The Global Digest

Press Release Jul-Sep 2012

Ministry of Rural Development Further Dilutes the Provisions of the Land Bill to Placate 'Fictitious' Investor Sentiments

The protest against New Land Acquisition Bill

NAPM Opposes Such Moves and Urges to Pay Heed to Needs of 'Real' Investors, who Own Land, Water, Forest, Minerals and Labour

New Delhi, September 26 : It is extremely unfortunate to note that the draft Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill (retitled as Right To Fair Compensation And Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012) brought by Ministry of Rural Development, which was already seeking to legitimise forcible acquisition by the government for private and PPP projects has further diluted it to placate the investors and their representatives in the Ministry of Trade & Commerce, Finance, Urban Development, Planning Commission and other Ministries.

It is no wonder and seems to be only expected from a government which is being run on the life support given by the private corporations and on their money, especially after completely anti-people decisions in form of allowing FDI in retail and aviation, hike in diesel prices and electricity tariff, disinvestment of public sector units and other related measures.

Even as Group of Ministers meet tomorrow we would like to reiterate our opposition to any such move by the UPA government to enact a legislation which is going to deprive the natural resource based communities of their livelihood and fails to accommodate key recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee comprising of members from different political parties. PSC very clearly has said that no acquisition should be allowed for the private and PPP projects, since they are nothing but a loot of natural resources. The unfolding corruption cases involving auction of coal blocks and spectrum, irrigation scam and others, all testify to greed and illegality in private and PPP projects. It is time for shunning the eminent domain framework of the state rather than expanding it to be a tool in service of private capital. It will be a move for the worse and fundamentally damage the socialist and egalitarian fabric of the constitution, as propounded in the directive principles of state policy or mandated in the Article 243.

NAPM along with many other movement groups under the banner of Sangharsh have been demanding free prior informed consent of the Gram / Basti Sabha for deciding nature of public purpose, to approval of the project and their participation in R&R and various steps of project implementation. Unfortunately under the pressure from industry and their lobbyists even a 80 percent consent clause of the project affected people is now being reduced to the two third of the land losers alone. Similarly, small benefits like a house plot to those displaced are being taken away by increasing the time of residence from three years to five years prior to displacement. In-spite of numerous deliberations with the Ministry, displacement in urban centres seems to be no where on radar, a separate legislation on the urban evictions and displacement is the only way out now.

Ministry of Rural Development in its bid to placate Ministers opposed to its proposal says that the “Bill shall apply prospectively only, i.e., for new acquisitions only, and not retrospectively. Earlier the Bill was to apply retrospectively, i.e., to ongoing land acquisitions where Award had not been made or possession not taken”. This is nothing but further dilution, since we have been saying that nearly 10 Crore people have been affected by various 'development' projects since independence with a very low rate of R&R, nearly 17-20 percent. A new legislation should move forward in addressing the historical injustice committed on the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe who constitute the majority of PFAs by setting up a National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission to address their claims of R&R rather than feeling proud in denying their share in development of the nation. It is shameful and nothing else !

A concerted effort is being made by the UPA to say that they are trying to protect the interests of the farmers and communities dependent on the land but unfortunately none of the actions by the government seem to demonstrate that. No wonder if approval to such a Bill by the group of Ministers will only add to discrediting the government, since it seems to be ruling for the interests of the private and multinational corporations alone and not for the people who voted it to power.

The Bill if accepted in current form will not only increase the conflicts surrounding the land across the country as being witnessed around the various infrastructure projects but will prove fatal for it in the next general elections. Group of Ministers must heed to the voices of the people, real investors' and not to the investors holding fictitious wealth. People and communities are real investors, who hold control of land, water, forest, minerals and most important their labour. Lastly, Ministry of Rural Development must not bow to the pressure of the industry lobby and rather pay heed to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Tribal Affairs and Urban Housing who are mandated to look after the interests of the marginal communities.

