The following reply has been sent by me to a query from a reader of my articles on the Plea Bargain entered into by the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation with David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba:
MY REPLY TO THE READER
Attaching for perusal is an article written by me on victim activism in 2005.
Step 1: Persuade members of the Indian community in the US to E-mail petition their Congressmen on the plea bargain.
Step 2: Mark copes of all petitions to the court and the Chicago office of the FBI.
Step 3: Contact your Jewish friends in the US and ask them to petition their Congressmen.
Step 4. Contact the relatives of those killed in India and ask them to petition the Congressmen, the court, the FBI and Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram.
Step 5. Ask the relatives of those killed to start a campaign against the Indian Government for mishandling the issue.
Let us see how it works. Too early to talk in terms of hiring lawyers etc. Keep up the momentum. Start a similar, but separate campaign against the Government of India on its failure to act against Pakistan. There have to be two parallel campaigns----one on the issue of the plea bargain and the other on the question of inaction against Pakistan.
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
ANNEXURE ( My article of April 9,2005)
MADRID IMPRESSIONS--III: Terrorism Victim Activism http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers14/paper1331.html
The most important part of the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security held at Madrid from March 8 to 11, 2005, was the Panel discussion on the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, the keynote address of Mr.Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, to the plenary on March 10, in which his main focus was on the follow-up action on the recommendations of the High-Level Panel and the reflection of the main recommendations arising from this in the Madrid Agenda issued on March 11 by the Club of Madrid.
2. The most important points arising from these deliberations were:
The convergence of views that terrorism is an absolute evil for which there can be no excuse or justification.
While acting against terrorism, the States should ensure that counter-terrorism itself does not become the root cause of aggravated terrorism.
The moral responsibility of the international community to ensure that justic is done to the relatives of the fatal victims and injured survivors of terrorist attacks --- legally by bringing the terrorists responsible to justice and morally and financially by providing for their humanitarian relief and reparation out of the funds seized from the terrorists and their organisations and through other means. This aspect of counter-terrorism has already received considerable attention in North America and West Europe, but not so far in India which has been the largest victim of terrorism, with thousands of civilian casualties, and other countries of Asia.
3. The phenomenon of victim-activism in terrorism-related cases has not yet made its appearance in India despite the fact that India has been a victim of state-sponsored terrorism since 1956 and was the target of two mass casualty acts of terrorism---the blowing-up of the Kanishka aircraft of Air India in June,1985, by the Babbar Khalsa of Canada and the serial explosions in Mumbai in March,1993 by the Dawood Ibrahim mafia group at the instance of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Three hundred and twenty-nine innocent civilians---the majority of them Canadian citizens of Indian origin and Indian citizens--were killed in the Kanishka explosion and 250 innocent civilians were killed in the Mumbai blasts.
4. We have not been able to successfully bring to justice the perpetrators of these acts of terrorism. In the case of the Kanishka investigation it was due to the inordinate delay in the investigation by the Canadian authorities. In the case of the Mumbai explosions, Dawood Ibrahim himself and some of the other key perpetrators have been given shelter in Pakistan by the ISI. Islamabad continues to deny their presence in Pakistani territory. Similar has been the case relating to the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar in December,1999. The terrorists involved have been protected by Pakistan.
5. We have not bothered about the welfare of the relatives of those killed in the terrorist incidents of the past. Nor have we done anything for those who survived these attacks. We have not been active in the case of the relatives of the Indian citizens and persons of Indian origin killed due to the 9/11 terrorist strike in the New York World Trade Centre.
6. We have had many instances of victim and civil society activism in the case of communal riots---particularly if the victims happened to be from the religious minorities. Our activists do not care if the victims happen to be from the majority community. The position of the civilian victims of terrorism--whether they belong to the majority or the minority communities---has been worse.
7. Compare this with what victim-activism has done for the civilians who suffered due to the Pan Am Lockerbie explosion in 1988, the explosion on board a French aircraft over Africa shortly thereafter and the American victims of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. The relatives of those who died and the survivors got together, saw to it that the cases were investigated expeditiously and successfully, that Libya was made to pay compensation to the relatives for the explosions on board the two aircraft, that the 9/11 Commission was appointed, that it made a thorough investigation and that its recommendations were accepted and implemented. They have taken the Saudi Government to court for responsibility in connection with 9/11 in which the majority of the perpetrators were Saudi nationals. Victim and civil society activism has been playing an important role in Spain too in the wake of the terrorist strikes of March 11,2004.
