New Day of Truthtelling Website!

30 03 2007
Hi Friends!

We have a new website set up to coordinate the “Creating a World without Sexual Violence: National Day of Truthtelling” event that will be happening on April 28th, 2007 in Durham, North Carolina!

Art by Tema Okun

Go there to:

  • Check out the latest News about the event from the Day of Truthtelling planning committee
  • Find out about Ride-Sharing – if you want to carpool to Durham, look under the Forums tab for the Ride-share Board. There, drivers and riders can match up to get as many people to Durham, as low-cost as possible.
  • Get information about Housing – if you are looking for a place to stay over the weekend, look under the Forums tab for the Housing Board. There, you can post a message about your needs and members of the local host committee will try to match you with some free or low-cost housing here in Durham.
  • Soon, there will be a form available for attendees to Pre-Register for the teach-in and workshops.
  • Link to the official endorsement form, flyers, and other important documents pertaining to the Day of Truthtelling’s agenda and mission.
  • Upload inspiring artwork before the Day of Truthtelling. After the Day of Truthtelling, come back here and upload your photos in the Photos section for all to see.

Victory in Bhopal!

28 03 2007


March 19, 2007

Dear friends:
Today, at 2 p.m ., the six of us broke our 14-day hunger strike in response to a written assurance by the Madhya Pradesh Government conceding our key demands. It has been an eventful and drama-filled month for all of us. In the last four years, we have sat on five hunger strikes. We have succeeded in enforcing our will in every one of them. The confidence with which we undertake hunger strikes has all to do with our conviction in our demands, and even more importantly, our knowledge that we Bhopalis are not alone. The overwhelming support by friends young and old in the US, UK, India and elsewhere; the round-the-clock phone-in and fax campaigns set up by our young friends in the US have shown the Madhya Pradesh Government what our muscle power is. More than 2000 faxes and 500 phone calls. That did shake the Government up. We are all for this kind of grassroots globalisation. Although, thanking anyone for their support would be inappropriate, we do wish to acknowledge our friends around the world — the website updaters, the callers, the faxers, the sms senders, the bloggers, and just about anybody who had their thoughts tuned to Bhopal.

In struggle and solidarity,
Rashida Bee
Shehzadi Bee
Guddi Bee
Jabbar Khan
Rachna Dhingra
Satinath Sarangi

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal ki Aawaaz, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Many more pictures are available on the front page of

March 21, 2007

Gummidipoondi residents stop illegal construction of toxic waste landfill



Gummidipoondi, 21 March 2007 – More than 500 residents, primarily women, from S.R. Kandigai panchayat in Gummidipoondi physically entered and stopped work at the project site of Tamil Nadu Waste Management Ltd (TNWML)’s hazardous waste landfill and incinerator. The construction was being carried out without permission from the local Government bodies and against the wishes of local residents. Representatives of Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM) and Chennai based youth group Youth for Social Change (YSC) also joined the residents in solidarity.

Speaking on behalf of the village, Mr. T. Rosepillai, Panchayat president of S. R. Kandigai said “We will move into the project site with our children and families, and physically block the location of the landfill and incinerator if the company and Government decide to press ahead with the project. If the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, the TNPCB and Government does not protect us, we will protect ourselves.”

TNWML, Hyderabad-based Ramky Associates’ subsidiary, commenced civil works on the site on March 8 2007, despite being warned on three occasions against construction without securing permission from the Panchayat Union Council as per the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994. In June 2005, the Gummidipoondi Panchayat Union issued a resolution against the toxic facility. S.R. Kandigai Panchayat president also served a notice under the Panchayats Act to the project promoters asking them to stop work and restore the site to its original condition. A police complaint filed on 14 March, 2007, is pending with the SIPCOT Gummidipoondi police station.

Villagers said they are stopping work because Government agencies have failed to discharge their duty of protecting the law. The villagers had taken a similar action in January 2006 when the company had engaged in illegal construction of the landfill. Subsequently, village representatives had moved the Madras High Court and obtained an interim stay on the work. After a year long legal battle, the Madras High Court vacated the stay in December 2006 stating that according to the Supreme Court’s order no High Courts in India have jurisdiction over issues relating to hazardous wastes and that the petitioners should take the matter to the Supreme Court of India.

