SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.
Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.
What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?
What happened next didn’t take long. “Investigators have a suspect—a Saudi Arabian national—in the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, The Post has learned.” That’s the New York Post, which went on to cite Fox News. The “Saudi suspect”—still faceless—suddenly gave anxieties a form. He was said to be in custody; or maybe his hospital bed was being guarded. The Boston police, who weren’t saying much of anything, disputed the report—sort of. “Honestly, I don’t know where they’re getting their information from, but it didn’t come from us,” a police spokesman told TPM. But were they talking to someone? Maybe. “Person of interest” became a phrase of both avoidance and insinuation. On the Atlas Shrugs Web site, there was a note that his name in Arabic meant “sword.” At an evening press conference, Ed Davis, the police commissioner, said that no suspect was in custody. But that was about when the dogs were in the apartment building in Revere—an inquiry that was seized on by some as, if not an indictment, at least a vindication of their suspicions.
“There must be enough evidence to keep him there,” Andrew Napolitano said on “Fox and Friends”—“there” being the hospital. “They must be learning information which is of a suspicious nature,” Steve Doocy interjected. “If he was clearly innocent, would they have been able to search his house?” Napolitano thought that a judge would take any reason at a moment like this, but there had to be “something”—maybe he appeared “deceitful.” As Mediaite pointed out, Megyn Kelly put a slight break on it (as she has been known to do) by asking if there might have been some “racial profiling,” but then, after a round of speculation about his visa (Napolitano: “Was he a real student, or was that a front?”), she asked, “What’s the story on his ability to lawyer up?”
By Tuesday afternoon, the fever had broken. Report after report said that he was a witness, not a suspect. “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” a “U.S. official” told CNN. (So were a lot of people at the marathon.) Even Fox News reported that he’d been “ruled out.” At a press conference, Governor Deval Patrick spoke, not so obliquely, about being careful not to treat “categories of people in uncharitable ways.”
We don’t know yet who did this. “The range of suspects and motives remains wide open,” Richard Deslauriers of the F.B.I. said early Tuesday evening. In a minute, with a claim of responsibility, our expectations could be scrambled. The bombing could, for all we know, be the work of a Saudi man—or an American or an Icelandic or a person from any nation you can think of. It still won’t mean that this Saudi man can be treated the way he was, or that people who love him might have had to find out that a bomb had hit him when his name popped up on the Web as a suspect in custody. It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least.
It might be comforting to think of this as a blip, an aberration, something that will be forgotten tomorrow—if not by this young man. There are people at Guanátanmo who have also been cleared by our own government, and are still there. A new report on the legacy of torture after 9/11, released Tuesday, is a well-timed admonition. The F.B.I. said that they would “go to the ends of the earth” to get the Boston perpetrators. One wants them to be able to go with their heads held high.
“If you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil—that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid,” President Obama said. That was mostly true on Monday; a terrible day, when an eight-year-old boy was killed, his sister maimed, two others dead, and many more in critical condition. And yet, when there was so much to fear that we were so brave about, there was panic about a wounded man barely out of his teens who needed help. We get so close to all that Obama described. What’s missing? Is it humility?
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The question of why Allah (swt) has created and punishes bad people, is one that goes back to the subject of man and free will. The question there is: ''No single person comes to this world by choice; all who come are forced to. On one hand, Allah (swt) knows the fate of each and every person, and on the other hand they have to act according to Allah’s (swt) knowledge or else that will necessitate the deficiency of Allah’s (swt) knowledge, which is impossible, therefore those who are bad, have no choice other than to be bad, so that His knowledge remains perfect; so how is this fact not in contradiction with free will?”
Here, we will discuss man and free will in order to reach a conclusion on the question:
1) Allah’s (swt) knowledge regarding the acts and behavior of His different creations doesn’t result in them being forced to do as He knows. For example, if you were to stand at a high point and watch someone drive their car, and could tell that if he/she were to continue driving at the same pace, it would surely end up in the car falling from a cliff, and after a few moments that actually happened, you wouldn’t be the one responsible just because you knew that it was going to happen. No one would say that your knowledge was the one that caused the accident. Knowing one’s fate because of his/her mistakes has nothing to do with you.
Allah (swt) isn't the one who determines the bad or good destiny of others, and never assigns a bad destiny to anyone. This hadith by the great prophet of Islam (pbuh) has been narrated by many Islamic scholars: “The prophet (pbuh) said: The Qadariyyah have been cursed by seventy thousand prophets (throughout history). It was asked: Who are the Qadariyyah? The prophet (pbuh) answered: Those who believe that they are forced to sin (because of the bad destiny that Allah (swt) has imposed on them) and that they will be punished because of these sins (that they have no control over and nothing to with and no choice about).”
2) It is more appropriate to say that Allah (swt) knows who will make good use of divine guidance when it comes and who will turn away from it, and that punishment in the hereafter (or even in this world) is a result of making the wrong choice regarding that guidance. Just like the experienced teacher who lists the elements of success for his students on the first day of class, but knows who will heed his advice and take it seriously and who won't. Clearly, good grades and prizes will go to those who deserve them, and bad grades and all of the hardships that those grades entail, all will be for those who have asked for it with their actions. So all the knowledge of the teacher does in such a situation, is show him who will succeed and who won't, and has nothing to do with forcing them to be lazy or strive for success.
3) If Allah (swt) was to not send any means of guidance to the people, and yet expected them to believe in and obey Him, one could object, but considering that He has sent both inner messengers (the sound intellect) and outer ones (the prophets, imams, books and scriptures and even scholars), who is the one to be truly blamed; the one who possesses many “lanterns” in the dark and still goes the wrong way, or the one who punishes him for breaking those precious and needed “lanterns”?
4) Life in this world is all about making the right choices, thus one can say that our fates are in our own hands and that it all depends on how much we strive and ask Allah (swt) for help and guidance.
