Posts Tagged ‘Government
For the People’s Right to say No to displacement and Tribal Genocide And to demandthe right to live with justice and peace
Raipur / Dantewada
1 December 2009
You are aware that the tribals of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh State are continuously facing large-scale displacement from their homes, fields and forests a well as a genocide in the last five years. The first aggressive onslaught was by the state sponsored vigilante group called the Salwa Judum. In the last five months, the people of this region are victims of a war called the Operation Green Hunt. Paramilitary troops along with the state armed police deployed in very large numbers by the Central and the state governments are carrying out operations against the tribals in the name of curbing Maoists and reclaiming territories from them.
In order to build public opinion and to support the tribal people in their demand to stop this displacement and genocide and to reclaim their right to live with justice and peace, several community based and people’s organisations, union and human rights groups from Chhattisgarh and outside are planning a series of activities in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.
This letter is being sent to you so that you can block the dates between 14 December 2009 and 7 January 2010 and come to Dantewada in support of tribal people. The list of events and dates are as follows:
Read the rest of this entry »
Sign the below Petition issued by AID
Dear Mr. Chidambaram, Hon’ble Home Minister of India
cc. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
cc. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi
We the undersigned are alarmed at the Government’s adoption of a military solution to the conflict in the tribal belts of central India. Operation Green Hunt will exact a toll in terms of innocent human lives and a long-lasting hatred in the hearts and minds of those who survive. We strongly believe that what is being called the war against Maoists will result in a war against adivasis, even if that is not the intention, because military operations will directly impact all the adivasis in the geographical area.
We stand against violence of all forms, structural and physical, from all sides, whether it is from Maoists, the State, corporate powers or independent citizens and groups, or dispossession, loss of livelihoods and endemic malnutrition. Instead of a paradigm of meaningful and participatory development, India’s recent decades of growth has exacerbated disparities in society. Surely, your government realizes that such uneven development will only intensify the cycle of violence without any promise of real or lasting benefits for the poorest. There is ample evidence around the world, and in history to suggest that uneven development and state sponsored violence leads to a breakdown of democracy – to failed States and “puppet governments.” In Chhattisgarh too, the State- backed Salwa Judum has only added fuel to the ongoing conflict.
We strongly urge you to hold talks with civil society groups that work very closely with the people to understand ground realities better. These groups can provide valuable advice for long lasting peace and justice in the region and should not be dismissed or penalized as “Maoist sympathizers”.
Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA), a Gandhian organization has been working in southern Chhattisgarh for the last two decades on issues of health, education and empowerment of the adivasis. Led by Mr. Himanshu Kumar, VCA has courageously worked for the rehabilitation of villagers made refugees on their own lands by the atrocities of Salwa Judum and by the cyclical violence resulting from it. We urge you to hold talks with Mr. Himanshu Kumar to understand and adopt this alternate paradigm of development.
In the interest of innocent tribal families living in the forests who will surely come in harm’s way through the planned Operation Green Hunt, we demand that:
1. The government retract military operations in Central India with immediate effect.
2. Hold meaningful conversations with adivasi representatives and development workers such as Mr. Himanshu Kumar.
3. Disband Salwa Judum with immediate effect and end covert militarization through arming of civilians as Special Police Officers.
4. Support rehabilitation of refugees and ensure responsible governance so people can return to their homes, pursue their livelihoods and democratically participate in the development process.
5. Initiate action against government functionaries who have perpetrated or promoted extrajudicial violence.
The demolition of Gandhian Himanshu Kumar’s 17-year-old Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada on May 17 shocked everyone acquainted with its work in the backward tribal area of Chhattisgarh. Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, who led an all-India fact-finding team to Dantewada, tells Jyoti Punwani what his team found:
Why was the Vanvasi Ashram demolished?
Himanshu had become an irritant for the Chhattisgarh government. He was doing a lot of development work, which is really the job of the government. In fact, the SP himself told us that they used to take Himanshu’s help on various occasions. But the ashram was also providing legal aid to the adivasis oppressed by Salwa Judum. In the last two years, Himanshu has filed 500 FIRs on their behalf. His most recent activity was to help resettle in their original villages, those adivasis who had been forcibly displaced by Salwa Judum.
as told over the Phone to Kavita Srivastava
As many of you are aware Himanshu and Kopa of VCA managed to escape Lingagiri in the early hours today through the forest area of that region and got into Bhadrachallam AP more than a hundred kilometres away. The distance between Bhadrachallam and Dantewada is a good two hundred and fifty kilometres.
The moment he got into range he called up his family, his colleagues and friends and supporters and said that he had escaped to Bhadrachallam and would be soon getting back to Dantewada. This is great news and we are glad that Himanshu and Kopa managed to escape the wrath of the local police and Salwa Judum although there are many concerns that still remain. He has addressed the press in Bhadrachallam with Bal Gopalji of HRF who reached late afternoon.
Himanashu gave me a long dictation over the phone of what happened and wanted people to know about what happened in the last four days. I think there are some facts that we need to act upon urgently.
