Tag Archives: letter

[Koodankulam] Statement issued by human rights activists today about the Arrests of Satish kumar and Vanni Arasu

We, the undersigned would like to call attention to a news item that appeared in The Hindu, dated March 24, 2012. Titled, Youth Leader held on Sedition Charges, the report goes on to speak of Satish alias Satish Kumar (30), State Convenor of Tamilaga Ilaignar Ezuchi Pasarai being held on sedition charges.

We are astonished and shocked at this piece of news. Satish Kumar was indeed arrested on March 23, 2012, but according to information received by his family, he has been charged with Sections 143, 188 and 34 of the IPC, none of which has anything to do with ‘sedition’. Section 143 (Unlawful Assembly), Section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
Satish Kumar was one amongst many hundreds who participated in a rally that was held in Tirunelveli on March 23. Many of the rallyists including MDMK leader Vaiko and Periyar DK leader Kolathur Mani, were arrested. While the others were released, Satish was not. Contrary to all established procedure he was arrested, kept in an unknown place for several hours and produced before a magistrate around midnight. He was subsequently remanded and lodged in Palayamkottai jail.
The news report however does not state any of this, and instead notes that he was apprehended in the district when he arrived there on Friday. The news report further notes that Satish Kumar is believed to be associated with the agitation against the Kudangulam Nuclear Power Plant. The report also quotes Tirunelveli Deputy Inspector General of Police V Varadaraju as saying that the ‘accused’ was involved in a case pertaining to the training of suspected Maoist cadres in 2002.

We are shocked that the actual details of the arrest are sought to be overwritten by statements that suggest Satish Kumar was engaged in seditious activity. We are particularly concerned that this is not the only instance where those who have protested against the Kudangulam plant are being subject to arbitrary arrests. Mukilan another anti-Kudankulam protester was arrested some days ago and Vanniarasu who was present at the March 23 rally was arrested subsequent to Satish Kumar’s arrest.

Given the nature of these arrests, we are forced to conclude that the police are engaged in weaving a conspiracy around the three arrested men with the intention of implicating them in false sedition charges. We also strongly condemn these and other attempts to malign and criminalise those who are engaged in a peaceful and legitimate struggle against the Kudangulam Nuclear Plant.

We demand that all three men be immediately released.

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[Resist POSCO] Open Letter to Naveen Pattnaik, CM of Odisha State Re: POSCO-related Attacks on Villagers

Open Letter by Korean Organisations to Naveen Pattnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha State, India

The Chief Minister of Odisha State, Naveen Pattnaik
Bhubaneswar-751001.
Odisha, India
March 23, 2012

We -human rights, labor, and civic organizations in Korea- are writing to you with our deep concern regarding the current attacks continuously made to villagers who are opposing the construction of POSCO steel plant.

Even 6 years have been passed since the project in Odisha State had begun, POSCO could never have had approval from the villagers. And conflicts surrounding the construction of ironworks are continued.

The villagers made their peaceful resistance lying down on the roads while the government of Odisha State mobilizing the police to take their lands by force. This was on the rise to international community, including Korea, as a human rights issue.

Recent few months, however, the villagers and Anti-POSCO activists are being attacked by anonymous groups of armed men. On December 14, one person was killed and many were injured by a group of armed mafias while protesting. Bapi Sharkel is suspected to be the leader of this attack, however, Odisha police had not made proper investigation on this. Rather, questions are suggested that Odisha State is securing him.

Odisha State had not made fair work on Bapi Sarkhel, principal offender of the violence on December 14, and even had released him on February 29. And after 2 days from his release, another villager was attacked by an unidentified armed man.

A group of armed men came around 1PM on March 2, 2012 and took away Umakant Biswal, a known activist of the Anti-POSCO struggle. We got reports that he has been kept in Paradip police station and is being physically and mentally tortured. We do not know whether the attackers were the police, or the group of Bapi Sarkhel. What is certain, however, is that Umakant Biswal, who was injured, could not exercise his legal rights. We are aware of the fact that, as per the Indian Criminal code, the police are supposed to produce him before the magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. However, more than 24 hours have passed but he has not been produced before the magistrate. No one including the villagers, lawyer or even the parents is allowed to meet him in the police station.

We are concerning on the reason that why Bapi Sarkhel didn’t went through appropriate investigation and the testimony that he had received all kind of conveniences. Also, we strongly question the correlation between his release and the violence 2 days after that. If POSCO and the Odisha State government who wants to push ahead the construction are behind this series of incidents, this is gross abuse of human rights as well as significant part that damages the legitimacy of POSCO project.

There are many cases in korea which government and corporations oppressed the resistance of civilians by mobilizing gangsters over developments. The development project that does not protect right to life and right to live could never be successful.

