Tag Archives: Press Statements

[Press Note] Protest against false imprisonment and torture of adivasi teacher Soni Sori in Chattisgarh (Bangalore)

Held at 6 pm, Saturday, 24th March 2012, Town Hall in Bangalore

“Arrest Ankit Garg, Release Soni Sori”

“Attn: Ms. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Chattisgarh state, NHRC, Stop Torture of Soni Sori”

These were among the slogans from nearly 20 Karnataka based human rights organizations to the Government of India in support of Soni Sori, a 35 year old adivasi school teacher who has been incarcerated in Chattisgarh police custody since October 2011 despite medical evidence revealing their brutal custodial torture, electrocution, beating, and sexual assault on her, shoving stones into her private parts. Around 100 persons gathered at 6 pm on 24th March 2012 in front of Town Hall in Bangalore to appeal for the immediate transfer of Soni Sori out of Chhattisgarh police custody and her speedy trial. Expressing solidarity with Soni Sori, the people also demanded the arrest of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada under whose supervision Soni Sori was subject to verbal and sexual assault in jail. They join people across the country in condemning the award of the Police Gallantry medal to Garg on Republic Day, 2012.

The protesters angrily burned an effigy of Ankit Garg, shouting slogans shaming him, and held a candlelight vigil for justice for Soni Sori. The brutality of police torture was also depicted by protesters masquerading as police and victims, while protesters held up signs condemning the functioning of the criminal justice system and asking for the freedom of adivasi journalists Lingaram Kodopi of Chhattisgarh and Vittala Malekudiya of Karnataka and many other political prisoners such as Manish Kunjam. Venkatesh of Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, Manohar of SICHREM, and transgender political activists Charu of LesBiT and Veena of Praja Rajya Vedike spoke about the several ways in which the police system and false charges have been used to routinely detain and torture human rights activists and members of the adivasi, dalit, muslim and transgender communities in Karnataka. Comrade Balan of AITUC, Com. Nagaragere Ramesh of PDF, Com. Vishwa of New Socialist Alternative, Arati of PUCL and Pushpa of WSS stirred the crowd into thinking about whether the government today has prioritized the care and protection of its own citizens, or instead persecuted citizens for the benefit of exploitative private corporations. As the rousing songs of Dalitha Mattu Mahila Chaluvali questioned the freedom we have attained in more than 60 years of independence, members of the crowd signed a banner with messages to the President of India to ensure justice for Soni Sori.

Our Demands

– Immediately transfer Soni Sori out of the custody of Chhattisgarh police and ensure the provision of appropriate health care to Soni Sori without police interference.

– Set up an independent investigation into the conduct of Chhattisgarh law enforcement officials in the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, and the immediate suspension of the responsible officers and prosecution under the PoA Act pending this inquiry

– Ensure the speedy completion of trial of Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi, Manish Kunjam and countless others so that they do not languish for years in custody when their guilt has not been proven.

– Show public proof of the good health and safety of Lingaram Kodopi and other prisoners in Chhattisgarh police custody.

– Set up a high-level independent investigation team to look at the condition of prisoners, especially women, including in the state ofChhattisgarh, to determine whether other women may have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and investigate the reality ofprisoners’ access to health care.

– Enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and remove the need for prior state authorization to initiate criminal action against the officialsimplicated 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 independentmonitoring of detention facilities including station lockups and jails by human rights commissions and civil society groups. Considerrequiring police to videotape interrogations, especially in police stations in Naxalite areas and train police on proper conduct toward women in custody.

– End the use of custodial torture, lengthy custodial holding on false charges, and constant police harassment as tools of repressionagainst the adivasi and other residents of Chhattisgarh.

