Parkour & Intifada in Kashmir & Gaza

Kashmiri youth doing parkour ((Rarooq Khan:EPA)) Mar 16 2016

It’s common to be glib in profiling social behaviors, especially of youth. There’s an entire industry of such analyses. But it’s striking that in the past few years, Parkour has taken Kashmiri youth by storm–as it has also taken youth in Gaza by storm. What’s notable is that many Kashmiri youth, not social theorists, attribute their interest in the sport/discipline to its prominence among Palestinian youth in Gaza.

Such extreme violence & repression as Kashmiris & Palestinians endure must have a wrenching affect on human psychology, making people feel demeaned & powerless even when they are defiant–especially in the absence of international solidarity. Anyone who suffers discrimination or persecution knows exactly what that phenomenon is all about. Under occupation, you have to walk a fine line to maintain some sense of dignity & not get killed when youth are being targeted.

Without wishing to give glib analysis, Parkour must help young men acquire psychological equilibrium necessary to function under humiliating conditions of oppression. During the November 2012 Israeli bombing siege of Gaza, the Gaza Parkour Team released a video showing them doing Parkour with bombs exploding in the background. Actually, it seems a discipline ideally suited to Intifada–which is the other thing Kashmiri youth attribute to Palestinian inspiration.

Photo is Kashmiri youth doing Parkour in Koh-e-Maraan (Hari Parbhat) hillock in downtown Srinagar (misidentified by the Guardian-UK as in India).

Long live Kashmiri & Palestinian Intifada.

(Photo by Rarooq Khan/EPA)

Maggie Thatcher caricature

Heaven forgive me for reposting this from a year ago. And please don’t judge me harshly for laughing at my own post. I have an irrepressible habit of going after politicians with a hatchet which given their corruption, I always consider a too blunt instrument.

Let this be my odious to our new lesser evil, Clinton.

Some people don’t like satire & think it cruel. But that’s exactly what’s so endearing about it. At its best, in words & image it skewers power & pretense combining vengeance with hilarity.

This is a depiction of Margaret Thatcher by English cartoonist Gerald Scarfe–although this is less her caricature than a psychological profile. The poor thing was an elitist, vicious mess & might better have been institutionalized with the criminally insane. There was international jubilation when she finally croaked. Not unlike when Omar Suleiman was iced. Or the anticipated festivities when Henry Kissinger drops.

It isn’t easy to be lacerating & sarcastic in cartoons & also disguise your racism or misogyny & you see that often in caricatures of people like Hillary Clinton, Obama, & Netanpsycho. There isn’t a reason in the world to stay away from going after them; you just have to eschew the cliches of elitism & supremacy. Scarfe did a damn good job. We need to sic him on Clinton & Obama. He’s already taken out Netanpsycho. They should be faulted for making such good material for satire.

Poetic tribute to parents of disappeared persons in Kashmir

Kashmiri mother of disappeared (Basit Zargar)

We’ve met this grieving mother before at another protest in Kashmir of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). We now know her name is Rahtee, which in U’rdu means ‘left behind’.

Of the 80,000 murdered Kashmiris, most have been men–young & old. Only a few hundred have been women or girls. There is no social security in Kashmir under Indian rule. So the death of a man can mean economic impoverishment as well as grief.

And yet she protests. And we stand in solidarity with her.

This powerful poem is by Ather Zia, a poet, fiction writer, & anthropologist who also edits the journal, Kashmir Lit. Her first book of poems is titled “The Frame.” Presently, she is a faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado teaching anthropology & gender studies.


this is pain the one that
finds loss the only place of belonging
grief is home here
home not just my own
but for those
who seek longing as a way of life
who fear grief only when it passes,
joy in this cup tangled in the barbed wires
will run over, only
when sorrow becomes explicit in staying
and grief again refuses to leave

(Photo from Facebook wall of Basit Zargar; thanks to Ashraf AliĀ for information about Rahtee)

Thai military junta has show trial of former generals for human trafficking

Thailand traffickers on trial (Chaiwat Subprasom:Reuters) Mar 16 2016

Ninety-two accused human traffickers, including several high-ranking military officials & an army general, several policemen, a mayor & local politicians, went on trial in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday. The suspects were arrested after the discovery last year of 36 mass graves in the Thai jungle bordering Malaysia. The bodies are believed to be mostly Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution & ethnic cleansing by the military junta in Myanmar, as well as Bangladeshi immigrants.

This is what you call a show trial, a kangaroo court. The military junta ruling Thailand since a coup in 2014, has no claims to higher ground when it comes to the human trafficking industry. Although the defendants are likely guilty as charged & on all counts, this criminal prosecution is intended to scapegoat & take international attention away from the junta’s culpability.

There can be little doubt the generals & policemen involved acted with the full knowledge of the military regime which was trying to keep refugees & immigrants out, exploited refugees through extortion, & is criminally culpable for their monstrous deaths. Human rights groups have long accused Thai authorities of collusion in trafficking though the charges are ritually denied. But who can ever forget when in May of last year, the junta refused entry to thousands of Rohingya & Bangladeshis stranded in drifting boats without food & water in the Andaman Sea? We still have no accounting for thousands of them–& we consider them our brothers & sisters so our outrage will not soon dissipate & they will not be forgotten. And who can pretend we don’t know the regime fosters the sex tourist industry brutalizing thousands of children in Thailand?

There isn’t an iota of sympathy for those defendants caught in the snare of their own criminality but this trial in intended only to take the heat off the military junta & not to bring justice to those Rohingya & Bangladeshi who so brutally suffered at their behest.

Photo is trafficker defendants being led into criminal court in Bangkok.

(Photo by Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)