Medha Patkar, Dr. Sunilam, Prafulla Samantara, Roma, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Vimal Bhai, Suniti S R, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Dr. Rupesh Verma, Advocate Aradhana Bhargava, Rajendra Ravi, Shrikanth, Madhuresh Kumar

In memorial of "September uprising - Burmese anti-dictator government protests in 2007"

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Sep 23, 2012

Members of AEDHRN protest in-front of Myanmar' embassy in Seoul

Including Chin, Karen, Mon, Burman and other ethnics from Myanmar based in South Korea, protest rally in South Korea today, in memory of “September uprising” against military government in 2007. Our organization’s name is the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network.

Today marks the 5 anniversary of the “September uprising” which started in 2007. Where many of innocent people were were killed by Myanmar military junta. We, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network strongly condemn the Myanmar military junta for crime against humanity and human rights violation. At the moment, military government troop is conducting war against ethnic minority has caused thousands of people displaced and hundreds of people deaths in Kachin state.

Although current new government promised to promote democracy, but the ethnic minorities of Myanmar, in particular Christian and Muslim, are threatened more than other sectors of the population. There has been a permanent state of conflict between ethnic groups and the military junta along the border areas of the ethnic regions. Subsequently the military junta has systematically ignored the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the population living in the particular ethnic regions of Myanmar.

Therefore, we, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network, demand that the Myanmar military junta:

(1) Immediately cease conflict in Kachin state and its human rights violations and repression upon the ethnic people. (2) Make amendment of the constitution, for example, Buddhism position above other religions. (3) Immediately relieve ethnic people from other forms of political and economic repression.

Furthermore, we ask that the government of the Republic of Korea and the international community show staunch support for the cause democracy and the end of ethnic repression in Myanmar. We also ask for a greater support for the ethnic victims from the repression and violence in Myanmar.

Note: “All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network” is promoting democracy and human rights for Myanmar.


Special Contribution,
By Roland Watson(dictatorwatch),
Sep 16, 2012

Chinese Monywa copper mining

A large protest movement in Burma is now underway, against the joint regime/Chinese Monywa copper mining project in Sagaing Division. The motivation for the protest is the confiscation of 8,000 acres of villager land in Letpadaung, for mine expansion.

This demonstration highlights an underlying issue that should be addressed, now that Burma is taking steps towards economic liberalization: What standards should be applied to new resource exploitation projects?

As an environmentalist, I would of course prefer that there be no new mines, as they are inherently destructive of nature. No matter how you do it, mines destroy natural habitats, and this is generally accompanied with widespread pollution, in the land, watercourses, and atmosphere. However, I recognize that Burma has extensive mineral deposits, and that at least some of them will be mined. This therefore should occur in a way that minimizes the destruction, and communicates the benefits directly to the villagers whose land is mined, and to the country as a whole.

Any new mines, and mine expansion, should only be done following the strictest international standards, which activists around the world have struggled for decades to achieve. The first of these is protection of the property rights of the villagers on whose land such deposits are located.

Since the villagers own the land, they further own the mineral rights (and also the air rights above). This is a fundamental tenet of property ownership, in any society that has a functioning rule of law. This means it is their decision if the land should be mined or not. For example, they may decide to sell the mineral rights at this time, and vacate the land; or hold onto the land for sale at a future date (and hopefully a higher price); or not to sell at all. They should never be coerced to sell, or suffer an outright theft, as occurred at Letpadaung through confiscation.

Landowners who do sell may also receive not only a one-time payment, but a residual participation from the sale of the minerals. This way they profit if the deposit proves to be larger than expected, and also if commodity prices increase over time. Again, under a functioning rule of law, all such terms are negotiated and then included in the contract that actually transfers the land title and mineral rights.

Other standards are as follows:

There should be an independently-prepared environmental impact assessment, before approval for the mine is even given. Indeed, such an assessment may make it clear that the project should not proceed.

This approval (and licensing) by the government, should also be contingent on the development of strong environmental safeguards for the mine’s operations, including the treatment and disposal of tailings, water and smokestack effluent, etc.

There must also be appropriate safety equipment and precautions for workers. Mining is an exceedingly hazardous occupation. Miners in Burma should never have to risk their lives unnecessarily, as, for example, is now the norm in China.

