09-27-2020  4:09 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Trimet Take the Survey
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4


Portland Braces as Right-Wing Extremists Rally

Gov. Kate Brown warned violence would not be tolerated as right wing extremists converge on Portland "looking for a fight"

A Reminder: Delta Park is Vanport

As extreme right-wing, white supremacist groups prepare to converge on Portland tomorrow, here is a reminder of the historical significance of the place they plan to overrun and the stories of the people that lived there.

Wildfires Taint West Coast Vineyards With Taste of Smoke

No one knows the extent of the smoke damage to the crop, and growers are trying to assess the severity.

Black Lives Matters Protestors, Organizers Keep Up Momentum

Hazardous air quality stopped protests for a week, interrupted the more-than-100 nights of demonstrations.


Blumenauer Statement on Planned White Supremacist Rally in Portland

“These are evil people looking for a fight and national media attention. Let’s not give them what they want." ...

Wish Launches $2 Million Fund To Support Black-owned Businesses

The Wish Local Empowerment Program is set to impact more than 4,000 small businesses across the US ...

Black Leaders Endorse Sarah Iannarone for Portland Mayor

Iannarone seeks to unseat an embattled Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has increasingly high unfavorable approval ratings. ...

Today in History: Senate Confirms Nomination of First Female Justice to Supreme Court

On Sept. 21, 1981, the Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice on the...

Free Masks and Gloves Now Available for Small Businesses

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees that are headquartered in Oregon with principal operations in Oregon are eligible. ...

Arrests in Portland protest follow fairly calm rally

PORTLAND (AP) — Several people in Portland, Oregon, were arrested in anti-police brutality protests that continued into early Sunday, hours after demonstrations ended with few reports of violence.The protests that began Saturday night were declared an unlawful assembly and police began...

Portland, Oregon, largely peaceful after right-wing rally

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police say a right-wing rally and counter-protests in Portland, Oregon, have largely dispersed without serious violence Saturday, though they are investigating an assault after one person who was documenting the event was pushed to the ground and kicked in the...

No. 2 Crimson Tide rolls on offense to 38-19 win over Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Nick Saban has never lost a season opener while coaching Alabama.Then again, he'd never had one like this.Yet despite an offseason largely scrapped by the coronavirus pandemic, and a delayed start to the season, Saban's second-ranked Crimson Tide looked just fine as they...

No. 2 Alabama visits Missouri to begin SEC-only campaign

No. 2 Alabama at Missouri, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN).Line: Alabama by 27 1/2.Series record: Alabama leads 4-2.WHAT’S AT STAKE?The second-ranked Crimson Tide will go for their fifth straight win over Missouri when the teams open their SEC-only schedule at Faurot Field. The Tigers will be...


When Black Women's Lives Matter All Lives Will Matter

Brazen disregard for the lives and safety of Black women goes back over 400 years in U.S. history with the definition of Black women’s bodies as property at the complete disposal of white slave-owners ...

Sarah Iannarone Demands Action from Mayor Regarding Planned Right-Wing Demonstrations; Opens Safe Space for Portlanders

BIPOC, Queer, and other marginalized Portlanders will bear the brunt of these attacks simply because of their identity or the color of their skin. ...

National Bar Association Statement on Breonna Taylor Decision

Not only was justice not served, the desultory and insufficient result we received today was also unacceptably slow in manifesting. ...

All Officers Responsible for Breonna Taylor’s Murder Must Be Held Accountable

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued a statement in response to the grand jury’s findings regarding the police who murdered Breonna Taylor ...


Organizer arrested after driving car into California protest

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An organizer of a Southern California demonstration against racism was in jail Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder after authorities say she drove through a crowd and struck two counterprotesters. Tatiana Turner, 40, was arrested Saturday in Yorba Linda after speeding...

Minnesota mayor disputes harassment of COVID-19 survey team

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mayor of a southern Minnesota city is disputing state health department claims that a COVID-19 survey team was threatened there earlier this month.State health officials on Friday reported cases of health workers being subjected to hostility — including racial...

Insider Q&A: Accenture directs capital to Black start-ups

NEW YORK (AP) — Kathryn Ross was one of just two Black women in Accenture's Miami office when she first joined the global consulting firm nearly 27 years ago. Now a managing partner, Ross was tapped in December to create the inclusion and diversity agenda for Accenture's venture capital...