5) Allah (swt) created man in order for him to reach perfection and salvation. Not only doesn’t the creation of Shaytan, who is always trying to misguide man, contradict this goal, but it is necessary, because development and perfection is always a result of struggle, clashes and conflict.
6) Although the role jinni and human shaytans play is an important one in achieving the abovementioned goal, yet no one is forced to play this role, and whoever does so, does it willingly and in reality chooses to so.
Even Shaytan (Iblis) himself wasn’t created as Shaytan, because he had lived with the angels for six thousand years and was a great worshipper of Allah (swt), but despite this fact, he chose to go the wrong way as a result of his self pride, distancing from Allah’s (swt) grace and mercy. The same goes with Yazid; he chose to go the wrong way, therefore he can no longer object to his creation and ask Allah (swt) why he was created, because the answer is that the role you were to play was a necessary one, but not one imposed on you, on the contrary, you are the one who chose to play it (so the role is a necessary one, but only those who choose to, play it).
In other words, there must be bad people in this world so that others can reach perfection through the encounters they have with them. Take Imam Husein (as) for instance; there must be a Yazid in order for Imam Husein (as) and what he did to find true meaning; the situation he put Imam Husein (as) in was the one that allowed the imam to reach the high level of martyrdom. Yet, Allah (swt) has forced no one to be Yazid; it is Yazid himself who chooses to be the Yazid who committed one of the greatest atrocities of all time, therefore he can't question Allah (swt) for who he is, because he himself is the one to blame.
7) The creation of man is a favor by Allah (swt) because of His never-ending grace. It is like for someone to arrange a great feast and invite others to take part in it without asking them for anything else. Now if there are people who willingly decide not to attend and make use of the food there, resulting in their hunger, the one hosting the feast isn't the one to be blamed and scolded just because he knew they wouldn’t come, because not inviting them at all is worst and in that case they would probably claim that they would have come.
 انه (ص) قال: لعنت القدریه علی لسان سبعین نبیاً. قیل: و من القدریة یا رسول الله؟ فقال: قوم یزعمون ان الله قدر علیهم المعاصی و عذبهم علیها. Biharul-Anwar, vol.5, pg.47.
 Determination here means that “the known” thing determines the knowledge itself: قال: و هو تابع بمعنى أصالة موازیه فی التطابق.
أقول: اعلم أن التابع یطلق على ما یکون متأخرا عن المتبوع و على ما یکون مستفادا منه و هما غیر مرادین فی قولنا العلم تابع للمعلوم فإن العلم قد یتقدم المعلوم زمانا و قد یفید وجوده کالعلم الفعلی و إنما المراد هنا کون العلم و المعلوم متطابقین بحیث إذا تصورهما العقل حکم بأصالة المعلوم فی هیئة التطابق و أن العلم تابع له و حکایة عنه و أن ما علیه العلم فرع على ما علیه المعلوم و على هذا التقدیر یجوز تأخر المعلوم الذی هو الأصل عن تابعه فإن العقل یجوز تقدم الحکایة على المحکی Kashful-Morad, pg.231.
 Khajeh Nasiruddin Tusi, Kashful-Morad, pg.230.
 Muhammad Bistooni, Shaytan Shenasi az Didgahe Qurane Karim, pg.17.
 Nahjul-Balaghah, the sermon of Qase’ah, 234.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Police said a man on trial for the gang rape and fatal beating of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus committed suicide in an Indian jail Monday, but his lawyer and family allege he was killed.
Ram Singh, who was accused of driving the bus on which the 23-year-old student was raped by a group of six men in December, was under suicide watch at New Delhi's Tihar Jail when he hanged himself with his own clothes at about 5:30 a.m., police officials said. His death is raising further questions about a criminal justice system already being criticized for failing to protect the nation's women.
Singh, 33, had been among five defendants facing the death penalty if convicted of the attack, which horrified Indians and set off national protests. A sixth accused is being tried and jailed separately because he is a juvenile.
India's deputy home minister, R.P.N. Singh, said an inquiry had been ordered into the suicide, according to the Press Trust of India.
"The inquiry is being conducted and it would be premature to make any statement about the details of the incident," said Vimla Mehra, the director general of the jail.
Ram Singh's family and lawyer alleged foul play in his death.
"There were no circumstances which could have led to Ram Singh committing suicide. There was no mental stress. He was very happy," his lawyer V.K. Anand said. Lawyers for the defendants had previously accused police of beating confessions out of the men.
Indian jails have a reputation for overcrowding, poor management and brutal treatment of inmates.
'Somebody has killed him,' father says
Ram Singh's father, Mangelal Singh, said his son had been raped in prison by other inmates and had been repeatedly threatened by inmates and guards. Nevertheless, he said he visited his son four days ago and the man appeared fine and gave no hint of any despair that could drive him to take his own life.
Ram Singh also had a badly injured hand and would have been unable to hang himself, his father said, speaking from outside his small home in a New Delhi slum.
"Somebody has killed him," he said, insisting he would push for a top-level investigation into the death.
Mangelal Singh said he feared for the safety of another son who is also on trial in the rape case.
The defendants were being housed in separate buildings on the jail grounds and were all under suicide watch, a jail official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Bus attack sparked protests
The rape victim and a male friend were attacked after boarding the bus Dec. 16 as they tried to return home after watching a movie, police say. The six men, the only occupants of the private bus, beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her, police say. The victims were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman died from her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
The brutal attack set off nationwide protests about India's treatment of women and spurred the government to hurry through a new package of laws to protect them.
Singh's death comes as the trial was deep underway, with another hearing scheduled for Monday. The four surviving defendants were produced in court, but left after a short time because of an attorney's strike.
Vivek Sharma, a lawyer representing another defendant, said he planned to ask the court to provide greater protection for his client.
"In a high-security jail, an occurrence of this kind is highly condemnable. It raises the serious issue of security of the accused persons in the jail," he said.
"My clients don't feel safe in Tihar jail," said another defence lawyer, A.P. Singh.
