Letter of Solidarity with Greenpeace India: A Statement

The move by the central government to freeze Greenpeace India’s bank accounts and block sources of funds, is a blatant violation of the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association. It also seems to be an attempt to warn civil society that dissent regarding development policies and priorities will not be tolerated, even when these are proving to be ecologically unsustainable and socially unjust. These are dangerous signs for the future of democracy in India.

Specific allegations of legal violation contained in the Ministry of Home Affairs’ notice are aspects Greenpeace India needs to respond to. However, the notice also charges the organization with adversely affecting “public interest” and the “economic interest of the State”. These charges give the impression that Greenpeace India is indulging in anti-national activities, using foreign funds. However, dissenting from the government’s development policies, helping communities who are going to be displaced by these policies to mobilise themselves, and generating public opinion for the protection of the environment can by no stretch of imagination be considered anti-national, or against public interest. Quite the contrary, any reasonable policy of sustainable development (which the government claims to adhere to) will itself put into question quite a few of the mining, power, and other projects currently being promoted. ”

Civil society organisations in India have a long and credible history of standing up for social justice, ecological sustainability, and the rights of the poor. When certain government policies threaten these causes, civil society has a justified ground to resist, and help affected communities fight for their rights. This is in fact part of the fundamental duties enjoined upon citizens by the Constitution of India.

In two recent court judgments involving previous attempts by the government to muzzle Greenpeace India, the democratic principle of dissent has been upheld. In January 2015, the Delhi High Court observed: “Non-Governmental Organizations often take positions, which are contrary to the policies formulated by the Government of the day. That by itself…cannot be used to portray petitioner’s action as being detrimental to national interest.” In March, the Delhi High court observed that “contrarian views held by a section of people…cannot be used to describe such section or class of people as anti-national.” The court also observed that there was nothing on record to suggest that Greenpeace India’s activities “have the potentiality of degrading the economic interest of the country.”

It is shocking that despite these clear judicial pronouncements, the government has for a third time acted against Greenpeace India. We cannot but conclude that this is an attempt to divert attention from the serious issues that Greenpeace India and many peoples’ movements and NGOs are raising, regarding the need to respect the rights of adivasis and others who depend on the forests, wetlands, coastal areas, and other ecosystems, and the need to move towards policies that are ecologically sustainable and do not cause further climate change. Large-scale mining, such as in the areas that peoples’ movements are active, are a threat to forests and other natural ecosystems, to communities that depend on them including tribal peoples. These and other issues are highlighted by organisations such as Greenpeace India, which also generate significant information on the environment, crucial for taking the right decisions regarding sustainable well-being.

It is also shocking that while alleging violations regarding FCRA, the government ordered the blocking of even those accounts where Greenpeace India uses its domestic funding (and it is relevant here to note that the majority of its funds according to its audited accounts are from thousands of Indian individuals). It has even blocked its online donation facility.

The government should immediately take back these illegitimate, unfair, and repressive moves, and provide Greenpeace India a fair opportunity to respond. More generally, it must respect the freedom of speech that all Indian citizens have a constitutional right to, including the right to dissent, upheld by court judgments. The government’s attempts to browbeat civil society will not make the issues of social and environmental injustice disappear. We assert that long as these issues remain unresolved, civil society actors will continue to do all that is necessary towards a just and sustainable society.

