The Global Digest



NAPM Condemns Arrest and Harassment of Anti Dam Protesters in Assam

Subansiri Dam in Assam

New Delhi, Dec. 26: Tonight at 2:15 am Assam Police in collusion with other security forces swooped down on the protesters at Ranganadi who have been blockading the Highway since December 16 and thwarting state's attempt to carry turbines and dam materials to project site of Lower Subansiri Dam.

Nearly 200 people have been arrested and earlier also security forces have been harassing the ptotestors. In past too, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti fighting against the big dams on Brhamaputra have faced government's ire and often been attacked and jailed. NAPM stands in solidarity with KMSS and other students groups of the region who have been consistently opposed to the Big dams in highly sensitive seismic zone. We condemn the sustained action and harassment of KMSS and their activists and targeting of Akhil Gogoi for constantly opposing the destructive development policies and corruption of the government machinery.

For past few weeks there been a serious agitation going on against the Assam government and NHPC. Thousands and thousands of people daily wage earners, farmers, school teachers, students, and others from middle class have been gathering at the protest site at Lakhimpur town.

The dam on river Subansiri at Gerukamukh is for the 2010MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Project (LSHEP) under the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). The project is scheduled to be completed by 2015, but a series of questions need to be answered about the big dams, like impact on agriculture, fishes, ecology, earthquakes etc.

The Assamese farmers have joined this movement spontaneously because they have learned from their experiences. Small hydro-projects have already taught them a lesson. For past several years, they have no cultivation as sand siltation had damaged their fields, sudden floods caused by the water released by the hydro-projects have led them to nowhere.

Even though a report by an expert committee comprising scientists from IIT Guwahati and universities in Assam have advised the government against mega dams in a tectonically unstable region, NHPC and Assam Government is hell bent on implementing the project. Arunachal Pradesh has at least 140 hydroelectric projects, big and small, in various stages of construction, together they will endanger the life of residents of people not only in downstream but in upstream as well.

NAPM urges the State and Union government to seriously look at the dam building in country in light of the ongoing controversy over the Mullaperiyar Dam, ongoing agitations against the big dams in Assam, Vishungadh-Pipalkoti HEP in Uttarakhand, Polavaram in Andhra Pradesh, and various dams in Narmada Valley. Dams as a technological tool for development, irrigation, flood control have been exposed. It is high time serious thought was given towards decommissioning of the dams rather than building more big dams.

We demand from Assam government that the protesters be released immediately and big dams in Brhmaputra River Valley, Subasniri rivers be all together scrapped. Ministry of Water Resources in this regard should take the lead and stop planning dams in different states of North East in a highly active seismic zone.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Ramakrishna Raju, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Madhuresh Kumar


Mullaperiyar Controversy : An Opportunity for Revisitng Dam Building

Press Release

the Mullaperiyar dam

New Delhi, Dec. 8: The rising tension, passion and stray incidents of violence in Kerala and Tamilnadu over the Mullaperiyar dam on Periyar river in Kerala has once again brought the focus on the water conflicts in the country, control over natural resources of the communities and on the safety of the dam. Unfortunately, the debate is still not about the dams as source of irrigation, power generation and flood control and projecting dams as a solution. The debate though limited to the water sharing between states of Kerala and Tamilnadu fails to address the larger issue of effective management of water resources and communities control over water and natural resources.

India is witness to a large number of anti-dam agitations by people's movements ranging from Bhakra, Koel Karo, Tehri to Dams in Narmada Valley. The 'No Big Dam' agitation started in case of Sardar Sarovar Dam is still being waged in North East of India and other Himalayan states and opposed by communities for various reasons environmental to life and livelihood.

A fair number of India’s dams are over 100 years old. A list compiled by the Central Water Commission (CWC) shows at least 114 dams in this category. There are roughly 400 dams which are 50-100 years old. According to Madhya Pradesh government, the state has 168 dams which can be called “distressed dams”, out of which 63 are less than 50 years old. Since 1917, 29 dams have reportedly been damaged. In 2002, the Jamunia Dam in Madhya Pradesh breached and the toll is continuing till date. Such breaches of dams have affected the lives and property of hundreds of people, and, the number of those killed and injured in such accidents has reached thousands. Mullaperiyar is one such ageing dam and fears of further breach and damage has increased in recent times with the seismic activity in the region.

It is widely believed that the tremors in the region are influenced by the pressure of a large number of dams including Idukki and Mullaperiyar. As such, a new, larger dam in place of the existing one may actually increase the risk of seismic activity in the area. The issue of additional forest requirement of about 50 Ha in the Periyar Tiger reserve should also be considered. So, to imagine and call for construction of a new dam by Kerala government is an ill founded solution.

The safety of the dam at present may be a point of debate for the conflicting parties. But by any stretch of imagination, we can not foresee the dam holding good eternally. Hence, sooner or later, alternative arrangements have to be made. Considering the possible risk of continuing with the 116 year old structure and by the application of the precautionary principle, it is better to go for alternate arrangements for irrigation in Tamilnadu areas and ways to exploit the Periyar waters should be explored on both sides as soon as possible.

The water conflict between these two states are not alone, we have other water sharing issues over almost every river in this country. The fact is that rivers don't respect the artificial boundaries created by nation-state and have their own natural flows. Communities living in their vicinity know about their flow and rhythm of life. Dams have only destroyed the rivers and killed their flow. It is time we started thinking of alternative ways of harnessing the river water for livelihood and civilisational survival.

India’s ageing dam population, absence of proper maintenance of the dams and absence of accountability mechanisms is going to increase the frequency of dam disasters in years to come. When the increased frequency of high intensity rainfall, melting glaciers and other such events due to global warming is added to this already heady mix, the consequences could be grave. We have Dam Safety Bill pending before the parliament but we need this to be put to fresh scrutiny in public domain and consult all the movement and communities groups in light of the ongoing controversy and develop a dam safety agency which will take care of the aging dam population and also work towards decommissioning of these dams. Simultaneously, there is a need to put a moratorium on the large dams construction in the country anywhere.

The frequent failure of large dams to provide their claimed benefits and this poor performance needs to be recognised and accepted. There is no reason for optimism on the feasibility of improving the poor performance of dams and mitigating their impacts. A major question is the feasibility of just rehabilitation with land for land lost by agriculturists and alternative, appropriate sources of livelihood for other displaced people. In large scale displacement, the experience shows a clear failure. Within the value framework we stand and propagate – equity, sustainability, transparency, accountability, participatory decision-making, and efficiency – large dams have not helped attain, but rather hindered, “human development”.

As World Commission on Dam concluded there is an urgent need for developing a new framework for decision-making which provides a solid basis for assessing options for energy and water development, and for planning and implementing projects that can achieve the desired benefits without exacting an unacceptable cost for anyone affected, or for our environment and future generations.

It is in this light that we from NAPM demand that :

1. The government of India brings out a white paper on all the dams, divulge the benefits vis-a-vis projections and plans, current status, cost of running, number of people displaced, rehabilitated and so on.
2. Establish a National Commission on Dam to study the existing and planned dams and look at their feasibility, impact and contribution to the overall intended development till then put a moratorium on construction of all the big dams. 3. Government of India, Kerala and Tamilnadu come together for a dialogue and find a solution which will not compromise their stand but also not affect the fears of loosing livelihood either by dam breach in Kerala or lack of water for agriculture in Tamilnadu.
4. To start the overall process of debate and discussion leading up to enactment of Dam Safety Act which in consultation with affected communities and also work towards putting an end to the water conflicts in the country and develop institutional mechanisms for water sharing between different states.

Lastly, NAPM in this regard offers its help in mediating between the states of Tamilnadu and Kerala with the help of Central government in case of Mullaperiyar controversy. We do hope with the help of people's movements from both sides we will able to reach out a compromise which will serve the livelihood and safety concerns of the people.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Gabriele Dietrich, Prafulla Samantara, Akhil Gogoi, Geo Josh, Hussain master, Gabriele Dietrich, Suniti S R, Rajendra Ravi, Ramakrishna Raju, Anand Mazgaonkar, Vimal Bhai, Madhuresh Kumar


Food Security Bill-Half heartedly conceived notion.

Special Contribution
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Dec. 20, 2011

The Malnutrition clinic in India

A welcome move by GOI to approve the Food Security Bill in cabinet after a long pause and much deliberation among the Ministers. Yes, it definitely shows some concern because at a time it was felt the entire draft would be rejected on grounds of ‘financial deficit’ and non- availability of ‘Food Grains’ for the ‘Aam-Poor’ who are malnourished and relying under severe pressure of high food inflation. Just showing mere concern would not be enough at the stage where we are developing at larger pace and also divide of rich and poor has widen.

But as a concern citizen and activist fighting for ‘Food Right for all’ aren’t satisfied by the entire Bill. The key is our Vision to Food Security Bill which should clearly state ‘No person shall sleep Hungry’ and ‘No to Nutrition deficit’ The vision set by new draft lacks this commitment that we want to see India a ‘Hunger Free State’ in 2020.The draft Bill has backed off from its original recommendation to give entitlements to 75% of its population and cover-up 90% rural India. The other matter was identifying the beneficiary to food which makes the task more difficult as ‘Priority’ and ‘General’ and the exclusion of any single person can deny one ‘Right to Live’. The NAC draft of 23rd Oct 2010 recommended the idea of ‘Near Universalization’ and the new draft seems half heartedly conceived.

The other grey area of draft is ‘Food Allowance’ where by non-supply of food grains or meals to entitled person, the concerned State would be required to provide, here we see the entry to the corporate interests and private contractors in food production, distribution and governance. The draft Bill fails to include the nutritional value of entitlements which was our core demand to introduce pulses and oil which is key to nutritional security.

The draft fails to highlight what mechanism the centre and state will adopt to implement the Food Security Bill. The new draft Bill has focused on “leveraging ‘Aadhaar’ for unique identification” and “introducing schemes such as cash transfer, food coupons, or other schemes.

The introduction of cash transfer must be seen as abdication of Govt. responsibility to serve its people as enshrined in our constitution and also the UID (Aadhaar) which has being under severe question of its failure and doubts on various blocks.

We therefore request to GOI to consider and adopt above vision and suggestion of going Universalization of Food Security which in turn will make our people to alleviate them from hunger and poverty and will lead a real dignified life.

Soheb Lokhandwala
Contact: 9833627173


NAPM Hails Storming at Coca Cola Factory in Plachimada by Activists

Dec. 17, 2011

Coca Cola Factory in India

Demands Immediate Action from State Government and Central Government in Passing the Pending Tribunal Bill

New Delhi: About twenty two members of Plachimada Coca-Cola Virudha Samara Samithi and Plachimada solidarity forum including Vilayodi Venugopal, Sri N. P. Johnson, N Subramanyan, Fr. Augustine, M N Giri, Sahadevan and ors, walked in to the premises of the Coca Cola Factory and courted arrest. When produced the Magistrate ordered their release on furnishing personal bond but activists refused to take bail in protest against apathy on the part of state government and the delaying and subverting tactics in favour of Coca Cola. NAPM hails the action of these activists and salutes their courage for choosing to do this to bring home the dire need for quick passage of the ‘Plachimada Coca-Cola Victims’ Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill, 2011.

It needs to be noted that based on the report submitted by Plachimada High Power Committee appointed by Goverment of Kerala, ‘Plachimada Coca-Cola Victims’ Relief and Compensation Claims Special Tribunal Bill, 2011’ was passed by the Assembly on 24 February 2011. The Bill sent by the Governor of Kerala to the President via the central Ministry of Home Affairs on 30 March, and the Home Ministry in turn has sent it to various related ministries for their comments on 17 April. They were then supposed to forward the Bill to the President with the consolidated comments.

The decision to send the Bill to the President was taken by the State Law Department, although there was no issue of repugnance and hence there was no need for Presidential assent. There is no question of repugnance as the law deals, in its operative part, with entirely state subjects, namely, losses in agriculture, health care, animal husbandry, job loss and groundwater contamination.

Very recently, the Union government has referred the Bill back to State government but till date State Law Ministry has not done anything on this. We fail to understand this delay, when in the State as well as at the Centre Indian National Congress Party is in power in coalition. Is this delay part of a larger design ? Is the government trying to serve the interests of the Coca Cola Corporation ? It is extremely shameful that the governments at the State and Centre are neglecting the demands of the suffering communities and the elected Gram Sabha. We all know that continuous Satyagraha has been going on since earth day in 2002, which has now completed almost a decade. How long are they expected to wait ?

Amidst all this Kerala government is planning to give distribution rights to Coco - Cola for providing drinking water to government hospitals in Kerala. Union Minister of State for Food Sri K.V. Thomas declared that months back. It was after sustained people's movements and pressure from the groups across the country which forced the government to enact this special tribunal Bill. It is high time government brought this enactment to force and justice is done to the suffering communities and Coke is held responsible for their Corporate Crimes and made to pay for this. Our struggle to hold the corporations accountable will continue until justice is done to the people.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Gabriele Dietrich, Prafulla Samantara, Geo Josh, Hussain master, Gabriele Dietrich, Suniti S R, Rajendra Ravi, Ramakrishna Raju, Anand Mazgaonkar, Vimal Bhai, Madhuresh Kumar

South Korea

Liberating Herstories - 'comfort women' survivors, ongoing art exhibitions

Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Dec. 12, 2011

Live music shows at the exhibition

The House of Sharing's International Outreach Team is organizing a multi-media art exhibition dealing with issues of sexual slavery, human trafficking, and violence and oppression against women.