Closed court for trial
K.T.S. Tulsi, a former top lawyer in the office of the solicitor general of India, said the suicide should have no impact on the trial, which is being held in a closed courtroom under a gag order that prevents news organizations from publishing details of the proceedings.
He said the death highlighted how important it is for society not to demonize people who have been accused but not convicted of crimes.
"It is so unfortunate that the media goes on to presume that they are guilty and goes on to condemn them and demonize them to an extent that it makes the life of these people not worth living," he said.
In 2011, 68 inmates in India killed themselves and another eight were killed by fellow inmates, according to India's National Crime Records Bureau.
Tihar Jail is badly overcrowded with nearly twice as many prisoners as it was designed to hold. Jail authorities have been working to soften its reputation in part by selling TJ's cookies baked by the inmates to the public.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – After losing his fingers as a result of twelve hours spent in subzero temperatures, a disabled man has died from a blood clot in a Russian hospital. A policeman who refused to fulfill his duty by helping the man is now facing five years behind bars.
The incident happened late last year when 28-year-old speech impaired Vitaliy Seduhinsky was boarding a bus with his mother when the doors shut before she could get on.
Unable to communicate, Seduhinsky spent some time circling the bus route before being let off at a suburban stop in the city of Barnaul.
Lost and confused, he was spotted by a woman who called the police to help the stranded individual. The officer who responded to the call failed to carry out his duty, simply decideding not to investigate the report any further.
As a result, Seduhinsky spent over twelve hours in temperatures of minus forty degrees Celsius. On December 10, the man was admitted to hospital where his fingers were amputated due to severe freeze burns. On January 8 Seduhinsky was killed by a blood clot in his brain.
Because of the policeman’s failure to follow up on the emergency phone call, he has been charged with negligence that resulted in the harm and death of one or more human beings under the criminal code article 125, with a maximum sentence of five years.
Police have earlier defended their actions saying that such calls – like the one received on the night of December 10 from the woman who found Seduhinsky – are statistically proven to be prank calls. Allegedly the reason why the officer decided not to act. Further investigation is underway.
Detectives are also looking into the failure of another police department in the city of Barnaul, linked to the same case. Immediately after her son boarded the bus, his mother, who was unable to get onboard, tried filing a missing persons report. It's alleged that the police force ignored the request to search for the disabled man, saying that the case had no criminal basis.
Authorities are also trying to establish exactly which bus crew was responsible for letting the disabled man off the vehicle in sub-freezing conditions.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Police at the Grand Mosque in Mekkah arrested on Thursday a man found carrying papers that show he is looking for a Jewish woman to marry, according to a report by the daily al-Hayat newspaper.
Lieutenant Abdulmohsen Maiman, spokesman for the Grand Mosque police, told the paper that the 49-year-old Saudi national could be suffering from “mental disorder.”
He said the man was arrested in possession of “five documents containing contradictory information showing the man's mental state and expressing his desire to marry a Jewish a woman,” al-Hayat reported.
Lieutenant Maiman denied earlier reports that the man was handing out papers to worshipers and asking them for help in finding his Jewish dream wife.
The man according to the police official was referred to investigation and prosecution before he could be transferred to a specialized physician.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - A mob in southern Pakistan broke into a police station and burned alive a man suspected of desecrating the Koran. The incident has prompted harsh criticism of the country’s hardline blasphemy laws, which remain punishable by death.
Hundreds of people in the village of Sita reportedly surrounded a local police station where the man was being held after being arrested on Friday. The crowd then dragged the man out of the station and doused him in gasoline before setting him ablaze in the center of the village.
Local officials said that they detained around 30 residents of Sita in connection with the murder, and are conducting further raids to identify other parties involved in the incident.
One official also said that seven police officers had been arrested for negligence on duty.
The victim, who has not yet been identified by police, is believed to have spent Thursday night in the village mosque. The following morning, the charred remains of a Koran were found. Residents subsequently accused the man of desecrating the sacred text, beat him and dragged him to the police station.
Local police spokesperson Usman Ghani Siddique told Pakistani publication Dawn that the police held the suspect for five hours for questioning before he was taken by the mob. “He remained tight-lipped and didn’t disclose his name every time police investigators asked him about it,” Siddique said.
A watchman in the village reportedly provided eyewitness testimony to the police, saying that he had seen the suspect enter the mosque, throw away a rosary and torch the Koran at around 3:00am on Thursday night, Siddique added
Blasphemy in Pakistan is illegal and punishable by death, but the law does not clearly define what constitutes an act of blasphemy.
Rights groups have condemned Pakistan’s blasphemy laws on numerous occasions and are pushing to have the law amended. However, the government has been reluctant to change the law for fear of igniting anger among the country's prominent religious parties.
The legislation made headlines earlier this year when 14-year-old Christian girl Rimsha Masih was accused of blasphemy after charred pages of an exercise book quoting the Koran were found in her belongings. Masih was released last month after a neighbor told police that she was framed, becoming the first person in Pakistani history to be granted bail in a blasphemy case.
Since 1988, about 1,000 cases of desecration of the Koran have been reported to the Pakistani police, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) reported. The majority of those implicated are Christians, who are often the target of blasphemy cases. So far, 12 Pakistani Christians have been given the death penalty for blaspheming against Islam's Prophet Mohammed.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Police in Indiana said they found a stockpile of 47 guns hidden throughout the home of a man who had threatened to set fire to his wife and then walk to a nearby elementary school and “kill as many people as he could.”
Von I. Meyer, 60, was arrested at his Cedar Lake home Saturday afternoon on suspicion of felony intimidation, resisting arrest and domestic battery.
Police in Cedar Lake, less than 100 miles from Chicago, said they were called to the man’s home early Friday after he threatened to kill his wife and open fire at Jane Ball Elementary School, located less than 1,000 feet from his home and connected by a series of trails through a wooden area.
The threat came the same day 26 people, including 20 students, were shot and killed by a gunman at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Police identified Meyer as a member of a local motorcycle gang, the Invaders, and said his arsenal was hidden throughout his two-story home.
