The Global Digest

Press Release

Jul-Sep 2011

Teesta Setalvad-CJP Press Release on Bhatt's arrest

Burma Ethnic Nationalities Network-Canada Calls for Long-lasting Political Change for Burma

CONCERNED CITIZENS AND PEOPLE'S MOVEMENT'S CONDEMN BRUTAL VIOLENCE ON DALITS IN TAMIL NADU: Demands stringent actions against the murderers of 7 Dalits in Paramakudi

THAILAND: Respect of the rule of law, protection of human rights, and an end to impunity

NAPM Demands SCRAPPING of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plants: PROTECT Rights to Life and Livelihood of Communities

RIGHT TO FOOD CAMPAIGN: Open letter to the Prime Minister of India and his Council of Ministers

THAILAND: Persecution of torture victims and the legalization of impunity in Thailand

Demolish ‘Adarsh Society’ and other such CRZ violators across India - NFF holds national action on Quit India Day, across India

Over 30,000 displaced by Burma Army attacks face humanitarian crisis in northern Shan State

A letter to Manmohan Singh from a group of researchers and students highlights the importance of ‘near-universal PDS'

NFF to observe ‘Quit India’ remembrance national protest day on August 9th

Burma Army gives rapists free rein in northern Shan State offensive

FIDH condemns violent and massive crackdown on peaceful protesters

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy: The ‘Hot Run’ in Koodankulam NPP Coincides with a ‘Hot Report’ Published in Russia



Teesta Setalvad-CJP Press Release on Bhatt's arrest

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
Sep. 30, 2011

Police arresting Sanjeev Bhatt

The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) strongly condemns the vinictive action of the Gujarat government in arresting Sanjeev Bhatt, senior IPS officer in an action that is nothing short of an attempt to intimidate an important witness in the Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP criminal complaint against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others. This action of the Gujarat police under the direct intructions of the state’s Home Minister—Narendra Modi amounts to tampering with evidence and direct intimidation of a key witness. It is also a cheap attempt to slur his character and standing.

Key issues need to be raised here. One that through his affidavit before the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated April 2011 he had testified to criminal and un-Constitutional instructions being issued by Modi at a late night meeting of 27.2.2002 the day of the Godhra incident. In his statements before the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) he also gave documentary data about Modi’s abdication of responsibility on 28.2.2002 the day attacks on Gulberg Society and Naroda Patia in Ahmedabad were in full swing. Finally, and last but not the least in an affidavit filed before the High Court recently Shri Bhatt had even mentioned that both Modi and Amit Shah, then MOS Home had tried to intimidate and pressurise him into not giving facts and evidence in the possession of the State Intelligence Bureau related to the assassination of former MOS Revenue Shri Haren Pandya. The CBI investigation into the Pandya assassination has been recently severely criticised by the Gujarat High Court.

Most critically, Bhatt had challenged this FIR for which he was arrested through Writ Petition 135/2011 in the Supreme Court. The SC had issued notice to the Gujarat government on 29.7.2011. This hasty and vindictive, even desperate action of the Gujarat police directly while the matter is under consideration of the Supreme Court raises serious issues of contempt of the highest court, due process and most importantly intimidating a witness critical to a trial to ensure public justice. The alleged offences for which Bhatt was arresred are sections 183,189, 193, 195, 341 of the IPC. With our matter now awaiting being charge sheeting before a Gujarat Magistrate’s Court the arrest of Bhatt is also a clear attempt by the state of Gujarat to warn us all collectively and individually of repercussions if we struggle for justice. It is a pathetic subversion of the Constitution and the Rule of Law

Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Trustee

Other Trustees: IM Kadri, Alyqye Padamsee, Nandan Maluste, Cyrus Giuzder, Javed Anand, Arvind Krishnaswamy, Javed Akhtar, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash, Ghulam Pesh Imam

Burma Ethnic Nationalities Network-Canada Calls for Long-lasting Political Change for Burma

Sep. 23, 2011

Ethnic Kachin Independent Army troop

Burma Ethnic Nationalities Network-Canada (BENN-Canada) is a common advocacy group for ethnic nationalities living across Canada. Burma Ethnic Nationality Network-Canada is calling for a ceasefire in Burma’s all ethnic regions and to talk about democratic reforms, ceasefire and peace building process with ethnic armed organizations and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led NLD party.

The meeting between U Thein Sein, the President of Burma and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a positive sign, but it is still a long way to achieve the goal of peace, democracy and national reconciliation. There is no signs for the release of all political prisoners, and human-rights violations is still widespread across Burma especially in ethnic regions, as well as Burmese army fighting ethnic armed group still continue using artillery fire targeting innocent civilians. Over 6 decades long civil war and the demand for self-determination and political rights was deeply rooted in Panglong Agreement. Country wide ceasefire agreement, discussion to change constitution, building federal states, economic development, human rights and all political issues need to be addressed to the policy makers of newly elected government. The local state government has no such power or authorities to discuss, or make necessary changes.

The solution to the problems in Burma lies in tripartite dialogue between the army-backed government, the mainstream democracy movement, and ethnic groups. The previous military regime had no serious effort had ever been made to secure such dialogue. Efforts to secure such dialogue should be a top priority for new government of Burma to prove its worthiness and to be eligible to gain international support in its bid to host Association of South East Asian Nations meetings in 2014 and to ease economic sanctions over its human-rights record. Ending all forms of human right violations across the country and country wide ceasefire talk should be the top priorities. Those conditions need to take consideration for the international community, including the European Union, US, Canada and Australia in its engagement with the new Burmese government. The European Union, US and Canadian governments should take the role of mediators between the Burmese new regime and ethnic nationalities with Daw Aung San Su Kyi led NLD party for the dialoque.

We, the BENN-Canada urges the international community, including the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU), and Canada to press Burma’s nearest neighbors, Thailand, China and India, to help long lasting change for Burma and to protect refugees who have fled the armed conflicts to seek refuge in the border regions. We firmly believe that economic developments and ending poverty will not happen without peace and stability in the country of Burma.

Therefore, We the BENN-Canada call for economic sanctions and embargoes will remain in place until the following demands are met:

1. To release estimated over 2000 political prisoners
2. To end all military offensive against ethnic armed oppositions and human rights violation across country especially in ethnic regions immediately
3. To respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allows media and religious freedom
4. To stop treating and blaming ethnic armed groups who have been fighting for democracy, human rights, and longlasting peace for Burma as destructive armed groups 5. To invite all ethnic armed groups for peace talk to end fighting and to start long lasting cease-fire agreement by the new Burmese government, not by the local military commanders or state government

Media Contacts:

Kyaw Zaw Wei (416) 358-2318, Saion Nammao (604) 598-9192, Mahn Kyaw Swe (519) 434-0139


CONCERNED CITIZENS AND PEOPLE'S MOVEMENT'S CONDEMN BRUTAL VIOLENCE ON DALITS IN TAMIL NADU: Demands stringent actions against the murderers of 7 Dalits in Paramakudi

Special Report
By Medha Patkar

Anti-Dalits firing by police

New Delhi: On September 11, 7 Dalits were killed in brutal violence and firing by the Tamil Nadu state police, which also left many seriously injured at Paramakudi. It was an act of connivance of feudal elements in the state machinery with a rival community. While condemning this act of illegality, we are also saddened by the loss of lives caused by such reckless and arrogant actions of irresponsible police officers. Till date nothing has happened, the commission of enquiry set up is yet to submit its report and no action has been taken against the officials. We demand immediate action must be taken against IG of Police Rajesh Das, DIG of Police Sandeep Mitta, Deputy Comissioner from Chennai Adayar Senthile Vilam deputed to Paramakudi and Inspector Shiva Kumar, Paramakudi.

It is astonishing to note that a prominent Dalit leader’s (Shri. Immanuel Sekaran) annual memorial ceremony is marked regularly in the state as a militarized day. It is equally condemnable that the oppressed dalit community is often denied administrative permissions to organize gatherings on the day, since curfew and imposition of Section 144 of IPC seem routine. In this context, it is to be noted that a writ petition had been filed before the Madras High Court Bench seeking facilities such as drinking water, food stalls, medical aid, garbage bins, public information booths and special buses from various parts of the State to the memorial where nearly 15 lakh people gather every year. The petitioner had also mentioned that permission is denied to open food stalls and other public service centers by the administration, which leads to lack of planning and preparation.