Slavery, trafficking and violence and oppression towards women on the issues subject to multi-media art exhibitions. The team will be exhibiting Works made by the grandmothers themselves as well as Works Artists from around the world.

On opening night were dance, music, and theatrical performances. also, having a film screening and workshops throughout the week.

These exhibition "comfort women" survivors directly geurisin aII grandmother works from all over the world, as well as various artists' works are exhibited in there. Show the documentary film screenings and workshops throughout the week is planning for more than 60 years, survivors of non-stop together in the struggle for justice for my grandmother to help.

The participants on Sunday event

On Sunday, shows a free screening of My Heart is Not Yet Broken about the struggle of Song Sin-Do Halmoni, courageous survivor of Japanese military sexual slavery. There was live music afterwards.

Week exhibition schedule Events are as follow:

12/10 (Sat) 8 - 10: 30pm - Acoustic Performance / Acoustic Performance

12/11 (Sun) 2:30-5pm 'My mind was not' / 'My Heart is Not Yet Broken '

12/12 (Mon) 7-9pm 'Women, War & Peace'

12 / 13 (Tue) 7-9pm 'unfinished War '/ '63 Years On'

12/14 (Wed) 11:45 am-1pm Japanese "comfort women" survivors protest the 1000th regular demand / 1000th Wednesday Protest seven-9pm "South Korea's current sex" / " TODAY Sex Industry in Korea " by re-center representatives with the (Former Director of The Center Dasihamkke)

12/15 (Thu) 5-7pm 'Nanking Massacre' / 'The Rape of Nanking' seven-9pm "Survivors struggle with my grandmother" "Activism Halmoni with the" comfort women issue by Council Against South Korea (Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan)

12/16 (Fri) 6-8pm "Forces of the Philippines women gijichon" "Filipino women in US military camptowns" by durebang (Durebang) 8-8:30 PM Bids / Silent Auction 8:30-9:30 PM 'Within Every Woman'

How to Get to Anthracite Café:

Sangsu Station (Line 6), Exit 4. Go straight 500 meters. Turn left at 7-11. Take first right past are pottery café and Walk. Take first left and Walk to the end of the Block.


"Ingrained culture of impunity" denies rights, AHRC says

Dec. 9, 2011

Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn

(Hong Kong) A "deep-seated, ingrained culture of impunity that spans the state security forces, judiciary and civil service" is continuing to block the emergence of a human rights-respecting culture in Thailand, the Asian Human Rights Commission said today in its annual State of Human Rights in Asia report.

The 16-page Thailand report, entitled "Consolidated internal security state, complaisant judiciary" synthesizes and analyses a number of key human rights issues from throughout the year, including the criminalizing of victims of torture, persecution of human rights defenders, and constrictions of free speech.

"The Asian Human Rights Commission has for some time been warning the international human rights community that Thailand has been steadily regressing towards a new type of anti-human rights and anti-rule-of-law system in which the values associated with these concepts are advertised widely at home and abroad but in which state institutions are not only emptied of those values, but in fact are inverted to serve precisely the opposite ends from what they purport to serve," the AHRC said.

"The elections of 2011 do not appear to have brought an end to the progress of this project, although they have perhaps slowed it," it added.

Wong Kai Shing, director of the Hong Kong-based regional rights group, said that the persecution through the courts of people who actually deserved the protection of the law was one of the particularly alarming features of the human rights situation in Thailand during the year.

"That human rights defenders like Chiranuch Premchaiporn and Jintana Kaewkhao are treated before the courts of Thailand as criminal offenders is a damning indictment on the country's judiciary," Wong said, referring to two of the cases highlighted in the report.

"The conviction of torture victims for making complaints against the perpetrators of torture and their accomplices is particularly outrageous," he added, referring to the case of a client of forcibly disappeared rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit.

The report also points to the endorsement by the Constitutional Court of closed trial on internal security justifications.

"With cases like these passing through the courts, it is hard to look on Thailand's judicial system as anything but a system for the denial of human rights rather than for their defence," Wong stressed.

The AHRC in its report also drew attention to the increasing number of cases of lese-majesty in Thailand and their negative consequences for freedom of speech and human rights generally.

"The defendants in these cases are treated especially egregiously, and are deserving of special attention and support from human rights groups at home and abroad," Wong said.

The report is available online at:

Some extracts from the report follow.

Consolidating internal security state, complaisant judiciary

The first half of 2011 saw the start of the trial of independent news site webmaster Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, a devastating appeal outcome foreclosing justice in the case of the disappearance of human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit, and difficulties faced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) in their attempt to investigate the political violence of April and May 2010.

Politically, for many the central event of the year was the overwhelming victory of Yingluck Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai Party in the 3 July 2011 elections. While it is too early to definitively assess the Pheu Thai Party’s progress on human rights, early signs are not positive, with continued arrests and prosecutions for alleged lese-majesty slow progress towards accountability for the violence of April-May 2010, and a continued failure to protect the rights of victims and survivors of torture and other forms of state violence.

Yet, in the assessment of the AHRC, the initial failure of the Yingluck government to make meaningful changes in the status of human rights in Thailand is less about the individual government’s policies and instead reflective of a deep-seated, ingrained culture of impunity that spans the state security forces, judiciary, and civil service, all of which operate with tacit approval from many quarters of the civilian population.

The criminalization of victimhood

Documented instances of the use of torture by the Thai state security forces, including the army, police, and Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) date to the period of 1970s Cold War counterinsurgency in Thailand. Torture has been used both during formal conflict and as part of routine law enforcement. Within the last decade, as the Asian Human Rights Commission has repeatedly noted, since the declaration of martial law in the three provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat in southern Thailand in January 2004, there has been a sharp resurgence and expansion of the use of torture.

Of even greater concern, during 2011 the prosecution and conviction of a torture victim who spoke out against his torturers indicates an increasingly proactive approach to the production of impunity across the state security forces and the judiciary in response to allegations of gross human rights violations. On 10 August 2011, the Criminal Court in Bangkok sentenced Mr. Suderueman Malae to two years in prison for having spoken out against his alleged torturers.

The conviction of Mr. Suderueman by the Criminal Court in this case suggests a backpedaling of support for victims of torture in Thailand. If a victim of torture or other gross abuse cannot even state what happened to them under oath and in a court of law, on the questioning of a legal professional, then what prospect exists for open debate or complaint about such widespread and deeply institutionalized abuses?

Impunity for the torturers of Suderueman required, to begin with, the thwarting of any effective investigation of both the abduction and presumed killing of his lawyer, Somchai Neelaphaijit, and the acquittal of the accused in that case. Since the case attracted huge domestic and international interest, to give the appearance of some sort of justice being done, the court reached a compromise ruling in which it acknowledged police involvement and convicted one of the five accused of a minor offence.

Persecution of Human Rights Defenders

The situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Thailand has long been precarious in Thailand. Speaking out against state or private interest leaves one vulnerable to a range of abuses, including assassination, which was particularly prevalent during the years of the government of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. More recently, officials have increasingly turned to forms of legal and quasi-legal harassment of rights defenders, including criminal prosecution.

During 2011, the trial of Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, web director of, a news site that has provided alternative news and a platform for critical discussion and dissent since 2004, began. She has been accused of insulting the monarchy and is on trial under article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act of 2007 not for anything she wrote or said, but for allegedly not removing the comments of others quickly enough from the webboard.

The prosecution of Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn is of concern within the broad frame of the ongoing constriction of freedom of speech in Thailand and increased prosecutions of citizens for allegedly committing the crime of lese-majesty. Yet it is also deeply concerning within the context of prosecutions of other kinds of human rights defenders. These prosecutions can be seen as an attempt to criminalize dissent and prevent citizens from improving and changing their society.

In an exceptional example of this, in October 2011, Ms. Jintana Kaewkhao, a human rights defender in Prachuab Khiri Khan, was sentenced to four months in prison resulting from a Supreme Court decision in a case that has been in process since 2004. This decision, and the process by which it was reached over the past eight years, indicates that the very right of citizens to exercise their rights and freedoms to protest and defend their communities from harmful environmental consequences is under threat in Thailand. Like the case of the conviction of Mr. Suderueman for speaking out against his torturers, this conviction has foreclosed, rather than supported justice and the consolidation of human rights in Thailand.

Article 112 and constriction of speech

Since the 19 September 2006 coup, there has been an exponential expansion in the use of article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act to intimidate dissidents and constrict speech more generally.

While the case of Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn is the case most widely followed internationally, in 2011 there have been a number of other significant sets of charges brought and prosecutions completed. In March 2011, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for allegedly violating both laws in material posted to In May 2011 Joe Gordon, a Thai-American man, was charged under both laws for allegedly posting a link to a Thai translation of the English-language book, "The King Never Smiles", by Paul Handley, on his website. In late November 2011, the trial of Mr. Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, long-time labour rights activist and editor of Voice of Taksin and Red Power magazines, will begin. These are only several of many known, and perhaps many more unknown cases, of people charged under either article 112 and/or the Computer Crimes Act. In most article 112 and Computer Crimes Act cases, the court refuses to grant bail, and so those charged must also endure many months of pre-trial conviction.

With particular concern to how the courts have gone beyond their duty to become a proactive space of the restriction of rights, the Asian Human Rights Commission has also sought to highlight a recent Constitutional Court decision in the case or Ms. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul.

By placing the emphasis on articles 177 and 178 of the Criminal Procedure Code, rather than the issue of what constitutes national security, the Constitutional Court ruled that trials held behind closed doors are absolutely fine. This is clear, deliberate and explicit step backwards for human rights and justice in Thailand. In the case of Ms. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, it is not only that the court has failed to be a site in which human rights can be secured, but it has become a site in which human rights are actively violated and justice is proactively foreclosed. As such, the ruling in this case signifies the larger condition of human rights for people in Thailand generally under the revitalized internal security state.

# # #
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.


Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP)

Special Contribution
By Thomas Kocherry,
Dec. 6, 2011

People protesting in front of the nuclear plant

It was in 1988 during Rajiv Gandhi’s time the proposal for a 2000 MW Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project(KKNPP) by the Russians came into being. In 1989 the National Fish workers Forum (NFF) opposed this during a national March called Kannyakumari March under the slogan Protect waters/Protect life. On May 1st 1989 25000 people from all over India Assembled in Kannaykumari protesting against KKNPP. The police opened fire at the Mass Rally and 8 got bullet injuries. The Police filed a case against 40 fishermen. The case was going on for 4 years. Most of the accused were from Idinthakarai. Finally the court dismissed the case. Again and again people in and around Koodamkulam kept protesting. But the Government of India (GOI) went ahead with the construction.

Koodankulam is a small village situated in Tuticurin District of Tamilnadu State in India. In and around are the traditional fisher people depending on sea for their livelihood. The construction of the KKNPP has been going on. It was at this time Fukushima Disaster took place in Japan. This has threatened the fisher people. They started protesting against KKNPP. KKNPP is almost complete for commissioning.

Fortunately the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and the Legislative Assembly of Tamilnadu opposed the commissioning unless the GOI allay the fears of the people. But the Prime Minister of India wanted to continue the construction by all means. But the protest of the people became very strong. Thousands of People went on fasting. The protest has been catching up. The Prime Minister has appointed a 15 member committee to allay the fears of the people. The protesting group has appointed a 25 member Scientists to have dialogue with the 15 member committee of the Prime Minister. The dialogue and protest are going on. Why do we oppose this? The following are the reasons:

[1] The KKNPP reactors are being set up without sharing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study and Safety Analysis Report with the people, or the people’s representatives or the press. No public hearing has been conducted for the first two reactors either. There is absolutely no democratic decision-making in or public approval for this project.

[2] The Tamil Nadu Government G.O. 828 (29.4.1991 – Public Works Department) establishes clearly that “area between 2 to 5 km radius around the plant site, [would be] called the sterilization zone.” This means that people in this area could be displaced. But the KKNPP authorities promise orally and on a purely adhoc basis that nobody from the neighboring villages would be displaced. This kind of adhocism and doublespeak causes suspicion and fears of displacement.

[3] More than 1 million people live within the 30 km radius of the KKNPP which far exceeds the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) stipulations. It is quite impossible to evacuate this many people quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster at Koodankulam.

[4] The coolant water and low-grade waste from the KKNPP are going to be dumped in to the sea which will have a severe impact on fish production and catch. This will undermine the fishing industry, push the fisherfolks into deeper poverty and misery and affect the food security of the entire southern Tamil Nadu and southern Kerala.

[5] Even when the KKNPP projects function normally without any incidents and accidents, they would be emitting Iodine 131, 132, 133, Cesium 134, 136, 137 isotopes, strontium, tritium, tellurium and other such radioactive particles into our air, land, crops, cattle, sea, seafood and ground water. Already the southern coastal belt is sinking with very high incidence of cancer, mental retardation, down syndrome, defective births due to private and government sea-sand mining for rare minerals including thorium. The KKNPP will add many more woes to our already suffering people.