School officials in the city were alerted to the threat, police said. After authorities obtained an arrest warrant, Meyer was arrested the following day without incident. He is being held without bail. www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – In the past two years, more than 80 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese policies in their homeland. One of them was a 27-year-old man named Jamphel Yeshi, who set himself aflame on March 26. This is his story.
At the time he decided to set fire to himself, Jamphel Yeshi was living in the Tibetan refugee colony of Majnu ka Tilla, on the northern outskirts of Delhi. The colony was first settled in 1963, four years after the Dalai Lama escaped to India from advancing Chinese forces. The early residents built thatched huts and made a living brewing and selling chang, a traditional Tibetan barley-and-wheat alcohol. As refugees from the roof of the world, they were unaccustomed to the heat and humidity of the low-lying plain. They had no idea how long they'd be staying but imagined they'd return home soon.
Today, about 4,000 people live in the colony, which has been overtaken by the city: A busy thoroughfare runs alongside it, and Indian neighborhoods have grown up nearby. New construction in the colony is illegal, yet ragged workers continue to dig foundations, carrying rubble and dirt in handwoven baskets balanced on their heads and dumping their contents on the nearby banks of the Yamuna River. They navigate a warren of multistory buildings, a shambolic jumble of several hundred homes with colored prayer flags fluttering from the rooftops. The alleyways, many just wide enough for two pedestrians to pass, are populated by crimson-robed monks and nuns, mangy dogs and barefoot kids, activists and drifters, petty merchants, and beggars with missing or mangled limbs who offer a broad smile and warm thanks for receiving the equivalent of 20 cents. A Tibetan far from home can enjoy familiar scents and tastes here: salty butter tea, steamed dumplings, Tibetan bread and biscuits. (Learn about Tibetan traditions under Chinese Rule.)
Jamphel Yeshi—Jashi to his friends—lived with four other Tibetan men in a one-room, windowless apartment they rented for the equivalent of $90 a month. The entrance to the room is through a tiny kitchen area, which is separated from the sleeping quarters by a threadbare curtain in a Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck motif. Jashi's mattress still lies on the floor in a corner, below posters of the Dalai Lama and other senior lamas. His mattress and four others form a U-shape around the perimeter of the room, which is illuminated by three fluorescent tubes. A thin cabinet still holds many of Jashi's books, including several well-thumbed collections on Buddhism, Tibetan politics, and history. During the day, the men would store their personal belongings in two tiny alcoves. Jashi's small nylon suitcase remains where it was when he was alive, holding most of what he owned, including three ID cards, two plastic pens, two rosaries, four cotton sweaters, four pairs of pants, a vest, a scarf, a green and a red string, and a small Tibetan flag. (Related: "Buddha Rising, Buddhism in the West.")
On the night before he set himself on fire, Jashi was in a cheerful mood. Two friends were visiting from the town of Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan government in exile, about 300 miles from Majnu ka Tilla. It was Lobsang Jinpa's turn to cook that evening, but he had become distracted at a cybercafé. Jashi called Jinpa on his mobile phone and ribbed him: "Have you forgotten that you have to make dinner? You've become very popular in Dharamsala; maybe you're too big too cook for us now!" Jinpa rushed back; by the time he arrived Jashi had already washed and cut the vegetables. (Learn about the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.)
Jinpa cooked thenthuk, a traditional Tibetan dish of noodles, vegetables, and mutton. "No one said it was tasty, but everyone ate it," recalls Jinpa, a former political prisoner who escaped Tibet in 2011. "Jashi ate very well." The seven young men who gathered that evening talked about the upcoming visit by Chinese premier Hu Jintao and about a protest that was to take place the following day in downtown Delhi against Chinese rule. At one point, Jashi took off his shirt and flexed his muscles, showing off the dragon tattoos on his arms and joking about his physique.
As he often did, Jashi woke early the next morning, before any of his roommates. He first went to the Buddhist temple in Majnu ka Tilla to help serve tea to people attending prayers. Then he returned to the room, where he picked up a small backpack and a large Tibetan flag. He neatly folded his blanket and propped a book by the Dalai Lama and another on Tibetan history on top, so the arrangement resembled an altar. He roused his cousin, Tsering Lobgyal, to tell him he was leaving his mobile phone at home to recharge. If anyone called, Lobgyal should answer it. Then he went to board one of five buses taking protestors to the rally.
As Jashi passed again through the temple square, a friend asked why he was dressed in long sleeves and carrying a pack—it was too hot for that. Another joked about the large flag billowing off his back. "Superman!" the friend yelled as Jashi trotted past. Boarding the bus, Jashi met yet another friend and neighbor, Kelsang Dolma, who was going to the rally with her two-year-old son. Everyone had been talking about an unprecedented series of self-immolations in Tibet since March 2011 and wondering if Tibetans might set fire to themselves at the Delhi protest. Dolma patted the pack on Jashi's back and joked, "Is this your petrol? Don't set it on fire!" (Photos: After Fiery Protest, a Tibetan Exile is Honored.)
Looking back, Jashi's friends see signs of what was to come. In 2008, he had vowed to set himself on fire and had even purchased a bottle of fuel. His cousins and friends persuaded him to cancel his plan, insisting that he could do much more for the Tibetan cause if he continued to live.
Dolma now recalls signs from the day Jashi self-immolated. On the crowded bus, he was holding a nearly empty bottle of cola and gave it to Dolma's son to finish off. Then Dolma tried to fling the plastic bottle out the window—common practice in India—but Jashi stopped her. She thought he was being conscientious. That's the way he was: earnest, devoted to doing the right thing, always volunteering and counseling others on what should or shouldn't be done. In retrospect, she wonders if he needed the bottle to fill with gasoline. Jashi also realized on the bus that he didn't have his wallet and asked to borrow 200 rupees from Dolma, whom he affectionately called "sister." She didn't have change, so gave him 500 rupees, which he reluctantly accepted.