Historically while looking at struggles of the Dalits to assert themselves, there have been violent clashes in where Dalits have been targeted and are at the receiving end by elements within the upper or intermediate caste groupings. The rights to access public spaces and be free from the humiliating casteist experiences have been through the constant struggle, martyrdom and assertion of Dalits. This act by the police has once again proved that the attitude towards the assertion of Dalit movements will be dealt with force ending with bloody acts.

We also condemn the murder of Palanikumar, a Dalit, on the day before Immanuel Sekaran Memorial Day by a group of caste Hindus alleging to a objectionable wall graffiti against a leader of the rival caste.

It’s very clearly evident that there have been no serious thoughts by the administration before this heinous act. Instead of having negotiations and engaging in processes to calm the agitation by the people and allow them to commemorate the death anniversary of the martyr Immanuel, the police have created even more bloodshed. This exactly is the lack of imagination and maturity of the police to deal such a grave situation.

While welcoming the judicial enquiry, in order to ascertain the facts we demand that justice be done to those killed and action taken against the police officials responsible for those. We also demand that adequate provision be made for the celebration of the Sekaran Memorial day every year so that such incidents are not repeated again in future. We do hope that the announcement by the Chief Minister of reconstituting district peace committees will lead to decrease in the caste and communal tension in the state in coming days.


National Alliance of People's Movements, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, National Fishworker's Forum, Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee, Him Niti Abhiyan, Matu Jan Sangathan, National Domestic Workers Union, Shahri Kamgar Mahila Sangathan, Delhi Solidarity Group, Individuals

Medha Patkar, Convener, NAPM, Banwari lal Sharma, Azadi bachaao andolan,Sandeep Pandey, Convener NAPM, Gabriele Dietrich, Convener NAPM,Sister Celia, Convener NAPM, Chennaiah, Convener NAPM, B Rama Krishna Raju, Convener NAPM-A.P., Raja Reddy, Convener NPPV, Dr. G Vijay Kumar Founder Member of J.V.V., Madhuresh, National Organiser, NAPM, P.S. Ajay Kumar, Co-Convener, NAPM AP, K. Saraswathi, Co-Convener, NAPM AP, Vijayan M J, Delhi Forum, Anil Varghese, Programme for Social Action

THAILAND: Respect of the rule of law, protection of human rights, and an end to impunity

Thai Prime minister Ms Yingluck Shinawatra

An Open Letter from International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Union for Civil Liberty forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Open Letter to Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

9 September 2011

HE Ms Yingluck Shinawatra
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Via Fax: +66 (0) 2288-4016

Subject: Respect of the rule of law, protection of human rights, and an end to impunity

Your Excellency,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization in Thailand, the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), respectfully urge you to make effective protection and promotion of human rights a top priority in your administration. On 5 October, Thailand’s human rights record will be examined for the first time by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, and it is essential that your government demonstrate to the international community and the people of Thailand a genuine commitment to restore full democracy, respect the rule of law, and outline the concrete steps you plan to take to fulfill this commitment.

As a State party to eight major international human rights treaties, Thailand has the obligation not only to respect and fulfill human rights, but also to take all necessary measures to ensure their full protection. While the protracted political turmoil in Thailand in the past six years is complex, our organizations believe that the lack of respect for human rights and of access to justice for victims constitute a major underlying factor and contribute to a growing sense of injustice pervasive in the country.


Freedom of expression and opinion is a cornerstone of every free and democratic society. It is protected by the Constitution of Thailand of 2007 (Part 7, Section 45) and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand acceded in 1996. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, in its UPR report, called on the government to “adhere strictly to the provisions of the Constitution in guaranteeing the freedom of the media and the people.”

Restrictions on freedom of expression are permissible under international law if, and only if, they are provided by law to protect the rights of others or for the purpose of national security and public order, in strict conformity with the tests of necessity and proportionality. Such restrictions of liberties need to remain exceptional and defined in very clear and narrow terms, with robust safeguards and remedial measures in place to check against abuses.

In Thailand, the lese majeste laws as well as the Computer Crimes Act of 2007 are unfortunately applied in an abusive and non-transparent manner and are inconsistent with international standards for the protection of freedom of expression. The same can be said of several special security laws which restrict freedom of expression. All these laws are formulated in overly broad and vague terms, giving wide and virtually unchecked discretionary power to State authorities to arbitrarily censor the media, criminalize peaceful speech, and restrict freedom of expression without adequate judicial and other independent oversight. They have also been increasingly used to curtail peaceful and legitimate expression of political and dissenting opinions. In 2010, when a state of emergency was imposed in Bangkok and other provinces, tens of thousands of web-pages were blocked, over a hundred opposition community radio stations were shut down, and various other news outlets were heavily censored or closed down entirely.

FIDH and UCL strongly recommend the Thai government to undertake a comprehensive and rigorous review of all legislations and administrative measures that impinge upon the freedom of expression and amend or repeal those inconsistent with or in violation of international human rights law and standards. The authorities must disclose the details and number of lese majeste cases to the public, cease the practice of closed trials, and end all forms of censorship and intimidation of journalists, netizens and Internet service providers. Silencing the people who exercise their legitimate rights is not only a hallmark of an authoritarian regime but also a recipe for social tension and conflict. It is high time that the Thai government take concrete and serious action to cease and rectify such violations of freedom of expression.


Today, more than two thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. A third resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling for a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty was adopted by 109 States on 21 December 2010. We take note that Thailand, who voted against the previous two resolutions, abstained in 2010 and did not sign a statement of disassociation. The Second National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2013), in its Section 3.1, proposed the replacement of the death penalty with life imprisonment. However, we are deeply concerned that the government’s national UPR report leaves out this proposal and fails to make any commitment to abolition.

The death penalty is an inherently cruel and inhuman punishment that is also irreversible. Substantial evidence has demonstrated it has no deterrent effect on crimes. The government must show real leadership to inform and change, rather than hide behind, public opinion regarding the death penalty.

Besides, we are also particularly concerned about the cruel and inhuman practice of permanent shackling of male death row prisoners. The practice continues despite the call to end it in 2005 by the UN Human Rights Committee and a decision in 2007 by the Administrative Court of Thailand that such a practice is unconstitutional and contrary to international law.

FIDH and UCL call on your government and the parliament to adopt immediately a moratorium on execution with the final aim being its abolition, cease permanent shackling of male death row prisoners, and collaborate with civil society to sensitize the public on the need for abolition. We recall the previous admonition of the UN Human Rights Committee to the Royal Thai Government that only the “most serious crimes” may be subject to the death penalty, and that drug related crimes do not constitute “most serious crimes” referred to in Article 6.2 of the ICCPR. It must be emphasized that the concession of this article may not be invoked “to delay or prevent the abolition of capital punishment” (Article 6.6 of ICCPR).


The imposition of special security laws, including Martial Law, the Emergency Decree, and the Internal Security Act, in southern border provinces, as well as in other parts of the country during recent political demonstrations, has led to serious rights violations, including--in addition to restrictions on freedom of expression--arbitrary detentions, arrests without warrant, and prolonged detention without a criminal charge. These practices have also resulted in other serious abuses such as enforced disappearance, torture and extra-judicial killings.

Besides, the special security laws grant broad discretionary powers to State agents, who are not effectively checked by adequate independent oversight, either by the judiciary or other bodies. Immunity clauses built into the laws effectively protect the government and its agents from being prosecuted for the crimes they committed. Such impunity is counter-productive to national reconciliation and creates a sense of injustice that exacerbates the root causes of conflict.

FIDH and UCL call on your government to urgently restore the primacy of human rights, including due process and fair trial rights, to all laws concerning the protection of national security and public order and resulting practices. This entails repealing or drastically amending all special security laws to bring them in line with international legal standards and human rights instruments to which Thailand is a party. Exceptional powers should be narrowly and precisely defined and the laws regularly and rigorously reviewed and checked by the Parliament and other independent bodies. Besides, their application must be consistent with the strict tests of legality, necessity and proportionality. Crimes committed by State agents during the imposition of these laws must be properly investigated and prosecuted.