Participating Organizations/Networks

LesBiT, SICHREM, New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India), People’s Solidarity Concerns, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression: WSS-Karnataka, PUCL-Bangalore, Peoples’ Democratic Forum, Dalitha Mattu Mahila Chaluvali, Concern (IISc), Maraa, Dalit Bahujana Chaluvali, Samanata Mahila Vedike, Vimochana, Sangama, Samara, Pedipics, Alternative Law Forum (ALF)

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[Kracktivist] Citizens’ Statement on the arrest of Journalist Kazmi

The undersigned condemn the arrest of senior journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with the attack on Israeli diplomat last month. Mr. Kazmi’s arrest is reminiscent of the arrest and false allegations against another veteran journalist, Iftikhar Gilani, several years ago. We fear that Mr. Kazmi may be made a scapegoat in order to please an international lobby. It is no secret that Israel held Iran culpable within minutes of the attack, and there has been immense pressure on India to sever its ties with Iran—both from Israel and US (to the extent that US displayed its obvious unhappiness to foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai over the fact that India was not heeding the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US on Iran.) […]

Read the full statement here.

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Amnesty International Releases International Women’s Day Video: Free Soni Sori

Share and spread widely…

 

Here is the accompanying press release from Amnesty International:

INDIA: RELEASE SONI SORI ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

PRESS RELEASE

7 March 2012
INDIA: RELEASE SONI SORI ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

The Indian authorities must release Soni Sori, an activist and school teacher imprisoned and allegedly tortured for speaking out against human rights abuses, Amnesty International said in a call to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March. […]

Read the full press release here.

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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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Statement from Coalition for Protection of Human Rights Defenders (CPHRD)

The Coalition for Protection of Human Rights’ Defenders (CPHRD) strongly condemns the police firing on Umakant Biswal, a young anti-POSCO movement activist and farmer from Dhinkia village district of Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha

According to the information received by us from activist friends in Dhinkia, on 2nd of March 2012, while Mr. Bisawal was working on his farm near the village, the Police came on motor cycle in civil dress to arrest him, after recognizing them he tried to run away but was shot in leg and subsequently arrested. We are also told that, Mr. Bisawal has been tortured in custody. […]

Read the full statement here.

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Press Release on Hunger Strikes in Solidarity with Soni Sori’s Demand for Justice

From Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), Saheli, and other concerned individuals and democratic rights organisations. (dated 29th February 2012)

Recent letters received from Soni Sori, currently in the Raipur Jail, reveal that her health condition is steadily deteriorating, and she is suffering from pain and bleeding. However, she has been denied proper medical care and treatment despite several requests to the jail authorities. After her brutal torture at the hands of Chhattisgarh police in October 2011, she received a complete medical examination only three weeks after the incident at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata. Since then she has not received any follow-up treatment.
Women’s groups and other democratic rights groups in Delhi held a day long hunger strike today at Rajghat from 6 am to 6 pm in solidarity with Soni Sori. Programmes were held also in Bengaluru, Bhopal, Jaipur, Mumbai, as well as in San Francisco and Boston.

Their demands:
– To arrange for prompt and proper medical care for Soni Sori
– To initiate punitive action against SP Ankit Garg and all other police officials involved in her custodial torture.

Read the whole statement here.

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[Press Statement] PUDR condemns Home Ministry notification to appoint Director of the National Counter Terrorism Centre

People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) condemns the notification issued by the Union Home Ministry on February 5, 2012 which appoints the Director of the National Counter Terrorism Centre as the “designated authority” under S2(e) of the Unlawful Activities(prevention) Act (1967). Thereby he derives concurrent powers to “search and arrest” under S 43A of the UAPA. Para 3.1 of the NCTC notification also gives NCTC power to “control and coordinate” all so-called counter-terrorism measures. NCTC was conceived by the Union Government as an agency which will perform functions relating to intelligence, investigation and operations. NCTC also enjoys overriding powers over state government in so far as para 3.5 and 5.1 of the notification requires all authorities including functionaries of the state government, which includes the police department, to provide information, documents and reports to the NCTC. Since NCTC comes under administrative control of the Intelligence Bureau, it means that IB through NCTC will now enjoy policing powers never envisaged for such an unaccountable and opaque agency. […]

Read the full statement here.