Did he use the money to buy gasoline to fill the bottle? At the time, Dolma had no suspicions: Jashi was upbeat, smiling, and playing with her young son. "At another point during the ride, I opened a bus window to get some air," Dolma recalls. "He said, 'Wow,' and he smiled and opened his arms to the coolness of the air ... I think now that he knew he was feeling that for the last time. But at that moment, I only thought it was a bit strange."
The bus stopped a couple of miles from the demonstration site so the protestors could draw attention to the Tibetan cause by marching through the city. Organizers handed out bottles of water to the marchers, many of whom wore yellow pinnies and badges with a bloody hand superimposed next to the face of Hu Jintao. Jashi told Dolma he needed to buy something for a friend, and they parted company. Video taken a little later contains a brief glimpse of Jashi, alone near the back of the procession, smiling and chanting slogans.
By the time the parade reached Jantar Mantar—a street where Indian protests take place daily—as many as 3,000 Tibetans had massed together. They were led by three horsemen dressed in traditional outfits from the three regions of Tibet. Indian demonstrations were taking place to the right and left-a clamor of noise and sweat, flapping flags, and waving banners. The heat was intense, over 90ºF. Dolma and others sought bits of shade under nearby neem trees.
Jashi slipped away through a gate and down a short driveway to an old sandstone building housing the All India Freedom Fighters' Organization and other offices. Under a sign reading "Mehta and Padamsey Surveyors Private Limited, International Loss Adjusters," he poured the gasoline over himself. It ran down his shoulders, over his clothes, and into his shoes. Then he put a flame to it.
Jashi ran about 20 strides, stumbled and fell under a giant Banyan tree. He was still inside the gated compound and wanted to get to the crowd of protestors outside. He pulled himself up and ran again, this time for 50 to 60 strides, through the gate and into the mass of people, who made way for the human fireball. He was baring his teeth in what could have been a broad smile—or an expression of excruciating pain.
Jinpa was among the many friends who were there that day. He saw the flaming man and then recognized Jashi's face. He yelled out his name.
Pandemonium: Wails, screams, people frantically shaking water from their plastic bottles onto the flames. An elderly policeman tried to beat out the fire with his hat. A friend of Jashi's, Sonam Tseten, began whipping at the fire with his backpack. But then Tseten realized that his mobile phone was in the pack and that the weight of it might be hurting his friend. So he tossed the pack aside and pulled off his shirt. "When I hit the upper side of his body with my shirt, the lower side burned more," Tseten recalls. "When I hit the lower side, the upper side burned more."
Above all of the cries and shouts, several witnesses later recalled most distinctly the roar of the fire: foh-foh-foh.
The first Tibetan to self-immolate in the modern era did so in the same location during a 1998 hunger strike. Just as Jashi would, Thupten Ngodup initially survived the inferno. The Dalai Lama paid him a visit at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital a day later. Ngodup tried to sit up to receive His Holiness but was gently encouraged not to. The Dalai Lama whispered through the gauze wrapped around Ngodup's head. According to an account the former gave to Columbia University scholar Robert Thurman, he said, "Do not pass over with hatred for the Chinese in your heart. You are brave and you made your statement, but let not your motive be hatred." The patient indicated that he understood.
"This is violence, even if it is self-inflicted," the Dalai Lama told Thurman. "The same energy that can cause someone to do this to himself is very close to the energy that enables someone to kill others in fury and outrage."
Ngodup's fiery protest was an isolated incident. More than a decade later, in February 2009, another Tibetan self-immolated, then another followed two years later in March 2011. Since then, the numbers have soared: More than 80 Tibetans have torched themselves, one of the biggest waves of self-immolation in modern history. The overwhelming majority of self-immolations, carried out by monks, nuns, and increasingly by lay people, have occurred inside Tibet.
During this wave of immolations, the Dalai Lama has remained mostly silent, except to say that he must remain "neutral" on the protests. "If I say something negative, then the family members of those people feel very sad," he told a reporter for The Hindu newspaper in July. "They sacrificed their own life. It is not easy. So I do not want to create some kind of impression that this is wrong."
The Dalai Lama is widely revered by Tibetans, who regard him as the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion. But his "middle-way approach" to China—calling for autonomy for Tibet, not independence, and often opposing even the most benign protest actions against Chinese rule—hasn't produced results. China now refuses even to meet with Tibetan envoys. Two longtime Tibetan negotiators have quit in frustration, and the situation only seems to worsen. Han Chinese continue to migrate into traditional Tibetan areas, and repression of Tibetan religious institutions deepens. Security cameras are installed in monasteries. Portraits of the Dalai Lama are gouged out. Nomads are forcibly settled, and the Tibetan language is marginalized. (Related story: "Tibetans: Moving Forward, Holding On")
"Every other leader looks after his own country properly even if it means going to war," fumes a Tibetan scholar in Dharamsala who did not want to be quoted by name. "Here we talk about world peace, about taking care of the whole world. What about taking care of our own country? Our leaders are more concerned about how to present themselves to the rest of the world—peace-loving and kind. If you care about your own country, you have to do everything for it: kill, cheat, lie, steal."
That is a very extreme view among Tibetans. But it gives voice to a much wider frustration. Young Tibetans, in particular, want to act. Among the majority who still cherish non-violence but lack the otherworldly patience of His Holiness, options are limited. So a nun, standing stock still on a road in Tibet last November, becomes a human torch, flames leaping from her head toward the sky. "We need freedom," yells a passerby, recorded in an amateur video that also captures a woman gently tossing a khata—a silk white scarf, offered in blessing—toward the flames. In another herky-jerky video secreted out of Tibet, a monk named Tsewang Norbu burns in front of a shop on a busy road. Some people gather around the charred and smoking body even as frightened Chinese hurry by without stopping; bicycles and cars pass, honking to move on quickly, as if worried they might get caught up in a security scandal. (Photo: Nun Colony in North-East Tibet.)
