Posts Tagged ‘vigil
Artists, Writers, Film makers, Human rights activists and social activists joined about a 100 people from different walks of life in a protest march and candlelight vigil in front of the secretariat of Thiruvananthapuram in solidarity with Dr. Binayak Sen who was recently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Chhattisgarh. Writer Paul Zacharia said that Binayak Sen was the victim of a violent state which is crushing the people’s movements in the state and that we need to understand the politics of this violence. . In a symbolic protest, Sreemith and Ajith, two film makers chained themselves holding placards. T.T. Sreekumar, social scientist, TN Joy, representative of political prisoners during emergency, Gowreedasan Nair, journalist, Sajimon (Dalit Human rights movement), Seeta Dasan (SEWA Union), Sajeed (Solidarity Youth Movement), Reny Ayline, (NCHRO) and Dasan (Yuvajanavedi) too spoke on the occasionA protest march was taken out with candles through the city square. Beena paul Venugopal, Artistic Director, IFFK and Sajitha Madathil Deputy Director, IFFK , Artist Sajitha, Manglin Peter of Kerala Swathanthra Matsyathozhilali Federation CS Venkiteswaran, film critic and Elizabeth of Sahaja, Kottayam also participated.
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 »
David Barsamian Interviews Satya Sivaraman
Satya Sivaraman is an independent journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist based in New Delhi. He is the author of “Asia Sees America and other Rants.”
In your article “The Mistrial of Dr. Binayak Sen” you write, “Anyone trying to figure out, after the recent Mumbai attacks, whether India will ever win its war on terrorism should take a close look at a court case currently underway in the central Indian province of Chhattisgarh.” Who is Binayak Sen?
Dr. Binayak Sen is a medical doctor who has been working in the province of Chhattisgarh. He’s a graduate of the prestigious Christian Medical College in Vellore, in south India. When he was employed at the one of the top universities in Delhi, he decided to go to this province where there was a very interesting independent trade union movement called the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, where the union leaders, apart from the usual union kind of activities and activism, wanted to also address issues of health, particularly for workers, because the state of public health and public health infrastructure is so poor in many parts of India.
So he went there and he helped set up the Shaheed (Martyrs) Hospital, which became the first hospital run by a trade union in this country. It was low-cost health care for the first time affordable to a lot of people, not just workers but the whole area around the hospital. Shankar Guha Niyogi, the leader of the trade union movement was the visionary behind this whole idea of integrating health care into trade union activities. Health care as in direct intervention in health care; not just demanding that the government give them medical facilities but also actually doing somebody about it hands on. Niyogi was assassinated in 1991 by goons allegedly hired by the owners of the Simplex Group of companies.
Vigilantism of Salwa Judum has divided and very nearly destroyed tribal society.
All sensible humans—not just Indians—agree that there is no place for violence in the settlement of political disputes. If a particular group feels victimised or discriminated against, it has all kinds of democratic means of redress open to it—the circulation of its grievances by the means of speech or print; the canvassing of politicians, political parties, and public officials; and petitions in court. If (and only if) all these means fail, the group may yet take recourse to non-violent protest or satyagraha. But they have no business to use weapons, whether they are AK-47s or trishuls.
Anyone trying to figure out, after the recent Mumbai attacks, whether India will ever win its war on terrorism should take a close look at a court case currently underway in the central Indian province of Chhattisgarh.
On 2nd December 2008, a High Court judge in Bilaspur summarily rejected a bail application filed by Dr Binayak Sen, well known public health and human rights activist currently detained in a Raipur jail, confounding all known principles of law, fair play and justice. As if that were not enough a few days later the provincial police authorities, taking their political vendetta against Dr Sen further, filed supplementary charges against him, adding on another 43 witnesses to the 83 already listed in the case.
While real terrorists plant bombs and shoot down people at whim in major Indian cities, scores of innocent young men, political dissidents and human rights activists like Dr Sen languish in the country’s prisons falsely accused of terrorist links and activities.
Dr Sen, has been behind bars since 14 May 2007 under a draconian anti-terrorist legislation, the Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act. The good doctor, renowned worldwide for his public health work among the rural poor, has been arrested on trumped up charges of ‘treason, waging war against the state and abetting activities of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist)’.
More specifically, state prosecutors claim Binayak, as part of an unproven conspiracy, passed on a set of letters from Narayan Sanyal, a senior Maoist leader in Raipur jail to Piyush Guha, a local businessman with allegedly close links to the left-wing extremists. He was supposed to have done this while visiting Sanyal in prison both in his capacity as a human rights activist and as a doctor treating him for various medical ailments.