The predominantly agricultural community in the area contends that the project violates Supreme Court-sanctified siting guidelines, and will poison subsurface water, affect agriculture and threaten the groundwater and public health in the residential areas that lie about 500 metres from the project site. While more than 85 percent of the blocks in Tamilnadu have been declared grey zones for groundwater where water levels have plummeted, Gummidipoondi is one of the few blocks with rich groundwater. The porous sand-stone layer at the surface means any contamination from the landfill will quickly flow to the groundwater. Siting guidelines prohibit the setting up of such facilities near water bodies. However, the project site is less than 100 metres from the Kuluva Cheruvu pond. Villagers also point out that it is ironical that the Tamil Nadu Government is contemplating setting up a landfill in an area that supplied several hundred tankerloads of freshwater to Metrowater in 2004. “On the one hand, the Government is contemplating mega-schemes such as the Rs. 500 crore desalination plant. On the other, it is spending money to poison good water,” residents said.

The landfill site was arbitrarily recommended by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee and the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board after the earlier proposal to locate it in Melakottaiyur had to be abandoned because of public opposition.
Organised by: Gummidipoondi Residents and Villagers from S.R. Kandigai Panchayat

c/o T. Rosepillai, Panchayat President, S.R. Kandigai Post, Gummidipoondi Taluk. Tel: 9865415889

Chandrasekhar Reddy. Resident. Tel: 9443117946

In Chennai: Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring. Tel: 9444024315


We believed her then, and we believe her now.

19 03 2007

Dear Ubuntu family,
Thanks so much to all of you who came out to Broad Street Cafe on
Saturday night! It was so good to see you, and savor Dasan’s
incredible performance. Check out his hot hot hot album
I did an interview with Anne Blythe just before learning my
grandmother had passed away, so I somehow forgot this article was
going to be published. Maybe you already saw it? I’m pasting it in
just in case.
By the way, here is a charming comment posted about anti-racist Desi
women on my favorite right-wing blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, on Feb. 18
by a poster named Cedarford:  “Rekha Basu. The nice thing about her
quoting Wendy Murphy approvingly is that Murphy is finally becoming a
massive liability. And those who associate with her will hang
themselves in future venues much as how members of the Jewish and WASP
intelligensia in pre-WWII America hung themselves with admiring quotes
from Trotsky, Stalin, and Molotov and paid for that lapse in judgement
the rest of their lives….”
“I don’t know what it is with some of these Indian women that are Far
Left and among the biggest anti-American, anti-white male ideologues.
If it wasn’t for white male privelege [sic], they’d still be fretting
whether or not their asses get roasted later in Suttee [Wow.]. Besides
Rekha, you have the British Left licking the hindquarters of Arundhati
Roy as she talks about white male predation on “brown ladies” in the
American South hapening again – when she is not lamenting American
troops murdering innocent brown babies… Samiha Khanna interviewing
the accuser and omitting (with her editors) material that made Mangum
less “sympathetic”. And of course, local firebrand and child of the
Mumbai Elite, Manju Rajendran , who organized the pot-bangers and took
pot banging from Peruvian protests as a great idea….Well, better
than displaying nooses or jugs of suttee kerosene, I guess.. [This is
a reference to the Indian nationalist resistance to the British
colonizers. It’s complicated flattery, because suttee is the ritual
burning of widows, an admittedly abhorrent practice that the British
outlawed. The idea that we should be grateful to the British colonists
for saving us from suttee is absurd, however; there was plenty of
resistance to the practice of suttee outside of the British
colonizers, and British systematic oppression overall encouraged Hindu
fundamentalist Brahminical rule.-MR]”
If anyone was wondering, my lower-middle class family is not and has
never been part of the Mumbai elite. If it was, I would be busy
partying on Bombay’s Malabar Hill with Bollywood stars Rani Mukherjee
and Kajol right now. Where do they come up with this caustic
ill-informed crap?
To underline the point about what kind of dolts we are contending
with, I’ve transcribed the words from an anonymous hate call I
received from a masculine voice at 9am on Sunday, Dec. 31:
“Well you certainly made a fool of yourself with this Duke rape case.
I don’t know if your credibility will ever recover. Of course, the
white man always does it….  The black man never does anything- but
one look at FBI crime statistics might say otherwise. Black men I
guess never raped white women… but white men! Of course! Gotta
believe the black stripper! It’s automatic. Kneejerk. You’re a fool.
You’re a disgrace. And Mike Nifong is going do-o-o-o-own. Thank you.
And thanks also, thanks for rushing to judgment, like you always do:
makes you look like the fools you are. Peace out.”
Right, thanks. Peace out to you, too.
Here is the article from The News & Observer. If I recall correctly,
Anne Blythe and Samiha Khanna were the ones who originally broke the
Duke lacrosse party story last March.
All the best,
Manju Rajendran

