Em baixo publico o artigo que escrevi no terceiro número da revista Think South Asia (9 de Outubro), que edito com o apoio do South Asia Democratic Forum. Principais países em destaque: Maldivas, Bangladesh e Sri Lanka. Mas também há notícias do resto da Ásia do Sul: Índia, Paquistão, Nepal, Butão e Afeganistão. E, ainda, a China e o Myanmar, a antiga Birmânia.
In this edition of Think South Asia you will find plenty of details on what we are proud to present as the biggest and most important conference ever held on the topic of South Asia in Brussels, under the title, “The Merits of Regional Cooperation: The Case of South Asia” (part II). This important event will take place next 11th of October in the Hotel Sofitel Brussels at Place Jourdan, marking the legislative year of the European Institutions. This will present an amazing opportunity to discuss - with worldwide academic and political experts - and understand some of the most important issues in South Asia, such as Peace and Stability, Economic Cooperation, and Development.
Perhaps one of the main expectations of this conference will be the presentation of a study on Education in Bangladesh conducted by Professor N. M. Sajjadul Hoque, from the University of Chittagong. His study is titled, “Reviewing the Education Policy of Bangladesh” and he tries to answer the question, “Is the Present Education Policy Adequate for Countering Terrorism and Religious and Ethnic Intolerance?”. As per his findings, nine out of ten people in Bangladesh believe that Education is an important means to face the challenges of terrorism and religious and ethnic intolerance in Bangladesh, and the overwhelming majority (85%) feel that it is important to incorporate these issues in the New Education Policy of Bangladesh, as well as the educational curriculum and text books/syllabuses “as a matter of priority”. In the end, Professor Hoque outlines some important recommendations for Bangladeshi civil society, the Bangladeshi Government, the International Community in general and the European Union in particular.
Yet concerning Bangladesh, we must condemn vehemently the burning of at 10 Buddhist temples and around 2,100 homes last 29th and 30th of September by extremists in Southern Bangladesh. These demonstrations are a reaction to an allegedly insulting image of the Quran posted on Facebook and could be explained when we see the elections coming. In the same vein, we saw also on the 21st of September the burning of a Christian Church in Mardan, Pakistan, by a large mob of extremist Muslims. This happened as a response to the now infamous anti-Islam movie, even if the Christians of Mardan have nothing to do with this film. We must be worried about this phenomena of manipulating mobs to practice violent acts against innocent people who, because of their religion, are treated as scapegoats.
As a reflex of this reality, the Blasphemy Law of Pakistan is still in vigour and there are yet no signs of its end: Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl of 11 years old with Down's Syndrome is being held in prison since the 11th of August 2012, accused of burning pages from a booklet used to teach Arabic and the Quran. Under the Pakistan Penal Code, she could receive life in prison. Rimsha joins Asia Bibi and many others that are in prison because of this unjust law, and most of the convicted are Muslim.
Some intriguing news is also coming in from the Maldives, where after the coup d’état of March 2012 some turbulent riots took place, culminating in the most recent happenings: on the 2nd of October the Member of Parliament and well-known member of the opposition Mr Afrasheem Ali was stabbed to death near his house; on the 8th of October the former President Mohamed Nasheed was detained and arrested. In addition, four months before the coup d’état, China opened a new embassy in the Maldives. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, perhaps not. It is publicly known that China is carrying out major infrastructure projects in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Several authors say this is part of a Chinese strategy to encircle India and influence its neighbours. But back to the Maldives, although the current government and some reports don’t recognise there was really a coup d’état, what else can we conclude from these occurrences? Nevertheless, if we want to understand what is going on in these islands, there is nothing better than reading Djan Sauerborn’s country profile about the Maldives in this number of Think South Asia.
Very shortly, we will follow carefully the developments of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations between India and the European Union, where we can see the most recent point of tension is the retail market. The entrance of big European retail companies into the Indian market could lower retail prices in India even more but, on the other hand, traditional commerce and small shops would be forced to close in a medium/long run. It will be very interesting to see what develops.
Back to Brussels, the former Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr Puspa Kamal Dahal, known as “Prachanda”, will visit the European Parliament in Brussels next 15th of October. Former guerrilla leader and chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Prachanda was invited by MEPs Nirj Deva and Jean Lambert. Mrs Jean Lambert is the Chair of the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia within the European Parliament and honours us with an interview in this edition, where she speaks of the reconciliation process with the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
In the next edition of Think South Asia, we will report the main conclusions of our conference, “The Merits of Regional Cooperation: The Case of South Asia”. If you do not want to wait so long and would instead like to attend, please register and take one of the last seats available by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by consulting our website at www.sadf.eu.
Publicado no site do South Asia Democratic Forum: www.sadf.euPara fazer o download da revista Think South Asia 03: http://sadf.eu/docs/thinksouthasia03.pdf