The multiple terror attacks in Mumbai are unprecedented and blatantly violate the most fundamental principles of law and justice. Regrettably, as Mumbai shows today, there is a huge gap between governmental counter terror rhetoric and the reality of human security observance on the ground. Much more needs to be done to mainstream counter terror strategy and action throughout the government security system and states must demonstrate the political will and promptness to translate human security and rights commitment into action. Continue reading Victims of Terrorism
guest post by S. ANAND
There are times when our critical antennae do not perk up. We do not wish to decode certain signs because we are all implicated in them. Following the 14 September blasts in Delhi, suddenly the media found a new value in ragpickers, street vendors, auto drivers and others who live on the fringes of the city and are generally looked down upon by people who inhabit apartments, blogs, cars (and autos, I must add).
Suddenly, by 15 September, ragpicker Krishna was canonized as a ‘hero’ by the media, the police and the state (the Delhi government claims credit for saving some lives with its ‘eyes and ears’ policy). Yet, Times of India prefaced its report about Krishna thus: Continue reading Some images do not disturb
Come September 2008, and the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) is now fifty years old in our country. It is a law in force in large parts of the northeast that gives armed forces special powers in a locality declared as ‘disturbed area’. However, while AFSPA is considered necessary by the state and army officials to protect the state against internal disturbances, to uphold the integrity of nation, to fight against terrorism and insurgency, and to protect sensitive border areas, it is being vehemently opposed and discarded by human rights groups, women’s organizations and political groups, as it is seen as facilitating grave human rights abuses, impunity, rape and torture, and silencing of democratic dissent. The Act has long been challenged internally through country-wide campaigns, coalitions, self-immolation, fast until death, and naked protests. It is also regularly referred to internationally, for example in the recently concluded UN Human Rights Councils’ Universal Periodic Country Review or in the previous Human Rights Committee, as an issue of serious concern.
AN APPEAL from the PANCHAMI DALIT FEMINIST COLLECTIVE, Kottayam, to join the march on August 14th, against sexual harassment and human rights violations at the site of the struggle for land at Chengara, Pathanamthitta, Kerala.
[Below is an urgent appeal from Chengara, Kerala, where a land struggle has been on for the past one year. There seems to be a general elite consensus about refusing citizenship to the 7500 landless families that have occupied government land there; more ominously, there seems to be also the determination to punish them. Since early August a road blockade has been going on led by the united front of trade unions defending the right of (eighty) workers in the occupied Chengara plantation. Apparently, there are also ‘criminal elements’- the trade unions and the police, poor things, know nothing of them – who have been violently stopping activists from reaching the settlement.The CPM intellectuals in Kerala are patiently waiting for ‘more and accurate’ information, as they were when some of us approached them proposing a protest around Nandigram last year. Reports of starvation, sickness,and sexual assault are reaching us from Chengara but there is no way we can get there.Now, what is this? A new form of illegal custody? A new form of sexual harassment in custody? On 14 August, dalit activists and organisations are planning a march to Chengara, and hopefully food and medical supplies can be taken there. Please circulate this appeal widely – we have to stop another Nandigram– JD]
A historic land struggle has been unfolding at Chengara in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala, involving about 7500 families, Continue reading Flashpoint Chengara: March Against Blockade Tomorrow
At the heart of all peoples’ rights work is the individual – as the person at risk of human rights abuses, as the survivor, as the partner in the defense of rights, and as the activist speaking out, and working with and for other individuals. Individuals, as part of the political, social and cultural collective and spread over the length and breadth of the country, lie behind much of the activism of Indian social-political groups, working at local, grassroots and community levels in India today. They try to change lives by acting on their own or with other people and political groups making the same demand – an end to injustice in all its forms.
These individuals are increasingly at risk in India today. We have witnessed the killings at regular intervals of activists like Safdar Hashmi, Shankar Guha Niyogi, Satyendra Dubey, Sarita and Mahesh, S. Manjunath, Mahendra Singh and Chandra Shekhar in the past two decades. We have had a series of cases of arrest and detention of people like Dr. Binayak Sen and T. G. Ajay. At a time when the patterns of human rights abuses against rights activists are becoming widespread and showing signs of further deterioration, with the governments showing their apathy, we need to draw attention to the situation, point to the concrete failures of the governments to live up to their obligations, and plan on some concrete actions, so that the human rights activists can carry out their important work free from attacks, fear or reprisals. Continue reading Individuals at Risk