This time, rape case gets muted reaction

Another off-campus party in Durham gives rise to serious allegations,
but no uproar
Anne Blythe, Staff Writer
Published: Feb 21, 2007 12:30 AM

DURHAM – To bloggers and avid followers of the sexual assault case

against former Duke lacrosse players, the protesters are known as “the

They clanked their kitchenware in protest outside 610 N. Buchanan St.
last March after an escort service dancer alleged being sexually
assaulted at a lacrosse team party there.

Now there are new sexual assault allegations from another off-campus
Duke party, and avid chroniclers of the twists and turns in the
lacrosse case ask: “Where are the potbangers?”

“That’s a good question,” said Manju Rajendran, one of the organizers
of the potbanger protests. “Why is there not a massive reaction every
time a rape occurs? I feel like that should happen any time there’s

Some say the city is fatigued by the lacrosse case and people might be
treading carefully because of the controversy and criticisms lobbed
from near and far.

“Normally with a rape case, police do the investigation, and charges
are filed, and it goes through court,” said Orin Starn, a Duke
professor who has been critical of big-time college sports programs.
“The lacrosse case was something of an anomaly. It became a media
event that was covered and dissected and debated, both locally and

The two cases have similarities: In each, the accuser says she was
sexually assaulted in a bathroom at an off-campus Duke party.

But they are significantly different, too.

The accuser in the lacrosse case alleged gang rape.

That led to 46 players being ordered in to a police lab for DNA
testing, and District Attorney Mike Nifong and other law enforcement
officials alleged that the team was stonewalling the investigation.

“I started out being outraged by the lacrosse players,” said Ned
Kennington, a Durham resident who was one of the protesters. “I’m
pretty outraged with Nifong at this point.

“The district attorney, who we believed was acting in a very
thoughtful and deliberate fashion, told us that a terrible injustice
had been done, and there was this stonewall of silence. We trusted
him, and we were wrong.”

Racial slurs were uttered as the accuser and another escort dancer
left the Buchanan Street house early on March 14, 2006. And many in
the neighborhood were at their wits’ end with rowdy Duke students who
had displayed increasingly recalcitrant and mocking attitudes,
urinating on neighbors’ houses, throwing beer bottles on lawns and
blasting music at all hours.

That was the context in which the allegations of gang rape came
forward nearly 11 months ago. That the accuser was a single mother of
two who said she was trying to work her way through college tugged at


As the months wore on, the accuser’s story changed, and so did the
tenor of a city wrapped up in a sexual assault case that had captured
the attention of a nation ready to be judge and jury.

There have been torrents of criticism about the merits of allegations
by the accuser and about a district attorney whose behavior raised
questions about his integrity and about whether he withheld crucial
evidence from the defense.

Bloggers, who have chronicled the details on Web sites, take delight
in blasting “the potbangers” and the so-called “Group of 88” at Duke,
professors who endorsed a student newspaper ad that deplored racism
and sexual assault on campus.

Some of the most dedicated have posted MTV-style videos with captions
and music. One of the more telling accounts captures the protesters
marching down Buchanan Street in a simple video that was posted on

In that video, the protesters call Duke Provost Peter Lange outside
his house across the street from the hip-high stone wall rimming
Duke’s East Campus.

At the time, no charges had been filed, and Lange urged the protesters
not to rush to judgment. The crowd hurled questions, asking why Duke
had not punished the players, why no disciplinary actions had been

“We don’t know the facts, what happened in the house,” Lange said. “We
are waiting for the police investigation to discover the facts. This
is an extremely serious crime if it happened.”

Fewer words this time

A wait-and-see attitude seems to be prevailing in the more recent case.

Police, who charged a 21-year-old Durham resident on Monday with
second-degree rape, have released few details. Duke administrators
have been quiet about the case, and there hasn’t been a peep out of
the District Attorney’s Office.

Tim Tyson, one of the professors who was at a Buchanan Street vigil,
said recently that his intent was not to attack the lacrosse players
but to draw attention to the larger issues of sexual violence,
classism and racism that the case seemed to embody.