The fact is that till now the trial of Dr Sen , which began in a Raipur sessions court late April 2008, has not thrown up even a shred of evidence to justify any of these charges against him. By end November 2008, of the 83 witnesses listed for deposition by the prosecution 16 were dropped by the prosecutors themselves, 6 declared ‘hostile’, while 30 others have deposed without corroborating any of the accusations against Dr Sen.
Dr Sen has never denied meeting Sanyal, which he did with prior permission and in the presence of jail authorities. To prove there was a ‘conspiracy’ the prosecutors for example have to establish that apart from meeting Sanyal in prison, Dr Sen also met Piyush Guha in person some time or the other, in order to pass on the letters. So far not a single prosecution witness has confirmed this charge and without the thread connecting him to Guha however there is no connection at all between Dr Sen and the cases against the other two defendants, Sanyal and Guha.
With the floor falling out of the entire case against Dr Sen, a desperate prosecution, during the course of the trial, has even been caught red handed by defence lawyers, trying to plant forged evidence of his ‘links’ with the Maoists. A number of witnesses too, under obvious tutelage from the police, have been found trying to ‘improve’ their original written statements presented to the court.
Even more distrubingly, in their attempt to keep Dr Sen in prison for as long as possible the court hearings themselves are being dragged on with breaks of up to a month or more at times thus making the trial itself a punishment. Several neutral observers following the case, including from the Commonwealth and the European Union, have expressed concern at the denial of Dr Sen’s right to an open and speedy trial.
Given the paucity of evidence in the trial of Dr Sen so far, in all fairness, the Raipur court should have dismissed the case against him altogether by now. Certainly the weakness of the prosecution’s position should entitle at least granting of bail to Dr Sen, a person of international standing and reputation, with a record of impeccable behaviour throughout his distinguished career. In May 2008, in an unprecedented move 22 Nobel Prize winners had even signed a public statement calling him a ‘professional colleague’ and asking for his release.
Normally bail is refused only in cases where the courts believe the accused can tamper with evidence, prejudice witnesses or run away. In Dr Sen’s case none of these apply as shown by the simple fact that at the time of his arrest last year he chose to come to the Chhattisgarh police voluntarily and made no attempt to abscond despite apprehensions of his possible detainment.
Last year too the same Bilaspur court had rejected a similar bail application after which on 10 December, the Indian Supreme Court in Delhi too had refused to admit a Special Leave Petition to consider bail. The Supreme Court bench initially heard the petition and even asked the Chhattisgarh government to file a reply but very mysteriously dismissed the same petition at its next hearing without any explanation.
The real ‘crime’ for which Dr Sen is being punished for is his courageous work exposing the human rights violations carried out by police forces in Chhattisgarh. As national vice president of the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties, one of India’s oldest human rights groups, Dr Sen produced several reports criticising the Chhattisgarh government’s ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign, which arms vigilante civilian groups to fight the Maoists.
The Salwa Judum campaign, according to many of its critics, is a thinly veiled attempt to relocate villagers – in the name of ‘protecting’ them from Maoists- while in fact plotting the handover of their land to corporations eyeing mineral wealth in the area. By focusing national attention on the brutalities accompanying this campaign Dr Sen obviously seems to have stepped on some powerful and sensitive toes somewhere.
Instead of recognising their social contributions the Indian State, by wrongly branding Dr Sen and many others like him as ‘terrorists’, is making a complete mockery of not just democratic norms and fair governance but its entire anti-terrorist strategy and operations. Detaining innocent people on false charges for political reasons, while turning a blind eye to real terrorists running amok all over the place is surely a recipe for perpetual disaster.
The subversion of the Indian judiciary for such political purposes constitutes an even graver threat to Indian society. The sheer injustice involved in bending principles of law is bound to fuel deep anger against the Indian State and breed cynicism about the credibility and efficacy of Indian democracy itself.
Satya Sagar is a journalist, writer, video maker based in New Delhi, India. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
“QUESTIONS ON DR. BINAYAK SEN’S TRIAL”
- Is the Trial Fair?
- Are Provisions of Cr.P.C. followed in “letter” and “spirit”?
- Why is Chhattisgarh Police getting desperate?
- Why the delay tactics?
Raipur, 15th September, 2008: The last dates of trial of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh PUCL were September 8th & 9th 2008. Strangely, nothing happened on these days, as the hon’ble Judge, Mr. B S Saluja, Additional District Judge (Fast Track Court), Raipur had gone on “Training”. So, the accused were brought from Raipur Central Prison only to sign on the Order Sheets.