Impunity of government officials and members of State security forces remains entrenched, widespread, and persistent. It exists in law and in practice. “Unequal access to justice”, as formulated in the national UPR report, is recognized by the government as a challenge. State agents implicated in crimes such as enforced disappearance and excessive use of force are rarely held to account. In the few cases when they are actually prosecuted, they were either convicted for minor offenses that do not reflect the gravity of the actual crimes or they were acquitted altogether. A glaring example is the case of the enforced disappearance on 12 March 2004 of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, which in addition to being in itself a serious crime, ended in the appalling acquittal of all defendants. Accountability for the killing by security officials of 32 suspected insurgents on 28 April 2004 in the Krue Se mosque or the death of 84 demonstrators on 25 October 2004 in the Tak Bai case remain unresolved due to the unwillingness to prosecute by the authorities, despite strong evidence suggesting criminal liability.

The death in Bangkok of 92 and the injuries of 1,885 persons during the crackdown on Red-Shirt protesters in April and May of 2010 remain unaccounted for. We welcome the pledge you made on 4 July 2011 to support the work of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate and establish the facts surrounding the violence of these demonstrations. We deeply regret the lack of cooperation with the factfinding commissions on the part of State security officials involved in the military operations that violently dispersed the protesters.

National reconciliation requires public confidence in the rule of law and strong democratic institutions, including in the judiciary. Failing to deliver justice and remedy when rights have been violated is the greatest obstacle to reconciliation, and such impunity must be lifted. Justice is not an option but an obligation and an imperative.

FIDH and UCL strongly urge your government to provide victims and their families with prompt, effective and adequate remedy, judicial or others, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the ICCPR. Significantly increasing budget allocation for legal assistance to victims of human rights violations would be an important initial step. Compelling the cooperation of government and military officials with the work of the TRC and other independent investigations would be another. The Thai government should also expedite its ratification of additional international instruments, especially the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,, and harmonize them with national laws and enforce them effectively. There is also a need to institutionalize stronger and effective civilian control over the military. We further call on the Thai government to review the Krue Se and Tai Bai cases with a view to pursue prosecution of those responsible for the deaths.


The government’s national UPR report conspicuously left out any references to blatant violations of the nonderogable principle of non-refoulement. These violations include the forcible return in December 2009 to Laos of more than 4,600 Lao Hmong, among whom 158 were UNHCR-designated “Persons of concern”; the forcible return of thousands of Burmese refugees who fled to Thailand following military offensives in border areas; and documented instances between 2008 and 2011 in which the Royal Thai Navy forced Rohingyas from Burma and Bangladesh back out to international waters in rickety boats with little water or food, resulting in fatalities. Prior government promises to investigate the latter incidents remain unfulfilled.

Millions of migrant workers, most of them undocumented, from neighboring countries remain vulnerable to and are subjected to exploitation, sexual abuse, trafficking, and extortion. The government’s national UPR report commits to reform the ‘national verification’ process to make it “less complicated, less time consuming and more cost effective”, which effectively admits that the registration scheme is deeply flawed1.

FIDH and UCL call on the Thai government to make it a matter of national policy to not forcibly return refugees and asylum seekers. It must genuinely respect international norms and ensure UNHCR has unfettered access to properly screen and determine the status of any asylum seeker or refugee, before any decision on repatriation is made and carried out. The government should make it a priority to provide legal protection to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants by enacting appropriate legislation, as well as by acceding to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the subsequent 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990). Accountability for serious violations of the rights of migrants and refugees must be established through credible investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.


We remain deeply concerned that Thailand has failed to be punctual in submitting State party reports to a number of international human rights treaties which it has ratified2. We strongly urge Thailand to honor its reporting obligation and submit its overdue reports as soon as possible and to submit future reports on time. In drafting these reports, the Thai government should conduct multiple, inclusive and broad-based consultation with community and civil society organizations throughout the country, and incorporate their input into the State reports.

When it ran for a seat on the Human Rights Council (HRC), Thailand also pledged to engage and work closely with its special procedures. There are currently 11 pending requests from special procedures. Therefore, we further urge Thailand to honor this pledge by responding positively to these requests and cooperate fully with such country visits, especially by the following:

• Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants;
• Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
• Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
• Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
• Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;
• Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

Madam Prime Minister, the Thai government needs to move in the right direction towards a stronger democracy that fully respects and places human rights at the core of all political, social and economic policies. Words alone cannot protect human rights. Promises alone do not ensure reconciliation. The government’s national UPR report lists a number of laws, regulations, action plans, and entities related to human rights. However, these in themselves do not reflect or guarantee protection of human rights on the ground if they are not properly implemented and monitored to ensure tangible impact. It is therefore essential that your government take concrete steps to ensure and strengthen institutional protection for human rights and the rule of law, end impunity in law and in practice, and dispense justice impartially and promptly. The UPR of Thailand on 5 October will be a key opportunity for Thailand to further elaborate on its plans, not just commitment, to achieve these goals. Thank you for your attention and consideration of our recommendations. We remain at your disposal should you wish to discuss these issues further. Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of our highest regards.

Sincerely yours,

Souhayr Belhassen, President
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Danthong Breen, Chairman
Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)

1 FIDH, “Migrants in Thailand Facing Detention and Imminent Deportation,” 10 March 2010. Available at:

2 Thailand’s initial state party report to the Human Rights Committee was submitted more than six years late and its second report is overdue since August 2009. Its combined sixth and seventh report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is overdue since September 2010. At the timing of writing, it has failed to submit both the initial and second report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Copy to:

Hon. Surapong Towijakchaikul
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hon. Yongyuth Wichaidit
Minister of Interior

Hon. Pol Gen Pracha Promnok
Minister of Justice

Hon. Somsak Kiatsuranont
Speaker of the House of Representatives
President of the National Assembly of Thailand

Hon. Teeradej Meepien
President of the Senate
Vice President of the National Assembly of Thailand

Professor Amara Pongsapich
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand

Press contact: Arthur Manet: +33 6 72 28 42 94/+33 1 43 55 90 19


NAPM Demands SCRAPPING of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plants: PROTECT Rights to Life and Livelihood of Communities

Special Report
By Medha Patkar
Sep. 11, 2011

Anti-nuke protests in Tamil Nadu

New Delhi : Today the world is mourning the death of victims of wanton acts of terrorism ten years ago in New York. But on September 9th while planning for a massive hunger strike on September 11, a non-violent action against the violence unleashed on them by nuclear power plants, the villagers of Idinthakarai village, had to face illegal arrests and beating by the Tamilnadu police. Police arrested three people and beat some of them in a clear attempt to not allow the protests. They even blocked the traffic on the main road near the Koodankulam bus stand. Today even as they hold their public meeting and observe fast, electricity and water connection to the site has been cut off. So, much for the world’s largest democracy, and the right to peaceful assembly and protest ! Perhaps, the government will make all provisions for holding anniversaries when any such disasters happen. NAPM condemns such action by the local administration and demand immediate action against the erring officials.

After the accidents at the Nuclear reactors in Fukushima, briefly everyone’s attention was turned to the grave danger these reactors pose to the civilised society but things are back to the same be it Mithi Virdi, Gujarat; Jaitapur, Maharashtra; Chutkha, Madhya Pradesh; Kovada, Andhra Pradesh; Fatheabad, Haryana ; or Koddankulam in Tamilnadu. People’s Movements across the country have stood in solidarity with the people who are struggling against these power plants and continue to struggle for scrapping of these projects, but even then government continues to harass and unleash violence on them.

The Koodankulam plants have untested and unreliable VVER (Vodo-Vodyanoi Energetichesky Reactor; Water-Water Energetic Reactor) 1000 technology imported from Russia. It is pertinent to note that Russia has not built a new nuclear power plant ever since the Chernobyl accident that happened in April 1986. The Indian government is buying Russian reactors at an exorbitant price in order to procure Russian submarines for the country's navy, to protect our nuclear warheads. This kind of deals and the humongous amount of money that is spent on the nuclear program with littler transparency, accountability and democratic decision-making perpetuate so much corruption and malpractices. Nuclear business is easily one of the most corrupt sectors in India today. With privatization and proliferation of American Russian and French power plants, it will get much worse.

