April 2007

A California judge has ordered a fitness centre to pay damages to a Sikh man after the firm denied him a job on religious and ethnic grounds. During the course of the interview Dhaliwal, who was born and raised in California, was asked about his religious and ethnic background and later denied the job. “He was basically asked where he was born, where his parents were born, what religion he subscribed to and whether he was a Muslim,” said US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) programme analyst Linda Li.

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Pakistan has more people imprisoned facing execution than any other country in the world, human rights group Amnesty International says. Nearly a third of the world’s 24,000 death row prisoners are in Pakistan – “often held in extremely over-crowded conditions”, Amnesty says. Its annual report on the death penalty said the number of people executed in 2006 fell by 25%, compared with 2005.

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SURREY – The Surrey soccer world is in an uproar following complaints from some Indo-Canadian parents and coaches of discrimination by soccer officials. Although the mediator is expected to report in coming days, a complaint appears headed to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. “It’s systemic discrimination. It’s not overt. These people are threatened by the Indo-Canadian community becoming more and more involved,” said Sukhi Sandhu, a coach and parent who is at the heart of the issue and has raised concerns about discrimination previously.

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KATHMANDU – The day was designated as Loktantra or Democracy Day. It was on this day a year ago the autocratic king’s regime collapsed following 19 days of a nationwide uprising. Some two dozen supporters of the democracy movement died and thousands more were injured in the uprising.  At another meeting, Prachanda, head of the Maoist group that is now part of the ruling coalition government after it ended its own decade-long armed struggle, urged that Nepal should be declared a republic.

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I am not usually a great defender of United States policies, but I have to admit that in the field of right to information, the US is far ahead of the Indian babus who obstinately block access to Indian archives under the lame pretext that this could ‘endanger national security’. A few months ago, the Office of the Historian at the US State Department released Volume XI of the Foreign Relations of the United States devoted to the ‘South Asia Crisis, 1971’: in other words, the Bangladesh War.

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Disappearances and extra judicial killings have become routine in Sri Lanka. Over the last twelve months more than 1000 civilians, mostly Tamils, have disappeared. Most of these enforced disappearances are extortion related abductions and now it has become a part of Sri Lanka’s war industry. Activists fear that the actual numbers of abductions are higher than reported since many have negotiated on their own and got themselves released after paying handsome ransoms.

(click here to read more from the South Asian)

Dying in hordes, they still didn’t snatch the food to eat. You know why, Babu? Not one, not ten, but hundreds, hundreds of thousands, they went to their deaths. They stretched their hands to beg, tossed in the pain of hunger, they begged for the gruel drained off cooked rice to make it fluffy, they fought with stray dogs pawing through rotting dumps, but they did not put their hands to snatch food. Yet food was within their reach. Thus begins the story “chhiniye khaye ni keno?” (“Why didn’t they snatch food to eat?”), about the 1943 Bengal famine, written in the mid-forties by the celebrated Bengali writer Manik Bandyopadhyay.

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