[6] The quality of construction and the pipe work and the overall integrity of the KKNPP structures have been called into question by the very workers and contractors who work there in Koodankulam. There have been international concerns about the design, structure and workings of the untested Russian-made VVER-1000 reactors.

[7] The then Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Forest Mr. Jairam Ramesh announced a few months ago that the central government had decided not to give permission to KKNPP 3-6 as they were violating the Coastal Regulation Zone stipulations. It is pertinent to ask if KKNPP 1 and 2 are not violating the CRZ terms.

[8] Many political leaders and bureaucrats try to reassure us that there would be no natural disasters in the Koodankulam area. How can they know? How can anyone ever know? The 2004 December tsunami did flood the KKNPP installations. There was a mild tremor in the surrounding villages of Koodankulam on March 19, 2006. On August 12, 2011, there were tremors in 7 districts of Tamil Nadu.

[9] Indian Prime Minster himself has spoken about terrorist threats to India’s nuclear power plants. Most recently, on August 17, 2001, Minister of State for Home, Mr. Mullappally Ramachandran said: “the atomic establishments continue to remain prime targets of the terrorist groups and outfits.”

[10] The important issue of liability for the Russian plants has not been settled yet. Defying the Indian nuclear liability law, Russia insists that the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), secretly signed in 2008 by the Indian and Russian governments, precedes the liability law and that Article 13 of the IGA clearly establishes that NPCIL is solely responsible for all claims of damages.

[11] In 1988 the authorities said that the cost estimate of the Koodakulam 1 and 2 projects was Rs. 6,000 crores. In November 1998, they said the project cost would be Rs. 15,500. In 2001, the ministerial group for economic affairs announced that the project cost would be Rs. 13,171 crores and the Indian government would invest Rs. 6,775 crores with the remainder amount coming in as Russian loan with 4 percent interest. The fuel cost was estimated to be Rs. 2,129 crores which would be entirely Russian loan. No one knows the 2011 figures of any of these expenses. No one cares to tell the Indian public either.

[12] The March 11, 2011 disaster in Fukushima has made it all too clear to the whole world that nuclear power plants are prone to natural disasters and no one can really predict their occurrence. When we cannot effectively deal with a nuclear disaster, it is only prudent to prevent it from occurring. Even the most industrialized and highly advanced country such as Germany has decided to phase out their nuclear power plants by the year 2022. Switzerland has decided to shun nuclear power technology. In a recent referendum, some 90 percent of Italians have voted against nuclear power in their country. Many Japanese prefectures and their governors are closing nuclear power plants in their regions. Both the United States and Russia have not built a new reactor in their countries for 2-3 decades ever since major accidents occurred at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. In our own co

untry, Mamta Banerjee government in West Bengal has stopped the Russian nuclear power park project at Haripur in Purba Medhinipur district and taken a position that they do not want any nuclear power project in their state. Similarly, the people of Kerala have decided not to host any nuclear power project in their state.

[13] And finally, the Indian government’s mindless insistence on nuclear power, utmost secrecy in all of its nuclear agreements and activities, and its sheer unwillingness to listen to the people’s concerns and fears make us very doubtful about the real benefactors of all this nuclear hoopla. Is it all for us, the people of India? Or for the corporate profits of the Russian, American and French companies? Or for the Indian military? Are the lives and futures of the Indian citizens inferior to all these?” 1962 Atomic Energy Act demands confidentiality. Why this Confidentiality only in the Atomic Energy? We have no doubt that Nuclear Energy production has an indirect link with Making of ATOMIC BOMBS.

[14] If the prime minister is honestly believing in the safety issues of Nuclear plants, he should ask 3 questions;

a]Why is it that the Nuclear plant manufacturers and suppliers are not able to convince the American Insurance companies to sell Insurance policies for Nuclear plants like for other safer chemical industries ?

b]If the prime Minister believes honestly in the safety of Nuclear plants, why he fails in requesting World Bank and Asian Development Banks to lend loans for construction of Nuclear plants?

c]Why Indian prime minister should not discuss Nuclear safety problems with highly educated Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel and stop her from deciding to phase out Nuclear power plants in Germany .Similarly ,he should go to countries which are phasing out Nuclear plants and educate those people to promote Nuclear power or learn from them why it is very unsafe and most uneconomical ?


Prime Minister, A.J.Abdul Kalam and Scientists are all promising full safety. But our question is that on what basis`are these people giving us promises. These people did not do anything on Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1964. Lakhs of people are still the victims of such tragedy,. Union Carbide gave such promises. The Prime Minister and the President did nothing to handle such Bopal Gas Tragedy. How can the people believe these people any more. Enough is enough.

Catholic bishops in Japan said Thursday, 11.11.2011, they want an immediate end to nuclear power generation. During a press conference at Motoderakoji Cathedral in Sendai City, they launched a document entitled End Nuclear Energy Now: Coming to terms with the tragic disaster of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The unfolding disaster in Fukushima, Japan and the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union lead World without Wars and Violence to declare its position regarding Nuclear Energy. NO NUCLEAR ENERGY.

Alternatives to Nuclear Power in the 21st Century

In India the present production is 160000 MW. The total need of India is 400.000 MW.GOI expects 10% of this is from Nuclear Energy, by 2020. Even this will not be realised according to the present way of implementing Nuclear Reactors in India. Haripur is cancelled. Jaithapur is in trouble. Koodankulam is in trouble. Since 1962 after enacting Atomic Energy Act, 5000 MW has been the total production. In fact if GOI improves the transmission of the present production, and the use of electricity, bulbs, pumps, ACs etc we can save up to 30-40% through conservation technologies. This saving is more important than nuclear and thermal production.The cost of effience improvement is cheaper than putting up new nuclear and thermal plants.

Wind energy and Solar energy are the most safe energy today in the World. Bangalore is progressing with Solar Energy by producing 900 MW Electricity. Tamilnadu and Kerala are progressing with Wind energy. The major energy in Australia is Wind energy. Germany has installed the biggest Solar Energy plant in Vatican. if GOI invests money on infrastructure for Solar and Wind energy in the way GOI invested in Atomic Energy India can progress very fast in Wind energy and solar energy.America is the largest Wind Energy producer.Potential from Wind Energy in India is 100, 000 MW. THe potential from Solar Energy is 400,000 MW. There is no risk involved in this. But investment in research and infrastructure should be done.

Another Energy GOI can progress is in the line of Bio Gas Energy. If we make use of human excreta, animal excreta, and vegetable waste India can progress very fast not only in the production of energy but also does cleaning up of the whole environment. The potential is 100.000 MW.

Whatever Energy we produce it should not affect the environment either by pollution or by radiation. In the long run the quality of energy we produce are more important than the quantity, which will create climate change, the destruction of the World. The MNCs in the Nuclear Energy are very powerful and they are corrupt by giving commissions to the political parties and bureaucrats. If there are powerful peoples movements these corruptions can be stopped. This is the beginning of the production of alternative energy.


People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)

Special Report
By S. P. Udayakumar
Dec.4, 2011

Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam(3rd R) and members of Central committee team on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) welcomes the statement of the Central Government's Experts Group (EG) convener, Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, that expresses the group’s willingness to hold discussions with the scientific team of the PMANE.

We request Dr. Muthunayagam to suggest a few possible dates and venue for such a meeting as soon as possible. We would also request him to arrange a visit of the KKNPP site for all the 28 members of our scientific team.

It is also pertinent to remind him of our request for some of the basic documents on the KKNPP project such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study, Safety Analysis Report, VVER Performance Report, Detailed Project Report (DPR) and all other relevant documents for reactors 1 and 2 in order to facilitate our scientific team’s meaningful dialogue with the Central and State teams.

We would also take this opportunity to insist that the work on the two reactors be halted as demanded by the Tamil Nadu Government’s Cabinet Resolution even as we are engaged in a dialogue process.

S. P. Udayakumar, Ph.D.
Coordinator, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy


FDI in Retail: A Disaster for Farmers, Consumers and Communities

Special Report
By Medha Patkar

The broken Reliance Fresh store in Ranchi

New Delhi, Nov. 29 : NAPM strongly opposes the Government of India's decision to increase the FDI limit to 51% in multi brand retail trade, and upto 100% in single brand retail trade with government approval. Even though the policy is conditional to the fact that it is applicable only in towns and cities with more than 10 lakh population as per 2011 census. 53 towns and cities fall under this category out of a total of 8000 towns and cities all over India. According to 2011 census, these 53 towns and cities cover 42% of the total urban population of India. Even though limited to 53 cities the effects of it will be felt all across since the sourcing of the commodities and provisions will be from all over the country.

Our experience in past twenty years of Liberalisation, Globalisation and Privatisation policies in all aspects has shown increase in inequality and deprivations, where the adivasis, dalits, farmers and workers, have suffered the most. The present Cabinet Decision will only enhance the problems due to privatisation, which is nothing but selling of country’s resources to private corporations. This controversial decision has led to the current logjam in the Parliament and outrage among the people. While we welcome the protests by political parties we urge them to address the wider question of economic reforms, which is pushing the aam admi to the brink of disaster, with high rates of inflation and increased prices all around.

FDI, PPP and other such joint ventures and liberalisation policies have damaged lives and livelihood of millions of people of this country. Entry of private corporations in energy sector has resulted in increased displacement, loot of natural resources; privatisation in agriculture has meant corporate and contract farming and farmer's suicides on mass scale and growth of real estate all across the country has fuelled destruction and conflicts among the farmers in particular and caused misery to urban poor. FDI in retail will further push farmers and workers to impoverishment and unemployment. These sectors need more governmental support. Already 93% of workforce is in unorganised and unprotected sectors of work and this will add to further joblessness and violations of the rights of workers and urban poor.

The Centre's decision is questionable. It must understand that retail in India comprises hawkers, family-run, street-corner stores which account for 97 per cent of business. Global retailers will destroy these domestic chains. It will also further intensify corruption, inequality and exploitation of the labourers and farmers.

NAPM strongly opposes any further push for these policies and demands an immediate roll back of these pronouncements and foreign trade agreements done under the pressure from WTO. It will be a mistake if the government forgets the broken Reliance Fresh stores in Indore, Kolkata and Ranchi in early 2007 and massive protests against KFC stores in 1996 in Banaglore. If the Government does not withdraw these decisions, People's Movements and Trade Unions will be forced to start a massive protest throughout the country.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Adv. Sanjay Parikh, Ulka Mahajan, Prafulla Samantara, D. Gabriele, P. Chennaiah, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Anand Mazgaonkar, Sr. Celia, Suniti S. R., Rajendra Ravi, Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Vimal Bhai, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Madhuresh Kumar


A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Nov. 25, 2011

A woman lights candles representing women killed as a result of domestic violence in Romania, 2010

ASIA: No end to violence against women without access to justice

Incidences of violence against women are not isolated or sporadic, but a daily occurrence in Asian countries. While women are subjected to various forms of violence in private and public domains, such as sexual assault, rape and acid throwing, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to draw attention to the increasing tendency of violations perpetrated by state agents, mostly the police and military, in the form of torture, rape, extrajudicial killing and being used as sex slaves in military torture cells.

From social and cultural norms to ineffective legal procedures, women are thwarted at every turn as they attempt to complain against their abuse, seek punishment of those responsible and improve their own circumstances. While the denial of justice is a fundamental human rights violation, it is also key in perpetuating the cycle of violence, as the perpetrators remain free to continue their abusive and illegal behaviour.

Supporting all women confronting the denial of justice, the AHRC urges states to improve their complaint making procedures and available remedies.

Complaint making procedure

Registering a complaint is the first step in speaking out against any abuse suffered by women and addressing it. Without any complaint being made, little can be done. State agencies and complaint receiving bodies are generally not conducive to registering complaints of abuse against fellow officials, or against wealthy and influential individuals. Their attitude towards women also makes them indifferent to their complaints. Furthermore, the corruption prevalent within policing institutions throughout Asia makes the police an easy target for perpetrators of violence to bribe and silence. Meanwhile, those bodies specifically meant to receive complaints from women, such as women’s commissions, tend to have limited resources, budgets and authority, which are obstacles in carrying out their functions effectively. For instance, Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women, is often not able to conduct its own investigations, or, at best, may conduct investigations and make recommendations to other state institutions for further action. However, law enforcement bodies do not always take up its recommendations. Similarly, the Commission for Women in India receives a large number of complaints and conducts its own investigations, but these, along with its recommendations, are often ignored by India’s law enforcement bodies.

The police attitude to registering complaints is manifested in their investigation procedure as well. As seen in a case of a 16-year-old girl who was kidnapped and gang-raped in Pakistan in October 2010, the police refused to record the gang-rape complaint. Her father finally filed an application in court, which then ordered the police to register a First Information Report. The police eventually arrested two persons, yet they were released within two hours after bribing members of the police. Since then, no legal action has been taken against the perpetrators or the police, whereas the girl’s family is being harassed to drop the case, including being threatened with the rape of their other two children.

The militarization of various Asian countries—or regions within countries—means there is considerable violence committed against women by the military. In Burma, not only is rape condoned as a strategy of war in conflict areas, but it is also committed widely in non-conflict areas. In 2011 itself, there have been large numbers of rapes of girls and women documented in various areas of the country. Not only do government agencies refuse to take up cases involving the military, but complaints of rape or sexual abuse could land the victim and/or her family in prison for ‘supporting rebels’.