Q&A: Underwood on holiday album and her little drummer boy

NEW YORK (AP) — The Grammy Award for cutest collaboration of the year goes to Carrie Underwood and her 5-year-old son Isaiah.He’s the little singing boy providing the adorable vocals on “Little Drummer Boy,” one of the 11 tracks on the country superstar’s new...

Billie Lourd introduces newborn son in surprise announcement

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actress Billie Lourd has announced the birth of her son.Lourd announced on her social media Friday that she and her fiance, Austen Rydell, welcomed their newborn son into the world. She is the daughter of the late Carrie Fisher, who died in 2016 at the age of 60 following...

'Beginning' triumphs at San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain

SAN SEBASTIÁN, Spain (AP) — Georgian writer-director Dea Kulumbegashvili’s first feature film “Beginning” triumphed at Spain’s San Sebastian International Film Festival, scooping up four of its top prizes including best film and best director. The story about...


Barrett could be Ginsburg's polar opposite on Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amy Coney Barrett paid homage to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her White House speech...

Nearly a year after sudden exit, Shepard Smith returns to TV

NEW YORK (AP) — Two weeks shy of a year after abruptly quitting Fox News Channel with a declaration that...

Appellate court halts Wisconsin ballot-counting extension

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting...

Fighting erupts between Armenia, Azerbaijan; 18 killed

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has erupted again over the...

Greek police arrest 3 human traffickers, free 7 captives

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Greek police said Sunday they have arrested three men of Pakistani origin for...

North Korea accuses South of intrusion to find dead official

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea accused South Korea of sending ships across the disputed sea boundary...

Don't Call the Police for domestic disturbances
Trimet Take the Survey
Sandip Roy New America Media

BONGAIGAON, Assam --  When I ask for directions to the refugee camp at the military checkpost, the man in uniform is bemused.

"Which camp?" he says. "There are so many." When I tell him it's in a high school, he shrugs. That does not narrow down the search much at all.

Amidst the sun-dappled bamboo groves and waterlogged paddy fields of southern Assam, in the districts like Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Chirang, many schools are now closed because they shelter the victims of July's violence that have left over 400,000 homeless and at least 60 dead according to official estimates. Long simmering tensions between the Bodo tribals (a diverse ethnic community who reportedly settled in Assam and Nepal)  and their Muslim neighbors erupted into tit-for-tat violence. Entire villages were torched and thousands fled their homes in terror while the government seemed to be paralyzed. While the rest of the world was focused on India's power outage, the north east of the country was grappling with a different kind of darkness.

The rice is still on fire

The stories both sides have to tell are mirror images of each other.

Jizali Boro has just come back from her Bodo village of Bamungaon. Sitting in the Debargaon High School refugee camp she says there's nothing to go back to. "There is no house, no television, no cows, no fan, no cycle. The temple is destroyed. Even the latrine is broken. They have cut down the tamul trees. It is all ashes now." Deuki Narjari says even her pig is gone. "They don't eat pig, why did they take my pig?" she asks.

An hour's journey away, at the Nankargaon High School relief camp, Musa Ali says he cannot even think about going back home now. The villages exist cheek by jowl with Bodo villages. Some are encircled by Bodo homes. Some have a main road that passes through Bodo areas. Ali's younger brother Rahim Ali went back a couple of days ago to water the rice fields. "Even the taps had been ripped out and taken away," he says. "Dhaan ekhono jwolchhey (The unhusked rice is still on fire)," he says. Empty houses are still going up in flames – a warning to those who want to return home.

Now they all live in relief camps on government rations of 600 grams of rice, 100 grams of lentils, and 30 grams of salt and whatever else wellwishers donate. The families have to scrounge for firewood to cook on and beg and borrow pots to cook in.

The burning issue

But each side has a different take about the cause for the conflagration and therein lies a messy story of politics and immigration. The issue of migration has been burning in Assam since the 1970s. It led to a huge massacre in 1983 where almost 2,000 Muslims were killed.