8. The time has come for similar victim and civil society activism in India too. There are people in India such as Shri M.S.Bhitta, of the Congress (I), himself a survivor of a terrorist attempt to assassinate him in 1993, who have been trying to do something in this regard, but they hardly get much support either from the Government or the civil society. This indifference should end. India must take advantage of the suggestions emanating from Mr.Kofi Annan and the Club of Madrid in this regard, take the leadership role in having them implemented and ensure that the victims of terrorism in India receive their share of the benefit (reparations) as a result of the ideas outlined by Mr.Annan.
9. The UN Secretary-General's keynote address was preceded by a Panel discussion at which leading members of the UN High-Level Panel gave their perceptions of the recommendations of the UN Panel. The salient points were:
Mr.Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States: There is a need for an international conference led by the UN to discuss a new convention on terrorism. However, completing a 13th convention on terrorism, in addition to the dozen already in place, would be a difficult task.
Mr.Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand and Chairman of the UN Panel::When we discuss threats to international security we need to stress the interconnectedness of all of the issues involved, including poverty and arms proliferation. The UN has not made full use of its entire potential. New security challenges require it to adapt and evolve in order to confront these challenges.
Mr.Gareth Evans, Director of the International Crisis Group and former Australian Foreign Minister: The main component of the High-Level Panel's report is the negotiation of a comprehensive convention for the clear definition of terrorism that meets political and moral needs. The UN should create a normative framework for non-state use of force in order to exercise its moral authority. The key to creating this moral authority is to settle on a clear definition of terrorism, which can be found in the High-level Panel Report.
Lt.Gen. (Retd) Satish Nambiar, Director of the United Service Institution of India: It is important to distinguish between different types of terrorism. It is also important to understand that while the terrorist movements draw their foot soldiers from the poorer regions of the world, the leaders of the terrorist movements do not necessarily come from the under-privileged classes.
Mr.Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, USA (and not a High-level Panel member): He criticized the Panel’s definition of terrorism as it didn’t address the question of state terrorism. We must be conscious of human rights restraints when talking about counter-terrorism.. States, which are habitual violators of human rights, should be barred from membership of the UN Human Rights Commission.
Senator Robert Badinter of France: The only viable approach to terrorism is a global approach, which means addressing the root causes (poverty, dictatorship, and prejudice among them) within a legal framework. He called for an international convention that prohibits violence against civilians, making violations punishable by law.
10. While intervening in the discussions that followed, I made the following points:
The question of a commonly agreed definition of terrorism has become so politicised that it is doubtful whether such a definition would be forthcoming in the near future.
It would be much more easier for the UN member-States to agree on what constitutes acts of terrorism such as hijacking planes, causing explosions on board means of public transport, use of improvised explosive devices against civilians etc. The UN should identify such acts of terrorism and declare all organisations indulging in such acts as terrorist organisations and act against them.
There is a need for a new specialised agency of the UN to deal with international counter-terrorism. Neither the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) nor the Monitoring Committee of the UN Security Council set up to monitor the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1373 is competent to handle international counter-terrorism in all its dimensions.
I had already made these points during an interaction with some members of the High-level Panel organised by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies of New Delhi at New Delhi in July,2004. I had also sent the salient points of my testimony in writing to the Panel after the interaction.
11. The salient points in the keynote address of Mr.Kofi Annan were as follows:
Terrorism is a direct attack on the core values the United Nations stands for--- the rule of law; the protection of civilians; mutual respect between people of different faiths and cultures; and peaceful resolution of conflict. The United Nations must be at the forefront in fighting against it, and first of all in proclaiming, loud and clear, that terrorism can never be accepted or justified, in any cause whatsoever.
By the same token, the United Nations must continue to insist that, in the fight against terrorism, we cannot compromise on the core values. In particular, human rights and the rule of law must always be respected. Terrorism is in itself a direct attack on human rights and the rule of law. If we sacrifice them in our response, we are handing a victory to the terrorists.