ENGAGED CIRCLE -binayak sen
Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 20, Dated May 23, 2009
When truth is imprisoned and men reign over the law, India should stir up a storm, not watch unfazed
A FAMOUS STORY links two great Americans. When the United States invaded Mexico in 1846, Henry Thoreau, the great naturalist, refused to pay his taxes in an act of civil disobedience against the US and was sent to prison. His close friend and mentor from Harvard, Ralph Waldo Emerson came to see him in jail. Emerson quipped, “What are you doing inside?” The reply made Emerson blush. “What are you doing outside?” asked Thoreau.
Dr Binayak Sen, one of India’s noblest doctors, imprisoned by a cowardly Chhattisgarh administration because he exposed their crimes, might well speak to us in the manner of Thoreau were we to visit him. On May 14 it will be exactly two years since his unlawful arrest. There are times when jails become one of the few places of honour left in the world. After all, where would you like to find yourself if robbers and murderers were masquerading before the public as magistrates, judges and hangmen?
India today finds itself crouched in one such corner of shame. While well-known serial killers gamely garner tickets from national parties for elections and mass murderers sagely deliver their homilies from our television screens, women and men of integrity and courage must lurk and slide in the dark alleys of our cities or in the forlorn jungles of the land. It is a state of affairs which would have appalled and nauseated decent citizens a generation ago, let alone the heroes and heroines of our freedom movement. The sad truth is that as a civilisation, India’s standing in the world has suffered a precipitous fall during the last several years, even as our elated elite’s vainglorious aspirations to superpower-hood never miss a morning to announce themselves. Are they out of step, or are we? Time will tell, though it is as much up to us to determine which way the die of destiny will roll.
After six decades of freedom from colonial rule, India is still a largely poor country. One of the most severe forms of deprivation suffered by the poor is with respect to health, particularly so in a time when the cost of healthcare has shot up so dramatically. In such a context, it is worth asking how many Indian paediatricians one can name who have given 30 years of their lives as a volunteer in unstinting service to the needy poor in the countryside. At a guess, the actual number is in three figures and the name of Dr Binayak Sen figures prominently among them.
|Truth Trapped (above) On 2 February, 2008, Sen was taken in a police van to Raipur’s sessions court|
|Photo: SHAILENDRA PANDEY|
LETTERS AND APPEALS from Sen’s mother, 22 Nobel Laureates, Ex-Chief Justice of India — V.R.Krishna Iyer, Noam Chomsky and hundreds of other people of eminence in public life from around the world only reveal their ignorance regarding facts of the case. The Chhatisgarh government obviously knows better where justice lies. Thus, Dr Sen continues to languish in prison despite a serious cardiac condition.
One Rowlatt Act was enough to precipitate Jallianwalah Bagh nine decades ago, causing an intensification and acceleration of the Indian freedom struggle. A slew of far more invasive laws in ‘independent’ India — the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Unlawful Activties Prevention Act, to name just a few of the many that have been passed in recent years — draws a cowardly, paralysed silence today.
Patrick Barigbalo Naagbanton is a well-known human rights activist. Born in Rivers State, Nigeria, he trained as a journalist before working as a trade unionist at the Port Harcourt factory of the Union Dicon Salt PLC, where he was elected chairman of the workers union, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN). He was eventually fired for campaigning for improvement in working conditions. Naagbanton recruited many workers to join human rights/pro-democracy groups like the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Campaign for Democracy (CD), and Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR). Naagbanton served as a board member of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), representing the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. He also worked with the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FOEN), documenting, researching and campaigning against human rights and environmental degradation in Nigeria. In recognition of his role in promoting and defending victims of rights abuse in Nigeria, Naagbanton received the Indianapolis University Human Rights Award in 2001; and in 2002, the Rivers State branch of the CLO conferred on him the Saro-Wiwa Award for human and environmental rights defender.
Under military rule in Nigeria, Naagbanton was arrested and held in solitary confinement. However he had to be freed, because there are some networks, institutional mechanisms and accountability of the state towards human rights activists in Africa. Naagbanton remains consistently vocal on issues of human rights and environmental issues and has continued to contribute opinion articles, along with writing news and features for several newspapers. He remains free, in spite of raising his voice against the misuses of government security forces and militia and their consequences on people, especially women and children.
Compare him with Dr. Binayak Sen, an equally well-known human rights activist, Vice President of the People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL), and General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of PUCL, and also a pediatrician, who will complete two years in a Raipur prison on 14 May 2009, on false charges of abetting Maoist activity in Chhattisgarh, sedition, waging war against State under various sections of the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004 (amended) and the IPC. Dr. Sen raised his voice against Salwa Judum, and disappearances and encounters in the State of Chhattisgarh. Though in the past two years, there have been several calls and actions within and outside India by Nobel laureates, medical professionals, academicians, journalists, human rights and health activists, students, workers and rural folk for the release of Dr. Sen, he continues to be in jail. Human rights and social movements have been protesting against the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 and the UAPA (amended) 2004, demanding for their repeal, and release of those arrested under it. Some 178 people have been detained under these draconian laws in Chhattisgarh. These include traders/businessmen, tailor, journalists, doctors, NGO workers, media persons, filmmakers, farmers, landless agricultural workers and cultural activists. There is no institutional mechanism to address the harassment and prosecution of human rights activists in India.