Both the nun and the monk were from Jashi's home area, Tawu. He himself had escaped Tibet in 2006. He had taped a photo of the monk on the door of his little bookshelf. He had seen the videos. He had watched them most recently a few days before his own self-immolation. They were shown on a screen in the temple square of Majnu ka Tilla—to inspire local residents to attend the upcoming protest. Jashi's friend Sangye Dorji, the caretaker of a small monastery that overlooks the cramped square, was with him. "I was very emotional and depressed," Dorji recalls. "Jamphel Yashi said only that they were very patriotic people." He also had some advice for his friend: "If any Tibetan self-immolates, we should just let him burn," Jashi said. "That person has made a decision to die.'"
Dorji never made it to the protest, but other friends did. Each acted instinctively. Jinpa, the former political prisoner who served 26 months for filming and distributing video of anti-regime protests in China, tried to push the crowd back. Jinpa recalls that at one point, as everyone was throwing water at the burning man, Jashi yelled out "Agh!"—as if to complain about the effort to douse the flames. "Let the journalists take photos!" Jinpa shouted.
"I was not at all hoping he would be alive with the amount of fire that was engulfing him," Jinpa told me a few months later. "The police just wanted to take the body away quickly. Two police grabbed my waist to pull me back. I resisted and pulled back toward the burning body."
Other friends thought Jashi might survive. The smell of burning was intense—like roasted meat, one friend recalled—but Jashi's face was still recognizable. By the time the flames were out, however, his clothes had burned away, except for the shirt collar around his neck and the elastic bands of his pants and underwear. His skin was hard and crinkly, "like touching a basketball, but very hot," says Tseten. "There was no softness at all." Strangely, Jashi's dragon tattoos appeared more vibrant than ever.
Tseten and several other friends eventually lifted Jashi into the back of a white police jeep. They placed him on one bench, and four of the men sat in a row on the bench opposite, holding him in place so he wouldn't fall off as they sped around corners with the siren blaring. One of the men had painted his face in Tibetan colors, and now sweat, tears, and splashed water that had been thrown frantically toward the flames were all causing the paint to run down his cheeks.
Jashi arrived at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital at 12:45 p.m. and was officially admitted at 1:19. As his friends delivered him through the doorway, Jashi spoke the last sentence any of them would hear from him: "Why did you bring me to the hospital?"
Speaking those few words must have taken enormous effort. Doctors would soon discover that his insides were scorched, probably because he had inhaled toxic fumes and flames. Burns covered over 98 percent of his outer body. He was given antibiotics, painkillers, and oxygen, and doctors eventually performed a tracheotomy. At one point, the sister of one of Tibet's highest reincarnate lamas—the Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism—arrived to deliver a "precious pill," blessed by the high lama himself, to provide spiritual comfort and even healing for a man's soul. A monk whispered a prayer into Jashi's ear.
Jinpa wasn't thinking about spiritual matters. He had shed tears like everyone else, but he wasn't particularly sentimental. He knew that his friend had set himself on fire to make a statement—to awaken the world to Tibet's plight. He didn't want the sacrifice to be wasted.
He was also functioning on almost no sleep. While his friend had been preparing for his final act, Jinpa—who sports a gold earring and a goatee—had been at a party until dawn. Now his mind was racing. "Who has a key to the room?" he asked Lobgyal, Jashi's cousin. "Don't give the key to anyone. He might have left something." Then Jinpa's phone rang: Indian detectives were poking around the neighborhood, a friend told him, and wanted to get into the room. Minutes later, Jinpa got a call from an officer in the criminal investigation department who wanted to know who had a key to the room. Jinpa professed ignorance and switched off his phone.
As the sun was going down, Jinpa and others made their way back to the apartment from the hospital. The detectives had left. Two men served as lookouts in the alley while Jinpa and Lobgyal rifled through Jashi's meager belongings. Inside a red cloth sack that also held his IDs and other documents, they found a handwritten letter in Tibetan. It began with a call for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet then spoke about the need for loyalty, "the life-soul of a people," and about freedom: "Without freedom, six million Tibetans are like a butter lamp in the wind, without direction."
"At a time when we are making our final move toward our goal—if you have money, it is the time to spend it; if you are educated it is the time to produce results; if you have control over your life, I think the time has come to sacrifice your life."
The letter ended with a demand for the "people of the world" to "stand up for Tibet." Jashi had written two copies, both on lined white school paper.
When one of Jashi's former teachers in Dharamsala first read the letter—which by then had been typed and printed for wider distribution—he was skeptical that Jashi had written it. Jashi had arrived from Tibet as a young man with little education, and his written Tibetan was mediocre. His parents were rural middle class, and Jashi himself was classified as a "farmer/nomad" in the database of the exiled Tibetan government. He had lived in eastern Tibet, in a large house in the traditional Tibetan style, with a satellite dish on the roof and prayer flags flying from the chimney. Cows, yaks, and sheep were housed on the first floor, and the family occupied the upper level. They tended apple orchards and planted potatoes, barley, wheat, and other crops.
Jashi got his education informally, studying an hour or two a day with monks in a nearby monastery. They taught him how to read religious texts but not much more. He worked for an elderly monk in the village, etching Buddhist mantras on stones to be placed on hilltops. He was a good swimmer, and in the winter, he and his friends fashioned small ice sleds out of wood boards and metal rods. They would curl the rods around the wood so they would serve as blades, and then they'd push themselves across icy ponds until their knuckles turned raw.
As he became a young adult, Jashi became politically aware. He told friends that at least once he had ridden his bicycle late at night into the town of Tawu, roughly six miles away, to post political flyers on walls in the predawn darkness. In 2003, he was caught trying to escape Tibet, and later he apparently made some connections or got some tips about how to tap into the Tibetan underground while he served several months in multiple Chinese prisons.
