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Letters

Protect the Girls!
Girls in The Gambia as young as four months old are blindfolded, pinned down, and forced to have their genitals cut off–and soon this horror could be completely legal. Gambian politicians want to reverse the country’s ban on female genital mutilation. FGM survivors are trying to save the ban and protect the girls who haven’t been cut yet. Those brave women are asking people to join the fight with a massive global outcry.

They never had a choice. Almost a million girls in The Gambia have been forced to have their clitoris cut off, and sometimes their vaginal opening sewn up. And they were warned that if they told, they’d be cut again.

The Gambia has banned this horror since 2015, but now politicians want to make cutting little girls legal again. And its men making the decision–91% of Gambian MPs are men.

Legal protections are massively important in stopping the horror. Just last August, three women were convicted in The Gambia for performing FGM. And this is why some politicians are trying so hard to kill the ban–they know it has a real impact.

Twenty percent of The Gambia’s economy is based on tourism and it is building its image as an emerging democracy. So the government is desperate to protect its positive international reputation.

Working with groups on the ground, Avaaz has a plan to show Gambian leaders that reversing the ban and making it legal to cut little girls would tank The Gambia’s international reputation and endanger its tourism revenue.
Nate, Huiting, Antonia and the whole Avaaz team

No Vote to BJP
Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India- Marxist-Leninist, UCCRI (ML), founded by Comrades DV Rao (1917-84) and T Nagi Reddy (1917-76), is fielding candidates for Loksabha elections in both Telugu states: in 11 constituencies in Telangana and four in Andhra Pradesh. In AP, having simultaneous elections to Assembly, UCCRI is having 12 candidates, polling day being May 13 for all seats.

–    Defeat the BJP and its allies which are pursuing reactionary internal and external policies!

–    Oppose the various other forces practising and supporting such reactionary policies!!

–    Support the Communist Revolutionaries who are fighting for land, democracy and independence!!!

The UCCRI (ML) will participate in the ensuing general elections to the 18th Lok Sabha and the AP Assembly with the above slogans.

The BJP is pursuing policies of plundering the people of the country to enrich the big business, pro-imperialist foreign capital and landlord classes. It is pursuing a reactionary foreign policy of serving the US super power in its drive for global hegemony, war and plunder while pursuing a policy of regional hegemony, expansionism and war in India’s neighbourhood and beyond.

The Congress claims to be the real Opposition to the reactionary BJP. But it has practised basically the same reactionary policies over decades of its rule at the Centre.

There are some parties like the TDP and Jana Sena who have allied with the BJP by joining the NDA. It is necessary to defeat them as they will only reinforce the reactionary rule of the BJP.

The BRS claims to represent an alternative to the BJP and the Congress. It speaks of its Telangana Model. But ten years of its rule has only enriched the big business, landlords and foreign capital.
Vinod,
Secretary, UCCRI(ML)

Campus Protests
[An Open Letter to President Shafik, Columbia University]

We are a group of scientists and academics based at universities across the world. We are writing to express our dismay at your decision to invite the New York Police Department to arrest pro-Palestinian protesters on your University’s campus.

These protesters were demonstrating against the brutal Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has now entered its seventh month. During this period, Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children. The International Court of Justice has found that Israel's campaign could plausibly amount to genocide. The international community has repeatedly called for Israel to halt this war; in December 2023, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution with an overwhelming majority calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. In spite of this, the United States has continued to bankroll this violence and has shielded Israel from diplomatic repercussions.

The US media has failed to accurately portray the horrific impact of the war on ordinary Palestinians, and this has allowed the US government to continue its indefensible policies. We applaud the protesters at Columbia and elsewhere in the United States for looking past this smokescreen. We commend their willingness to stand up to their own government in defence of Palestinian human rights and demand divestment from the military industrial complex in Israel. We are impressed by their efforts to build an inclusive coalition to peacefully advocate for these demands. Columbia should be proud of those members of its community who joined these protests. The protests at Columbia and other campuses are precisely the empathetic, informed and courageous actions that are required at the time of a crisis.

Even if Columbia's administration disagreed with the protesters, it was your responsibility to protect their rights to express their views. We understand that the protests were disruptive; however, this is the nature of protests, especially those concerning such serious issues. As Columbia University Professor Edward Said once wrote regarding his advocacy for Palestinian rights from inside the academy: ‘Our role is to widen the field of discussion, not to set limits in accord with the prevailing authority.’

Your actions have weakened democratic norms within the university and undermined the university's standing in the international academic community. We urge you to immediately revoke any disciplinary actions taken against the protesters and to take immediate steps to ensure that charges are dropped against those who were arrested.
Tarek Anous,
Queen Mary University of London
Philip Argyres,
University of Cincinnati
 Cyril Closset,
University of Birmingham
 Anne-Christine Davis,
Cambridge University
 Suvrat Raju, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and 9 others

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Frontier
Vol 56, No. 46, May 12 - 18, 2024