Regardless of whom they are complaining against, it is disturbingly common for women victims to be subjected to further abuse and harassment for filing complaints. They must also deal with social stigmas and obstacles. As a result, women tend to remain silent regarding the violence against them.

Social obstacles

Aside from the procedural problems of making a complaint, women also face numerous social and cultural obstacles to speaking out against the abuse they suffer, many of which are in fact promoted by the government. In Indonesia, Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo on September 16, 2011 stated, in response to the increase of rape and sexual harassment on public transportation, that this was the women’s own fault; “Wear sensible clothes, don’t wear ‘inviting’ clothes. You can imagine, if wears short skirt and sits next to the driver, it could be ‘inviting’.” How can women voice their complaints to public officials holding such attitudes?

Cabinet ministers in Pakistan have also been known to defend violence against women. Balochistan Senator Sardar Isarullah Zehri defended the jirga-ordered burying of three teenage girls and two of their aunts alive in his province as ‘custom’ in August 2008. “This is our centuries old traditions and customs, and we will continue it,” he said. Despite such a disavowal for rule of law, and despite the fact that the case was yet to be properly investigated, Mr. Zehri today is a federal minister.

The social stigma surrounding domestic violence is the biggest obstacle for women to complain against it. Many cases show that police and other public officials urge women to resolve the issue at home, rather than making a complaint to obtain legal remedy. Dowry related violence in India continues today, with daily media reports of women committing suicide or being killed by family members. In fact, about 20 percent of those committing suicide in India are housewives. That women would rather end their lives than speak out is the most critical assessment of the environment they find themselves in.


If women succeed in getting their cases to court, despite all the obstacles, they are most likely to then face delays in court hearings, as well as insensitive prosecutors, lawyers and judges. The justice system also fails to protect the women from threats and harassment by the perpetrators and social ostracism, a significant aspect of remedies.

All of the above can be seen in the case of Pakistani rights activist and gang-rape victim Mukhtaran Mai, who struggled hard to secure justice and challenge the impunity of the men who raped her some nine years ago. Finally, on April 21, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld the verdict of the Multan bench of Lahore High Court releasing five of the six men responsible on the basis of ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘faulty investigations’. Only one perpetrator remains in prison to serve a life sentence. In upholding the legally flawed Multan bench verdict, the Supreme Court gravely disappointed all those who support justice and women’s rights. Such rulings can only serve to further dissuade victims of rape from seeking justice.

In order to ensure justice for victims, it is essential to provide them with protection and counseling, as part of the remedies available. In many cases of sexual violence, the woman victim is both the complainant and the primary witness of the crime. These women are vulnerable to harassment and abuse by the perpetrators of these crimes and it is the fundamental obligation of the state to protect them. Cases of victims in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan have been documented however, where no protection was given to victims making complaints of rape or assault.

Societal change

The incidents of violence against women are directly related to the wider society’s understanding of women and the level of respect they are accorded. The AHRC reiterates the state’s obligations to stop the perpetuation of violence against women with a holistic approach that adopts comprehensive laws not only to criminalize violence against women, but also mandates prevention measures--including awareness raising, sensitizing and the empowerment of women--aimed at changing societal attitudes and practices. National plans comprising of educational curricula as well as advocacy programmes to promote public awareness of gender stereotyping and the unacceptability of violence against women should be urgently and effectively initiated. Civil society also has an important role to play, particularly in identifying and understanding rights violations faced by women, as well as providing them the necessary support and structures to overcome these violations. Only when such a holistic approach targeting the criminal justice system as well cultural and patriarchal norms that seek to silence women is in place, can violence against women be truly eliminated.

# # # About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.


Urgent; Help Save Tibetan Lives!

Special Report
By Dorjee Tseten
Nov. 24, 2011

Tibetan nun Palden Choetso set herself on fire

Dear Supporter,

Two weeks ago in ahead of the release of the Bollywood film "Rockstar", my colleague Jigdal and I headed to mumbai to meet the CEO of Censor Board of India Smt.Pankaja Thakur to express our disappointment and question their decision to blur the "Free Tibet" banner visible in the 'Sadda Haq' song. The Tibetan flags in the scene were allowed to remain, but these two simple words (Free Tibet) were deemed too controversial.

With your support and solidarity, we were not only able to express our concern on this decision but also highlight the extreme repression Tibetans inside Tibet are facing everyday to our Indian friends and supporters. (see the coverage below)

This year alone we have witnessed 11 cases of self immolation inside Tibet. Tibetans inside are experiencing one of its greatest height of oppression under the Chinese regime and they need your help more than ever.

Recently SFT received this incredible footage of the nun Palden Choetso (35) from Tawu, Tibet who set herself on fire on November 3, 2011 (see here: Various international and national mainstream news media have started covering the story and the footage.

The crisis in Tibet demands global diplomatic intervention now. Now is the time to intensify our efforts and increase pressure on key world leaders who have influence over China.

Check out the video message by Tendor, Executive Director of Students for a Free TIbet

You can help raise the global alarm. Avaaz, an international advocacy group that works in solidarity with people campaigning for human rights and justice worldwide, has launched a petition to "Save Tibetan Lives".

More than 644,500 people have already signed the petition, but we need more. 1,00,000 signatures will help significantly raise the profile of this campaign.

Please sign the urgent petition here:

Between now and December 10th, the global Tibet movement will redouble its efforts to pressure the world leaders to speak out.

Here are more ways you can help!

1. Ask your elected representatives to sign the Stand Up for Tibet pledge at and help raise the alarm with your country's leader.

2. Contact prominent celebrities and people of influence in your community. In the coming weeks we want to triple the number of prominent people who are "Standing Up for Tibet".

3. Start planning a protest and/or vigil now for International Human Rights Day on December 10th. Materials and action ideas will be available shortly on

In the coming week, we will be sending more resources and ways that you can help take the Enough! Campaign for Global Intervention to Save Tibetan Lives to the next level of influence. Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign so far; your efforts are helping to make a difference on the ground inside Tibet.

With hope,
Dorjee Tseten & Everyone at SFT - India


Condemn the gruesome murder of activist Sr. Valsa John by the mining mafia

Special Report
By Medha Patkar
Nov. 18, 2011

A nun-cum-activist Valsa John

Sr. Valsa, an activist of the Rajmahal Pahad Bachao Andolan (RPBA) and an ordained nun with the Sisters of Charity of Jesus & Mary, who had been working among Santhal Adivasis in the coal rich region of Dhumka, Jharkhand was brutally murdered by a group of about 40 armed men on the night of 15th November 2011. On behalf of Indian peoples’ movements and resistance struggles, NAPM, NFF and NFFPFW condemn this heinous and cowardly act, evidently conceived by the powerful mining mafia, aimed at essentially hunting down individuals and movements to silence the voices of resistance by people.

Sr. Valsa John had been working among the Adivasi communities in Jharkhand’s coal rich region of Santal Parganhas, Pachwara, for the last 20 years. Since early 2000’s, Panem Coal Mine Ltd, a project of Punjab State Electricity Board and EMTA (Eastern Minerals and Trading Agency) from West Bengal, has been operating mines in the coal reserves of Pachwara and 32 surrounding villages. To defend their right over their land and its resources, the Santhal Adivasi community formed the Rajmahal Pahad Bachao Andolan. Sr. Valsa along with others such as Majhi Haddam - the traditional administrative headman of the Santhal tribe, worked to organise the community and were in the forefront of the resistance that was building against the exploitation by Panem Coal. Despite the MoU signed between the local community and Panem Coal in 2006, tension has been mounting in the area in recent times, especially with regard to the betrayal by the Company. On 16 November 2011, Sr. Valsa was brutally murdered by a group of about 40 men, believed to be hired goons of the coal mining mafia.

Sr. Valsa had been under constant threat from Panem Coal Ltd. and had voiced the same to friends and family. The Superintendent of Police has confirmed that she had filed an FIR three years ago where she reported that she was facing death threats. Hours before her death, Sr.Valsa had mentioned to her family about threats to life from the mining mafia. It is rather unconvincing that no action was taken by the police to investigate the matter or to provide for her safety, merely because no persons were named in her complaint. The state and some sections of national media have attempted to pass the blame, to discredit Sr.Valsa and to fudge the facts by bringing the ‘Maoists’ into the frame. It is condemnable that the local administration is currently attempting to suppress the truth by intimidating the villagers and andolan activists. It is a matter of national shame that the pervasive nexus between powerful mining companies and the state machinery has cost the precious life of a woman who was working to secure basic rights for the marginalised people.

We demand ordering of judicial enquiry into the murder of Sr.Valsa and the probable linkages between the murder and the death threats she had received from the mining mafia. It is also imperative to investigate the fact that Sr.Valsa was working in an area dominated by right-wing Hindutva forces that enjoyed considerable benefits from the mining corporations. The state should own-up to not only their apathetic nature in which they dealt with a serious death threat from a citizen but also to tolerating a situation in Pachwara where a mining company have overthrown constitutional and democratic structures while gravely violating the basic rights of Adivasis.

We salute the life, struggle and martyrdom of Valsa John, who spent her life working with the Adivasi community to fight for their land, their livelihood, their very existence!

Signed on behalf of the organisations by:

1. Ashok Choudhury (NFFPFW)
2. Matanhy Saldanah (NFF)
3. Medha Patkar (NAPM)

Contacts: 011-26680883 / 9818905316 / 9582862682

Thailand – Human rights defender and magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk faces lèse majesté charge

Special Report
By William Gomes
Nov. 16, 2011

Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk in trial

Dear Prime Minister,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, a human rights activist and journalist. I am writing to you to raise my concerns about the situation of human rights defender and magazine editor Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who will stand trial on charges of lèse majesté from 21 November 2011 until 4 May 2012. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is a longtime labour rights activist and is affiliated with the Democratic Alliance of Trade Unions. He is facing a maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment if found guilty.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who is also editor of Voice of the Oppressed (Voice of Taksin), was arrested on 30 April 2011 at Aranyaprathet district, Sa Kaeo Province, and charged with contravening the lèse majesté law or Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code which states that “whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years”. He was detained in Bangkok Special Prison and was reportedly transferred to Sa Kaeo Provincial Court on 12 November 2011. He has been in pre-trial detention for six and a half months since his arrest by Department of Special Investigation officials in April 2011. His fourth bail request was denied on 1 November 2011.

Somyot is known for his active support for the empowerment of the workers’ movement and the right to freedom of association both in Thailand and internationally. Somyot’s arrest on 30 April came only five days after he held a press conference in Bangkok launching a campaign to collect 10,000 signatures to petition for a parliamentary review of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which Somyot claims contradicts democratic and human rights principles. According to a document produced by the Public Prosecutor, Somyot is alleged to have allowed two articles that made negative references to the monarchy to be published in his magazine.

The hearings involving the Prosecution witnesses will take place on 21 November 2011, 19 December 2011, 16 January 2012, and 13 February 2012 in the provinces of Sa Kaeo, Petchabun, Nakorn Sawan, and Songkla, respectively, while the Defence witnesses will be called to appear before Bangkok Criminal Court on 18-20 April 2012, 24-26 April 2012, and 1-4 May 2012.

I am concerned that the venues of the hearings for the Prosecution witnesses are all held outside Bangkok in different provinces across the northern, northeastern, and southern provinces of Thailand, which will place an undue burden on Somyot and his family and undermine his fair trial rights. This may also prevent the full presence and participation of trial observers, diplomatic corps, and journalists.

I am further disturbed that if Somyot’s application for bail continues to be denied until the conclusion of the trial, he will have been in prison for over a year before a verdict is reached, since the trial is expected to last until at least 4 May 2012. This is in violation of the constitutional guarantee for a right to bail under Section 40 (7) of the 2007 Thai Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Thailand has ratified, and Principles 36-39 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (1988).

The Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT), in its second report, also emphasised that “a temporary release…is a fundamental right of accused persons and defendants in order to enable accused persons and defendants to defend their cases, to prove innocence and to reduce effects from the restriction of freedoms on themselves and families.” Under national and international law, the right to bail can only be restricted on limited and precisely defined grounds. The authorities have yet to provide an adequate justification for his continued detention or an explanation as to why less restrictive and non-custodial measures are not sufficient to ensure his appearance at trial and non-tampering with evidence.

Our organisation William’s desk are alarmed by the escalating cases of using lèse majesté law against human rights defenders and dissidents in the years following the military coup d’etat in 2006. Concerns have already been raised, in particular regarding the ongoing case of Ms Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Executive Director of Prachatai and a media rights advocate, who is also charged under the lèse majesté law and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

On 10 October 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, urged Thailand to urgently amend lèse majesté laws (Section 112 of the Penal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act)[1]. As emphasized by the Special Rapporteur, “he threat of a long prison sentence and vagueness of what kinds of expression constitute defamation, insult, or threat to the monarchy, encourage self-censorship and stifle important debates on matters of public interest, thus putting in jeopardy the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.

Concerns regarding lèse majesté laws were also raised during the consideration of the situation of human rights in Thailand through the UN Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on 7 October 2011.

