RampART/IndianFilmFestival

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Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2005 18:31:29 -0500 From: South Asia Solidarity Group <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> Subject: Hindu Fascists death threats to Tsunami fundraiser


Dear Friends As you may know there is a festival of documentary films on India taking place next week in Whitechapel in East London to raise money for the survivors of the Tsunami disaster. The organisers have been facing death threats from pro- Hindutva fascists linked to the Sangh Parivar organisations in Britain who are objecting to the screening of secular and anti-caste films including 'In the name of God (Ram ke Naam)' and 'Gujarat: a laboratoryŠ' ( Some of the threats have been posted at the RampART website at www.rampart.omxtra.net, click on forum). These organisations are planning to attempt to stop the festival taking place and we therefore would urge you to show your support for the festival by attending, particularly on the opening night Monday 10th Jan 7.30pm onwards.


See below for the full programme


Movements in Motion: An Indian Film Festival A week of documentary films and discussions food, music, dance performances from 10 - 15 January 2004 at the rampART Creative Centre and Social Space, East London

15-17 rampart street, whitechapel, E1 2LA


ENTRY FREE: DONATIONS WELCOME


1. Adivasi (Indigenous peoples) resistance/life - 10 January 2005, Monday (Doors open 7.30 p.m. for 8 pm screening)


                          - The bee, the bear, the kuruba -

This film provides insights into the Kurubas' way of life, situating itself with the kurubas (a tribe) in South Karnataka. An understanding of how 'development' projects create conflicts amongst Adivasis.


                         -  Suits and Savages - An

exploration of the World Bank/Global Environment Facility funded ecodevelopment project carried out in the same region in Karnataka. A closer look at what the Bank thought it was doing and the resistance it met from the Kurubas.


                         - 5 years on - An update on the

situation shown in the previous film.


2. Casteism - 11 January 2005, Tuesday (Doors open 7.30 p.m. for 8 pm screening)


                          - Lesser Humans - A look into

India's caste system through the lives of manual scavengers in Gujarat.


                          - The die is caste - How violence

rooted in caste conflict has led to the emergence of Maoist and Marxist-Leninist groups in the state of Bihar.


3. Women fight back - 12 January 2005, Wednesday (Doors open 7.30 p.m. for 8 pm screening)


                            - Burnt Not Defeated - Attacks

on women using acids like sulhuric and hydrochloric acid mean only one thing for those who do survive ?Edebilitating effects, physical and mental. Faced with increasing acid attacks by husbands, neighbours, employers, colleaugues on one hand and indifferent and apathetic Government structures on the other, women in Karnataka decide to fight back.


                             - When Women Unite - In 1992,

women in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh revolt against government supply of liquor to their villages. The resistance spreads like wildfire. In four months, 800 village shops have been stormed and shut by angry women. In 12 months, the movement has spread across the state of Andhra Pradhesh. Three years later, the government is compelled to declare state-wide prohibition. It is an account of actual incidents put together through the testimonies of activists, government officials, liquor dons and the women in 22 villages of Nellore district recreating the emotional intensity and the tensions of the struggle.


4. The myth of India - 13 January 2005, Wednesday (Doors open 7.30 p.m. for 8 pm screening) - Beyond the construction of India as a once-was colonized country, we hope to show that India as it exists today is infact brutally colonial itself.


                                 - Naga Story, the other

side of silence - The Nagas are a 3-million-strong indigenous people who occupy the North-East frontier of the Indian subcontinent. The Naga political struggle is one of the oldest nationality movements in South Asia, continuing till present times. The film provides an introduction to the history of the Naga struggle, and documents the human rights abuses suffered by the people in more than 50 years of the existence of Independent India.


                                   - Development at Gun

Point - Attempts to 'develop' the nation has inevitably meant displacement of adivasis from their lands and a consequent loss of their identity, livelihoods. Adivasis in Kashipur, Orissa, faced with forced evictions and violence from the state and the multinational companies, unite to offer fierce resistance. An ongoing struggle, the adivasis have successfully refused the company officials and the police forces entry to their lands for the past decade. The bauxite mining and alumina refinery project remains at the initial survey stage.


5. Urban India - 14 January, Friday


(Doors open 7.30 p.m. for 8 pm screening)


                                      - The Tales of Night

fairies - Five sexworkers - four women and one man - along with the filmmaker/narrator embark on a journey of storytelling. Tales of the Night Fairies explores the power of collective organizing and resistance while reflecting upon contemporary debates around sexwork. The simultaneously expansive and labyrinthine city of Calcutta forms the backdrop for the personal and musical journeys of storytelling.


