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South Africa marks Black Kashmir Day

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By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG-More than 100 South Africans gathered in Johannesburg this weekend to mark “Black Kashmir Day”, referring to the day in 1947 when Indian troops invaded Jammu and Kashmir. “Since 1947, the Indian government has continued to illegally occupy the lands of Jammu and Kashmir, despite the people’s demands for independence,” Salman Khan of the South African Kashmir Action Group told guests at the function held in Fordsburg.
Khan urged the South African government to intervene in the Kashmir crisis by sending an immediate fact finding mission to probe the cases of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and the inhumane treatment of women and children. “If South Africa sends a team to probe these atrocities, this could be an initial step towards ending the reign of terror and impunity in the Indian occupied Kashmir,” he stated, adding that this would help deter the widespread, systematic human rights abuses against ethnic Kashmir civilians.
“Human life is totally disregarded in Indian Kashmir as its forces occupy Jammu and Kashmir against the will of the people,” another Kashmir national living in South Africa revealed on condition of anonymity. He claimed that Indian troops were killing at least five Kashmir nationals every week. “I used to attend several burials of Kashmir activists killed by the Indian police nearly every day, so I know the pain that our people are going through,” he said.
Meanwhile, the first secretary of the Pakistani embassy in South Africa, Hassan Afzel Khan, said his government was committed to helping the people of Kashmir in their fight for freedom. The diplomat also called upon the international community to intervene in the Kashmir crisis. “It is important for civil society organisations to continue speaking about the human rights violations and other injustices in Kashmir. I believe efforts (like the Black Kashmir Day commemoration) will compel the international community to intervene,” he said.

History

In August 1947 when the Indian subcontinent became independent from Britain, all the rulers of the 565 princely states, whose lands comprised two-fifths of India and a population of 99 million, had to decide which of the two new dominions to join – India or Pakistan. The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, whose state was situated between the two new countries, could not decide which country to join. He was Hindu, but his population was predominantly Muslim. He therefore did nothing.
Instead he signed a “standstill” agreement with Pakistan in order that services such as trade travel and communication would be uninterrupted. India did not sign a similar agreement. In October 1947, Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province invaded Kashmir. There had been persistent reports of communal violence against Muslims in the state and, supported by the Pakistani government, who was eager to precipitate its accession to Pakistan. Troubled by the increasing deterioration in law and order and by earlier raids, culminating in the invasion of the tribesmen, the ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, requested armed assistance from India.
The then Governor-General, Lord Mountbatten, believed the developing situation would be less explosive if the state were to accede to India, on the understanding that this would only be temporary prior to “a referendum, plebiscite, election”. According to the terms of the Instrument of Accession, India’s jurisdiction was to extend to external affairs, defence and communications. On the morning of 27 October, Indian troops were airlifted into Srinagar.
Recent research from British sources indicate that Hari Singh did not reach Jammu until the evening of 26 October and that, due to poor flying conditions, V P Menon was unable to get to Jammu until the next morning, by which time Indian troops had already arrived in Srinagar. In order to support the thesis that the Maharaja acceded before Indian troops landed, Indian sources have now suggested that Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession before he left Srinagar but that it was not made public until later.
This was because Hari Singh had not yet agreed to include the Kashmiri leader, Sheikh Abdullah, in his future government. To date no authentic original document has been made available. Pakistan immediately contested the accession, suggesting that it was fraudulent, that the Maharaja acted under duress and that he had no right to sign an agreement with India when the standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force. Pakistanis also argued that because Hari Singh fled from the valley of Kashmir, he was not in control of his state and therefore not in a position to take a decision on behalf of his people. Historical information was obtained from Wikipedia. This piece first appeared on the voc website. All rights reserved.

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Written by africawitness

November 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

DA trounces ANC in by-elections

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Councillor Tim Truluck, the Ward Councillor for Parkhurst, Rosebank helps to put up posters in Mayfair during the ward 58 by-elections

By Hassan Isilow & Munadia Karaan

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday (Nov 7) defeated five political parties in a fiercely contested by-election in ward 58 Johannesburg. The DA candidate Osman Cassiem, won by a margin of 50%. The by-elections were contested by six candidates including the ANC’S Muhammad Yousuf Cajee, Al-Jama-ah’s Ebrahim Sarang and Vida Lorette Minnaar of the Congress of the People. Other contestants included Marcelle Caroline Lemour of the National Freedom Party and Stephen Katz of the South African Progressive Civic Organisation.
The seat for Ward 58 became vacant after the former Ward Councillor, Zaytoon Waja of the DA, resigned her seat. “It’s good that the DA won the by-elections, because they worked very hard for it. They went from house to house and connected with the voters,” ward 58 residents, Boyal Mohammed related. He also claimed that the ANC, who had held the seat for the past decade, had neglected the ward.
“Before the ANC lost this seat last year, they had done very little for the residents in terms of service delivery,” he said, adding that there was a lot of litter in the streets while broken pavements went unrepaired. In his response, the ANC’S Muhammad Yousuf Cajee vowed to continue working with the community, even after losing the by-elections. “I am a community person and I pledge to continue working for the benefit of ward 58 residents,” he pledged.