I call on the authorities in Thailand to:

1. Immediately drop all charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, or else, grant him the right to bail in accordance with fair trial standards under domestic and international law;

2. Review the lèse majesté law to ensure its conformity with Thailand’s international human rights obligations, as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and immediately drop all charges against human rights defenders based on these laws;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Thailand, especially those working on freedom of expression, are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

I respectfully remind you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and calls on States to ensure that they can carry out their activities without fear of reprisals.

I would particularly draw attention to Article 6: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12: “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

Yours Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Copies to:
1. United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders
2. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office, Bangkok


Anti Nuclear issue and Anti corruption issue

Special Contribution
By Thomas Kocherry,
Nov. 3, 2011

People protesting in front of the nuclear plant

There are similarities in these two issues. Civil Society is responding to these in a massive way. Examples In Haripur, Jaithapur,Koodamkulam people are protesting against Nuclear Plants. Against Corruption we saw the massive protest all over India. They are people centered. They do not belong to any political parties. But political parties support both. They are secular, but at the same time some Religious support is there. Both are facing both support and rejection from ruling governments. For example Haripur was cancelled unilaterally by the West Bengal Government. But Koodamkulam cannot be rejected even if the Tamilnadu Assembly Unanimously pass a resolution. Where is the Federal Constitution of India?

BJP is openly supporting Anna Hazare against Corruption. But the UPA and Congress do not know where do they stand concerning Anna. It is a very Paradoxical Stand. Some in the Congress say that Anna Hazare is supported by RSS. Prime Minister himself publicly ask the Bishops to settle the Koodamkulam issue. He is creating a communal situation in India.

Immediately RSS attacked the Church on this ground. This kind of Paradoxical stand of Congress is going to create a lot of problems in the Politics of today in India. If you want to kill a dog, call it a mad dog. This kind of attitude we find from the UPA and congress towards these two movements. The GOI is trying to find out small loop holes with regard to finance handling of the Core team of Anna. In a similar way GOI is trying to find out some loop holes in the anti Nuclear movements. It is a church sponsored. It is foreign funded, accused by the 15 member Committee of the Prime Minister to allay the fears of the people.

While the 15-member Expert Committee appointed by the Prime Minister met the NPCIL officials for the first time last week, there have been attempts by the top leadership of the NPCIL and the AEC not only to scuttle the consultation process, but also to malign the people’s movement with baseless allegations that it is being instigated by foreigners. It is very interesting how the committee does this? Why are they bringing these issues now? Prime Minister cannot be innocent in this . He is involved and he allows others to be involved in this kind of campaign. Church has every right to be involved in peoples issues. If Church is not handling foreign money as per the FCRA rules, Church should be dealt with as per law. RSS has every right to support Anti Corruption movement provided RSS will not make the issue communal. If GOI can have collaboration with Russians why not others?

Ruling class should be able to handle these two issues on their merits. Why do we oppose Corruption? As President of India says corruption is a cancer in our society. All of us have to fight Corruption at all levels if we are true citizens of India. JAN LOKPAL is a first step towards getting rid of Corruption. Let us all work together if we are serious about it. We cannot protect anybody, who is involved in corruption if one has to remain in power or one belongs to one’s respective party. We should look for all other alternatives to handle corruption in our society. We have to unearth all the black money that belongs to the development of India. Corruption is organically linked with Economic Globalization and Market and MNCs. Price Rise is organically linked with Economic Globalization and Market and MNCs. These are organically linked with the political parties.

Similarly we should understand why people are opposing nuclear plants? It is dangerous as revealed by FUKUSHIMA, CHERNOBIL, THREE MISLE ISLAND. There is no technology to handle the radiation content for thousands of years in nuclear waste. There is no alternative to the dumping of hot water to sea, which will affect the fish resource and fisher people. 15 member committee of the Prime Minister cannot convince us of the safety of Nuclear Plants, when GOI cannot do anything on BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY. Who is liable and responsible if some disaster happens? There is a lot of money involved with the MNCs, who are constructing nuclear plants for corruption. In 1988 the authorities said that the cost estimate of the Koodakulam 1 and 2 projects was Rs. 6,000 crores.

In November 1998, they said the project cost would be Rs. 15,500. In 2001, the ministerial group for economic affairs announced that the project cost would be Rs. 13,171 crores and the Indian government would invest Rs. 6,775 crores with the remainder amount coming in as Russian loan with 4 percent interest. The fuel cost was estimated to be Rs. 2,129 crores which would be entirely Russian loan. No one knows the 2011 figures of any of these expenses. No one cares to tell the Indian public either. These have indirect link with the conversion of Uranium to Plutonium. GOI and State Government should handle alternate mode of Energy. They should implement better transmission of electricity and save electricity by using better bulbs.

People cannot keep quiet any more. There is a limit to keeping quiet by people. If the ruling class do not learn from Mass Protests taking place all over the World against Economic Abuse by the MNCs, Ruling Class ,NGOs and Price Rise, people of India will come out like these anti-nuclear protests and anti-corruption movement.

Thomas Kocherry, +91 936 064 5772. Manavalakurichy.


DVC Displaced End their Dharna after Talks with Minister of Power

Indian Union Minister for Power Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde

New Delhi, October 24 : Today at noon a delegation of Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha-NAPM consisting of Ramashrya Singh, Chandana Soren and Madhuresh Kumar led by Swami Agnivesh met Union Minister for Power Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde at his residence. Shri Ramashray Singh explained to him the details of the issue and the problems faced by Ghatwar’s and other displaced in the region. They also narrated to him the struggle they have waged in West Bengal and Jharkhand in their demand and the support they have received from both the state governments but not much has happened till date.

Shri Shinde called up DVC Chairperson to ask for the details of the case. DVC chairperson cited 1992 Supreme Court judgement and said that as per the order claims of 91 people who approached court has been settled. Shri Singh explained to Minister that SC order vindicates their stand that those who got the compensation should also get the jobs. The fact that only 91 people went to court doesn’t mean that there were only 91 people who remained to be resettled and rehabilitated. There are nearly 12,000 families who remain to be compensated adequately with a job. Mr. Shinde promised that given that the case is an old one, he needs time to further investigate it and meanwhile requested the Andolan to meet the DVC Chairperson with complete details of the people displaced. He promised that justice will be done to people who sacrificed their land in the name of development.

Later on at Jantar Mantar activists broke their fast after accepting juice from Swami Agnivesh and vowed to continue their fast until justice is done to thousands. Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, an associate of NAPM has been on an indefinite dharna at Jantar Mantar from October 17th and relay hunger strike from October 20th. The dharna was supported by Medha patkar, Swami Agnivesh, Ashok Chaudhary, Guman Singh, Justice (retd) Rajidner Sachar, Kuldip Nayar, Sumit Chakravarti, Yogendra Yadav and many others.

For more details contact : 9818905316 / 08986826847



Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Oct. 28, 2011

Radiological service

The Maharashtra Government to privatize all radiological services is shocking, retrogressive, and unnecessary. The grounds on which Additional Chief Secretary of Public Health Department wants radiologist services to be privatized are hollow like non-availability of expert person and expensive machinery's. Continued provision of X-ray and CT scan facilities in district hospitals and above should not be a problem at all since radiologists and other technical human power is available in such cities. If no radiologist is available to work full time in these district hospitals and above PHF, a few radiologists can be hired on a part time basis.

To effect such arrangement of in-sourcing of medical experts into PHF, the professional and administrative environment in these PHFs would have to be improved considerably. At least few medical experts would be ready to work in PHF even if the earning is much less than that in the private practice if they are not subjected to unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, political interference and lack of due respect.

This means most of the common masses and specially poor and marginalized sections have to bear the brunt. The inflation data which is now above 10% has already affected the poor people at large and by this way the radiological fee will be high which will make them more vulnerable. The general experience has been that privatization of healthcare services increases denial of healthcare services to the poor even if the poor are supposed to get free services from these privatized facilities because poor are excluded under one pretext or other.

Where our children and women are dying due to malnourishment and severe anemic it is the primary duty of the state to enhance their nutrition value and improve overall healthcare which directs them according to the Article 47 of State& also Planning Commission has submitted a plan to make available quality health care services free of charge to all citizens by the year 2020 and has recommended considerable strengthening and improvement of PHFs as one of the key policies to be followed. The Maharashtra Govt. decision is contrary to this National trend.

We from MPJ feel this will set a bad trend and a testing ground to privatize entire 'Health Services' which is totally unacceptable. By privatizing the Govt of Maharashtra is abdicating its responsibility to serve our poor masses as enshrined in our constitution.

We therefore demand immediate revoke of such order and shun the idea to privatize 'Radiological Services' which will harm our poor masses, on contrary focus must lie to enhance and upgrade Public Health care system and make them avail at 'No-Cost at All'.


Supreme Court affirms illegality of defending human rights

Oct. 13, 2011

Ms. Jintana Kaewkhao

The Asian Human Rights Commission is appalled at the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Thailand to uphold the conviction of Ms. Jintana Kaewkhao of Prachuab Khiri Khan province for her efforts to exercise fundamental human rights and defend the basic interests of her community.

For more than ten years, Jintana has fought against coal-fired power and other environmentally destructive development projects in the Hin Krut and Bo Nok areas of the province. She and her colleagues in the Bo Nok-Hin Krut Nature and Environmental Conservation Group successfully prevented the construction of coal-fired power plants in their communities and have worked to develop clean and environmentally conscious forms of power. Yet, she is now serving four months' imprisonment for alleged trespass onto the grounds of the company leading the efforts to build the coal-fired power plant. The final decision of the Supreme Court in her case, arrived at after eight years, indicates how the right of people in Thailand to protest and defend their communities from harmful environmental consequences has effectively been made illegal.

The initial case against Jintana was heard in the provincial court in Prachuab Khiri Khan province (Black case no. 1480/2545; Red case no. 3283/2546). The prosecutor alleged that the plaintiffs, who were the management of the office of Union Power Development in Prachuab Khiri Khan, were holding a party on the afternoon of 13 January 2004. While they were setting the table and otherwise preparing the room, a group of people burst into the room and threw a rancid substance on the table and in the ice buckets. Jintana testified that she went to the offices of the company on that afternoon, but was there with other activists in order to present a petition to the company. When they arrived, they were met by a group of over 50 tough-looking men, and decided to return home instead. There was a clear discrepancy in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses and that of Jintana; further, while some prosecution witnesses claimed that Jintana was the leader of the people who came into the dining room, other did not recognize her as among the group of trespassers. On the basis of this discrepancy, the provincial court dismissed the charges. The provincial court also made reference to the broader context of the opposition to the coal-fired power plant and the environmental, health and occupational reasons why Ms. Jintana and other community members and activists in Bo Nok and Hin Krut organized against the proposed plant. (Some more details are available here:

The plaintiff appealed this decision and on 1 August 2005, the Court of Appeal for the 7th Region overturned the dismissal and convicted Jintana under sections 362 and 365(2) of the Criminal Code for trespassing in a group of two or more persons (Black case no. 3533/2546; Red case no. 2355/2548). The court overturned the decision of the provincial court on the basis that the evidence indicated that Jintana was present at the offices of the Union Power Development Company on the day in which the party was disrupted. While the court noted that there were discrepancies in the testimony of the plaintiff, it maintained that the defendant did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that she was not guilty of trespassing and leading others to throw a rancid substance on the dining tables. The court further noted that the discrepancies in the testimonies of the plaintiffs might have arisen because they were "afraid of the influence of the defendant, who was a leader of the group opposing the coal-fired power plant in Hin Krut". On this basis, the court sentenced Jintana to six months in prison.

The defendant appealed the verdict, and the Supreme Court upheld the decision and sentenced Jintana to four months in prison in a decision dated 20 December 2010 (Supreme Court case no. 13005/2553), which was read out in the Prachuab Khiri Khan Provincial Court on 11 October 2011. The Supreme Court noted that in this case what is at issue is whether or not the defendant was the leader of the people who trespassed and dumped a rancid substance on the tables of the Union Power Development Company. It found that the inconsistencies in the testimony of the plaintiffs and the failure of some prosecution witnesses to identify Jintana did not diminish the weight of the testimony. The Supreme Court further held that since there was no evidence to suggest that the plaintiff had a pre-existing conflict with the defendant, there was no reason to believe the bringing of charges was malicious. Since the defence was unable to provide conclusive evidence that Jintana was not the leader of the group who trespassed prior to the lunch party, the Supreme Court upheld the decision. The sentence was reduced on the ground that the accused had cooperated with the process. She began serving her sentence in the Prachuab Khiri Khan provincial prison after the decision was read on October 11.

In a Thai-language article for Krungthep Thurakij newspaper online on 29 September 2011 (here), Professor Somchai Preechasilpakul, Chiang Mai University law lecturer and expert on environmental and human rights law, raised a series of significant issues regarding this case. Primary among them, he underscored the importance of this case to the movement for environmental and community rights in Thailand. He also linked the case to questions of rights under successive constitutions, given that when Jintana was charged the 1997 Constitution was still in effect, but it was subsequently superseded by the 2007 version.