When many countries around the world are reconsidering their energy policy and adopting New Energy and renewable energy sources, it is unfortunate that the Indian government is resorting to unsafe and expensive nuclear technology. Instead of being a world leader with alternative energy sources, Indian government is putting the corporate interests ahead of its own citizens' interests.

In the light of this situation, we call for scrapping the Koodankulam nuclear power plants, and safeguard the rights to life and livelihood of our fisher people, farmers and dalit workers. We affirm people's right to resist and call on the Central Government to take a clue from decision making in European countries who work towards comprehensive renewable energy options.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Prafulla Samantara, Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere, Suniti S R, Sister Celia, Dr. Sunilam, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Sarasvathy Kavula, Suhas Kolhekar, Akhil Gogoi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Mukta Srivastava, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar


RIGHT TO FOOD CAMPAIGN: Open letter to the Prime Minister of India and his Council of Ministers

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala

Indian citizens are in hunger

Rejects the EGoM cleared draft of the Food Security Bill and Appeals to you to Sincerely respond to the needs of hunger and malnutrition of women, children and excluded groups and to Save the PDS and Save the Farmers...

2nd August, 2011
Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister of India,
N Delhi

Dear Dr. Singh,

As you are aware, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) has recently approved the Department of Food and Consumer Affairs draft of the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) and the Government claims that it is now ready to be placed before the Cabinet. This draft Bill makes a complete mockery of the idea of food security for all and dilutes even existing entitlements obtained through the Supreme Court. It was expected from the "aam admi" UPA Sarkar that it will increase investment in the schemes related to food security, in order to reduce the unacceptably high rates of malnutrition and hunger in India. Instead what we get is a draft which minimises Government's obligations, restricts people's entitlements and is devoid of any accountability.

The Bill interprets food security only as distribution of cereals and cooked meals and is completely silent on pulses, millets and oil. As in the earlier EGoM draft of March 2010, there is no commitment towards nutritional security or to see production, procurement (including local procurement), storage and distribution as an integrated process in order to address issues of food and nutritional security.

We reject this farce of a Bill and demand that the Government sincerely acts towards alleviating hunger andmalnutrition in the country. In spite of overwhelming evidence showing the failure of the BPL approach, the draft Bill continues to make a differentiation between those above and below the poverty line. The poverty line itself is too low and does not represent the extent of hunger in the country. The problems related to identification and exclusion errors are well known.

The draft Bill not only links the entitlements to the poverty ratios, but also further dilutes what was even suggested by the NAC. While the NAC proposed 90% coverage of the rural population, the Government has reduced it to 75%. Further, while the NAC proposed 4kgs per head for those in the „general‟ category, the Government‟s Bill reduces it to 3kgs per head. What is even more dangerous is that by specifying that the division between „priority‟ and „general‟ categories will be based on „poverty ratios‟, the Government‟s Bill has paved the way for the coverage of „priority‟ groups to shrink over time. Also, the provision of foodgrains to the general category at half the minimum support price (MSP) will mean that people in this category will have to pay prices which are much higher than the present BPL prices and APL prices in the long run.

The Right to Food Campaign strongly opposes the dismantling of the PDS and the replacement of PDS with cash transfers. The draft Bill not only gives the Government unlimited powers to provide a “food security allowance” in cash in lieu of PDS entitlements, it also makes it mandatory (under the “Provisions for Advancing Food Security”) for the Government to “strive for... introducing scheme of cash transfers in lieu of entitlements”. These provisions are opening the door to a wholesale replacement of the PDS with cash transfers, without any safeguards. As argued in a recent letter addressed to you by a group of students and research scholars, based on a recent survey, this would be very dangerous. In this respect, the draft Bill is an unprecedented attack on food security.

Cash transfers and their impact on farmers and food security: It is our belief that the introduction of cash transfers in place of PDS will not just affect household food security but also affect production, procurement and storage systems. Those affected the most will be the farmers as the Government will not procure grain as it will not need to run the PDS shops. The farmers will not get their MSP which is currently their biggest incentive to grow cereals. They will also be left to the market to sell their grains, which they may have to do at low prices. FCI godowns will not be required and the FCI in the long run will be left as a completely skeletal system. This will lead to the end of the nation‟s food security.

The Right to Food Campaign apprehends that the dismantling of the PDS is being done deliberately to pave the way for the entry of organised retail into the country. Giving cash without ensuring proper food availability is putting people at the mercy of food retailer sharks and cartels. We see the replacement of foodgrains with cash in conjunction with the decision of your Government to raise the FDI limit for international capital in the retail business.

This could lead to a bigger retail corruption than the supposed leakages in the PDS, apart from putting farmers at risk. The draft directs the Government to strive for “leveraging Aadhaar (UID) for unique identification” which the Campaign is opposed to, as it will impinge on the civil liberties of the country‟s residents and is a means for tracking and surveillance. Incidentally the UID is being implemented in States without even being passed by the Parliament.

The draft is also extremely disappointing with respect to provisions related to children, women and excluded groups. Maternity benefits of Rs 1,000 per month for six months, an essential recommendation of the Campaign and the NAC has been withdrawn. Key provisions for malnourished children, out-of-school children, migrant workers, starvation deaths, destitute feeding and community kitchens have been deleted or diluted. The draft seems to provide an opening for the replacement of cooked meals with “ready-to-eat” foods, by defining “cooked meal” as “nutritious cooked and ready to eat meal”, thus paving the way for contractors and corporations.

The entire well-crafted grievance redressal structure proposed by the NAC built on the Campaign's proposal has been junked. These include the provisions for compensation and penalties and making non-bailable and cognisable the criminal proceedings for non-compliance. Similarly, the national and state Food Security Commissions have been deprived of any real powers; they are just advisory bodies. Most of the transparency provisions in the Campaign and NAC draft have been dropped. Most importantly, the premise of the NAC grievance redressal mechanism was independence and autonomy of the functionaries. This has been thrown out by bringing in serving officers. This defeats the purpose of a system of checks and balances, where the implementation and monitoring were to be carried by separate agencies.

The draft also gives full powers to the Central Government, including powers to modify or withdraw most entitlements and to specify the sharing of costs with State Governments, for instance in ICDS and mid-day meal scheme which are entitlements under section 4, 5 and 6 of the Bill; thus putting the guarantee of food security at the mercy of the Government and bypassing the Parliament.

The entire Bill in fact reveals the Government‟s true objectives of limiting expenditure, denying responsibility and destroying existing systems as well. Although the Government claims that this Bill is based on the NAC‟s draft, it does complete injustice to even the already diluted draft that was prepared by the NAC.

The need of the hour is to strengthen the PDS through universalisation and reforms to ensure minimum leakages and efficient distribution. This has to be coupled with expanded and decentralised procurement. There is a need for radical restructuring of procurement, storage and distribution systems including (a) procurement from all mandis of all food grains at remunerative prices to provide critical market support to the majority of small, dry land farmers of the country who are bearing the brunt of the agrarian crisis and so far have been denied public procurement support; (b) storage facilities at every block; (c) creation of procurement - distribution zones with distribution of grain being from that procured within the zone, except in cases of shortfall, for which grain can be acquired from neighbouring zones. This system of localised procurement, storage and distribution will not only boost production across the country, help track corruption and provide consumers with timely availability of (locally preferred) grains, but will also substantially reduce the current drastically high transportation costs.

Lack of funds cannot be an excuse when the Government is foregoing revenue worth Rs. 5 lakh crores a year by giving tax breaks to the corporate sector and income tax payers, and through excise, customs and sales tax reduction, but is not willing to spend even one fifth of that amount to ensure the country’s food security.

The Government‟s neglect of agriculture has led to an agrarian crisis with lakhs of distressed farmers committing suicide. Food security cannot be achieved without addressing the decline in the agriculture sector. Now with more than 65 million tonnes of foodgrain lying in the FCI godowns across the country or rotting in the open due to shortage of godowns, the Government cannot use the excuse of unavailability of grains for not universalising the PDS.