In 2006, Jashi escaped successfully, taking a young neighbor along with him. They made their way first to a safe house in Lhasa, then hooked up with a guide who escorted them on the start of a monthlong trek. One guide handed off to another and then to another, through winds and snow, across plains and mountains, along the skirt of Mount Everest and into Nepal. They hid by day and hiked by night, surviving on a diet of dried yak meat and tsampa, a dough of roasted barley flour mixed with water. A few in the 15-person party suffered snow blindness, others horrific headaches; sometimes they had to pause for a day to allow someone to recover. Jashi had blisters that oozed puss. But they made it to Nepal and eventually to Dharamsala, where every newcomer gets an audience with the Dalai Lama, and everyone gets free schooling. Jashi cried when the Dalai Lama blessed him, touching his head. He couldn't get a word out.
He entered a special school in Dharamsala for Tibetan newcomers aged 18 to 34. Former teachers and staff describe him as responsible and caring—the kind of young man who stayed late in the cafeteria to help the cook clean up. He loved to read and was obsessed with Tibetan history and culture, but he was an unimaginative student. In his essays and even his diary entries, he would often echo boilerplate talking points he had read elsewhere. "I scolded him: You're not the Dalai Lama, full of wisdom and advice," recalls Chogo Dorjee, who taught Jashi the Tibetan language. He was also a poor speller.
That is why another teacher, who goes by the single name Dhondup, suspected that Jashi didn't write his last letter: The spelling in the typed version was correct. Later, however, Dhondup saw the original handwritten copy. It had six spelling mistakes and a missing word in the first four sentences. "I was reassured it was Jashi who wrote it."
Jashi also left behind—unpublicized until now—two other very short pieces of prose. One is a sentimental paean to his mother. He expresses his unwavering affection for her: "Even in my dreams, I see her often ... No one can separate our love."
The second piece is entitled, "A Boy Without Direction."
"The moment I was born from my beloved mother's womb, I was without basic human rights, freedom to think, and was born under foreign domination. Because of this, I had to part ways with my country and come into exile in India. The place that I live now is a small room in Delhi, where I spend my days and nights. When I get up in the morning and look towards the east, tears roll down, uncontrollable ... These are not empty words like water vapor."
Jashi died in Ram Manotar Lohia Hospital, 43 hours after he had been admitted. No one ever survives with 98 percent burns. Even his friends, who had been hopeful early on because his face was familiar, lost hope when his head swelled beyond all recognition.
In the months since his death—and a massive outpouring of support and grief at his memorial service in Dharamsala—a monk who had recently escaped from Jashi's home area relayed information on how the death was received there. The Voice of America and Radio Free Asia had broadcasted the news of Jashi's demise, he says, so it was known right away. That night, many neighbors paid their respects to Jashi's family. The monks of the monastery were forbidden to do so but conducted their own private prayer service the following evening. When Chinese authorities heard about the service, they called the abbot in for questioning.
A neighbor later told the monk that he was with Jashi's mother a few days after her son's immolation. She was cooking on a traditional stove, stoked with firewood, and accidentally touched the hot surface, burning her finger. She sobbed and through her tears muttered, "Imagine how much pain my son felt."
In the neighborhood of Majnu ka Tilla, there's still hope that Jashi's sacrifice will mean something and also dread that it won't. A fruit seller in Tunisia self-immolated in 2010, and that one event set off a cascade of change throughout the Middle East. Nothing like that has happened in Tibet. The world hardly notices when another young man or woman goes up in flames. Some young activists are talking darkly of another possible phase, of how thin the line is between killing yourself and killing your enemies. "The older generation is 90 percent religious and 10 percent nationalistic; they want to spread happiness and make the world a better place," says Tenzin Wangchuk, the 38-year-old president of the Delhi chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress. "But the younger generation is not a bunch of Buddhas. We are Buddhists but not Buddhas. If you kill evil, we don't think that's bad. We need actions ... One day, who knows? We may raise our issue by bombing ourselves, and if you are going to die, maybe it's better to take some enemies along with you."
That is the fear of older Tibetans who have worked for decades to find a negotiated solution. "The only reason the Tibetans are so committed to nonviolence is purely because of the influence of the Dalai Lama," says Lodi Gyari, who served as chief negotiator with China until his resignation early this year because there was no hope for a return to talks anytime soon. "I have also told the Chinese this. It's a very thin line. One day, somebody may say, 'I've had enough, it's meaningless for me, but I'm not going to go alone ... I'm going to take a couple of Chinese guys with me.' That can happen any day."
Jashi's roommates in Majnu ka Tilla live much as they did before. Two small posters of their deceased friend, "the hero Jamphel Yeshi," are pasted to the white walls. But the adrenaline rush is over. The men try to pick up odd jobs when they can, but as Tibetan refugees they're not eligible for salaried employment. In the midday heat, several crash on their mattresses, waiting for the sun to go down.
On one occasion when Jinpa visited from Dharamsala, in the months after Jashi's passing, he made the same grim joke as he had in the past when his friend was still alive: "Here I am again with these guys who don't get any girls, don't have jobs—useless men just waiting around to die!" This time, one of his friends perked up. "Are you coming to encourage another one of us to self-immolate?" he said. "Now it's my turn ... But don't worry, I'll prepare everything properly before I go!" It was supposed to be funny but had a different effect. Among Tibetans, nobody really knows who might be the next to burn.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: National geographic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A Lebanese militant wanted by the United States in connection with the killing of five American soldiers in Iraq was released because of lack of evidence, Iraq's prime minister said Saturday.
Nuri al-Maliki's comments came on the heels of growing outrage among U.S. officials over the release Friday of Ali Mussa Daqduq despite last-minute requests by the White House that he be turned over to stand trial in the United States.
In a written statement, al-Maliki said he could not agree to turn over Daqduq to the United States because the "Iraqi judiciary did not agree" the request was in accordance with Iraq's laws.
With the release of Daqduq, at least one U.S. lawmaker has called for U.S. relations with Iraq to be re-evaluated.