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to draw attention to this last point as since the time of the 2006 coup it stressed that the reassertion of military power and faux constitutionalism that followed would inevitably result in a resurgence of precisely the type of anti-human rights thinking and jurisprudence as shown in this case. Indeed, this sort of ruling can be but attributed to the court's complete disconnection from reality, if not its deliberate disregard for it. The notion that the plaintiffs in the current case might have had cause to fear the "influence" of the defendant is not only profoundly wrong but it is also profoundly disturbing. In Thailand, the reference to a person of "influence" carries a particular connotation attached to persons with linkages to others in power. It refers to a confluence of private and state influences, which have access to and are not afraid to use extrajudicial means to secure their interests. For the Court of Appeal to use this language with reference to Jintana, and for the Supreme Court to not challenge it, is not only incorrect but also extremely cynical, and an indicator of the extent to which human rights defenders in Thailand are again increasingly cast as troublemakers and evildoers who are against the interests of the state.

Like human rights defenders throughout the country, Jintana and her colleagues in Prachuab Khiri Khan have long faced intimidation and harassment by private capitalists and the state officials who collude with them. It is not those who fight for human rights but those who oppose them who have resorted to open violence. Let us not forget that on 21 June 2004, Mr. Charoen Wat-aksorn, another leader against the coal-fired power plant and other environmental destruction in Prachuab Khiri Khan, was assassinated as he alighted from a bus after returning from testifying in front of the Senate in Bangkok (see AHRC-UA-76-2004 for more information on his assassination). Earlier this year, on 31 January 2011, Mr. Pachern Ketkaew, yet another colleague of Jintana, survived an assassination attempt. Pachern has worked against another proposed power generation project in Prachuab Khan, one that rather than using coal as raw material has a planned source material of trash. While the methods are different – legal sanction as opposed to extrajudicial violence – the cases of Jintana Kaewkhao, Charoen Wat-aksorn, and Pachern Ketkaew all indicate the continued risks that anyone in Thailand faces for attempting to do no more than defend a community and the health of its people against those who would destroy it in the mad scramble for profit.


Irom Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, Mumbai: Call for solidarity and support to struggles working against AFSPA

Special Report
By Mukta Srivastava
Oct. 9, 2011

An Indian activist Irom Sharmila(C)

Armed Forces Special Powers Act, a colonial legacy used against Mahatma Gandhi, was promulgated initially in the Naga areas of Assam (later divided between 4 states) and later in Mizoram, initially in parts of Manipur and later in all of Manipur. The Ordinance after a brief discussion in the Parliament was endorsed and got the status of Act on August 18, 1958, despite stiff resistance from various quarters who challenged it as a martial and draconian law. Since then it has been in force in one part or the other of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir (since 1991). Even though continuation of the 'disturbed area' status under the AFSPA in many part of the country is illegal in view of the violation of the mandatory six monthly periodic review directed by Supreme Court in its 1997 Judgement.

AFSPA continues to be the most potent repressive tool of the Indian state that empowers even a non commissioned officer of the armed forces of union to kill on mere suspicion and provide legal immunity from prosecution, thereby causing untold misery and agony among the peoples of the affected regions.The imposition of AFSPA is synonymous to heavy militarisation in these states leading to gross civil and political rights violations including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial execution, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, arbitrary arrest and detention.

This law is more draconian than its predecessor ordinance used by the British to suppress the Quit India Movement. In the pretext of controlling insurgency, this Act has only intensified the insurgency in the region and legitimised thousands of gross human rights violations like rape, torture, murder and “disappearances” of innocent people in the North East and J&K. The democratic movements in the North East and J&K have consistently demanded the repeal of the Act and demilitarisation for decades.

People’s movements all across North-East and J and K and other parts of India have been struggling for repeal of this draconian Act. Relentless struggle for last one decade by Manipur people’s movement led by Irom Sharmila one of the struggles known to us. There are many more struggles on this issue.

In Solidarity and support to struggle against Arm Forces Special Power Act various programme and action are being held Across states of India under the banner of Irom Sharmila Solidairy Campaign .

It is important that we in Mumbai and Maharashtra support all the struggles campaigning for repeal of AFSPA.

Let us come and our heads together to plan a solidarity action during the October to December period in Mumbai and if possible other parts of Maharashtra too.

After 27th September 2011 meeting discussion with some of you we planning a meeting at Shanta Ashram ( Bombay Sarvodya Mandal ), Grant Road West on 10th October 2011, at 6 pm.

Mukta Srivastava, GG Parikh, Sukla Sen, Daniel Mazgoankar, Asad , Shimanshu, Suhas Kolhekar, Simpreet Singh, Jatin Desai, Guddi S.L

Contact: Mukta Srivastava - 9969530060, Guddi - 9869059860


International community urged on impunity of "drug war" killers

Oct. 6, 2011

Mr. Kiettisak Thitboonkrong

Hong Kong: The killers of thousands of persons during the "war on drugs" conducted in Thailand from 2003 to 2005 continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes over six years on, a relative of one teenage victim of extrajudicial killing said at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva on Monday.

Mrs. Pikul Phromchan told delegates participating in an event convened by non-governmental organizations FORUM-ASIA, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) at the UN, two days before the Universal Periodic Review of Thailand's compliance with human rights instruments, that police in the northeastern province of Kalasin killed her nephew, Mr. Kiettisak Thitboonkrong "in order to hide the pernicious nature of the police officers and the weak judicial process" in her country.

"There was no framework within the drug suppression policy to prevent base and amoral state officials from using violence," Pikul said.

"Citizens who possessed status of wealth had to opportunity to pay a bribe; if they did not pay the bribe, then they were killed or disappeared," she added.

Police arrested Kiettisak, 17, in 2004 on charges of allegedly stealing a motorcycle. He never came home. A few days later, his mangled body was found in a neighboring province.

At the urging of relatives, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in the Ministry of Justice began investigating his death in 2005, and on 18 May 2009, six police officers were charged with premeditated murder and with concealing Mr. Kiettisak’s corpse to hide the cause of death. At this time, the court case is still ongoing.

For further information on this case, as well as other murders and torture in which the Kalasin police are accused of involvement, please see:

Michael Anthony, who is in Geneva representing the Asian Legal Resource Centre, said that the Hong Kong-based regional rights group remained highly concerned for the safety of Pikul.

"Pikul has worked both to secure accountability in the specific case of her nephew and also to fight for justice of some other 27 other victims of the police in Kalasin," Anthony said.

"She is a human rights defender who has worked tirelessly and at considerable personal risk and without her efforts we have no doubt that the case would never have gone to court," he added.

At the time of the killings in 2003, the Asian Legal Resource Centre issued a special report in its periodical, article 2, which can be downloaded here:

The full text of Pikul's statement follows.


A Statement from Mrs. Pikul Phromchan at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, 3 October 2011

In 2003, the government of Police Lieutenant Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra announced policies of a “War on Drugs” and “War on Influential Persons.” In numerous statements and interviews with various media outlets, the government routinely expressed the sentiment that the use of violence was acceptable. In response, law enforcement and administrative officials responded with haste to produce results and therefore climb to a higher position. Mr. Chairat Mapranit, the governor of Kalasin province, declared Kalasin as the first “drug-free” province in Thailand in 2003. State officials in every part of the province demonstrated their cooperation. During the “War on Drugs,” even the justice system trampled on human dignity; if this was made public, it would be said to impugn the court. Villagers whose rights were violated simply had to withstand the pain and suffering. Those who used the most violence in Kalasin province were those with the power to enforce the law: the police. More than 300 people were killed or disappeared. After the declaration of the “War on Drugs,” there were 2,587 people who were killed throughout the country. The vast majority who were killed were innocent. They were killed to be silenced. They were killed extrajudicially.

There was no framework within the drug suppression policy to prevent base and amoral state officials from using violence. Therefore, it became an opportunity for state officials to seek benefit, power, and charisma through repressing citizens. Citizens who possessed status of wealth had to opportunity to pay a bribe; if they did not pay the bribe, then they were killed or disappeared. For underprivileged citizens who had become drug addicts, even if they had gone through rehabilitation and were no longer addicts, they were silenced by killing. It is well known in Thai society that the trafficking of drugs to sell made high-ranking police officers wealthy and secure. It is also well-known that the promotion of police officers at different levels involves many millions of baht. Ordinary villagers, on the other hand, have no need to search for a lot of money and simply live their lives. This is different from those police officers who become so enchanted by power, rank and position, that they trade the lives and suffering of villagers to secure it.

My nephew, who was only 17 years old, was arrested and tortured. Then he was hung. He was extrajudicially killed. He was killed in order to hide the pernicious nature of the police officers and the weak judicial process of Thai society, which remains open to interference.


Violent attack on people at Public Hearing in Nellore

Special Report
By B. Ramakrishnam Raju

Jana Vignana Vedika organization logo

Hyderabad, October 3: Today, i.e on 3rd October 2011, during the environmental public hearing regarding the 350 MW Coal fired Thermal Plant of M/s VSF Energy Projects Pvt. Ltd, (SPV of VSF Projects, Hyderabad) at Ankulapaturu village, in Chillakuru mandal, in Nellore district, Dr. Vijay Kumar, a practicing doctor and activist of Jana Vigyana Vedika, has been mercilessly beaten by the Police, while the Chilakuru Circle Inspector Ram Babu has even tried to strangle his neck, which could have killed Dr. Vijay Kumar if not for the intervention of the local villagers.

The public hearing was presided over by the Joint Collector Saurabh Gaur, Tahsildar, and the EE of Pollution Control Board Satyanarayana. The meeting started at 11am, and after the presentation of the project by the Company representative, the Joint Collector asked the people and people’s representatives to come and submit their opinions regarding the project and invited Dr. Vijay Kumar and T. Ramanaiah of Jana Vigyana Vedika to give their opinions from the dais.

Dr. Vijay Kumar during his turn was speaking about the harmful impacts from the said project to the local environment, agriculture and fisheries, when some people from the audience got up and abused Dr. Vijay Kumar, saying he has no right to speak on that podium as he is not from the village and they (the villagers) will settle the issue and that they want to have the project. To which, many other villagers, many women, agitated and said that they were already suffering from the impacts of the Steel Plant near the village and would not want any further damage to their health and environment. On this, an argument ensued and both parties got into a fight.

During this tussle, the local Circle Inspector was pushed around and he was hurt on his hand when he hit the railing. At this, Dr. G.Vijay Kumar got down from the stage and tried to pacify both parties to make peace. While this was happening, some people in civil clothes, and the local police also hit Dr.Vijay Kumar, and the Circle Inspector Ram Babu even tried to strangle the Doctor. The doctor was badly beaten but was thankfully, saved from death, due to the intervention of the local people who pulled the CI and the police away. While the tussle and fight was going on, the Joint Collector Saurabh Gaur simply left the dais and walked away without giving any orders either to the police to withdraw nor giving any declaration regarding the status of the public hearing.

We, National Alliance of People’s Movements, consider this a heinous crime on behalf of the district administration and the police, where the intent to crush any democratic voices against the Corporate powers has become evident with this incident.

We express our solidarity to the movement of the people of Nellore, who are trying to save their lives against the large influx of Coal fired thermal plants which will surely bring disease, death and destruction to them. Instead of listening to people’s voices and appeals, the, “democratically elected” governments are resorting to have their way, even if it means to kill its own citizens, whose only crime was to raise their voice to protect their right to life.

B. Ramakrishnam Raju, P.S.Ajay Kumar, Dr. K. Babu Rao, Saraswati Kavula.


Narendra Modi’s fast is more important than people's fast for life and livelihood?- 7th day Update from Idinthakarai Indefinite Fast Sep. 18th 2011

Special Report
By S.P. Udayakumar
Sep. 19, 2011

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi's fast is getting major response and the continuing indefinite fast of 100 odd people for 7 days in Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu for life and livelihood which is supported by a gathering of more than 15000 is being ignored. Today Justice V.R Krishna Iyer the most respected judge in the country has send a request to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J.Jayalitha to initiate a genuine dialogue with the fasting people and also requested the fasting people to continue their struggle in a non-violent manner without putting the lives of the fasters in danger.

The fast has reached the 8th day and the protest is spreading to many parts in Tamil Nadu and other states as well with solidarity events happening all over. Medha Patker is expected to join the fasting team tomorrow on September 19th. On the 7th day of the fast no effort from the state or central government has happened with the fasters.

With the hunger strike crossing 7 days the situation of many of the 127 people on hunger strike in Idinthakarai has become critical. Twenty four persons who reached too critical were forcefully hospitalised today and given IV fluid in order to save their lives and to prevent the protest from turning violent. Some fainted and were unconscious. Many people who have reached the fast venue have been requesting the fasting to people to withdraw their indefinite fast considering the situation

Today mass prayer is going to be conducted across Tirunelveli and Thothukudi districts. In Kanyakumari today candle procession is to take place in many locations. Villages around Idinthakarai resorted to “Kanji Thotti” protest which involved just making some rice porridge and eating to highlight their plight because of no livelihood for the past 7days. On Sep 19th a solidarity fast will be observed in Kanyakumari. Protest is planned in many places for today and coming days. The villagers have been on night vigil since yesterday fearing the police will try and arrest the fasting people. For the seventh day in succession fishermen, farmers, manual laborers, merchants of the area did not go for their jobs while students continued to boycott schools and all shops remain closed for kilometers around Idinthakarai.