There should be five elements in any global strategy to fight terrorism---first, to dissuade disaffected groups from choosing terrorism as a tactic to achieve their goals; second, to deny terrorists the means to carry out their attacks; third, to deter states from supporting terrorists; fourth, to develop state capacity to prevent terrorism; and fifth, to defend human rights in the struggle against terrorism.
Groups use terrorist tactics because they think those tactics are effective, and that people, or at least those in whose name they claim to act, will approve. Such beliefs are the true “root cause” of terrorism. Our job is to show unequivocally that they are wrong. We cannot, and need not, redress all the grievances that terrorists claim to be advancing. But we must convince all those who may be tempted to support terrorism that it is neither an acceptable nor an effective way to advance their cause. It should be clearly stated, by all possible moral and political authorities, that terrorism is unacceptable under any circumstances, and in any culture.
The time has come to complete a comprehensive convention outlawing terrorism in all its forms. For too long the moral authority of the United Nations in confronting terrorism has been weakened by the spectacle of protracted negotiations. But the report of the High-Level Panel offers us a way to end these arguments. We do not need to argue whether States can be guilty of terrorism, because deliberate use of armed force by States against civilians is already clearly prohibited under international law. As for the right to resist occupation, it must be understood in its true meaning. It cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians.
The Panel calls for a definition of terrorism which would make it clear that any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act. This proposal has clear moral force, and world leaders must unite behind it, with a view to adopting the comprehensive convention as soon as possible.
We must pay more attention to the victims of terrorism, and make sure their voices can be heard. Last October the Security Council, in its Resolution 1566, suggested an international fund to compensate victims and their families, to be financed in part from assets seized from terrorist organizations, their members and sponsors. This suggestion should be urgently followed up.
In the past the United Nations has not shrunk from confronting states that harbour and assist terrorists, and the Security Council has repeatedly applied sanctions. Indeed, it is largely thanks to such sanctions that several states which used to sponsor terrorists no longer do so. This firm line must be maintained and strengthened. All states must know that, if they give any kind of support to terrorists, the Council will not hesitate to use coercive measures against them.
International human rights experts, including those of the UN system, are unanimous in finding that many measures which States are currently adopting to counter terrorism infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it. One should, therefore, strongly endorse the recent proposal to create a special rapporteur who would report to the Commission on Human Rights on the compatibility of counter-terrorism measures with international human rights laws.
12. These points are reflected in the Madrid Agenda in the form of the following principles and recommendations:
"Terrorism is a crime against all humanity. We firmly reject any ideology that guides the actions of terrorists. We decisively condemn their
"We owe it to the victims to bring the terrorists to justice. Law enforcement agencies need the powers required, yet they must never sacrifice the principles they are dedicated to defend. Measures to counter terrorism should fully respect international standards of human rights and the rule of law."
"In the fight against terrorism, forceful measures are necessary. Military action, when needed, must always be coordinated with law enforcement and judicial measures as well as political, diplomatic, economic and social responses."
"Terrorism is now a global threat. . It calls for a global response. Governments and civil society must reignite their efforts at promoting international engagement, cooperation and dialogue."
"Political and philosophical differences about the nature of terrorism must not be used as an excuse for inaction. We support the Global Strategy for Fighting Terrorism announced by the Secretary General of the United Nations at the Madrid Summit on March 10. We urgently call for the adoption of the definition proposed by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change in December 2004;the ratification and implementation of all terrorism-related conventions by those states which have not yet done so;the speedy conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism."
"We believe it is a moral and practical necessity to address the needs of terrorist victims. We therefore recommend: the exploration of the possibility of creating high commissioners for victims both at the international and the national level, who will represent the victims’ right to know the truth, as well as obtain justice, adequate redress and integral reparation."
"The implementation of the proposal to create a special rapporteur who would report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the compatibility of counter-terrorism measures with human rights law, as endorsed by the United Nations Secretary General in Madrid."
13. The UN Secretary-General has already set in motion the process for the implementation of the recommendations of the High-Level Panel. This should be closely monitored by India, which should play an active role in this matter.
14. A major omission at the Summit was its failure to discuss and highlight the rights of States which are victims of State-sponsored terrorism emanating from another State. In the past, there were Resolutions of the UN General Assembly which had described such State-sponsored terrorism as amounting to "indirect aggression" against the victim State. Neither the High-Level Panel nor the Secretary-General have chosen to address this issue squarely.