Furthermore, the miners must have the ability to unionize, and to strike if such safeguards are not in place. Finally, and also as part of the project’s initial review and approval, a land reclamation plan must be prepared for when the mine runs out. Importantly, this requires that an escrow account be established, to which regular deposits are made during the mine’s operation, to fund the reclamation.

No new mine or mine expansion should proceed in Burma until this development model can be followed, including the expansion at Monywa. Also, once the model is established it will set a precedent that should be applied to any new mine in the country, of whatever mineral, and more generally any large-scale development (agricultural, industrial, etc.).

To repeat a point that I have made before, the fact that Burma has extremely limited economic development is not a weakness; rather, it is one of its greatest strengths. With patience and care, the country can be developed in a way that preserves its character, and cultural diversity, and environment. This type of development will yield benefits for decades if not centuries to come.

An additional issue is taxation of the business’ profits. It is through these taxes that all the people of Burma will benefit, since the funds can be used for essential infrastructure and programs.

The open questions are: (1) Overall, can this type of development model now be implemented; and (2) specifically, can such projects be organized without corruption so they are properly regulated and taxed, so the regime and its cronies are not enriched, and so the taxes are used for programs like education and health care, not just more military expenditures for the Tatmadaw? I understand that this is asking a lot, but frankly, no new projects should be built until all of these conditions can be satisfied. This in turn means that any new project should proceed at a snail’s pace, to give the country time to learn how to manage developments in this way, and to put in place both the personnel and the systems that are required for it, including for project approval and licensing procedures; taxation; other regulatory structures; new law and legal systems, especially for property transfers; and for all of these, related computer systems.

The protests in Monywa should be expanded into a national movement, if the government refuses to follow this development paradigm.

THAILAND: Review of the extension of the enforcement of Emergency DecreeI the Southern Border Provinces (SBPs)

Sep. 10, 2012

Suspected Muslim militants detonated a motorcycle bomb in Mae Lan dist

Dear Prime Minister,

Pursuant to the enforcement of the Emergency Decree in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat since 20 July 2005 and its successive extensions until now – save Mae Lan District, Pattani where the Decree was revoked in 2011 altogether – the enforcement of the Emergency Decree has been extended 30 times, the latest of which was made so on 19 June 2012. A claim has been made that imposing the Emergency Decree is necessary as a measure to prevent and address emergency situations and to restore order, peace and safety of the public. The current enforcement shall be subjected to another extension on 20 September 2012.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MAC) have been implementing a program to promote access to justice among people in the Southern Border Provinces (SBPs) for more than five years. Legal aid has been provided to people affected by the abuse of special laws including the 1914 Martial Law Act and the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005). Throughout the years, we have encountered many problems stemming from the declaration of emergency situations in the SBPs and deem it necessary that the government reviews its position on the extension of the enforcement of such Emergency Decree, which may better help to bring about effective and efficient solutions to the unrest. The call for a review of the Emergency Decree’s extension also mirrors a recommendation by the Independent National Rule of Law Commission (NRLC) with regard to solutions to problems in the SBPs. In terms of a strategy on the enforcement of law and justice process, it was recommended that the enforcement of security laws should be revoked, including the repeal of emergency situation in the SBPs.. In addition, in February 2012, in its recommendation to the Royal Thai Government, the UN Working Group on the Rights of the Child proposed that special laws on security shall not be used with children or youth and that juvenile legal procedures must be applied in every circumstances.

Lately, on 31 August 2012, in its concluding observations in consideration of reports submitted by states parties during its eighty-first session from 6-31 August 2012 in Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination states that “notwithstanding the measures taken by the State party such as the dissemination of human rights cards and the lifting of the emergency decree in some districts, the Committee remains seriously concerned at the discriminatory impact of the application of the special laws in force in the Southern Border Provinces, including reports of identity checks and arrests carried out on the basis of racial profiling, as well as reports of torture and enforced disappearance of Malayu Thais. The Committee is further concerned at the risk of serious human rights violations in the enforcement of these laws as well as at the absence of a mechanism of oversight of their application. In addition to providing compensation to persons affected by incidents in the Southern Border Provinces, the State party should:

(a) Assess the need for the special laws and establish a continuously independent mechanism to monitor their enforcement; (b) Review the special laws with a view to meeting international human rights standards, particularly those in regard to the prevention of torture; and (c) Thoroughly investigate all allegations of human rights violations and prosecute those found responsible.”