The government and some of the media are trying to portray a picture that the fast and protest is carried out only by one community and are trying to create a split and give a communal color to the fast. People of Hindu, Muslims and Christian faiths and all major caste groups are involved in the hunger strike and the relay fasting by tens of thousands of people. No political party is involved either directly or indirectly in the protest.

Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)- Koodankulam

With the hunger strike crossing 6 days the situation of many of the 127 people on hunger strike in Indinthakarai is becoming more and more critical. More than 15000 people have been gathering every day for the past 6 days from 30 odd villages around Koodankulam from 3 districts Kanaykumari, Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli. The 127 fasting people are from all 3 districts. Doctors and nurse are monitoring them consistently. With the deteriorating health situation of some of the fasters the doctors are concerned that some peoples condition could go beyond control if the fast continues and fasters are not heeding to the doctors advice. If such a situation arises then the crowd who are gathering in Idinthakarai and the people in the neighbouring villages and districts could turn violent.

There is a huge battalion of police personnel around Idinthakarai and neighbouring villages. There is road blockage for around 20 kms and no shops are open also. For the fifth day in succession fishermen, farmers, manual laborers, merchants of the area did not go for their jobs while students continued to boycott schools and all shops remain closed for kilometers around Idinthakarai. No food is available for the people who are gathering for the protest and most of them who return to the villages and come back the next day are day fasting also. People are losing their patience. There are false cases against 500 odd people filed by the police before the fasting started. Four people have also been put in jail.

Meanwhile the Chief Minster of Tamil Nadu and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited officials are trying to undermine the fat and protest by issuing press releases saying that the nuclear plant if safe even to factors beyond their control and understanding like natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks. On the 6th day of the fast no effort from the state or central government has happened with the fasters.

The concern of the people in terms of the impact on people in neighbouring places is nowhere addressed to by the state and central government. One just needs to go to Kalpakkam further North in Tamil Nadu itself to understand the impact that an operating nuclear plant could have on neighbouring places. Radiation exposure has been reported within the plant many times and plant staff exposed to radiation has died also. Since plant operations began in the early 1980s, incidents of cancer and auto-immune thyroid diseases in the surrounding villages have increased considerably and many people have died also. The whole nuclear operation by the government is held in secrecy and no worthwhile information is available in public domain. With the two 1000MW reactors nearing completion Koodamkulam is going to produce 5 times more power and resulting radiation compared

In the mean time the protest is spreading to outside of Idnthakarai also. In neighboring Kanyakumari district some colleges had gone on strike. The local MP Helen Davidson’s house was picketed. The collector office in Kanaykumari was also picketed. Small protests happened in Chennai and Thoothukudi. From the neighboring villages of Koodankulam nuclear plant town ship where the staff of the plant including Russians stay the people mostly women have refused to go for work. The non violent protests that are happening is not being paid enough attention by the governments and they are playing with peoples emotions and patience.

Asian Democrats Support the World Movement for Democracy's Statement on the International Day of Democracy, 2011

15 SEPTEMBER 2011 - In recognition of International Day of Democracy on September 15, the World Movement for Democracy, its Steering Committee, and its regional and functional networks – among them, the African Democracy Forum, the International Women's Democracy Network, the Latin America and Caribbean Network for Democracy, the World Forum for Democratization in Asia, and the World Youth Movement for Democracy – recognize the steadily expanding and deepening efforts to advance democratic norms and build sustainable institutions, while emphasizing the critical necessity for democracies, both older and newer, to meet the needs of their peoples.

During the past year, we have witnessed the international community taking significant steps to help protect and enhance the space in which civil society organizations carry out their work. Not long after International Day of Democracy one year ago, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the "Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association," establishing a Special Rapporteur. In June of this year, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution on "Promotion of the Rights to Freedom of Assembly and of Association in the Americas.” In Africa, the number of countries ratifying the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance increased to 11, just 4 countries shy of adoption. And more than a dozen countries recently established multilateral funds to support at-risk civil society activists who face multiplying efforts around the world to limit or even eliminate their activities. We also recognize and honor the many individuals in the Arab region who have overcome their fear of tyrannical governments and have empowered each other and mobilized movements for democratic change. Of course, we also welcome the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma from her years of house arrest.

Despite these positive developments, however, we remain highly concerned about several global trends. Many democratic countries confront persistently high levels of poverty; the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” continues to widen; marginalized groups remain marginalized, including indigenous populations, migrant workers, youth, ethnic and religious groups, and sexual minorities, among others. Women continue to face grave challenges rooted in both tradition and contemporary history as they struggle to create democratic societies that respect pluralism and ensure equal political participation.

At the same time, and perhaps most ominously, just as we witnessed a wave of restrictive legal and other measures targeting civil society following the “color revolutions” of a decade ago, we now see a similar wave as many governments respond to the "Arab Spring" not by implementing democratic reforms, but by ratcheting up oppressive measures to keep democracy and human rights movements in check in their own countries. Young demonstrators were tortured in Northern Sudan in January; in February, human rights defenders in Cote d'Ivoire and Democratic Republic of the Congo were reportedly threatened by both State authorities and non-State actors; in June, Bahrainian human rights activists were sentenced to life in prison for being involved in peaceful protests; a leading human rights activist in Belarus was arrested in July for providing legal, medical, and humanitarian assistance to victims of political violence; just last month, NGO offices were demolished in Azerbaijan as part of the Government's “urban renewal project”; and a massive crackdown on rights advocates, lawyers, and critical voices on the Internet reached new heights in China throughout the past year. These are but examples of the means of repression to which authoritarian governments resort to perpetuate their hold on power—especially when they witness successful uprisings elsewhere.

To respond to these trends – the failure to address poverty, economic inequality, and social marginalization, on the one hand, and new, perhaps more sophisticated and even orchestrated, efforts to shrink the space for civil society activism in many countries, on the other – the World Movement for Democracy commits itself to encourage more inclusive political participation and more democratic policy making to help ensure that democracies address the needs of their citizens; to defend civil society against persistent attack; to encourage greater youth participation in democratic politics; and, as always, to support democracy and human rights movements by facilitating networking, deepening global and regional solidarity, and providing space for the sharing of knowledge, information, and strategies.


Civil Society Groups Call on Asian Governments to Support the Establishment of a Commission of Inquiry for Burma

By Khin Ohmar
Sep. 7, 2011

Myanmar soldiers raped innocent women

Individuals and civil society groups around Asia have called on their governments to support the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

In letters to their respective governments, civil society groups from Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand stressed that: “A Commission of Inquiry would be an impartial investigation to establish the truth about serious international crimes in the country.” The letters also pointed out that Asian countries have a special role to play, stating that as regional states, we “are uniquely placed to encourage positive change in Burma” and that if their country “ignores and conceals the regime’s role in perpetrating human rights violations in Burma, it tacitly sanctions such acts and allows them to continue unabated.”

Meanwhile, more than 200 individuals and civil society representatives sent letters to the Indonesian government. Indonesia is an example of a successful transition to democracy and Indonesia’s former foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda made a public statement expressing the view that Indonesia should play an active role in encouraging genuine democratic reform in Burma. Thus, these individuals argued, Indonesia should take the lead among ASEAN nations to foster progressive compliance with the human rights obligations set out in the ASEAN Charter by supporting the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry for Burma.

“Despite the significant support already expressed for the Commission of Inquiry from inside and outside Burma, Asian governments have remained silent. Being witnesses to the suffering of the people of Burma, it is critical that Asian governments take a public position in support of this commission to help end human rights violations and prevent future violations so that all the people of Burma can live in peace and security” said Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership.

The Burma’s regime has been trying to win over the international community by organizing meetings with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and inviting the UN Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana to visit the country. At the same time the Burma Army continues to perpetrate grave human rights violations against civilians in Burma’s ethnic areas. Observing those crimes, Asian civil society groups reminded their governments of the urgent need for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry for Burma.


New Land Bill in Hurry will Create More Land Conflicts in the Country: More Time Required for A Legislation Dealing with Historical Injustices

Special Report
By Medha Patkar

Indian Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, Sep. 5 : NAPM along with many other movements from across the country under the banner of Sangharsh met Honourable Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on August 5th and 7th and on both occasions reiterated its demand that Ministry must hold regional and national consultations before the Bill is introduced in the Parliament. Later many organisations including NAPM wrote to him seeking an extension of the deadline from August 31st. However, Mr. Ramesh seems to be a man in hurry. Within four days of the deadline, for receiving the comments from general public he presents the revised draft to the Cabinet for its consideration and without much debate Cabinet recommends it for introduction to the parliament. It is extremely unfortunate that a key legislation is being pushed in such a hurry and Cabinet further dilutes some of the positive developments in the earlier draft. It is ironic that when the mood in country is against the land acquisition then the Cabinet has brought in the provision that if a private company is acquiring land over 100 acres for a public purpose, all the land will be acquired by the government.

This hurry has left us wondering about the seriousness with which UPA government is taking in consideration the land conflicts in the country today. Time and again we have pointed that the draft Bill fails to take in account the concerns raised by the people’s movements and the knowledge generated on this issue including the serious issues with the resettlement and rehabilitation process in various projects. It is a public knowledge that government has no cumulative data whatsoever on the total land acquired till date, current status of all acquired land, number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and number of people who have been resettled till date. One estimate suggests that there are 10 crores of IDPs in the country since independence and of which nearly 20 percent people have only received any resettlement or rehabilitation benefits. A Bill pushed in hurry is an historic opportunity missed and will only encourage the land conflicts across the country.

We wonder how so many people across the country are supposed to respond to the Bill only available in Hindi and English on Ministry’s website. We had asked the Minister to pro-actively reach out to people in different regions after translating them in regional languages and seek their comments on the Bill, something which Mr. Ramesh has done by reaching out to various Chief Ministers but not to the movements and communities. It is unfortunate that the same has been now recommended to be introduced in the Parliament before it ends in next few days.

Even then we have submitted our concerns to the Ministry on the draft Bill, some of which are :

* The Bill should be titled as 'Development Planning, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill' ensuring no forcible acquisition and protecting the rights of the communities over the land and everything attached to it including the mineral, aquatic and forest cover. Any acquisition should be done only in accordance with the democratically developed plans as per the provisions of Art 243 and PESA norms by involvement of Gram Sabha and Basti Sabha.

* Public Purpose definition should be limited to core functions of the government performed with the public money and in no case acquisition should be made for the private corporations where they get benefits due to any forcible acquisition of land or any other natural wealth under this act. Any project drawing private profit can't be considered public purpose. We reiterate this and only this can deal with the unjustified inequity in the country today leading to injustice for millions.

* Given the low level playing field existing till date between different parties in the process of land acquisition, it is necessary to ensure that even if it is market base purchase of land or other resources by the private parties, including builders, then the state should be duty bound to regulate the market price of resources and ensuring availability of optimum resources of livelihoods for every family especially those belonging to vulnerable section. Thus corporations should also be made liable for the R&R provisions of this bill, which also goes well with the principle of fair play and competitiveness.

* Any arbitrary benchmark for the application of R&R provisions should be done away with and every single family directly or indirectly affected by any kind of acquisition should be provided with the resettlement and rehabilitation benefits.

* We reject market value for the land approach since neither market value is fully worked out nor that automatically ensures attainment of alternative sources of livelihood especially for the least marketised and monetised community such as Adivasis and Dalits. So, without any ifs and buts appropriate provisions for alternative livelihood or mandatory employment be made for project affected people.

* Unjust and irrational urgency clause which is also being challenged in a number of Supreme Court judgements should be done away with and be limited only to natural calamities and for defence purposes only in the time of war.

We would also like to reiterate that in order to expedite rehabilitation and ensure principle of minimum displacement it is necessary to put moratorium till the already displaced are rehabilitated and a new law after wide consultation is enacted. There is a urgent need to enact the legilsation keeping in mind the resource crises which country will face in the wake of climtae crisis and the ongoing agrarian crisis forcing farmers of this country to commit sucicide. The legilsation unfortunately will fail to address the ongoing land alienation of the tribals and marginal farmers in the country and further aggravte the land conflicts, agrarian crisis and impoverishement in the country.

Medha Patkar - Narmada Bachao Andolan
Sandeep Pandey, J P Singh, Manesh Gupta – NAPM, UP
Ulka Mahajan, Suniti S R, Prasad Bhagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch & NAPM - Maharashtra
Prafulla Samantara – Loksakti Abhiyan & NAPM Odisha
Bhupender Singh Rawat, Nanu Prasad – Jan Sangharsh Vahini
Bilas Bhongade – Gosi Khurd Prakalp Grasht Sangharsh Samiti
Dr. Sunilam, Adv. Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, MP
Akhil Gogoi – KMSS, Assam
Gabriela Dietrich, Geeta Ramakrishnan – Pennuruimai Iyyakam
Gautam Bandyopadhyaya – Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh
P Chennaiah, Ajay Kumar, Ramakrishna Raju, Sarasvathy Kavula – APVVU, Andhra Pradesh
Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar – NAPM, Delhi
Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan
Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM - Karnataka
Sunita Rani, Anita Kapoor – National Domestic Workers’ Union, Delhi
Vimalbhai – Matu Jan Sangathan & NAPM-Uttarakhand


Sangharsh Unites Farmers, Labourers, Forest Workers and Adivasis; Thousands Demand National Development Planning Act: Call for a Reversal of 20 years of Failed Neo-Liberal Policies

Special Report
By Vijayan

Thoushands Gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

New Delhi: August 3 – Over 4500 people from around 15 states univocally demanded immediate repeal of the archaic Land Acquisition Act 1894 (LAA) and replacement of it with a comprehensive National Development Planning Act. They vowed never to desert their land to the government or private builders.