The film screening and discussion will be followed by Kathak dance performances by Jasmine and group. Indian classical / rap and fusion music follows.


6. Anti - Nuclear/Militarisation - 15 January, Saturday


(Doors open - 11.30 a.m. for 12 p.m. screening)


                                       - War and Peace -

India gets another nuke bomb and celebrations and explosions of patriotism and nationalist fervour sweep the country. The film is a detail of the militarism wave with implications for India and Pakistan as well as a look at Japan and US - two countries with a shared nuke history.


                                       - Buddha Weeps in

Jadugada - India's only uranium mining site is located in Jadugada, an adivasi area in Jharkhand. Buddha weeps in Jadugada attempts a description of the price being paid by the people there to sustain India's nuclear dreams and in turn their attempts to take on the Uranium Corporation India Limited and the entire Indian nuclear establishment.


7. Fundamentalism - 15 January, Saturday


                    - In the name of God - IN THE NAME OF

GOD focuses on the campaign waged by the militant Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP - Hindu fundamentalist group) to destroy a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya said to have been built by Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of India. The VHP claim the mosque was built at the birthsite of the Hindu god Ram after Babar razed an existing Ram temple. They are determined to build a new temple to Ram on the same site. This controversial issue has led to a series of religious riots and finally culminated in the mosque's destruction in December of 1992. The resulting religious violence immediately spread throughout India and Pakistan leaving more than 5,000 dead, and causing thousands of Indian Muslims to flee their homes. Filmed prior to the mosque's demolition, this film examines the motivations which would ultimately lead to the drastic actions of the Hindu militants, as well as the efforts of secular Indians - many of whom are Hindus - to combat the religious intolerance and hatred that has seized India in the name of God.


                      - Gujarat, A Laboratory of Hindu

Rashtra- Set in the fundamentalist violence unleashed in Gujarat from February 2002 on, this film documents the lives of people in about 14 villages in Anand District, Gujarat, in which the homes and businesses of the Muslims were burnt down, looted, and destroyed. In some of the villages such as Dharmaj, Siswa, Mogri, the Muslims who had been living there for decades have not been allowed to come back. Through interviews with VHP (Hindu fundamentalist group) leaders as well as with ordinary people in Gujarat, the film examines the reasons why Gujarat was a fertile ground for fascism.


                     - Passengers - Months after the

carnage, people still struggle to find their lives again.


Indian classical / rap and fusion music performances follow film screenings and discussions.


www.rampart.omxtra.net


o o o o


The Hindu Jan 10, 2005


Threat to disrupt Asian film festival


By Hasan Suroor


LONDON, JAN. 9. Organisers of a documentary film festival to be held in London next week to raise funds for the tsunami victims have alleged receiving threats from right-wing Hindu groups which have objected to some of the films saying that they represent only one viewpoint.

The incident comes two weeks after Sikh protesters stormed a theatre in Birmingham forcing it to abandon a play, "Behzti," which depicted sexual abuse in a gurdwara.

A spokesperson for the organisers of the film festival - a group of Asian and British youths - told The Hindu they had been receiving abusive calls and threats to disrupt the festival if it was not cancelled.

"On Thursday, ten young men landed up at our centre in east London and threatened us saying we were projecting only one viewpoint and that there was no such thing as Hindu fundamentalism. They had a list of seven films to which they objected. These included Anand Patwardhan's "In the Name of God" on the demolition of the Babri Masjid and Suma Jasson's film on the Gujarat violence," the spokesperson said. She did not know if they belonged to an organised group or were acting on their own.

Ten films on controversies ranging from religious fundamentalism and caste and gender issues to "resistance" movements among tribals are to be shown at a week-long festival which will also discuss contemporary political themes. "We are an independent multi-racial group and have no agenda," the spokesperson said, emphasising that it comprised youth from all communities.

The organisers said they were in touch with the police and planned to go ahead with the programme. On Saturday, they received support from the South Asia Solidarity Group - an umbrella organisation of Asian rights activists - which called the alleged threats "appalling."

"These organisations are planning to attempt to stop the festival taking place and we therefore would urge you to show your support for the festival by attending, particularly on the opening night," it said in a statement.


trouble free opening night for threatend film fest

The first night of the indian activist film festival at the rampART went ahead without hitch and no show from the rightwing Hindu groups that have been trying to get the festival canceled. Over one hundred people turned up but there was no indication that any dissenting Hindus were present. The was a great deal of media attention during the day from Channel 4, BBC Asian Network and many papers, all seemingly finding a story in comparing the resent attacks on the theatre in Birmingham. Many people have been offering to be on call to come down if there is any trouble during the rest of the week and yet another alterative venue offered. Aditionally it looks like quite a few further screenings elsewhere in the country will be spawned from this one.