Though the compensation scheme for any damage stemming from the enforcement of special laws since 2004 may to some extent be able to increase trust in the genuine intention of the government to solve the problems, and the visit by the Prime Minister to the province of Narathiwat on 5 September to listen to input from various operating units in the area is commendable, should keep her informed of information needed for the review of the extension of the enforcement of the Emergency Decree until next September. The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the Foundation of Muslim Attorney Centre (MAC) deem that the government should altogether repeal the enforcement of the Emergency Decree in the SBPs or at least in certain districts where violence does seem to have decreased, based on the following reasons;

1. The enforcement of the Emergency Decree should be conducted strictly to serve the purpose of the law. In other words, it should be declared simply as a measure to bring an end to the unrest effectively and promptly and its enforcement should be temporary. Though the Prime Minister is authorized to extend the use of the decree every three months and there is no limit to the extension, but such enforcement should be made only necessarily, otherwise, the Emergency Decree shall become a permanent law. Since the law contains provisions that place restrictions on many rights and liberties enjoyed by people in a normal situation, and given the 30 extensions of the enforcement of the decree, it is necessary that to review its efficiency and efficacy of the law to appraise if it is still necessary to impose the decree. Such a review is particularly necessary in areas where the special law has not led to a decrease of the unrest. In addition, people should be given an opportunity to participate in the review and appraisal of the necessity of the legal enforcement and to be continually informed and to monitor the use of the law in local area.

2. A criterion for the extension of Emergency Decree should be in line with the principle of proportionality. In other words, the measure should be put in place only if it proves to bring an end to the problems effectively and timely. But insofar, the law has been invoked to arrest and hold in custody suspects after some incidence and they can be subjected to being held in custody for interrogation for up to 30 days. Records from the interrogations have also been used as incriminating evidence against them. As a result, a number of cases filed with the Court of Lower Instances have been dismissed due to the use of such interrogation records which contained hearsay and were inadmissible. It shows how the enforcement of the Emergency Decree to hold a person in custody has failed to hold liable a perpetrator and to prevent the unrest from taking place. On the contrary, the use of the law has led to many innocent people being held in custody and being subjected to other abuses during their being held in custody such as torture and enforced disappearance, etc.

In addition, several special laws have been enforced in the SBPs concurrently including the 1914 Martial Law Act and Criminal Procedure Code, which is normally applicable to any criminal offence. As a result, a person can be vulnerable to being held in custody by at least three different laws and for the duration of up to 121 days prior to having their cases filed with the court. The duration of custody is unnecessarily long and improperly infringes on rights and liberties of a person’s physicality. Comparatively, the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) provides for many safeguards against the abuse of the rights and liberties of a person and it can be invoked to hold a perpetrator accountable to his/her crime. Under the CPC, credible evidence has to be established to seek a court warrant prior to any arrest and detention, and the court can use its discretion to review the reliability of the evidence based on factual information. Apart from ensuring that a perpetrator can be brought to justice effectively and efficiently, such a normal legal procedure also prevents the arrest and detention of a person who is innocent and has not committed any criminal offence. Therefore, the enforcement of the Emergency Decree has affected and rendered negative impact on people more than what they can gain from the law.

3. Provisions in the Emergency Decree authorize the Prime Minister to declare an emergency situation. Such authorization flouts a fundamental principle of a democracy and the rule of law whereby the division of power and safeguards of people’s rights and liberties is upheld.