They have joined the Sangharsh dharna at Jantar Mantar, where nearly 80 organisations from 15 states have come to raise their issues. They have invited Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of Rural Development, and the proponent the present draft of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill to come to the dharna and hear firsthand what the farmers, adivasis, dalits and other sections of the people who are land-based have to say about their land.

Responding to the draft by Jairam Ramesh, which got widespread meida reporting, Sangharsh said that today when the ministry of rural development has brought out the first draft of the ‘comprehensive’ Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, they at Sangharsh, stand vindicated. This has been a demand of people for the last many decades. They said, “Today, what we dreamt about, the repeal of the LAA and the replacement by a more pro-people comprehensive legislation is closer to being a reality. The struggling people across India, from Koel Karo to Nadigram and from Narmada to Kalinga Nagar and Niyamgiri have lots to cheer in what we have in hand.”

The new draft legislation precisely falls short of its biggest claim of being ‘comprehensive’. All the packaging nor the repeated claim of being ‘comprehensive’ can hide its actual limitations.

The present draft, put forth along with a foreword by Ministry of Rural Development, for the purpose of nationwide consultations, has opted to restrict itself to dealing with Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. While being a political retraction, it also amounts to utter injustice to the entire process that went on in this country since 2004.

The Congress led UPA, instead of progressing from its previous positions has actually retracted to its pre-2006 position through the draft. It has also gone back from the promises made by the UPA Chairperson, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, in 2006, while agreeing to the National Advisory Council (NAC) draft of the legislation. The NAC Draft, in hindsight was far more progressive and comprehensive as it referred to the draft legislation for ‘Development Planning, Minimum Displacement and Just Rehabilitation’.

It is an irony that Jairam Ramesh, who has introduced this draft, was part of that NAC team.

Summing up the general sentiment of the people, Medha Patkar said, “We are here not to beg, but to ask for what is rightfully ours. Nobody can eat electricity or money. To ensure survival, save agriculture land.” She further asked the UPA government to make it clear that the government is in support of the repeal of LAA in toto, while propounding a new Land Bill and remove the veil of confusion.

Prominent among the national leaders attended the dharna includes, Dr.Binayak Sen, Janaklal Thakkur (Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha),farmers’ leader Dr.Sunilam, forest workers leader Roma, PUCL general secretary Kavita Srivastava, Dr. Banwarilal Sharma of Azadi Bachao Andolan, Ajit Jha of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Ashok Chaudhary, Akhil Gogoi and Swami Agnivesh.

Gautam Bhandhyopadhya, leader of Nadhi Ghati Morcha from Chattisgarsh said, “It is time to take a stand on who will have ownership rights over land and natural resources.” He focused on the struggle of the farmers, workers, fish workers who are determined not to let go of their land and rights. He mentioned that it is important to discuss how developmental projects such as dams and power plants acquire and utilize large tracts of agricultural and forest land.

Addressing a full house at Jantar Mantar, former National Commissioner of SC/ST Dr. B.D. Sharma said, “If farmers are trapped in the lure of money, they will be deprived of land, and hence their livelihood. Death of large number of the farmers are not suicides - they are driven to death by the wrong policies of the government, which devalued the value of farmers and farming.” He called the people to insist on Hamara gaon me hamara raj (self rule in the villages) to end mindless exploitation.

Member of Parliament from Samajwadi Party, Mohan Singh said, “The issues are so pertinent that you need national support from all progressive political parties. A better communication and understanding between people’s movements and political parties is the need of the hour, rather than any distance between the two.” He further said that no fertile land should be usurped for private purposes.

A delegation of Sangharsh is meeting the Tribal Affairs Minister, Kishore Chandar Deo as well as Kamalnath, Minister of Urban Development late in the afternoon to discuss issues pertaining to tribals.

The Sangharsh action is being held in Delhi on the 20th anniversary of economic reforms. It is evident that the neo liberal paradigm is collapsing from within as the nation is rocked with scandals on land, telecommunications, mining and infrastructure projects. People across the country are rising up against the corporate led model.

Contacts: Vijayan – 9582862682 / 9868165471, Madhuresh – 9818905316, Joe – 9871153775


National Fishworkers’ Forum fully support the movement against corruption

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry
Aug. 25, 2011

The National Fishworkers' Forum members confronting the police in Thiruvananthapuram

National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) Chairperson, Mr. Matanhy Saldanha and the Executive Committee fully support the movement against corruption led by Mr. Anna Hazare.

Mr. Saldanha said that the fishermen all over the country are the victims of corruption. The Governments, both at the Centre and the State level, have been only fulfilling the needs of Corporates at the cost of the livelihood of the poor including the fisher people of India. To quote an example, CRZ regulations are to a great extent in favour of the Corporates with serious repercussions on the coastal communities of India, as they are being displaced from their habitat.

NFF also said that many politicians and Government servants have now entered into the fishing industry by acquiring small, mechanized fishing vessels and deep-sea fishing vessels in benami names, which is not only an act of corruption and an act of injustice to the people but also destroys environment and marine and inland ecology.

The NFF said that the corruption in the country is so deep rooted that it has permeated from the top to the bottom, from political level to the Government and its functionaries. All Government laws are formulated and violated mostly to cater to the needs of Corporate lobbies and this can be confirmed by the spate of scams the country is facing and the same is the situation with respect to the State Governments.

The ignorance of the law is making the common man also resort to corruption at all Government levels, even to get what is rightfully due. Therefore, besides a strong Lok Pal Bill, every state must also pass the lokayukta Bill within a period of two months to bring corruption under control at all levels.

NFF calls upon on all its affiliates to participate in the struggle against corruption and it firmly believes that those who do not support the struggle against the corruption are part of the corruption. NFF also call upon other coastal and inland fishing communities, as well as all right thinking people to come out forcefully to save the country from this menace of corruption.

NFF said that the fishing communities should never pay bribes also called speed money. Instead expose one and all that demand money.

(NFF, Chairperson)

A Joint Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Asian Alliance Against Torture and Ill-Treatment

August 20, 2011

Statues of the Torture and Ill-treatment

A group of 26 human rights defenders and organisations, today concluded a five-day regional conclave and formed a unique regional initiative - The Asian Alliance Against Torture and Ill-treatment (AAAT). The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT), Denmark took the lead to organise the foundational meeting of the AAAT, first of its kind in Asia. The meeting was held from 15 to 19 September at the AHRC's office in Hong Kong.

Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Burma, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong were represented in the meeting.

Human rights defenders and jurists discussed deep-rooted problems that result in the widespread use of torture with impunity in Asia in the meeting. The participants shared experiences on what leads to the use of torture in Asian countries and reasserted that there is a close nexus between torture and corruption, and above all, the failure of justice institutions in the region to address this. The participants also shared their anguish about the existing nature of policing in Asia that requires a thorough overhauling to meet the human rights norms expected of state agencies of today.

The participants asserted that there is an urgent requirement for a reorientation within the global human rights movement from norms education to the understanding of the functioning of domestic legal frameworks, and with that knowledge, to engage with the domestic mechanisms to improve their functioning, or in some jurisdictions where justice institutions do not exist, to encourage building them. The participants expect that international bodies like the United Nations and regional groupings like the European Union would make this approach as a reoriented priority of engagement with Asian states.

The participants emphasised that pursuing accountability will remain an illusion without justice reforms. Impossibility of making complaints; lack of witness protection frameworks; absence of training and equipments for scientific investigation of cases; inefficient prosecutions; insensitive and sometimes corrupt or generally non-independent judges; and extensive delays in adjudication that in some jurisdictions could last for decades; negates the basic perception of justice in most Asian states. The relative difficulty in dealing with detention centres like prisons and the inhuman practices perpetrated against detainees and convicts was also highlighted in the meeting. The resultant environment that clearly lacks a mandate of protecting, promoting and achieving the rule of law facilitates the endemic use of torture in Asia.

Drawing inspiration from the anti-slavery movement, the AAAT observed that today, modern facilities available, like in the communication technology for instance, must be used by the human rights movement, to document and disseminate information and to liberally use the developments in technologies of communication in their lobby for change. The AAAT also called for the global human rights movement to make fighting torture as one of the priority issues.

The AAAT resolved to hold regular meetings and to undertake active domestic and international work within the region to bring an end to the culture of torture with impunity in Asia.


Letter to Environment Minister-SAVE OUR ENVIRONMENT(Regular oil spills off Mumbai harbor)

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Aug. 12, 2011

Jayanthi Natarajan, Indian's Minister of Environment and Forests

Hon'ble Smt Jayanthi Natarajan,
Minister of Environment and Forests,
Union of India,

Subject: Regular oil spills off Mumbai harbor

We, the residents of welcome you as our new Minister of Environment and Forests

The most recent oil spill from the sunken ship RAK (visible at all beaches of Alibag, Mumbai and unto Gorai) has once again highlighted the issue of oil spills occurring regularly. These have been referred to in Awaaz Foundation’s letter to you dated 11th August 2011 and to Shri Jairam Ramesh and the State Government of Maharashtra dated 20th August and 14th September 2010. The letters also contain pictures at regular intervals from 2001.

Your official statement indicates that there is a known factor of ‘localized phenomenon’ in recent years, and we are suffering from these phenomenon, which is affecting our health, livelihood and quality of life.

India is signatory to the international convention ‘MARPOL’ which imposes certain responsibilities to control oil spills. In most developed countries (of which we aspire to be one), there is a well-established protocol to ensure prevention, and to deal with accidents, including extremely severe penal and criminal liabilities.

Last year, after the collision of two ships, which leaked a large quantity of oil and damaged swathes of mangroves, we were assured that long term systems would be put into place to prevent and manage future spills. Apparently, no such system is available as confirmed by your statement that you would be focusing on the immediate problem and look at systems later. Even more disturbingly, the concerned agencies including the Environment Ministry does not appear to be sure of the source of spills at individual beaches and are relying on analysis reports to confirm this. Apparently, these have not been routinely tracked from source, indicating lapses in environmental security of our coastline.

We once again request a full investigation into the cumulative effect of regular oil spills off the Mumbai coast. I request that this issue be accorded utmost priority and necessary protocols in accordance with our responsibilities under MARPOL and other laws be put into place immediately.

Thank you and with regards.

Yours sincerely,
Soheb Lokhandwala


Korea must consider what’s right for Myanmar’s people

By John S Thang
Aug. 5, 2011

Members of All Ethnic Democracy and Human Rights Network protest in-front of Myanmar Embassy in Seoul

There are a number of ways that Koreans, their government and others here and can help Myanmar’s people attain the same access to healthcare, education and freedom that they readily enjoy every day.

For one, instead of dealing with Myanmar’s military government, Seoul would be wise to directly assist the country’s private sector, educational institutes, NGOs, and humanitarian services. And even here in Korea, there would be much to gain by supporting in some way exiled Myanmar pro-democracy and human rights advocators.

We need your assistance. The Myanmar diaspora thanks South Korea and the international community for allowing us asylum here and in many other countries. Nevertheless, I survive day by day at the same time as championing freedom. A little support would allow us to promote democracy and human rights in Myanmar and elsewhere in Asia more effectively.

Also, South Korea needs to do more for political refugees. By granting asylum to more political refugees, Korea would be sending a message that it is a bastion of democracy in Asia.

As a partner in freedom, Koreans and people from around the world could demonstrate their sincerity by playing their part, however small that may be, as a partner in democracy and human rights. Korea could benefit by supporting the people of Myanmar. Myanmar’s people need human rights assistance and a genuine drive toward democracy-building. Only then will the long-oppressed people have a shot at freedom and prosperity in the long run.

The first step is empowerment to provoke change that will result in the provision of adequate education, social welfare, media and health services. Without direct improvements in those areas, the sincerity of the assistance is in question. According to a South Korean government report, the Republic of Korea’s bilateral assistance to Myanmar amounted to $103 million (only $18.3 million in grants with loans of $84.7 million) since 1991. But none of that went toward democracy building and human rights development. A little went to education and health issues. However it’s spinned, Korea’s overseas development assistance (ODA) goes into the Myanmar military’s coffers and very little is seen by an average citizen.

It is important that South Korea prevent its ODA from going to the pockets of Myanmar’s government.

South Korean interests in Myanmar support education, health and civil society very little or not at all. It’s no secret that most South Korean companies that have invested in Myanmar find that their business goes relatively smoothly. It’s an incredible feat for a county that can’t keep the lights on for it’s own domestic companies.

It’s ironic and tragic that South Korea supports the military junta in Myanmar to the extent that it does so soon after breaking free from its own dictatorship and still warring with North Korea.

Something of note: the South Korean company Daewoo International was the first company to do business with Myanmar’s military for the Shwe Gas Petroleum project in the Bay of Bengal. Profits go to straight to the military generals’ pockets.

It is a sad reality for the people of Myanmar, but it is one that will have to change. The more hands of help we have, the sooner that change will come.

This article is also published in Groove Korea magazine.

>> Jan-Jun, 2011