If this Bill is approved by the Cabinet, the Government will be missing an opportunity to do something about food security in the country. We believe that such a Bill in fact does more damage than good and must be rejected. We reject this version of the NFSB and demand that any Bill must at the very least have the following:

1. Universalisation of PDS entitlements (along with expansion in quantity and introduction of other commodities such as pulses and oil).
2. Provisions to incentivise food production and for decentralised procurement and storage.
3. Provisions for strengthening the PDS delivery system based on the experience of many successful initiatives by states such as Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa etc.
4. Comprehensive measures for addressing child malnutrition that include school mid-day meals, universalisation with quality of the ICDS and maternity entitlements along with provisions for treatment of severely malnourished children.
5. Clearly defined entitlements for vulnerable groups such as the aged, disabled, widows, migrants and destitute including monthly pensions, community kitchens and destitute feeding programmes.
6. Effective measures for grievance redress, transparency and accountability.
7. Safeguards against commercial interference in any of the food/nutrition related schemes and against the introduction of cash transfers in place of PDS. The Right to Food Campaign gives a national call for action to reject the Government‟s draft food security bill,

We are,

The Steering group of the Right to Food Campaign Anjali Bhardwaj, Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey (National Campaign for People‟s Right to Information), Annie Raja (National Federation for Indian Women), Anuradha Talwar, Gautam Modi and Madhuri Krishnaswamy (New Trade Union Initiative), Arun Gupta and Radha Holla (Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India), Arundhati Dhuru and Ulka Mahajan (National Alliance of People‟s Movements), Asha Mishra and Vinod Raina (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti), Ashok Bharti (National Confederation of Dalit Organizations), Colin Gonsalves (Human Rights Law Network), G V Ramanjaneyulu (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), Kavita Srivastava and Binayak Sen (People‟s Union for Civil Liberties), Lali Dhakar, Sarawasti Singh, Shilpa Dey and Radha Raghwal (National Forum for Single Women‟s Rights), Mira Shiva and Vandana Prasad (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan), Paul Divakar and Asha Kowtal (National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights), Prahlad Ray and Anand Malakar (Rashtriya Viklang Manch), Subhash Bhatnagar (National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector workers), Jean Drèze and Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Former Support group to the Campaign) and Representatives of all State Campaigns.

THAILAND: Persecution of torture victims and the legalization of impunity in Thailand

Aug. 29, 2011

Killings, disappearances and torture in Southern Thailand

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL - Eighteenth session, Agenda Item 4, General Debate
A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

The Asian Legal Resource Centre wishes to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council to the systemic persecution of torture victims in Thailand.

Thailand acceded to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT) on 2 October 2007. However, since accession, there has neither been a national law passed nor significant changes in the practices of state security forces. Police routinely use torture as part of law enforcement throughout the country and since the declaration of martial law in the three southern border provinces in January 2004, the range of state security forces present, including army, police, and local defence volunteers, ordinarily use torture as part of counterinsurgency operations. Despite several attempts to use existing Criminal Procedure Code and constitutional measures to hold state security forces accountable, human rights defenders in the country have been unable to compel state responsibility and there has instead been a consolidation of impunity in the years since Thailand acceded to the CAT. This underscores the urgent need to address torture in Thailand through appropriate legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures, including significant efforts to reform the state security forces.

Compounding the grave concern that the ALRC has over the ongoing use of torture and the continued failure to secure accountability through judicial, administrative or legislative means in Thailand is the alarming use of institutions from all branches of government, including the courts, not to protect the human rights of victims but to further torment those who actually dare to hold alleged perpetrators to account.

To take one specific case, a court in Bangkok on 10 August 2011 sentenced a torture victim to two years in prison for having spoken out against his alleged torturers. In Black Case No. 2161/2552, Police Major General Chakthip Chaijinda brought a criminal complaint against Mr. Suderueman Malae, one of the clients of forcibly abducted and disappeared human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit, with whose case the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has been concerned for a number of years. Some key features of the case are as follows.

a. Mr. Suderueman, along with four others, was accused of stealing guns from the Pileng Army Camp in Narathiwat province on 4 January 2004, detained under the terms of martial law, and initially charged with "attempt to kill." While they were under detention, they were tortured and pressured to confess. Mr. Suderueman and the other four men were the clients of Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit. In addition to preparing their defense, Mr. Somchai prepared a complaint detailing their torture, which he submitted to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice on 11 March 2004. On 12 March 2004, Mr. Somchai was forcibly disappeared. In the intervening seven years, the initial charges of "attempt to kill" against Mr. Suderueman have been dropped, the perpetrators of Mr. Somchai's disappearance have not been held to account, and Mr. Suderueman has been prosecuted for filing a complaint about torture. Taken together, this series of events indicates the grave failure to protect victims of torture, a systematic inability to secure justice for victims of state violence, and the presence of collusion among different sectors of the administrative, judicial, and security apparatus in Thailand.

b. On 28 March 2005, during the trial of the officers of the Royal Thai Police who were accused of abducting and presumably killing Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit, Mr. Suderueman and other victims of torture whom Mr. Somchai represented testified under oath that they had been tortured. The manner of torture included electrocution, urination on the head and face, smacking on the base of the ears, and assault on the body. The testimony of Mr. Suderueman and the other victims were consistent not only with one another but also with the accounts of other victims of torture in the south of Thailand.

c. Within the legal framework of Thailand, and particularly under martial law, there are few options to make a formal complaint of wrongdoing by state security officials. In this particular case, the DSI took up the formal investigation of the torture of Mr. Suderueman and the other four men with whom he was detained. At the completion of their investigation, the DSI submitted their report to the Office of the National Anti- Corruption Commission (NACC), whose mandate includes investigating all illegal wrongdoing committed by civil servants. The NACC then commenced investigation of Police Lieutenant General Bhanupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya and eighteen other police officers involved in the arrest and detention of Mr. Suderueman and the other four men.

d. On 22 December 2010, the NACC dismissed the complaint against Police Lieutenant General Bhanupong and the other police officers. The NACC claimed that the physical examination reports failed to establish if the torture really took place while the victims were held in official custody. Even without addressing the NACC's profound delay and mishandling of this case, it is pertinent to note that the vast majority of the cases with which this agency is concerned deal with financial wrongdoing, rather than violence perpetrated against citizens by state officials. This underscores the need for implementation of the CAT in Thailand and the establishment of an office with a precise mandate and specialization in the investigation of torture complaints.

e. While the NACC dismissal of the case officially absolved all of the named police officers from any responsibility for the torture of Mr. Suderueman Malae and the other four men, two police officers chose to bring legal charges of filing a false statement to the DSI and the NACC. Police Lieutenant General Bhanupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya and Police Major General Chakthip Chaijinda each brought separate cases against Mr. Suderueman in the Criminal Court in Bangkok.

f. The case brought by Police Lieutenant General Bhanupong was dismissed after examination by the court on 27 September 2009. The Criminal Court maintained that the defendant used his basic rights as a citizen to make a complaint to the DSI. The ALRC views this ruling as an important confirmation of the rights of citizens to secure their own rights and challenge state impunity. Police Lieutenant General Bhanuphong appealed and at present, the case is still under examination by the Appeal Court.

g. In contrast to the case brought by Police Lieutenant General Bhanupong, in the case brought by Police Major General Chakthip Chaijinda, the Criminal Court made a decision which runs counter to basic principles of the protection of victims of torture and other forms of state violence. On 10 August 2011, Mr. Suderueman was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly making a false statement to the authorities.

h. The details of the allegations and the court decision in this case speak to an ingrained lack of respect for victims of state violence and contempt for human rights among state officials and institutions at all levels in Thailand, to which the ALRC has repeatedly drawn the Council's attention. The ALRC has had the opportunity to examine the court decision, of which the following aspects are especially pertinent:

i. The statement of Mr. Suderueman which Police Major General Chakthip alleged was false is the following, recorded in third person: "During the daytime on 22 February 2004, Police Major General Chakthip and his colleagues assaulted Mr. Suderueman by slapping his ears and kicking his trunk many times. The assault was carried out over a period of ten minutes. It took place in a meeting room in Tan Yong Police Station." Police Major General Chakthip claimed that he was not present for these events, and that he had been injured by the testimony.

ii. Police Major General Chakthip claimed that he was falsely implicated in the torture of Mr. Suderueman. The basis for his denial of involvement was in part that although he had been listed in the police records as heading up a unit responsible for the arrest and detention of Mr. Suderueman in February 2004, he had not actually been present at the time. In other words, he argued that the police records of the case were themselves at very least inaccurate, and possibly fabricated. Police Major General Chakthip argued that for this reason he could not be held to account for the torture of Mr. Suderueman.

iii. The Criminal Court found, in part on the basis of the NACC's investigation, that there was no evidence to support the complaint brought by Mr. Suderueman against Police Major General Chakthip. The court convicted Mr. Suderueman and sentenced him to two years in prison under sections 173 and 174 of the Criminal Code, for maliciously giving false information to inquiry officers, even though no evidence exists to show that the naming of Police Major General Chakthip was in any way malicious.