We request Naveen Pattnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha State

– To make thorough investigation into Bapi Sarkhel, including the criminals of the violence on December 14, 2011.

– To punish the offenders who had attacked Umakant Biswal and the police who had violated the article 57 of the code of criminal procedure and had refused to hospitalizing and conference with attorney.

– To stop the suppression on the villagers who oppose the construction of POSCO.

– Not to push ahead the construction without the consent of villagers.

Sincerely yours,

Advocates Public Interests Lawyers
Corporation For All
Energy & Climate Policy Institute for Just Transition
International Solidarity Committee of Minbyun
Korean House for International Solidarity
Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights
Network for Glocal Activism
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
People’s Solidarity for Social Progress
Public Interest Lawyers’ Group Gonggam
SARANGBANG group for human rights

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[LesBiT] Email Campaign Against Custodial Torture Re: Soni Sori

From LesBiT:

Dear Friends,
This is an appeal from LesBiT. We are starting an Email campaign to free Soni Sori. Attached is a example draft mail which can be personlised by you all not just as groups but also from your personal emails, in your own manner and sent to president of India and other people in position like the prime minister, Jayalalitha, National commission for women, National commission for Schedule caste/Schedule tribes, NHRC, and Chattisgarh SHRC.

emails – presidentofindia@rb.nic.in, manmohan@sansad.nic.in, drjjayalalitha@gmail.com, ncw@nic.in, chairperson.ncw@nic.in, chairperson@ncst.nic.in, ro-ncm@nic.in, covdnhrc@nic.in, ionhrc@nic.in, cghrcryp@sify.com

About Soni Sori
Soni Sori, a 35-year-old Adivasi school teacher in Chhattisgarh, has been languishing in Raipur Jail since October 2011, she has written letters from jail asking the Nation to help her. Soni has been tortured by the Chhattisgarh police – she complained that she was stripped naked and given electric shocks. A medical exam found small stones in her vagina and rectum. The torture was under the supervision of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police. In a terrible twist of events he was given the President’s Award on Republic Day. Soni lives in Dantewada. a Naxalite stronghold. Last year, Soni fought with the Naxalites when they tried to stop her form hoisting the national flag on Independence Day. Naxalites shot her father in the leg saying he was a police informer. Yet the police first arrested her husband, and now Soni, for being Naxalite supporters! Because she has constantly fought for her people’s rights – for minimum wages. She has taken on powerful companies that want the Adivasis’ land, and the Chhattisgarh government that supports these companies. She has taken on the police for their illegal activities. Now, fed up of being in jail, far from her three young children, Sori has gone on hunger strike. In a letter to her lawyer she writes: “We Adivasis are only fated to suffer atrocities and die. We Adivasis are a business for the government.”

In Solidarity
Sunil
LesBiT

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Open Letter to Prathibha Patil From Lekshmi Mohan (Sunil Mohan) Transperson from LesBiT Re: Soni Sori

Re-Posted here in its entirety

Respected Prathibha Patil,

I request you to read this letter completely. It might be a long letter to you, but this is the reality that your citizens, especially women, are undergoing at the hands of your own government in your country. This is also a serious matter that has to be addressed by someone. Obviously this kind of violence has to be addressed by the government or the law. Unfortunately, in this case, the perpetrators are the government people or people who whose responsibility is to protect people’s rights and law. This is the main reason that I am sending this to you, as you are in the supreme position in India and you can take the decisions. Moreover, I respect you as a woman and feel more than anyone else in this position, you can understand a woman’s pain, violation of rights and violence by the state on women.

This is the voice of a woman, an Adivasi woman, who has undergone cruelty at the hands of the cruel, inhuman government as a victim. Please listen to this with your hands on your heart. I am sure that you cannot ignore this as a human being and as a woman. You might ask/think, who am I to state all these and why to you and my answer to this is that I am a citizen of the country where you are the President. I am a human being and a responsible human being and a citizen, who has humanity. I am also stating this out to you as I feel these issues are anti-human that is inhuman. I believe, as per the constitution, no individual should be discriminated or violated of rights, nor should they undergo violence at the hands of the government. This is the reason that I strongly believe that I have the right to question any injustice in this country. I also believe that you also have the same responsibility not just as a president but also as a citizen of this country. As a citizen and a human being of this country I insist you to listen to this voice of an Adivasi woman who is facing injustice and violence from your own government or governing people.

I am just a citizen in this country and you are a citizen who has more power than me to control violence and violations against women’s rights and injustice. It is a woman’s rights violation and violence issue and so you have more responsibility to listen to this as woman.

“Giving me electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me – is this going to solve the Naxal problem?” – Soni Sori in a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court “don’t leave me among these people…Was the abuse on me not enough?…This is a plea from a helpless daughter…This is a mother’s plea for her children”, she says.