The next dates are October 13, 14 & 15, 2008. During the past few months, concern has been expressed by almost everyone attending the Court’s proceedings as to the seriousness of the prosecution in conducting the Trial. Some Observers have expressed these concerns in writing. We are circulating here two Notes and Letters on Trial Observations.
One, by Kavita Srivastava, Secretary of National PUCL, and General Secretary, Rajasthan PUCL, who has been closely following the Trial Proceedings.
Two, by Dr. Abhay Shukla, a member of the CORE GROUP OF NGO’s of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
These provide deep insights into violation of national and international standards set up for a Fair & Just Trial. We must not forget that Dr. Binayak Sen is also a “defender of human rights”.
Read the rest of this entry »
Prosecute Rights Violators and Protect Internally Displaced Communities
“The Chhattisgarh government denies supporting Salwa Judum, but dozens of eyewitnesses have described police participating in violent Salwa Judum raids on villages – killing, looting, and burning their hamlets. ” – Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch
(Raipur, July 15, 2008) – The Indian central and Chhattisgarh state governments should hold accountable government security forces and state-backed vigilantes responsible for attacking, killing, and forcibly displacing tens of thousands of people in armed operations against Maoist rebels since mid-2005 in southern Chhattisgarh, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
Human Rights Watch called for an end to all government support for unlawful activities by the Salwa Judum vigilantes, and urged affected state governments to take immediate measures to protect the tens of thousands of persons displaced. Human Rights Watch also called on Maoist rebels known as Naxalites to end attacks on civilians and other abuses.
The 182-page report, “‘Being Neutral Is Our Biggest Crime’: Government, Vigilante, and Naxalite Abuses in India’s Chhattisgarh State,” documents human rights abuses against civilians, particularly indigenous tribal communities, caught in a deadly tug-of-war between government security forces and the vigilante Salwa Judum and Naxalites.
Yahoo India News
Tue, Jul 15 05:28 PM
NEW DELHI (AP) _ Indian forces are collaborating with a vigilante group that carries out brutal attacks that have displaced tens of thousands of people in eastern India in an attempt to crush a communist uprising, a human rights group said Tuesday. Human Rights Watch called on the Indian federal government and the Chhattisgarh state government to end their support for the Salwa Judum vigilantes and take immediate steps to protect civilians caught in the fighting.
“The Chhattisgarh government denies supporting Salwa Judum, but dozens of eyewitnesses have described police participating in violent Salwa Judum raids on villages killing, looting and burning hamlets,” Jo Becket of Human Rights Watch said in a statement. The New York-based rights group also called on the communist rebels to end their attacks on civilians and stop recruiting child soldiers.
The Binayak Sen story is more than just about the violation of individual rights, says Shoma A Chatterji
THE Binayak Sen story is much more than one of a gross violation of human rights. It goes far beyond the international appeals to release him from the unlawful detention he has been subjected to for more than one year. Beginning 16 June, a 10-day fast has been organised at Raipur in Chhattisgarh to express solidarity with him and Ajay TG (a film-maker) — both members of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and others detained under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (1967) amended in 2004 to include key sections of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act, 2002. Pota was itself repealed in 2004 following widespread criticism of abuse and human rights violations. The CSPSA allows for arbitrary detention of persons suspected of belonging to an unlawful organisation or participating in its activities or giving protection to any member of such an organisation, and human rights
organisations have demanded its repeal.
Analytical Monthly Review, published in Kharagpur, West Bengal, India, is a sister edition of Monthly Review. Its June 2008 issue features the following editorial. — Ed.
When the issue is class struggle, everyone knows that today’s judiciary in India exhibits no qualitative difference from that of the British colonial regime. When workers try to hold gate meetings, management goes to court and readily gets orders prohibiting meetings within a kilometre distance from the factory gate. When workers are forced to resort to strikes, then the police, judiciary, administration along with whichever parliamentary political party is in government become active, strikes are swiftly (even eagerly) declared illegal and proceedings begin to suppress the protest by severe police force. The police have a distressing record of willingness to apply third degree methods and engineer lock-up deaths on management allegations against workers, and judicial intervention is to say the least rare. An open alliance of the highest court with one side of the class struggle is the only reasonable conclusion to draw from the recent decision in T.N. Rangarajan vs. State of Tamil Nadu, holding that workers lack any fundamental, legal or moral right to strike. But management can resort to lockouts or closure, evade payment of gratuity, eat away workers’ PF and ESI funds, and know that they face at worst insignificant penalties and never police action.