The division of power is one of the most important principles of the rule of law and in a democracy, power is therefore divided among the legislative, the administration and the judiciary based on checks and balances, in order to ensure safeguards of people’s rights and liberties. None of the three powers shall prevail. It also prevents arbitrary use of power. That the Emergency Decree entrusts the ultimate power to the Prime Minister as the head of government to declare and enforce the law, and her power to extend the use of the law indefinitely without being subject to the review of either the legislative power or the judiciary power is therefore a breach to the division of power principle. Since the enforcement of the Emergency Decree can lead to extraordinary restrictions of people’s rights and liberties and may affect their fundamental rights such as their right to travel, right to public assembly, right to freedom of expression, right and freedom of body and life, etc., its enforcement has to be conducted strictly and only necessarily to serve the purpose of the law.

CrCF and MAC therefore urge that the Prime Minister reviews the extension of the enforcement of the Emergency Decree to ensure that effective and timely solutions are brought about to bring an end to unrest in the SBPs. It will certainly ensure protection of people’s rights and liberties, an effort of which shall lead to sustainable peace building. Please be acknowledged so.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Director. Mr.Kitcha Ali-ishoh, Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MAC), Secretary. Contact: Ms. Pawiinee Chumsri, phone 083-1896598 Legal Officer, Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF)

India: the historic verdict in the Naroda Patiya mass murder case

Women Victim Eye witnesses

Aug 29, 2012 Press Release Hailing the historic verdict in the Naroda Patiya mass murder case delivered by Judge Jyotsnanbehn Yagnik. Special Sessions Judge in Ahmedabad today by which one senior politician and several conspirators and ring leaders have been convicted, Victim Survivors and CJP welcomed the verdict. In all 32 persons have been convicted including former BJP MLA and minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet, Smt Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi, Bipin Panchal, Ashok Sindhi and Kishan Korani (sitting corporator, accused No 20) have been convicted. Twenty-nine of the accused were acquitted.

Most of the accused have been charged with Sections 143, 144, 147, 148 with 149, 295, 427, 435, 436, 440, 153, 153a, 153a(ii), 323-326,302, 307 (attempt to murder) read with 149 read with 120(b) and BP Act 135(1). Accused No 22 Suresh Langda Chara has also been convicted under Sections 354 and 376 (sections that deal with rape and gender violence). Quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 31. Smt Kodnani had been convicted under Sections 295, 427, 435, 436, 440, 153, 153a, 153a(ii), 323, 324, 325, 326, 302, 307, 120-B of the IPC. Babu Bajrangi has been convicted under sections 143, 144, 147, 148 with 149, 295, 427, 435, 436, 440, 153, 153a, 153a(ii), 323,324,325,326, 302, 307 read with 149 read with 120-B.

The raw courage of the victim witnesses, especially women witnesses who deposed fearlessly while still residing in Naroda Patiya is a reflection of the confidence generated after the Supreme Court monitoring and the protection from Central Paramilitary forces provided by the Supreme Court. CJP had applied to the apex court for protection of eye witnesses. CJP through its legal team advocates Altaf Jidran and Raju Shaikh supervised by senior Adv Yusuf Shaikh provided legal aid to about 70 eyewitnesses since 2009.

CJP would like to publicly acknowledge their contribution, also the seniors advocate MM Tirmizi (Gujarat High Court), Mihir Desai (Mumbai) and advocates Kamini Jaiswal (Supreme Court), Sanjay Parikh (Supreme Court), Aparna Bhat (Supreme Court) and Ramesh Pukhrambam (Supreme Court). Eleven eyewitnesses have deposed in eye witnesses testimonies assigning in detail the role played by Smt Maya Kodnani, in inciting the mob to murder, fifteen witnesses deposed through eye witness testimonies against Babu Bajrangi, 48 witnesses testified to the crimes committed by Suresh @ Langda Chara including the offences of gender violence and rape. (Annexed are the list of witnesses with a brief of their testimonies).

The CJP would like to state that it was the evidence through eye witness testimonies that enabled convictions. Corroborative evidence was provided through the phone call records provided by police officer Rahul Sharma and Tehelka’s Operation Kalank. Without eye witness testimonies whoever convictions could not have taken place. Victim witnesses supported by CJP had also filed separate applications under Section 319 praying for police officer and then first PI KK Mysorewala to be arraigned as accused along with former Commissioner of Police PC Pandey and SRP official Dhantaniya. While the Judge rejected these applications, she has observed in the victim application for compensation for rape and gender violence that the application would be considered in the final judgement.