Soni Sori, a 35-year-old Adivasi school teacher in Chhattisgarh, has been languishing in Raipur Jail since October 2011, she has written letters from jail asking the Nation to help her. Soni has been tortured by the Chhattisgarh police – she complained that she was stripped naked and given electric shocks. A medical exam found small stones in her vagina and rectum.  The torture was under the supervision of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police. In a terrible twist of events he was given the President’s Award on Republic Day. Soni lives in Dantewada. a Naxalite stronghold. Last year, Soni fought with the Naxalites when they tried to stop her form hoisting the national flag on Independence Day. Naxalites shot her father in the leg saying he was a police informer. Yet the police first arrested her husband, and now Soni, for being Naxalite supporters! Because she has constantly fought for her people’s rights – for minimum wages. She has taken on powerful companies that want the Adivasis’ land, and the Chhattisgarh government that supports these companies. She has taken on the police for their illegal activities. Now, fed up of being in jail, far from her three young children, Sori has gone on hunger strike. In a letter to her lawyer she writes: “We Adivasis are only fated to suffer atrocities and die. We Adivasis are a business for the government.’’

• Independently investigate the conduct of Chhattisgarh law enforcement officials in the Soni Sori case.
• Ensure the provision of appropriate health care to Soni Sori without police interference.
• Set up a high-level independent investigation team to look at the condition of women detainees and prisoners, including in the state of Chhattisgarh, to determine whether other women may have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and whether women detainees and prisoners in general have adequate access to health care.
• Enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and remove the need for prior state authorization to initiate criminal action against the officials implicated in custodial torture. Ratify the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
• Ensure that the latest central government grants to states to set up police stations in Maoist areas include support for independent monitoring of detention facilities including station lockups and jails by human rights commissions and civil society groups. Consider requiring police to videotape interrogations, especially in police stations in Naxalite areas.
• Work with civil society groups to train police on proper conduct toward women in custody.

From
Lekshmi Mohan (Sunil Mohan)
Transperson from LesBiT

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Human Rights Watch writes to the Prime Minister re Soni Sori’s Custodial Torture

Via Kractivist

[…] We urge your government to establish an independent and impartial investigation into Soni Sori’s torture allegations, and ensure her immediate access to health care without police interference. Because we are concerned that her treatment reflects broader problems facing incarcerated women in India, we also ask that you initiate a review of conditions for women detainees and prisoners generally, including torture allegations and access to health care.

The Chhattisgarh state police charged Soni Sori, a 35-year-old mother
and former teacher, with crimes related to being a Naxalite supporter. Her defense lawyer told Human Rights Watch that they have accused her in a spate of cases, alleging she was evading arrest when she was actually present and working in a residential school for tribal children. […]

Read the full letter here [pdf download].

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Letter sent to the NHRC on Soni Sodi Requesting to Provide her with Adequate Medical Facilities.

Addressed to the National Human Rights Commission, PUCL has sent a request to send a fact-finding team and ensure medical facilities to Soni Sori.

Here’s an excerpt:

[…] A visit to the jail by some concerned citizens has revealed that the Soni Sodi is on partial hunger strike and she is deteriorating physically and psychologically. Taking note of this some of the concerned citizens and organizations have observed one day fast at the Rajghat on 29th February 2011. (photographs of it are attached with this letter). PUCL on behalf of all concerned citizens and Women Against Sexual Violence appeals to you to send a fact finding team of the Commission to the jail and ensure all basic facilities that Soni sodi is entitled including medical assistance so that she continues to retain her sanity to fight for justice and ensure that all those who indulged in torturing her are brought to justice as per the ongoing cases in the Court. We understand that by sending such a team the Commission would honor the sentiments of hundreds of concerned women who have been campaigning for justice for soni Sodi […]

Read the full letter here.

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[Dantewada Vani] Himanshu Kumar’s Letter to the Prime Minister Regarding Ankit Garg and Soni Sori (Hindi)

महामहिम राष्ट्रपति जी,
महामहिम राष्ट्रपति जी,

”अमर रहे गणतंत्र हमारा ”

दुःखभरे ह्रदय से आप को यह पत्र लिखते हुए हमें ध्यान है कि देश और दुनिया के अनेक चिंतित नागरिक समूहों, स्त्री अधिकार संगठनों और मानवाधिकार समूहों ने दंतेवाडा के पुलिस सुपरिटेन्डेंट अंकित गर्ग को वीरता पदक दिए जाने के फैसले से जुडी हुयी चिंताओं की ओर आप का ध्यान आकर्षित किया है . हमें यकीन है कि आप इन चिंताओं पर गहराई से विचार करने की प्रक्रिया में हैं . हमें विश्वास है कि इस प्रसंग में आप के द्वारा लिया गया निर्णय राष्ट्र के गौरव , नागरिकों के संवैधानिक अधिकारों और उन की मानवीय गरिमा को मज़बूत बनाने वाला सिद्ध होगा.