Al Jama-ah

Conceding defeat, Sarang of Al Jama-ah congratulated Cassiem on his win. However, party leader, Ganief Hendricks – who had predicted that the party would win the seat – blamed the result on a low poll of 24%. “This is the hardest and most expensive by-election that we took on, but we take comfort in that we increased our share of the poll from 5% to 7%, while the other five parties more or less made no improvement, except for the DA who increased their share by 1%. We had 100 campaign workers in the field and distributed over 100,000 flyers over the month long campaign.”
Hendricks said the fact that the party claimed the third highest number of votes was a major achievement given that COPE got less than 1% of the vote. “Unless we get more Muslim voters to register and vote, winning a ward is going to be tough. We need a second councillor in the City of Johannesburg to second our motions and we will continue trying. We expect the next by-election to be in Lenasia and there is no reason why we should not be successful as the suburbs are mostly Muslim.”
According to Hendricks, in the previous two by-elections in the City of Cape Town’s Lavender Hill and Manenberg, the party doubled its votes, but it still fell short of winning a ward. He said if this trend continues, the party is set to reach its target of 7% of the Cape vote and 2% of the national vote. The Party now has its eye on Durban and the North Western Cape which includes Rustenburg, Zeerust and Lichtenberg where the party has an active branch. It will test its support in the first by-elections for 2013 in these two provinces, Hendricks said. For now, he thanked all those who voted for Al Jama-ah, “and the many volunteers who walked the streets. More important is the duahs (Prayers) of ours supporters all over the country.”

Winner of Ward 58 by-elections Osman Cassiem (left) poses for a photo with his team in Fordsburg shortly after wining the election.


More losses

Meanwhile, the ANC also lost a ward that includes Lonmin’s Marikana mine to an independent candidate in a by-election on Wednesday. Fifteen by-elections were held on Wednesday in eight provinces including the North West, Western Cape and Gauteng. About 29,000 of the 83,000 registered residents voted, indicating a low voter turnout consistent with by-election trends.
Thirty-two-year-old Mogomotsi Molefe upstaged the ANC candidate in Rustenburg’s Ward 33 by a margin of 67 votes, in an area where the government’s treatment of poor communities recently came under scrutiny after police shot and killed 34 striking mineworkers at a Lonmin’s Marikana mine on August 16. The ANC had won the ward in last year’s municipal elections, attaining more than two-thirds of the vote, and Wednesday’s loss may be seen as the first indicator of the extent to which local communities may have become disillusioned with the governing party since the Marikana tragedy. This article was first published on http://www.vocfm.co.za

Written by africawitness

November 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

Ex- Al-Jazeera Bureau chief competes in Johannesburg by-elections

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Muhammad Cajee, former acting Bureau Chief of Al-Jazeera in the United States of America is a major contender in the ward 58 by-elections. Photo:DM

By Hassan Isilow

The Al Jama-ah party will be competing with five other political parties in a by-election on Wednesday for a council seat in Ward 58, Johannesburg. Analysts believe Al Jama-ah will most likely defeat the other political parties because the by-elections are being held in a predominately Muslim area. “Although the DA won the elections here last time, there are indications that Al-Jama-ah is likely to take this seat,” local commentator and Ward 58 resident, Mohammed Yusuf, told Africa Witness on Sunday.
The seat for Ward 58 fell vacant in the Johannesburg city council after the former Ward Councillor, Zaytoon Waja of the DA, resigned from her position. “We are asked, if Al Jama-ah’s political ideology is being distributed explicitly along religious sectarian lines that might perhaps override other faith based groups,” chairperson for Al-Jama-ah in Gauteng, Councillor Abdul Razak Noorbhai said, adding that his party was by the Muslims for all the people and does not have discriminatory profiling.
Noorbhai said people should read Al-Jama-ah’s policies in order to understand how the party functions.

ANC

Ebrahim Carrim Sarang is Al Jamah’s candidate who will face still competition from the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance in the by-election. The ANC’s Muhammed Cajee , a former acting Bureau Chief of Al-Jazeera in the United states is regarded as a major contender.
Cajee, a former SRC president at the Witwaters Rand University, recently received backing from prominent business people, professionals and the youth in the ward. He told a local radio station in Johannesburg that his move to campaign for ward councillor was in accordance with his Islamic beliefs because the best service to Allah was the service of fellow men. Cajee has also set up a vibrant Twitter campaign account where he interacts with his followers.
Meanwhile the DA candidate, Uthman Cassim, is also another strong contender in the by-elections. Analysts believe he will get votes because of the projects which were initiated by the former DA Ward Councillor, Zaytoon Waja. The other political parties contesting in the by-elections include COPE, NFP and SAPOC.
This article was first published by Voice of the Cape. All rights reserved.

Written by africawitness

November 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

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