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Front Line Defenders condemns repression of human rights defenders in India

In a press statement, it condemned the excessive force by the police and the increasingly hostile environment for HRD’s in India

Sabrangindia 27 Jan 2020

hrd

In light of the increasing strong-arm tactics used by the government to quell the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Front Line Defenders has issued a statement regarding the increasing repression of human rights defenders in India.

It said, “The CAA has been widely criticised and condemned by students, activists, human rights defenders, civil society organisations and the international community for being blatantly sectarian and discriminatory because of its exclusion of Muslims. The language of the Act legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of the Constitution of India and international human rights law. While the government claims that the Act is to give relief to persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring states, it fails to consider the ill-treatment and oppression of the Hazaras and Ahmadiyya Muslims of Pakistan, Bihari Muslims of Bangladesh, Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar as well as the plight of the Tamils from Sri Lanka who form the largest refugee population in India. The exclusion of these groups clearly demonstrates that the Act is inherently biased. The CAA pushes back the country’s secular principles and risks contributing to the creation of a majoritarian state.”

It said that the human rights defenders from across the country had been arbitrarily detained and falsely charged on a variety of counts. There were testimonies of custodial torture against human rights defenders which ran counter to the Indian State’s national and international commitments.

The statement read that the Chennai police detained five women human rights defenders, Gayatri, Pragati, Aarti, Madhan and Kalyani, for drawing kollams (colourful patterns) on the street. The police said they were being arrested for protesting without permission, however, the organisers of the event iterated that they were neither raising slogans nor holding placards, and only two or three of them were working on one kollam each, a form of cultural expression which does not require permission.

In Uttar Pradesh, human rights defenders ncluding Mohammad Faizal, Deepak Kabir, Pawan Rao Ambedkar, Anoop Shramik, Dalit rights defender Shushil Gautam, Robin Verma, Sadaf Jaffar, Mohammad Shoaib and Kafeel Khan, were detained for peacefully protesting against the CAA. On 20 December 2019, women human rights defenders Arundhati Dhurru, Meera Sangamitra and Madhavi were arrested while inquiring into the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Mohammad Shoaib.

In Assam, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi was arbitrarily arrested by the Assam police after delivering a speech on the CAA. He was later handed over to the National Investigation Agency and charged. On 24 January 2020, he was sent to judicial custody for fourteen days. Four others who work for Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, an organisation affiliated with KMSS, were similarly detained and charged. Manash Konwar and Lakhyajyoti Gogoi were released on bail while Dairjya Konwar and Bitu Sonawal are still in detention. On 27 December 2019, Assam police picked up human rights defender Seram Herajit Singh and kept him in custody before a First Information Report was even filed. He was released only after two weeks.

The statement also recorded the attacks on the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University where the police used tear gas and batons on students who were peacefully protesting against the CAA. It also spoke about the brutal attacks on the students and faculty of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by a masked mob who apart from attacking them physically also chanted slogans against the students like “Kill the leftists”, “Kill the anti-nationals” and “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaron saalon ko” (shoot dead the traitors) after which the students alleged that the police stood by silent while witnessing the attack unfold inside the campus.

Front Line Defenders said that rather than addressing the issues being raised by the protestors, the government has resorted to shutting down any form of dissent by restricting internet access, imposing curfews and detaining hundreds of peaceful protestors and human rights defenders. The police, while failing to exercise their duty to protect the people, have been using excessive force against those who are merely exercising their fundamental rights.

The Front Line Defenders condemns the excessive use of force by police personnel and is extremely concerned about the increasingly hostile environment for human rights defenders in India. It urges the Indian authorities to release all those arbitrarily arrested and detained, as well as to investigate allegations of grave human rights violations. It further calls on the government to ensure that human rights defenders are permitted to carry out their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of the rights of others.

The entire statement by Front Line Defenders may be read here.

Related:

Two days into the new year, Mumbai protests police excess in UP

Is Varanasi being stifled under Section 144?