"This is an outrage. Families of those who were killed by this terrorist should also be outraged, and appropriate action should be taken in regards to our relations with the Iraqi government," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told reporters Friday.
Daqduq is accused of participating in the January 2007 kidnapping and killing of the five American soldiers in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala.
After he was captured in Basra in March 2007, according to U.S. intelligence officials, Daqduq pretended to be a deaf-mute.
But officials identified him as a 24-year veteran of Hezbollah who admitted to working with the Quds Force, a branch of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. military intelligence contended the Quds Force was using Hezbollah as a surrogate in Iraq.
Daqduq was held by the U.S. military as an "enemy combatant." He was the last detainee to be turned over by the United States before a December 2011 deadline to withdraw.
In May, an Iraqi court cleared Daqduq in connection with the killings.
In the statement released Saturday, the prime minister said the Iraqi court ordered Daqduq's release after it determined there was a lack of evidence.
The United States appealed the ruling and provided additional evidence against Daqduq, which the Iraqi court also ruled was insufficient, al-Maliki said.
Daqduq left Iraq shortly after his release for Lebanon, his lawyer said.
"There is no legal reason for his detention. He should have been released months ago," his attorney, Abdulalmehdi al-Mutairi, told CNN.
The case was widely seen as a test of U.S.-Iraqi relations despite the growing political influence of Iran over Iraq.
U.S. officials were reluctant to hand over Daqduq to the Iraqi judiciary over fears that under pressure from Iran, Iraqi authorities would release him.
The U.S. State Department vehemently objected to Daqduq's release and vowed to continue to try to bring him to justice.
"Let me add that as with other terrorists who we believe have committed crimes against Americans, we are going to continue to pursue all legal means to see that Daqduq sees justice for the crimes of which he is accused," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday
The State Department has been in contact with the Lebanese government, according to Nuland, and will continue to pursue all "legal means" to bring Daqduq to justice.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Europe to decide this week on helping Nasa to build a manned spaceship to travel to deep space
Europe is preparing plans to join the United States in building a manned spaceship that would take men and women to the moon and beyond. The project is supported by the UK and could see a British astronaut launched into deep space before the end of the decade.
The proposal to join in construction of the four-person US Orion spaceship will be debated at a meeting of ministers of the European Space Agency's 20 member states in Italy this week. If passed, it would mean that for the first time Europe would be involved in building and launching manned space vehicles.
"Europeans will have the power to put men and women into space," Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency, told the Observer in an exclusive interview. "That would be a fantastic development for us."
Among the European candidates who might fly on the new spaceship, which should be ready for flight by 2017, would be UK astronaut Tim Peake. A qualified army helicopter pilot, Peake was selected three years ago to be one of six new European astronauts and has been training in Germany since then. At the time of his selection, it was assumed Peake's best chance of space flight would be a mission to the International Space Station. Now he and his five colleagues have a chance of a deep space flight thanks to the US request for Europe to join in its Orion programme.
The Orion capsule – known officially as the Multiple Purpose Crew Vehicle – is designed to carry astronauts on missions of up to six months and could take men and women to the moon, or an asteroid or possibly even Mars. The plan for Europe to join the US in building Orion spaceships stems from Nasa's decision to privatise crew and cargo flights to the space station. Companies such as PayPal founder Elon Musk's SpaceX are expected to take over this role in a couple of years.
This would leave Europe – whose own unmanned ATV cargo capsules provide supplies for the space station – without a role in running the station. "Nasa asked us to start discussions with them about alternative plans and we agreed the best idea was for us to become involved in its new spaceship which is intended to take astronauts beyond the space station and into deep space on exploration missions," said Dordain. "Under the plan, we would build the service module that contains the capsule's propulsion, attitude and guidance systems while the Americans would build the part that carries the astronauts."
At present, the project would not guarantee Europe one of the four astronaut places on Orion when it is launched. However, Dordain indicated that he expected Europe would be given places on future Orion deep space missions. One of those could go to Peake.
"The first two test flights of the new spaceship would take place around 2017," he said. "These would use existing Atlas V launchers. After that, a bigger rocket will be needed to take spaceships with full payloads into deep space. That launcher is still being developed and we have already held discussions with Nasa with the aim of co-operating with them in working on this new launcher as well."
In this way, Europe would be involved both in the building of rocket launchers for manned missions and the capsules that will carry the astronauts. However, the proposal has to be agreed at the meeting of ministers of Esa members states in Naples this week.
"Britain has already indicated support," said Dordain. "Indeed, the only other main contributor to Esa's budget currently opposing the plan is France. However, I am hoping this is a negotiating ploy to win arguments over other issues at the ministerial meeting."
Dordain, who has led the European Space Agency since 2003, believes that no single nation can now afford to carry out manned space exploration on its own. The future lies with international co-operation like that proposed between the US and Europe.
"There is not a single space power left in the world that thinks they can afford to send men and women to explore the moon or Mars on their own national budget. This is something that will have to be done by international co-operation. Even the Chinese, who have so far done it on their own, are looking for partners. We are in discussions with them. Some of our astronauts are learning Chinese and there are Chinese astronauts training at our centre in Germany. We have no concrete plans as yet but it is clear that future of manned space exploration lies with international co-operation."
MAN WITH A MISSION
If Tim Peake, below, succeeds in getting a place on an Orion flight, or even on a trip to the International Space Station, he will become the first Briton to make it into space without private funding or without taking American citizenship. He is the only official UK member of the European Space Agency's astronaut corps.
In 1991, Helen Sharman became the first Briton in space when she was selected to travel to the Mir space station after responding to a radio advertisement.
The programme was a co-operative arrangement between the Soviet Union and a group of British companies. In orbit, she carried out agricultural tests, photographed the British Isles, and took part in an amateur radio link-up with British schoolchildren.
Since then, three other British-born individuals – Michael Foale, Piers Sellers and Nicholas Patrick – have flown in space but had to take up US citizenship to do so. Foale and Sellers are still on active duty.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Guardian