इस प्रसंग में राष्ट्र के जिम्मेदार और सरोकार -सजग नागरिकों के बतौर हम खास तौर पर जिन विन्दुओं को आप के ध्यान में लाना चाहते हैं , वे इस प्रकार हैं […]

Read the full piece here.

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Open Letter to The Honourable Chief Justice of India and Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India

The Open letter (dated 21st December, 2011) is a plea and a protest from 68 different organizations and 188 prominent individuals including researchers, writers, activists, lawyers, doctors, scientists and professors. The letter includes a descriptive report on what has been happening with Soni Sori’s case thus far from her date of arrest (Oct. 4th 2011).

The letter has details of Soni Sori’s two attempts to seek protection from the courts via the judicial process on Oct 7th and 8th of 2011. However on Oct. 10th (by the time the courts and the public see her again from the time of her arrest), Soni Sori is in so much pain that she is unable to stand up long enough to step out of the police van. (A video of her condition has been widely disseminated over the internet).

Soni Sori is unable to appear in front of the Magistrate that day.

From the Open Letter:

[…] In subsequent statements to relatives, her lawyer and a letter addressed to the Supreme Court itself, Soni Sori has described the custodial torture that she was subjected to. She has stated that she has ‘pulled out of her cell at the Dantewada Police Station on the night of 8/9 October 2011 and taken to S.P.Ankit Garg’s room’. There she was stripped and given electric shocks and that stones and batons were inserted into her private parts’. When she awoke the next morning, she had severe aches all over her body, especially her neck and spine, and acute pain in her lower abdomen. She has subsequently informed her lawyer (affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court), that she found several stones inserted in her vagina, many of which she managed to remove herself, but not all.

The Supreme Court (in WRIT PETITION (CRL)NO. 206 of 2011) observed that the injuries against her person did not appear to be as simple as the State was making them out to be, and ordered an independent medical examination in NRS Medical College Hospital in Kolkata. The medical report, presented to the Supreme Court on 25th November, 2011 states that two stones were found inserted deep inside her vagina and one in her rectum. The MRI scan also reveals annular tears on her spine. All irrefutable evidence of custodial sexual abuse and torture that Soni Sori has suffered at the hands of Chattisgarh Police.

Yet, on 1st December 2011, the Supreme Court ordered that Soni Sori remain in the custody of the Chattisgarh State for an additional period of 55 days until the next hearing on 25th January, 2012. Given the prior apprehension of such violence especially in cases under the shadow of the Maoist issue, and in light of the medical examination report placed before the Court, we are distressed that no immediate action was initiated against responsible police officials, or protection ensured for Soni Sori until the next date of hearing. […]

Read the full letter here [pdf download]. The Hindi translation can be found here.

This is the second letter of its kind to the Supreme Court. Additionally there has been an outpouring of separate press statements from respected organizations and groups from all over India (including one from a CPI to the Prime Minister of India, pleading for his intervention).

There have been protest rallies held both nationally (within India) and internationally for the release of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

There are at least three petitions currently in circulation for Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, including the most recent one from Amnesty International — condemning their arrest and custodial torture and calling for their immediate release.

A little over 4 months have passed since Soni Sori’s arrest without any forthcoming evidence on the charges against her. To the contrary, a video has been made showing Chattisgarh police admitting that they fabricated charges against both Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

Soni Sori remains imprisoned. The man responsible for her torture has been awarded the country’s highest award of bravery.

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[Himanshu Kumar] Open Protest Letter from NGOs and Collectives Named in Soni Sori’s Supreme Court Case

Update: Open Letter to The Honourable Chief Justice of India and Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India

Unfortunately, this is the only form in which I have this letter. As translations and more web friendly versions are available, I will post.

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[Aamjanata] An Indian Woman writes to Soni Sori

Dear Sister in Womanhood, Soni Sori

I am writing to you to let you know I received your letter. I read it. Your anguish reaches me. Your very important questions reach me. I am humbled at your ability to think beyond yourself in such dire circumstances. I had never heard of your school, but now I know it for one that nurtured a large heart and thinking mind. I know it as your school.

I have never suffered the horrors you speak of. I don’t think I can even imagine them with any accuracy, yet I have suffered in my own way, and I know the heart break of screaming an anguished “why?” into the dark void and receiving no human touch. I have no answers for your questions, because they are my questions too, but I hear you ask them, and I want you to know that your words didn’t sink into obscurity. They touched me. They matter. You matter. […]

Read the whole letter here.

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