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[Press Statement] People’s Union for Democratic Rights: Oppressing Women, Supporting Sexual Violence: The Other Meaning of Bravery!

[…] It is pertinent to note here that Ankit Garg has been awarded this medal for an encounter in Mahasamnad district of Chhattisgarh in 2009 in which eight alleged Maoists were killed. Of these eight, two were innocent village residents, including one who was speech and hearing impaired and was shot dead inside his house. Thus even the alleged bravery is dubious.

It is baffling and shameful to see that instead of taking any serious note of the charges, or initiating action against the perpetrator of such heinous sexual torture, the Government of India decides to award a gallantry medal to him. It is indicative of the utter disrespect and disregard that the Indian government has for the weakest citizens of this country like the adivasis, women, Dalits and Muslims. PUDR considers this award to SP Ankit Garg as an encouragement to the continued use of sexual violence as a tool to punish women whom the police and the government see as offenders or as belonging to the enemy. […]

Read the full statement here.

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[Press Statement] Women Against Sexual Violence And State Repression

[…] It is shocking to note that in spite of wide publicity and protests over SP Ankit Garg’s inhuman conduct by a large number of women’s and civil liberties groups, nationally and internationally, the government has deemed it fit to confer him with a gallantry award. It is even more baffling to note that this has occurred at a time when the Honourable Supreme Court itself has expressed anguish at the happenings and is still looking into these violations. Compounding the very serious charges of a heinous crime of sexual violence against Ms. Soni Sori that SP Ankit Garg faces, is that fact that this crime happened when she had been entrusted into his custody as a senior police officer. After the report from the Kolkata NRS Medical College and Hospital, this is no longer a case of mere allegations against the police, but there is also solid evidence by a government medical team to support her charges. However, none of this appears to have placed even a shadow of doubt on the gallantry of this Officer as far as the government is concerned. By giving an award in the face of these complaints which have not even received a cursory investigation, both the Central and State governments are condoning this sexual violence which is being perpetrated in the name of anti-Naxal operations.

It is a dark day for Indian democracy today. While Ms. Soni Sori, the victim of this heinous torture languishes in the Raipur Central Jail, with a deteriorating health condition, and waits for her case to be listed in the Supreme Court, women’s teams who have been taking up the case of her torture have been refused permission to meet her. She is still under the custody of the same state police has that inflicted this torture on her.

We are also appalled to note that a majority of “gallantry” awards this year have been given out for anti-Naxal and counter-insurgency operations. Civil liberties organisations have been pointing out the widespread human rights violations that are taking place in these areas in the cover of counter-insurgency operations. This raises grave concerns and points to a movement in the direction of a military state, which can have no place in a democratic republic such as ours. […]

Read the whole statement here

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[Open Letter] JTSA and ANHAD Write to the Home Minister and Delhi Police Commissioner in Connection with the Arrest of Naquee Ahmed

[…] The issue that we draw your attention to is the fact that competition between different investigative agencies has created a ‘free for all’ wherein young men, belonging to a particular community can be picked up at will—secretly it seems, even from fraternal agencies. The lust for promotions, awards and media headlines has let loose a cynical ruthlessness that is becoming difficult to contain. And in these cut-throat organizational rivalries it is the innocent Muslim youth who are being sacrificed.

The matter is simple: here was a young man willing to offer his best cooperation in an effort to help the police in their anti-terror operations, but is himself claimed by the one-upmanship among various investigative agencies. Is this how the ‘war on terror’ will be fought? By victimization, harassment of Muslims and violation of the due processes of law?

We seek your urgent intervention to put an immediate stop to this sort of terrorization of Muslim youth and their families. The process of investigation and questioning must be transparent and the due process must be strictly adhered to. All those arrested be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours and illegal detentions and interrogations in such detention must be strictly punished.[…]

Read the full letter here.

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