The conviction of Mr. Suderueman by the Criminal Court in this case speaks not only to a system characterized by utter neglect of victims of gross human rights abuses in Thailand, but one that in practically every respect institutionalises and legalizes the impunity of perpetrators. That the investigative and judicial institutions together not only act to deny justice to victims but also to enable the perpetrators of violence to commit further violence on their victims through the use of the courts points to the vast gulf between international standards of human rights and notions and those operative in practice in Thailand.

The prosecution and conviction of Mr. Suderueman represents a violation of the Government of Thailand's obligations under the CAT, to which Thailand has acceded, notably article 13, which provides that,

"Each state party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly examined by, its competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given."

The prosecution of Mr. Suderueman is a clear example of official intimidation as a consequence of making a complaint. Particularly given questions surrounding the efficacy of the NACC investigation, his prosecution raises deeply troubling questions about the respect for human rights in Thailand; however, whereas the answers to these questions are far from clear, the message that the case sends to other victims of torture is unequivocal--complain at your peril.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre is very concerned that the Criminal Court finding against Mr. Suderueman will serve as a powerful deterrent to dissuade other victims of torture from filing complaints or otherwise speaking out against state perpetrators. Already, very few persons lodge complaints, not because large numbers of victims do not exist, but because of an awareness that judicial, administrative and investigative organs in Thailand are almost universally arrayed against victims of abuse, as shown in the case presented here, rather than in their favour. Consequently, the ALRC calls on the Human Rights Council to:

a. Condemn the prosecution and conviction of torture victim Mr. Suderueman Malae and the failure of the criminal judicial system to hold anyone to account for the crimes committed against him; and,

b. Call on the Government of Thailand to pass without delay a law to criminalize torture in accordance with the Convention against Torture, and to establish a specialized agency for the investigation and prosecution of alleged perpetrators.

# # # About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.


Demolish ‘Adarsh Society’ and other such CRZ violators across India - NFF holds national action on Quit India Day, across India

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
Aug. 10, 2011

Adarsh Housing in Mumbai

10 August, 2011, New Delhi: The ‘National Day of Protest’ called by the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) on 9th August, the historic Quit India Day, witnessed demonstrations by fish workers in 6 coastal states of Tamilnadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

NFF submitted a memorandum listing the forum’s demands to the Prime Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and respective State departments.

Around 20 million people, dependent on fisheries in coastal states, are facing a deteriorating quality of life as a result of fish stock depletion due to pollution, degradation of coastal environment, excessive and destructive fishing by trawlers and mechanized boats. There is a dearth of resources necessary for fishing and related activities. “The fish workers are also affected by displacement due to both, encroachments of coastal land by big business and sea erosion affecting housing and other fisheries-related infrastructure” stated Matanhy Saldanha, Chairperson, NFF.

The NFF demands that the government identify and punish all violators of Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 1991. The Center must implement Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011 after incorporating the demands of the fishing communities and taking in three fishing community representatives in the National Coastal Zone Management Authority and State Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

For EEZ in territorial waters, a separate Central Marine Fishing Regulation legislation must be brought in, coordinated by the state Marine Fishing Regulation Acts, to ensure preferential access for the small and traditional fishers, control over number of fishing boats /vessels, and restriction on destructive fishing and participation of traditional fishing communities in fisheries conservation and management.

The government must implement Welfare and Social Security Schemes to support and enhance housing, insurance, education and income facilities for fish workers. Land rights for habitat and livelihood activities and community right to fish in common waters must be granted. Any restriction and/or prohibition, with respect to conservation, have to be implemented after consultation and consent of the local communities.

Some of the other demands of NFF, include - canceling LOPs which are de facto licensing of foreign fishing vessels in Indian waters, imposing a uniform ban period on fishing during monsoon, banning bottom trawling and purse-seining in the territorial waters and within five kilometer radius of coral reefs, develop a national policy to regulate fishing vessels all over the country on scientific sustainable bases, no Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with other nations with regards to fishing in Indian waters.

Keeping with the rest of the policies on Climate Change, the government must develop, in consultation with fishworkers, schemes to build adaptive capacity of fishing communities to deal with threats from climate change and climate variability. It is necessary to introduce ‘coastal land and sea’ in the Prime Minister’s mission on climate change. The proposed Integrated Coastal Zone Management Program (ICZMP) should be subjected to public discussion before implementation.

“It is of utmost concerns that even after repeated appeals and talks, the legitimate demands of the traditional fishworkers are not being met by the Central, State and UT governments. The NFF asks the government to look into the concerns and demands of the fishworkers and do the needful”, says Matanhy Saldanha, Chairperson, NFF.

Issued from New Delhi office

Contacts: Matanhy Saldanha, Chairperson,, Ph: 09822160941, Rambhau Patil, General Secretary,, Ph: 09892833815


Over 30,000 displaced by Burma Army attacks face humanitarian crisis in northern Shan State

Aug. 10, 2011

Map of Displacement during Burma offensive in Northern Shan State(Mar 13 - Aug 10)

Numbers of villagers fleeing Burma Army atrocities have soared to over 30,000 during recent intensified attacks against the Shan State Army North (SSA-N), causing a dire humanitarian crisis in northern Shan State.

Over 4,000 Burmese troops from 42 battalions were deployed during July to seize the SSA-N headquarters of Wan Hai in Ke See township, backed up by jet fighter planes. Advancing through surrounding villages, troops have been scaling up atrocities against civilians, including killing, rape and mutilation. One dead villager was found with his leg and hand cut off.

An estimated 31,700 villagers from nine townships have fled since the Burma Army began its offensive on March 13, breaking its 22-year-long ceasefire with the SSA-N. Some have fled to towns, to Wa-controlled areas along the China border, or to the Thai border, but most are hiding in the jungle near their villages.

Those in hiding are facing chronic shortages of food, clean drinking water, shelter and medicine, with heavy rains exacerbating the situation. In the Wan Hai area alone, at least 24 displaced villagers, mainly children and old people, have died of diarrhea and malaria in the past month.

No international aid has reached these displaced communities so far. Aid agencies working officially inside Burma are being denied access to the conflict areas.

Shan community groups are appealing to the international community to provide cross-border aid through local relief teams to these internally displaced villagers.

“With the regime keeping tight control on all aid in Burma, cross-border aid is the only way to reach war-affected populations,” said Nang Hseng Moon, coordinator of the Shan Women’s Action Network. “We urge international donors to respond to this humanitarian crisis before further lives are lost.”

Although the Burma Army withdrew its extra battalions from the Wan Hai area in late July after facing heavy losses, their local troops remain encircling the SSA-N stronghold and fighting has been ongoing. Over 40 truckloads of new Burmese troop reinforcements have arrived from Lashio and Hsipaw this week.

Detailed lists and maps of recent abuses and fighting incidents, as well as video of displaced villagers, can be viewed on and

Contact persons:
Ying Harn Fah (+66 89 2627 848), Nang Charm Tong(+66 81 603 6655), Ying Charm Hom (+66 81 992 1121)

Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF)


A letter to Manmohan Singh from a group of researchers and students highlights the importance of ‘near-universal PDS'

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Aug. 2, 2011

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India

Respected Prime Minister,

We are a group of research scholars and student volunteers who have just spent three weeks surveying the Public Distribution System (PDS) around the country. We are writing to share a few thoughts on the National Food Security Act in the light of this experience.