Despite the no show, it appears the UK VHP have been busy during the day making statements to the press...

VHP on Behzti warpath in UK RASHMEE Z AHMED

INDIA IMES TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2005

LONDON: Hindu activists in the UK have threatened to copy last month's violent Sikh protests in Birmingham against an allegedly blasphemous play, in an attempt to scupper the screening of films that badmouth Hindu organisations like VHP and RSS.

The films, which include Ram ke Naam and Gujarat, a Laboratory of Hindu Rashtra, have previously been screened in London but have now prompted fears that groups representing the UK's estimated one-million Hindus will find it hard to collect the millions of pounds they plan to raise for the Tsunami rehabilitation effort.

The films are to be screened as part of a six-day ‘Indian film festival', starting Monday, by RampART, a loose collective of artistes and activists here, to raise money for Tsunami victims and "create spaces for debate and discussion on casteism, adivasi rights and communalism."

But on Monday, Hasmukh Shah of VHP (UK) said, the films' screening was part of a long campaign by "habitual false allegators (sic) to spread habitual false allegations about Hindus."

Shah said the Sikh protests in Birmingham, which forced closure of a play, Behzti, set in a gurdwara, were "very encouraging and showed us that Hindus should not always be docile, should not always turn the other cheek."

Friday, January 14, 2005 This post is offensive to Christians


Before starting this column, readers should be warned that it contains explicit language throughout. In fact, this 820-word column features the word "fuck" 46,000 times - according to calculations done by evangelical Christians.

The editor would like to issue a second warning to really stupid Christians. Evangelical Christians especially, please be aware that the following column features the word "God" a mere seven words away from the word "evolution".

The protests that surrounded the broadcast of Jerry Springer: the opera on BBC2 on Saturday 8 January left me heartened, for I truly hate evangelical Christians and it is great to see them as the bastards they are.

Their upset at the portrayal of Jesus (a man they believe to be alive 2,000 years after his death) as "a bit gay" is more homophobic than the musical is sacrilegious. And this is in spite of the evidence of their own book, which gives no record of Jesus having a relationship with a woman (other than his virgin mum) and portrays him hanging around with 12 men and being arrested for kissing a bloke in a public park. Smell the coffee, Christians. You are worshipping a man who, if he were alive, would prefer show tunes to hymns and call his disciples "girlfriends".


It seems supremely reasonable to me that Jesus should appear on TV; unlike the BBC, I think it should be on daytime TV. The Bible is littered with dysfunctional families portrayed as role models that at best should feature on Trisha and at worst be sectioned.

One generation into the Creation and Eve is expelled from Eden for the crime of discovering knowledge; then her son kills his brother in a fit of spiritual sibling rivalry. Abraham, the father of not one but three religions, is prepared to kill his own son because God's voice told him to do it - still a popular excuse for serial killers of all religious persuasions today. And Lot, the man whom God saves from the destruction of Sodom, ends up being raped by his twin daughters. This isn't a religious text, this is Brookside!

However, despite all of this, I would like to thank the evangelical Christian Voice, which orchestrated the protests. Thank you as well to those Christians who issued threats to BBC personnel and their families in the name of Jesus - even though their understanding of irony is as advanced as their understanding of the faith they purport to have.

Thank you all for providing a timely reminder of what will happen should Charles Clarke choose to finish off the work proposed by his predecessor at the Home Office and introduce a law criminalising religious hatred. Far from fighting racism, Clarke would be handing bigotry a legal cosh.

Christianity is woven into the fabric of our culture. The very first line of the national anthem asks a deity that doesn't exist to save an institution that shouldn't. By and large our births, marriages, deaths and holidays are Christian.

Yet Christian Voice claims that Christians are being picked on. "They wouldn't do it to the Hindus or the Muslims," cry the evangelical Little Englanders, missing the point that a satire on the morality of US or UK television would hardly work by using Hinduism. If the Church of England was once "the Tory party at prayer", Christian Voice is the UK Independence Party with a tambourine.

Meanwhile, in Whitechapel, another act of censorship was trying to play itself out. The squatted art centre rampART is running an Indian film festival, which it planned at open meetings with Indian film-makers and anyone else who could be bothered to turn up and help out.

The festival opened on 10 January with the documentary Ayodhya to Varanasi: prayers for peace. More than 100 people crammed into the small studio to see it.