This area has seen waves of violence before as the Bodos fought to carve out their own state of Bodoland in the nineties. Even now in cities like Kokrajhar walls are covered with graffiti that vow "No Bodoland, No Rest." In 2003 the Bodos settled for the creation of semi-autonomous region under the Bodo Territorial Council. But they fear that Muslims will overwhelm them by sheer numbers. Districts here have seen much higher decadal population growth compared to other parts of India. "We feel suffocated because of these illegal immigrants," says Pramod Boro, head of the All Bodo Students Union. "They burst crackers when Pakistan wins in cricket." The Bodos want to make sure only genuine Indian citizens are allowed to go back to their villages. They are already crying foul, saying Muslim leaders are inflating the number of refugees in the camps.

Many of the Muslims came over from Bangladesh after the 1971 war that created that country, though some have been here much longer. But many are much more recent arrivals. "I used to know all the Muslim families in the village. We would eat off the same plate," says one 76-year old Rajbongshi tribal. "Now I see many new faces." The ruling Congress party helped the Muslims get papers and they became a solid vote bank. Muslim leaders accuse the Bodos of ethnic cleansing and the government of standing by idly. "Our houses burned in front of (Assam police)," says Mohammad Amir Hussain from Nalbari village. "We called the police officers again and again. They said they were coming but no one came until it was all ashes." They claim they are the real victims and the Bodos camps are just for show. Muslim leaders want the whole autonomy agreement scrapped and they have tried to rally all non-Bodo minorities into an organization to do just that.

Fishing in troubled waters

There is also no shortage of outsiders who want to fish in these troubled waters. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad's leaders say Bangladeshis are trying to make Assam "a Muslim country" and all "Hindus should unite with Bodos to fight against this invasion." The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat quotes a politician as saying "it is a sin to be born Muslim in Assam."

The reality, as always, is far more complicated and tangled. There are many groups here – Bodo, Rajbongshi, Munda Adivasi, Santhals, Muslims – each with its own underground militia. The area is awash in arms and an epidemic of extortion and kidnappings predates this current flare-up. India's tribal people complain they got a raw deal from the government, that outsiders muscle in and buy up their land. New Delhi has long treated the entire north-east as a step child who needed to just shut up and keep providing oil and tea for the rest of the country.

Assam's chief minister, caught flat-footed by the crisis, is trying to take charge. He has transferred top police officials from the worst hit districts. He wants the refugees to go home by August 15, India's independence day. But the refugee camps are not the problem. They are just festering reminders of the much more intractable problem – the fight over land and political power.

Five goats, two pigs and 12 cows

After the third refugee camp, the journalist in me feels already dulled by the litany of suffering, impatient at the sameness of the accounts, each laundry list of loss blurring into the next. Cows lost. Goats killed. Houses burned. Crops torched. Each camp seems to have spokesmen who had been schooled in well-rehearsed talking points whether it is about scrapping Bodo autonomy or sealing the border.

As I turn to leave one camp, a woman who has let the men do the talking until then, timidly touches my elbow. "Won't you write down my story, brother?" she says. "I am from Nithuriabari. You have not written about Nithuriabari."

Her story is really no different from the others. But she tells it with urgency and hope as if by scribbling it down I can right some great wrong. She tells me the story because it is all she has. And I write it down dutifully as if Fatima Bibi's five missing goats, Sanzeeta Basumathari's two missing pigs and Iman Ali's twelve lost cows can add up to something that will explain the scope of the tragedy that engulfs Assam.

How green was my village

On my last day I chance upon a gutted village. There is a burned twisted bicycle lying on its side, next to a blackened pump. The ground is charred and the banana trees are dying. Posts stick out of the ground, the tin roofs stolen by looters. All around the scorched skeleton of this little village the landscape is still idyllic – white storks land daintily on rolling green paddy fields, monsoon clouds gather in the distant horizon, a goat bleats and birds chirp.

But there is no sound of human life. Next to the village that has been razed, there's another village that is intact, its thatched houses unscathed. But it's a ghost village, empty and silent, its residents sheltering in a relief camp somewhere. A mongrel dog stands at the gate and looks at us, perhaps in warning or perhaps hoping for some food.

I try and guess which community this burned village belonged to based on the demographics of the area and the little experience I have garnered in a few days of reporting. But when I ask the army man sitting in lonely vigil down the road I find out I guessed wrong. 

When you burn a village to the ground and ransack it down to the stumps, there's not much left to tell a Bodo village from a Muslim one.

This piece is adapted from a series of articles by Sandip Roy that first appeared on Firstpost.com

OR Lottery OPG 2020
AARP Vote 2020

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Oregon DHS Food