Our survey covered more than 100 randomly-selected villages spread over nine states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh). We inspected the local Fair Price Shops and interviewed more than a thousand “BPL” households. Oblivious of the heat or rain, we reached the country’s remotest nooks and crannies and spared no effort to understand people’s situation and views.

This survey points to an impressive revival of the PDS across the country. In all the sample states, with the notable exception of Bihar, there have been major initiatives in the recent past to improve the PDS and these efforts are showing results. Most of the sample households were getting the bulk if not the whole of their foodgrain entitlements under the PDS (up to 35 kgs per month, at a nominal price). The days when up to half of the PDS grain was “diverted” to the open market are gone.

We also found that the PDS had become a lifeline for millions of rural households. A well-functioning PDS virtually guarantees that there is always food in the house. This is an enormous relief for people who live on the margin of subsistence, and a welcome support for everyone. It is a big step towards the end of hunger, which has blighted this country for centuries.

The bad news is that the BPL list is very defective. In many states, entire communities have been left out, and almost everywhere, there are enormous exclusion errors. This has severely reduced the effectiveness of the PDS as a tool of food security. Therefore, we support the case made recently by a group of academic economists for a “near-universal PDS”, whereby all households are entitled to food subsidies unless they meet well-defined exclusion criteria.

The said economists also believe that there is a strong (though unspecified) “theoretical case” for cash transfers as an alternative to the PDS. We discussed this proposal with the respondents, and found that a large majority opposed it. The reluctance was particularly strong in areas with a well-functioning PDS, and among poorer households. Further, we felt that the reasons they gave for opposing cash transfers were generally quite thoughtful and convincing.

In most cases, the reasons pertained in one way or another to food security – an overwhelming concern for poor households. For instance, many respondents were worried that money might be misused or frittered away. Where markets are distant, they wondered where they would buy grain, and how they would cope if there is a sudden increase in local food prices. Even where markets are accessible, there were apprehensions, such as a fear that traders might raise prices if the PDS is closed. Similarly, the local bank was often said to be too far, overcrowded, or difficult to handle. Many respondents had a bitter experience of the banking system in the context of NREGA wage payments. In contrast, the familiarity and convenience of the local Fair Price Shop were widely valued. It is only in areas where the PDS was not working, notably Bihar and parts of Uttar Pradesh, that we found substantial interest in cash transfers as a possible alternative.

Accordingly, we urge you to ensure that the National Food Security Act includes the strongest possible safeguards against a hasty transition from food entitlements to cash transfers.

We do recognize, of course, that there is enormous scope – and urgent need – for further improvements in the PDS. We have some suggestions on this too, and would be glad to discuss them with you at your convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Anindita Adhikari (independent researcher, Patna)
Ankita Aggarwal (independent researcher, Delhi)
Megha Bahl (Delhi School of Economics, Delhi)
Pooja Balasubramanian (St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai)
Balu (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)
B. Lakshmi (Kirori Mal College, Delhi)
Manish Choudhary (Hindu College, Delhi)
Sakina Dhorajiwala (Jai Hind College, Mumbai)
Jean Drèze (University of Allahabad)
Anchal Dutt (Law college, Delhi University)
Aashish Gupta (University of Allahabad)
Aparna John (independent researcher, Delhi)
Purava Joshi (St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai)
Samyuktha Kanan (IIT, Madras)
Reetika Khera (IIT, Delhi)
Sirus Joseph Liberio (University of Mumbai)
Radhika Lokur (St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai)
Aleesha Mary Joseph (St. Stephen’s college, Delhi)
Swathi Meenakshi (Anna University, Madras)
Karuna Muthiah (independent researcher, Dindigul)
Bijayani Mohanty (independent researcher, Bhuwaneshwar)
Rajkishore Mishra (independent researcher, Bhuwaneshwar)
Kuber Nag (IIT, Madras)
Sudha Narayanan (Cornell University)
Soheb Niazi (Jawharlal Nehru University, Delhi)
Gaurav Poddar (St. Stephen’s college, Delhi)
Raghav Puri (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore)
Aakriti Rai (St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai)
Kshama Raj (University of Hyderabad)
Alamu Rathinasabapathy (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)
Sambhu Sahu (independent researcher, Bhuwaneshwar)
Ria Singh Sawhney (Law college, Delhi University)
Trishna Senapaty (Delhi School of Economics, Delhi)
Kanika Sharma (Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi)
Ujjainee Sharma (Delhi School of Economics, Delhi)
Dipa Sinha (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)
Neenu Suresh (Law College, Delhi University)
Chitrank Upadhyay (Zakir Hussain College, Delhi)
Jijo Vadukoot (University of Mumbai)
Eklavya Vasudeva (Law college, Delhi University)


NFF to observe ‘Quit India’ remembrance national protest day on August 9th

Letter of Statment
By Thomas Kocherry
July 21, 2011

Fishing community in Goa

- Democratise the state climate action plans – involve coastal people
- Demands immediate review of anti-people projects of International Financial Institutions (IFIs – like World bank, Asian Development Bank and others) implemented in the coast without consulting fishworkers
- All CRZ 1991 violations be brought to book before implementation of new CRZ notification 2011.

Colva (Goa): Fishing community representatives and leaders from all over coastal India met here for a two-day consultation from 20-21 July to discuss and respond to various challenges being confronted in the context of the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) Notification 2011. NFF leaders from ten coastal states along with scientists, researchers and civil society organisations participated in sessions on climate impacts, the National Action Plan on Climate Change, State Action Plans on Climate Change and the role of International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

The climate science is clear. The fishing community will be in the frontline of adverse climate impacts which include temperature rise in the oceans, increased intensity of disasters such as cyclones and storm surges, sea level rise, ocean acidification, changing current patterns and depletion of natural resources. All of this will have a profound effect on the 20 million strong fishing communities that depend on the coast and sea for their livelihood.

Despite this the Prime Minister’s 2008 eight mission National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) does not have anything to say on coasts and the fishing community. NFF is of the view that the NAPCC is deeply undemocratic, flawed in its focus and did not respond to the urgent challenges of climate change. The flawed process continues at the state level as well. While all 10 coastal states are in the process of finalising their State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) the fishing community is yet to be consulted. Further, in some states such as Odisha, the SAPCC mentions that the equally undemocratic Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP), funded by the World Bank, and the Orissa Coastal Zone Management Authority would handle coastal related issues on climate change.

NFF demands that there be a separate coastal mission as part of the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on Climate Change.

The 220 $ million (Rupees 990 crore) ICZMP project is on a pilot phase from 2010-2015 in the three coastal states of Gujarat, West Bengal and Odisha. Further to adding to the debt burden of the country, the World Bank project is pushing a legal and institutional framework to privilege investment and anti-people commercialisation of the Indian coast. In Gujarat the ICZMP was organising expensive consultations and conducting research studies that completely overlooked the contradictory scenario where big companies such as Reliance, Adnani and Tatas were violating coastal regulations with impunity. Traditional community wisdom is being ignored and unscientific techno-solutions are sought for the coastal management through these.

We are alarmed that such an undemocratic process – the ICZMP, initiated by the World Bank without consulting any coastal stakeholders, is being pushed in in a non-participatory manner by the Ministry of Environment and Forests as the one and all solution for the coastal environment and its management. We demand that any intervention in the coast of India be only done in a participatory manner, after consultations and with consent from the coastal people.

In Colva and Coco beaches, the 250 $ million (1125 crore) Asian Development Bank Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Programme (SCPMIP) has met with spirited opposition from the local fishing community and residents. The ADB tried to push for the construction of expensive geo-textile tubes as an artificial reef with the projected intention of coastal protection for tourism properties. These properties are actually CRZ violation structures which have destroyed sand dunes which are nature’s own coastal protection measures. The geo tube based technology has failed in Candolim where it was tried to protect big tourism players. ADB project being implemented across Maharashtra and Karnataka are also on similar lines and NFF condemns this whole process using the coast like experimental guinea-pigs for these unproven and non-scientific technologies.