The film looked at the far-right Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its attempts to mobilise anti-Muslim feeling in Uttar Pradesh, using religion as a cover. It has particular resonance for those who care to recall the genocide in Gujarat just a few years ago.

However, the festival has attracted the displeasure of some far-right Indians, who phoned the organisers and threatened to "firebomb your place, rape your mother and kill you". The rampART website discussion forum has been inundated with threats of retribution from people who claim that the festival is anti-Hindu.

Campaigning associations such as the South Asia Solidarity Group are quite clear that this is an act of political censorship, masked as religious and anti-racist protest. It is, they say, the far-right supporters of the BJP (India's former ruling party) and supporters of the VHP that are using the mask of religious protest for a political purpose - which is to establish a Hindu India, expel Muslims and preserve the caste system.

So no racist agenda there, then.


Art or Craft? – Marketing Violence against Hindus


It has recently come to our attention that a center in East London, Whitechapel, London is hosting an “Indian film festival” from the week starting Sunday 10 January 2005. A perusal of the list of films to be showcased however shows that this is yet another exhibition of anti-Hindu propaganda aimed at showing Hinduism as some kind of foreign colonial ideology in India and Hindus as oppressors of other religious groups. We urge all Hindus to attend the festival and where possible to lodge an appropriate complaint with the centre. We also urge the centre to afford the same resources to Hindu film and documentary makers to outline the many genocides and persecutions Hindu society faces today. We would also like this opportunity to provide a more detailed account and background to our position in this debate.

In a multi-racial, multi-religious, globalised village, the expectations upon any citizen is to promote peace and harmony. Hindu Human Rights group (HHR) actively and passionately stands behind this principle. However, if art is closely equated as means of access to truth, the so-called liberals and leftists have turned to using art into a craft of besmirching Hindus and Hinduism.

In the political realm, Leftists and Liberals generally view Hindus and Hinduism as deserving of attack and denigration for any number of alleged practices and social evils, depending on which particular cause that has become the latest fashion. They shout down as “aggressive” or “fundamentalist” any sign of assertiveness on the part of rank-and-file Hindus. Meanwhile the Rightists view us as “The Hindoo”, the dark-skinned “Other”, idol-worshipers and followers of allegedly superstitious practices – as if this makes us primitive and inferior, therefore deserving of conversion, conquer ring and cleansing by any means as they have done to other Pagans. To be assertive of our Hinduness is perceived by the Rightist as a threat to his worldview and way of life – deserving to be put in our place by covert and overt intimidation or even repatriation. Left or Right, both are open ill-wishers to the Hindus.


Art in proper visual form has always had the power to heal and sooth the soul. Of course, Hinduism has always recognized this and contains a wealth of artistic works and styles. It would be difficult for us to do justice to this artistic heritage but we certainly honour it and have no qualms in stating that we, Hindu Human Rights, are pro-Art and give all due respect to this important aspect of human existence and endeavour. However, as with all powerful forces, Art can also be harnessed for more malicious purposes.


Perhaps, artists should identify themselves, as just artists and not as journalists, not as "documentarians," nor as propagandists. Art, as much as activism, is about articulating visions: the discovery of one’s own voice through innovations that are inextricably linked with tradition and culture. There is nothing inherently mystical or romantic about this process: we locate ourselves in sympathetic social scenes, articulate our ideas among ourselves, and then (hopefully) test and refine these ideas in the world of actual practice to bring in peace and harmony by sharing ennobling ideas and elevated thoughts.


However, if art is used a vehicle for ideology, a tool for the construction of consensus and hence of a community peppered with "anti-a-particular-community-feeling", it can become an activist documentary and a marketing tool to arouse violent passions in a naive and malleable audience (sometimes called “brainwashing”). Hence, the audience then becomes an unwitting pawn in supporting an unspoken, but identifiable, agenda of such activists. Activist documentary, the overwhelmingly dominant mode in socially-committed video today, has a troubling tendency first to proceed to produce documentaries which propagate these unexamined values and then overlook the insidious consequences in society.


History has witnessed numerous genocides which have been preceded by the denigration of the victims often portraying them as irrational, immoral, lacking a legitimate religion, lacking in compassion towards others and thereby not deserving of the same human rights extended to other people. Hindu Human Rights is acutely aware of the abuse of such practices and painfully cognizant of its consequences (please visit our website http://www.hinduhumanrights.org for more details). Demonising a culture and community is the first step towards a successful genocide, as we have witnessed in the cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jammu and Kashmir, etc.


