UN human rights expert aghast at killings of farmers in Okara Pakistan

In a statement released on Monday in Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, said she was “aghast at the planned and deliberate killings.”The Special Rapporteur voiced regret that the Rangers, who are directly controlled by the army, deliberately used indiscriminate force. She cited “credible reports” that the injured peasants were chained to hospital beds and charged with terrorism.Ms. Jahangir warned the international community that “misuse of punishing marginalized sections of society in the name of terror will marginalize the prevailing war on terrorism itself.” She said she was “fearful for the lives of hundreds of peasants living on army-controlled lands who are being threatened and harassed by the Rangers in Pakistan” and called upon the Government to hold an impartial and independent inquiry into the incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Government was also urged to ensure that the Rangers do not carry out further violence, and that peasants are not harassed and intimidated through illegal means.According to the statement, the tenants had been tilling the farm for generations dating back nearly a hundred years. The Special Rapporteur received reports that the electricity of the farms was disconnected to punish the tenants, but when the farmers refused to negotiate with the authorities under pressure, the Rangers deliberately opened fire on the crowd, including women and children. The act, she said, “was malicious since the Government had publicly announced ownership rights to the landless farmers, who have been sitting on government lands for decades.”In a similar situation in Khanaewal, Pakistan, the Rangers have been threatening the farmers with violence, and on another previous occasion the Rangers killed one person, according to the statement. read more

Jaffa Road brings worldly sounds to Centre for the Arts

Jaffa Road performs at the Centre for the Arts on April 2.Sales of Jaffa Road CDs at last summer’s California WorldFest told Aaron Lightstone two things.First, Californians still buy a lot of CDs in this day of digital downloads. The band sold more albums in the Golden State after their brief visit than at any show in their home base of Toronto.Second, something about the band’s innovative inter-cultural sound that blends Jewish, Arabic and Indian music with jazz, rock and dub strikes a chord with audiences anywhere.“Something resonates and people like it,” said Lightstone, founding Jaffa Road member.That something is the limpid and entrancing vocals of Aviva Chernick against the layers of exotic sounds turned out by Lightstone, who handles the oud, guitar and synthesizer, and fellow band mates Chris Gartner, Jeffrey Wilson and Sundar Viswanathan.Other world music groups have strived for that same seamless sound to no avail while Jaffa Road, named for the storied artery that traverses Jerusalem, has made it work. They have the ever-growing fan base, regular rotation on CBC Radio, and, of course, the Juno Award for World Music Album and Canadian Folk Music Award for World Music Group to prove it.“There can be a danger of too many disparate parts that come together and sound really contrived,” explained Lightstone, whose father is a cousin of Brock University President Jack Lightstone.“Our music works because it happens in a natural way. As individual musicians, each person has a diverse musical power in what we studied. It comes together – we want to play together and make something that sounds good to us.”What results is a brilliant balance of the foreign and the familiar that also sounds good to those who turn up at Jaffa Road shows – and leave with a CD.Niagarans will be able to hear the band’s perfect mix when it visits the Centre for the Arts for the first time on Thursday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. There will be “all of our favourite tunes from our record player,” improvisation, and “a lot of textures” as Jaffa Road continues to promote its acclaimed sophomore effort, Where the Light Gets In.While Lightstone hopes to see many fans in the audience, he’s eager to host as many Centre for the Arts members, not yet familiar with the band. He wants to take them on that same musical journey that has convinced so many others of the group’s ability to harmonize traditional Eastern and contemporary Western sounds without being alien or alienating.“With our music particularly, I think of foreign sounds that, to the Western ear, sound interesting and exotic, but because we’re not playing it in the pure way – there’s rock and pop elements as well – there’s something familiar to it,” Lightstone said. “It’s not completely outside of people’s comfort zones.”Audience members will be seated on stage with the artists for a truly unique live experience. Limited seating available.Tickets range from $5 to $36 and HOT TICKET members are invited to bring friends for FREE. For tickets and more information please visit the Box Office in Thistle, call extension 3257 or visit www.Arts.BrockU.ca read more