Front Line Defenders condemns repression of human rights defenders in India

In a press statement, it condemned the excessive force by the police and the increasingly hostile environment for HRD’s in India

hrd

In light of the increasing strong-arm tactics used by the government to quell the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Front Line Defenders has issued a statement regarding the increasing repression of human rights defenders in India.

It said, “The CAA has been widely criticised and condemned by students, activists, human rights defenders, civil society organisations and the international community for being blatantly sectarian and discriminatory because of its exclusion of Muslims. The language of the Act legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of the Constitution of India and international human rights law. While the government claims that the Act is to give relief to persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring states, it fails to consider the ill-treatment and oppression of the Hazaras and Ahmadiyya Muslims of Pakistan, Bihari Muslims of Bangladesh, Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar as well as the plight of the Tamils from Sri Lanka who form the largest refugee population in India. The exclusion of these groups clearly demonstrates that the Act is inherently biased. The CAA pushes back the country’s secular principles and risks contributing to the creation of a majoritarian state.”

It said that the human rights defenders from across the country had been arbitrarily detained and falsely charged on a variety of counts. There were testimonies of custodial torture against human rights defenders which ran counter to the Indian State’s national and international commitments.

The statement read that the Chennai police detained five women human rights defenders, Gayatri, Pragati, Aarti, Madhan and Kalyani, for drawing kollams (colourful patterns) on the street. The police said they were being arrested for protesting without permission, however, the organisers of the event iterated that they were neither raising slogans nor holding placards, and only two or three of them were working on one kollam each, a form of cultural expression which does not require permission.

In Uttar Pradesh, human rights defenders ncluding Mohammad Faizal, Deepak Kabir, Pawan Rao Ambedkar, Anoop Shramik, Dalit rights defender Shushil Gautam, Robin Verma, Sadaf Jaffar, Mohammad Shoaib and Kafeel Khan, were detained for peacefully protesting against the CAA. On 20 December 2019, women human rights defenders Arundhati Dhurru, Meera Sangamitra and Madhavi were arrested while inquiring into the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Mohammad Shoaib.

In Assam, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi was arbitrarily arrested by the Assam police after delivering a speech on the CAA. He was later handed over to the National Investigation Agency and charged. On 24 January 2020, he was sent to judicial custody for fourteen days. Four others who work for Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, an organisation affiliated with KMSS, were similarly detained and charged. Manash Konwar and Lakhyajyoti Gogoi were released on bail while Dairjya Konwar and Bitu Sonawal are still in detention. On 27 December 2019, Assam police picked up human rights defender Seram Herajit Singh and kept him in custody before a First Information Report was even filed. He was released only after two weeks.

The statement also recorded the attacks on the students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University where the police used tear gas and batons on students who were peacefully protesting against the CAA. It also spoke about the brutal attacks on the students and faculty of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by a masked mob who apart from attacking them physically also chanted slogans against the students like “Kill the leftists”, “Kill the anti-nationals” and “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaron saalon ko” (shoot dead the traitors) after which the students alleged that the police stood by silent while witnessing the attack unfold inside the campus.

Front Line Defenders said that rather than addressing the issues being raised by the protestors, the government has resorted to shutting down any form of dissent by restricting internet access, imposing curfews and detaining hundreds of peaceful protestors and human rights defenders. The police, while failing to exercise their duty to protect the people, have been using excessive force against those who are merely exercising their fundamental rights.

The Front Line Defenders condemns the excessive use of force by police personnel and is extremely concerned about the increasingly hostile environment for human rights defenders in India. It urges the Indian authorities to release all those arbitrarily arrested and detained, as well as to investigate allegations of grave human rights violations. It further calls on the government to ensure that human rights defenders are permitted to carry out their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of the rights of others.

The entire statement by Front Line Defenders may be read here.

Related:

Two days into the new year, Mumbai protests police excess in UP

Is Varanasi being stifled under Section 144?

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