Thus, Hindu Human Rights steadfastly criticizes the film festival organizers for peddling propaganda and parading it as a contribution to multiculturalism by hosting highly questionable documentaries which construct misrepresentations and distortions of certain communities (Hindus being the main targets in this area). The same deliberately one sided “films of lies” are being used as a marketing tool by self-parading, self-appointed “liberals”, and is overtly insensitive as it promotes and justifies violence against and negative stereotypes of Hindus and Hinduism. Less noticeably, but just as importantly, it also creates exactly the apathetic and indifferent attitudes necessary in the West to allow Western governments to ignore and negate huge massacres of Hindus. Indeed, as Hindus, we are deeply aware of the richness of Art in our traditions and yet this never seems to be portrayed accurately to Western audiences. When Hindu spiritual ideas are used, it is done either without credit or in an offensive or insensitive manner displaying the wide ignorance that exists. Thus it is highly unfortunate and tragic that ordinary people in the West do not get the opportunity to experience and understand to richness of Hinduism in an appropriate context (a prime example being the popularity of physical yoga exercises and the corresponding ignorance of the other 98% of yogic spiritual teachings).

This genre of films and “documentaries” are generally first thought up by Indians with Hindu sounding names but anti-Hindu agendas (the products of secular western based schooling system with the finishing touches of Marxism and Leftism). Such people, full of self loathing and hatred of their Hindu spiritual and cultural heritage, realistically anticipate financial and intellectual support from their Western counterparts. The latter’s appetite for more and more bizarre and contentious analyses (reticent and hesitant to scrutinize more deadly and dangerous scenarios) is fed by such propaganda against what is viewed as an easier target to vilify without any fear of retaliation – Hinduism and Hindu culture. Furthermore it ensures that their Indian colleagues are supported by fat salaries and huge grants so as to enable them to serve up such distasteful and, even worse, such dangerous fare. The naive audience in the West will swallow the negative images and the ideas perpetuated by the disputed documentaries without being made aware of India’s wounded history of Imperialistic and Colonial invasions and misrule.

It is ironic that as these Leftists and Liberals here in the West encourage, fund and provoke films/documentaries which seek to attack and destroy Hinduism, Hindus and Hindu culture while at the same time the same society enjoys benefits such as meditation, yoga, Ayurvedic medicine, Hindu cuisine, Chakra/Tantra philosophy, Environmentalism, vegetarianism, Art, Dance, Music, architecture, to name but a few of the cultural treasures of Hinduism. It would not surprise us either to discover that such people who fund, promote and screen such anti-Hindu propaganda also claim to be staunch defenders of the rights of endangered and persecuted peoples. Rightists of course are just as happy with this maligning of Hindus since it fits their agenda of showing their own cultural and racial superiority and provides support to their objective of intervention in these “unfortunate” societies, even if it means using war.

Hindus and Hindu civilization has endured horrendous genocide and enslavement. Hindus have seen their culture and social fabric, educational system and economy denigrated and brought to the verge of destruction. Other mighty civilizations have significantly failed to survive such brutal depredations – their true culture and traditions a very dim and distant memory. In contrast, Hindus have survived and their spiritual and cultural heritage, although wounded, survives in every part of the globe to this day. However the defence of Hindu society, Hindu civilization, Hindu culture and Hinduism does not figure in the consciousness of these Westerners which instead seems to have the destruction of Hinduism and Hindus at their very epicentre. Will they not be satisfied until all of Hinduism that is priceless, energising and life giving has been hacked from its very land and home and its Hindu peoples reduced to a few hundred? Will they then feel less threatened and more able to champion the Hindu cause as an endangered people? Will they begin to write about the fantastic achievements and contributions of Hindu civilisation from the comfort of the Museum or while on safari in the reservation, having succeeded in destroying the Hindu society which nourished and preserved this sacred tradition?

As assertive Hindus, challenging the current distortions that pass for independent and impartial consideration of our culture, norms, practices and values we neither belong to the Left nor the Right – instead we are struggling to have an authentic Hindu voice heard in the world arena. Whenever such one-sidedly anti-Hindu festivals about India are screened in the West we appeal to both Hindus and non-Hindus sympathetic to Hinduism to attend and to raise their voices in a challenge to the prevailing stereotypes inimical to Hinduism peddled in the global forum. We urge people to raise their voices in protest against those willing to hijack Art to pursue their own political agenda. Above all, we ask for a sense of balance in all such festivals and events. Otherwise the millions of Hindus who have lost their lives, the millions of Hindu women and girls abducted and rape, their suffering … will not only be forgotten, but will persist into many future generations.

Hindu Human Rights, Serving Hindus Worldwide.