaurant that was at the top of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. In the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of 72 individuals who worked at Windows, ROC-NY helped the surviving Windows workers launch a cooperatively-owned restaurant, Colors. Since then, the organization has expanded its work to organize and advocate for improved working conditions for restaurant workers throughout New York City, and has explored the prospects for expanding its work nationally.

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SAJAforum: London Mayor Boris Johnson “Struts His Funky Stuff”

Last week, London’s new Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson made a pitch in support of the upcoming London Mela, a major festival celebrating British Asian arts and culture that some have called the "Asian Glastonbury." Speaking at the press launch for the festival, which will be held in early August, Johnson urged Londoners to "get on down" to the festival and "strut [their] funky stuff." He acknowledged that he had merely a "passing" acquaintance with bhangra and reminisced about his effort to learn some moves at a cousin’s wedding in Delhi:

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