NFF participated in different stages of the consultations for drafting of the Coastal Regulation Zone 2011 and has been consistently raising some key concerns of the fisherpeople against the new notification 2011. We demand that the MoEF make the necessary amendments to the CRZ incorporating our views. Some of our key concerns regarding CRZ 2011 include:

a) Withdraw the unqualified permissions accorded for all nuclear projects, b) Delete the provisions for 'roads on stilts or pillars' and sealinks from the notification, c) Notify the inclusion of three representatives of fishing community organisations in the National and State-level CZM Authorities to ensure transparent and inclusive decision-making AND d) Withdraw the irrational exemption given to the greenfield airport in Navi Mumbai, which is a clear indication of this notification's vulnerability to compromise in future.

NFF also demands that the destructive fishing, such as through the use of purse seine gears, in territorial waters be banned. NFF further demands strict enforcement of existing state fishing regulations, including of the artisanal fishing zone.

NFF also demands that the extension proposal for the Koodamkulam Nuclear project and the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant be withdrawn as they hamper the coastline and the fishworkers’ lives & livelihood. NFF also demand that the proposed POSCO steel project and plant in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha be cancelled.

Keeping the above pertinent issues of the fishworkers, the other coastal people and the country’s rich coastal ecology, NFF has decided to hold the national ‘Quit India’ remembrance action day on the 9th of August in all the coastal states.


Burma Army gives rapists free rein in northern Shan State offensive

Press release
July 14, 2011

Myanmar army offensives to ethnic, map of war in Northern Shan State

The Burma Army is clearly authorizing rape as a terror tactic in its offensive against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), according to information documented by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF).

On July 5, 2011, a Burma Army patrol from Light Infantry Battalion 513 entered the village of “Wan Loi” in Ke See township, and within hours had looted property throughout the village and raped four women and girls in separate incidents: Nang Mon, age 12, Nang Jarm, age 50, Nang Lord, age 30 and Nang Poeng, age 35 (not their real names).

12-year-old schoolgirl Nang Mon was raped in her home in front of her mother, who was struck when she tried to protect her daughter. Nearby villagers heard the girl’s screams but did not dare intervene. 50-year-old widow Nang Jarm was also raped in her house.

Nang Lord, who was 9 months pregnant, was pulled roughly to the ground and raped, while Nang Poeng was caught outside the village, beaten, stripped naked and raped in a farm hut. She was found by other villagers running naked in the jungle.

“Wan Loi” lies 15 miles from the SSA-N headquarters of Wan Hai, which has been under fierce assault by over 3,000 Burma Army troops since March 13, when the regime broke the 22-year ceasefire. The troops have been committing widespread atrocities against local villagers, including sexual violence, causing thousands to flee their homes.

“Burma Army troops are being given free rein to rape children, the pregnant and the elderly,” said SWAN coordinator Hseng Moon. “We strongly condemn these war crimes.”

This latest incident comes only weeks after the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand denounced the rape of 18 women and girls during renewed fighting last month in Kachin State. The breaking of ceasefire agreements with Kachin and Shan resistance groups has caused fighting to spread through 12 townships in northern Shan State.

Northern Shan State is of crucial strategic importance for Burma’s military rulers, who are seeking to secure the area for major Chinese investments, including hydropower dams and trans-national gas and oil pipelines.

“Foreign governments dealing with Burma should not be silent about these atrocities. ‘Business as usual’ means ongoing rape in our communities,” said Hseng Moon.

Detailed lists of human rights abuses committed by the Burma Army during the offensive against the SSA-N, and photos of impacted communities are available on and

Contact persons: Ying Harn Fah - 089 2627 848, Ying Charm Hom - 081 992 1121


FIDH condemns violent and massive crackdown on peaceful protesters

Press Release

Malaysian authorities against peaceful protesters

Paris-Bangkok, 11 July 2011. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly condemns the severe crackdown on and alleged use of excessive force by the Malaysian authorities against peaceful protesters gathering for pro-electoral reform rallies, allegedly leading to at least one death and causing injuries.

More than a hundred activists were arrested and charged by the authorities in the weeks before 9 July for their peaceful participation in the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), including for wearing the coalition’s T-shirts and possessing or handing out its leaflets. Bersih 2.0 had been planning a major rally on 9 July to call for electoral reforms.

Despite roadblocks set up by the police in and around Kuala Lumpur to prevent protesters from gathering for the rally, thousands turned up on 9 July and many found their way around the roadblocks. The police allegedly used tear gas, batons and chemical-laced water cannon indiscriminately to disperse crowds of protesters, seriously injuring many. Tear gas was also reportedly fired directly into the protesters. One protester, Mr Allahyarham Baharuddin Ahmad, 58, died in a hospital after reportedly being hit in the head with a tear gas canister fired by the police, an allegation the authorities deny.

“Instead of upholding the highest standards of human rights as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the Malaysian government has shockingly unleashed brute force on its own people,” said Debbie Stothard, FIDH Deputy Secretary-General. “The government must be held to account for blatantly violating internationally recognised rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression,” added Ms Stothard.

More than 1,600 people, including 151 women and 16 children, were arrested for merely taking part in the rallies on 9 July and were subsequently released. However, six leaders of the opposition party, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), remained in detention without trial under the draconian Emergency Ordinance of 1969 since they were first arrested on 25 June. They are allegedly being kept in solitary confinement with limited access to the lawyers and family members. Family members and lawyers were only allowed to visit them for 15 minutes each on 7 July. On the other hand, a habeas corpus hearing has been set on 12 August 2011, but the detainees’ lawyers have objected to this date and requested for an earlier date.

“Calling for clean and fair elections is not and should not be a crime, and Malaysia must immediately and unconditionally release all those still detained for their peaceful advocacy, drop charges against them, and cease all harassment of pro-reform activists,” urged Souhayr Belhassen. “An independent and impartial investigation must be conducted to look into the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials on 9 July and accountability must be established for the injuries caused,” said Ms. Belhassen.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Press contact:
Karine Appy + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 25 18


People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy: The ‘Hot Run’ in Koodankulam NPP Coincides with a ‘Hot Report’ Published in Russia

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
July 5, 2011

One day fast against Koodankulam Nuclear plant

The “Hot Run” of India’s largest and the first reactor in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) commenced on July 1, 2011 when anti-nuclear activists from all over Tamil Nadu organized a day-long hunger strike and a complete shutdown at Koodankulam.

The activists complained about the untested and unreliable VVER-1000 reactor technology, the bad quality of the construction, and the serious impact the plant may have on the right to life and livelihood of the local people. The activists expressed their concern that the land, the sea and sea food all may become contaminated because of Koodankulam reactors. They also complained that the KKNPP authorities did not hold any mandatory mass safety drills or inform the public about the safety issues involved in the running of a nuclear power plant.

In the meantime, a report ( prepared for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by state agencies concerned with the safety of Russia’s nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster reveals that Russia’s reactors are completely under-prepared for both natural and man-made disasters. The report has come from an amalgam of sources such as the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear oversight, or Rostekhnadzor, as well as Rosatom. According to chief engineer Ole Reistad of the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology (IFI): “The report reveals deficiencies which have never before been mentioned publicly, nor reported internationally.”

The report claims that Russia’s nuclear plants do not have relevant regulations in place for personnel to know how to deal with large-scale natural disasters or other serious contingencies. It also establishes that electrical and safety-significant systems do not receive the attention they need, resulting in a lack of required protection. The report questions the capability of Russian reactors to remain safe for extended periods of time if cooling systems fail. There is no guarantee that power backup systems will be effective should this happen. Russian reactors are vulnerable to the kinds of hydrogen explosions that tore through three reactor buildings at Fukushima Daiichi.

In the light of the above report, the people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala demand immediate termination of the ‘hot run’ and the closure of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project.

World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) Special Invitee,
National Fishworkers' Forum (NFF), India
National Alliance of Peoples Movements(NAPM), India.

Apr-June, 2011


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