“I wasn’t confident at that time that I knew what happened,” Tyson
said. “It still seems clear to me that something ugly happened in that
house. … I don’t think people should be used as things. If there
only had been an ugly incident and no allegations of rape, I still
would be disappointed with the students.”

One who still believes

Some of the early potbangers say privately now that they feel misled
by media reports and the district attorney’s comments.

But Rajendran said that she did not regret her early stance.

“We decided to have this ceremony saying, ‘We’re banging on pots and
pans to break the silence,’ ” she said. “This was a case of sexism,
racism and classism. …

“The way that women, particularly women of color, are disbelieved
around rape and sexual assault is so different from when the survivors
of any other crime step forward. I believed her then, and I believe
her now.”

Staff writer Anne Blythe can be reached at 932-8741 or
Copyright 2007, The News & Observer Publishing Company

Do you know what happened in New Bedford last week?

19 03 2007

many thanks to bfp for bringing this to our attention.

More information from Workers World:

Published Mar 13, 2007 11:47 PM

Hundreds of heavily armored federal, state and local police raided the Michael Bianco factory in New Bedford, Mass., on March 6 and arrested 361 mostly Guatemalan and El Salvadoran women. The workers’ crime: having immigrated to the United States to try to support their families.

Children and adults picking up supplies<br>on March 11.

Children and adults picking up supplies
on March 11.

WW photos: Liz Green

The workers were targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a 10-month investigation. (Boston Globe, March 7)

In a horrific scene that played out on the sweatshop floor, women without immigration papers were forcibly separated to one side of the room and quickly hauled off to Fort Devens, 40 miles away. From there hundreds were flown to detention centers in Texas and Florida. Children and families were left with the nightmare of not knowing where their loved ones are, or how they are.

At least 140 of the workers’ children were left without one or more parents, according to a Massachusetts Department of Social Service regional director at a hastily called emergency meeting at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center on March 8. An 18-month-old baby was brought to a local New Bedford Emergency Room with pneumonia. Read the rest of this entry »

some statistics on sex work and sexual assault

17 03 2007

It is difficult to find statistics about sex workers and sexual violence;
due to the once widely-held perception that sex workers could not be victims of rape, scientists only began to study the prevalence of sexual violence against sex workers very recently. Here are a few of the things we do know:

  • One study of violence against women engaged in street prostitution found that 82% reported being physically assaulted in prostitution, and 68% reported having been raped (Farley & Kelly, 2000).
  • This extreme prevalence of violence against sex workers includes both indoor and outdoor sex work –indoor sex workers were also found to be frequent victims of violence (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004).
  • A study of exotic dancers found that 100% had been physically assaulted in the clubs where they were employed, with a prevalence ranging from 3-15 times over the course of their involvement in exotic dancing. Violence included physical assault, attempted vaginal penetration, attempted rape,and rape (Holsopple, 1999).
  • In another study, 51.2% of women working as exotic dancers were threatened with a weapon (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004).

References: Read the rest of this entry »

Imagine the Angels of Bread, by Martin Espada

17 03 2007

This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border’s undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.

by Martin Espada, from Imagine the Angels of Bread
(1997, W. W. Norton & Company)

**94.1, 7pm PST**: community organizing can combat sexual violence

17 03 2007

are you tuning in to march/
to running energy vibrant/
under the surface of our/
are we doing enough/
is a question/
in this never ending war no more/
no four/
no three/
no two/
no one/
deserves less than love/
no more.

-roopa singh

TUNE IN: 7pm tonight, 94.1, interview with Roopa Singh, former Director of Community Initiatives at San Francisco Women Against Rape, by journalist Rod Akil.

TOPIC: The what’s and why’s of engaging in community organizing to
combat sexual violence

HEADZ UP: A few months ago, before I transitioned out of my position
as DCI at SF WAR, I did this interview on the project with Rod Akil
(current First Voice journalist at KPFA). Tthe interview airs tonight
on full circle at 7pm. If you are in town its 94.1, and if you are
abroad its (simulcast or check in “Archives” under Rod
Akil’s name). I think you should give it a listen because its an
important subject and a crucial time to get real with all the reasons
why we as a society are, “comfortably numb.” (The Wall, Pink Floyd).

Roopa Singh, JD