  1. Achin Vanaik, Retired academic, writer, and anti-nuclear campaigner, Delhi
  2. A. Vaidyanathan, Former Member, Planning Commission
  3. Achyut Yagnik & Ashok Shrimali, SETU: Centre For Social Knowledge And Action, Ahmedabad
  4. Harsh Mander, Human rights worker and writer
  5. Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
  6. Aruna Roy & Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Rajasthan
  7. Gautam Navlakha, Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi
  8. Claude Alvares, Former Standing Committee Member MoEF, Goa Foundation, Goa
  9. Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan
  10. Madhuresh Kumar & Suhas Kolhekar, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
  11. Shailesh Rai, Amnesty International India, Bangalore
  12. Ravi Rebbapragada & Ashok Shrimali, Mines Minerals & People (mmP)
  13. Vinay Sreenivasa, Alternative Law Forum (ALF), Bangalore
  14. Swami Agnivesh, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Delhi
  15. Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
  16. Rajesh Krishnan, Coalition for a GM Free India
  17. Ashish Kothari and Meenal Tatpati, Kalpavriksh, Pune
  18. Sujit Patwardhan, Parisar, Pune
  19. Madhuri Krishanaswami, Kisan Adivasi Dalit Mukti Sangathan, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh
  20. Biswajit Mohanty, Conservationist, Bhubaneshwar
  21. Bittu Sahgal, Conservationist, Mumbai
  22. Justice H. Suresh, Former Judge, Mumbai High Court, Mumbai
  23. Lakshmy Raman, Sanctuary Asia
  24. Rajeev Dhavan, Senior Supreme Court Advocate, Delhi
  25. Tapan Bose, South Asian Forum for Human Rights (SAHFR), Delhi
  26. Aneesh Thillenkery, Ekta Parishad
  27. P.M. Bhargava, Supreme Court Nominee to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)
  28. Leo Saldanha, Environmental Support Group (ESG), Bangalore
  29. Seema Kulkarni and K. J. Joy, SOPPECOM, Pune
  30. Ramasamy Selvam, Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation
  31. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi
  32. Kuldip Nayar, Snr journalist and columnist, Delhi
  33. Praful Bidwai, Sr Journalist & columnist, Delhi
  34. N.P. Chekkutty, Editor, Thejas daily, Kerala
  35. Neeta Chalke, India Habitat Forum (INHAF), Pune
  36. Pratibha Sharma & Dharmesh Shah, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
  37. Malati Gadgil, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), Pune
  38. Aparna Susarla, SWaCH, Pune
  39. Yogeshwar Y. Dudhapachare, Green Planet Society, Chandrapur
  40. T.R. Shankar Raman, Snr. Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF)
  41. Shubhranshu Choudhary, CGNet Swara, Chhattisgarh
  42. Radhika Rammohan & Sangeetha Sriram, reStore, Chennai
  43. Tarun Joshi, Vanpanchayat Sangarsh Morcha, Nainital
  44. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)
  45. K. Ramnarayan, Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand
  46. Malika Virdi, Maati Sangathan, Uttarakhand
  47. S. Faizi, Ecologist / Board member, CBD Alliance, Trivandrum
  48. Neeraj Jain, Lokayat, Pune
  49. Ingrid Srinath, Hivos, Mumbai
  50. V.B. Chandrasekaran, Chatti Mahatma Gandhi Aashramam, Andhra Pradesh
  51. John D’Souza and J. John, Centre for Education and Documentation (CED), Mumbai/Delhi
  52. Prasad Chacko, Human Development and Research Centre (HDRC), Ahmedabad
  53. Mansoor Khan, Film-maker, author, climate activist, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
  54. Parineeta Dandekar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), Pune
  55. Sudha Bharadhwaj, Trade Unionist and Human Rights Lawyer, Chattishgarh
  56. Rachna Arora, Public Awareness on GM Food
  57. Henri Tiphangne, Chairman, Forum Asia, Madurai
  58. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Sr Journalist, Political Commentator, Filmmaker, Delhi
  59. Maja Daruwala, Human rights activist, Delhi
  60. Sethu Das, Founder Chair, Friends of Tibet, Delhi
  61. Sudha Reddy, Eco-Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives, Bangalore
  62. Shankar Sharma, Power policy analyst, Delhi
  63. Paul Divakar, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDR), Delhi
  64. K. Baburao, Advisor, NAPM, Andhra Pradesh
  65. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  66. Uttam Jagirdar, Filmmaker and social activist
  67. Ashok Chowdhury, All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)
  68. Souparna Lahiri, All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM)
  69. Chhaya Datar, Women’s rights expert
  70. Mira Shiva, INES/ Diverse Women for Diversity, Delhi
  71. Joseph Xavier, Indian Social Institute, Delhi
  72. Nityanand Jayaram, Writer, teacher, social activist, Chennai
  73. Usha Soolapani, Thanal, Kerala
  74. Dunu Roy, Hazards Desk, Delhi
  75. D. Roy Laifungbam, Centre for Organization Research and Education, Manipur
  76. E. Deendayalan, The Other Media, Bangalore
  77. Ravi Nair, South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRD), Delhi
  78. Akila Balu, Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network, Chennai
  79. Debi Goenka, Executive Trustee, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Mumbai
  80. Sridhar Lakshmanan, Founder, Basecamp Social Research Foundation
  81. Organic Farmers Market, Chennai
  82. Safe Food Alliance, Tamil Nadu
  83. Balaji Shankar, Thalaanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu
  84. V.R. Anantha Sayanan, Founder, Tharcharbu Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu
  85. J.C. Kumarappa Foundation, Tamil Nadu
  86. Tula India, Chennai
  87. Amit M. & Sreedevi L., Urban Leaves, Mumbai
  88. Uzramma, Handloom supporter, Hyderabad
  89. Blaise Joseph, Freelance artist, Belgaum, Karnataka
  90. Sajeed Khalid, Welfare Party of India, Kerala State committee
  91. S.P. Udaykumar, Activist, Tamil Nadu
  92. Tara Murali, Architect, Chennai
  93. Usha Rai, Development journalist, Delhi
  94. Amala Akkineni, Actress, Hyderabad
  95. Lalita Ramdas, Educator and activist, Maharashtra
  96. Jai Sen, Researcher and editor, Delhi
  97. Geetha Iyer, Consultant – Education, Suchindram, Tamil Nadu
  98. Gautama G., Educationist, Chennai
  99. Nandini Oza, Researcher and activist, Pune
  100. Seetha Ananthasivan, Educationist, Bengaluru
  101. Sharad Lele, Researcher, Bengaluru
  102. Seema Purushothaman, Academic, Bengaluru
  103. Benny Kuruvilla, Researcher, Delhi
  104. Rohit Prajapati, Environmental Activist, Ahmedabad
  105. Anant Phadke, Health worker and activist, Pune
  106. E. Theophilus, Conservationist, Uttarakhand
  107. Asad Rahmani, Conservationist, Mumbai
  108. Palla Trinadha Rao, Advocate, Andhra Pradesh
  109. Rajni Bakshi, Journalist and author, Mumbai
  110. Arindam Biswas, Photographer, trekker, wildlife enthusiast, Kolkata
  111. Lavanya Suresh, Academic, Hyderabad
  112. Bipasha Majumder, Freelance communication consultant, Mumbai
  113. Lisa Fonseca, Organic farmer, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
  114. Dionne Bunsha, Journalist, Mumbai
  115. Shivaji K. Panikkar, Ambedkar University, Delhi
  116. Rana Roy, Student
  117. Sagar Rabari, Activist, Ahmedabad
  118. B.K. Manish, Tribal rights activist, Raipur
  119. Cedric Prakash, Director, PRASHANT, Ahmedabad
  120. Akhilesh, Academic, Bhubaneshwar
  121. Aseem Shrivastava, Author and economist, Delhi
  122. Palak Aggarwal, Sustainable Development Practitioner, Odisha
  123. Mohan Hirabai Hiralal, Forest rights activist, Chandrapur
  124. Harsh Kapoor, Human rights activist, sacw.net
  125. Raj Kishore Das, Retd officer, teacher, Bhubaneshwar
  126. Arun Wakhlu, Training and leadership professional, Pune
  127. Satya Rai Nagpaul, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  128. Ghanshyam Shah, Social researcher, Delhi
  129. Persis Ginwalla, Ahmedabad
  130. Shishir K. Jha, Academic, IIT Bombay
  131. Nagmani Rao, Academic, Pune
  132. Chandrasekaran P., Software engineer, Chennai
  133. Aparna Krishnan, Homemaker, Chennai
  134. Suresh Lakshmipathy, Entrepreneur, Chennai
  135. Sandeep Pattnaik, Researcher, Bhubaneshwar
  136. Hardika Dayalani, Program Coordinator, Hunnarshala Foundation, Uttar Pradesh
  137. Sabita Parida, Development professional, Delhi
  138. Mona Mishra, Strategic Planning consultant UNDP, Sexual Health and Rights activist, Delhi
  139. Snehal Shah, Research consultant, Delhi
  140. Krishna Srinivasan, Social worker and Enviro-Legal Researcher, Pune
  141. Neeraj Bhatnagar, Action Aid, Mumbai
  142. Aravinda Maheshwari, Auroville, Tamil Nadu
  143. Jasmin Maheshwari, Auroville, Tamil Nadu
  144. Gajanan Khatu, Economist, Mumbai
  145. David Selvaraj, Visthar, Bangalore
  146. Gajanan Khatu, Economist, Mumbai
  147. Shreenivas Khandewale, Agronomist, Nagpur
  148. Bindu Desai, Human rights activist, Mumbai
  149. Balaji Shankar, Organic farmer and writer, Sirkazhi, Tamil Nadu
  150. Balachander Swaminathan, Software professional, Tamil Nadu
  151. Shashank Kela, Writer, Chennai
  152. Subhayu Mishra, Member, Wild Orissa, Mumbai
  153. Atul Gupta, Filmmaker, Dehradun
  154. Venkat T., Researcher, Chennai
  155. Suhas Paranjape, Water specialist, Pune
  156. Louis Menezes
  157. Joe Athialy, Activist, New Delhi
  158. Avin Deen, Conservationist, Bengaluru
  159. Ananda Vadivelu, Institutional economist, Delhi
  160. G. Chandrasekhar, Cardiac surgeon and sustainable farmer
  161. Sumitra Purkayastha, Researcher, Kolkata
  162. Yatish Mehta, Businessman and activist, Mumbai
  163. Sahba Fatima, Jr. consultant, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
  164. G. Baskaran, Ravi Kunjwal, Amritanshu Prasad, Rahul Siddharthan, Sitabhra Sinha, V.S. Sunder, & T. Vinod Kumar, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
  165. T.S. Vijaya Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai
  166. V.R. Anantha Sayanan, Activist, Chennai
  167. Vineetha Bambasala, Environmentalist, Bengaluru
  168. N.D. Hari Dass
  169. Kiran Seth, Academic & founder, SPICMACAY, Delhi
  170. Roy Jacob, Farmer, Kerala
  171. Meera Rajesh, IT Consultant & environmentalist, Bengaluru
  172. Walter Mendoza, Pune
  173. Reva Dandage, Educator, Udaipur
  174. Shobana Ramkumar, Teacher, Chennai
  175. J.R. Ganesh Babu, Chennai
  176. Chithra V., Teacher, Chennai
  177. Daya Lakshmi, Chennai
  178. S. Annapoorni, Homemaker, Chennai
  179. D.W. Karuna, Researcher, Chennai
  180. Satyarupa Shekhar, Researcher, Chennai
  181. Mahi Puri, Wildlife researcher, Bengaluru
  182. Narasimha Reddy Donthi, Hyderabad

 

Address for correspondence: Meenal Tatpati, meenaltatpati@gmail.com

 

Copy to: Shri L.C. Goyal, Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block, Central Secretariat, New Delhi 110 001

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