Names of accused who have been convicted. Naresh Agarsinh Chara (accused 1); Murlibhai Naranbhai Sindhi (accused 2); Ganpat Chanaji Deedawala (accused 4); Vikrambhai Maneklal Rathod (accused 5); Haresh @ Hariyo S/o Jivanlal @ Agarsinh Rathod (accused 10); Babubhai @ Babu Bajrangi Rajabhai Patel (accused 18), Kishan Khubchand Korani (accused 20); Prakashbhai Sureshbhai Rathod (Chara) (accused 21); Suresh @ Richard @ Langdi Kantibhai Dedawala (Chara) (accused 22); Premchand @ Tiwari Conductor (accused 25); Suresh @ Sehjad Dalubhai (Marathi, Charo) (absconding) (accused 26); Nawab @ Kalu Bhaiyo Harisinh Rathod (accused 27); Manubhai Keshavbhai Maruda (Bhangi) (accused 28); Shashikant @ Tiniyo Marathi Yuvraj Patil (accused 30); Babubhai Jethabhai Salat (accused 33); Lakshmanbhai @ Lakho Budhaji Thakor (accused 34); Dr. Mayaben Surendrabhai Kodnani (accused 37); Ashok Hundaldas Sindhi (accused 38); Harshad @ Mungda Govind Chara (Parmar) (accused 39); Mukesh @ Vakil Ratilal Rathod (accused 40); Manojbhai @ Manoj Sinhi Renumal Kukrani (accused 41); Hiraji @ Hero Marwadi @ Sonaji Danaji Medhwan (Marwadi) (accused 42); Bipinbhai @ Bipin autowala Umedray Panchal (accused 44); Ashokbhai Uttamchand Korani (Sindhi) (accused 45); Vijaykumar Takhubhai Parmar (accused 46); Ramesh Keshavlal Dedawala (Chara) (accused 47); Sachin Nagindas Modi (accused 52); Vilas @ Viliyo Prakashbhai Sonar (accused 53); Dinesh @ Tiniyo Govindbhai Barange (Marathi) (accused 55); Santoshkumar Kodumal Mulchandani (accused 58); Pintu Dalpatbhai Jadeja (Chara) (accused 60); Kirpalsinh Jagbahadursinh Chabda (accused 62).

Eight charge sheets were filed in this historic case that lasted several months. It was one of the nine cases being supervised by the Supreme Court and was investigated by the SIT.

Teesta Setalvad,Secretary & Trustee Other Trustees: IM Kadri (President), Nandan Maluste (Vice President), Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer), Alyque Padamsee, Cyrus Guzder, Javed Anand, Anil Dharker, Javed Akhtar, Ghulam Pesh Imam, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash

UPA Government Must Stand with Aam Aurat / Aadmi not with Corporate Lobby

Yamuna Expressway in India

New Delhi, Aug 29 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to refer the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill (LARR) 2012 to the Group of Ministers, as Cabinet could not agree on the provisions of the Bill as it stands. It is unfortunate. Going by the news reports Prime Minister is paying attention to the objections raised by the Ministry of Commerce, Civil Aviation, Urban Development, Highways and others, while the voices of farmers organisations, social movements and concerns raised by the Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Tribal Affairs, Housing and Urban Development are being ignored. This shows clearly the priorities of the UPA government and exposes the claims of the Ministers sitting in the Cabinet and claiming to represent interests of farmers, workers and landless. Their constituency needs good roads to their villages, schools and hospitals and not airports and 6 - 8 lane highways like Yamuna Expressway which are profit making ventures for corporates directly or through public-private joint ventures.

The referring of the Bill to the Group of Ministers is a clear indication of the pressure from the corporate houses who want to continue their profit making ventures. All party Parliamentary Standing Committee has given its recommendations which should be used to improve the Bill rather than dilute it further. It should act as the guidelines to the UPA government to bring the revised Bill sooner in the Parliament rather than continue the forcible land acquisitions for the private corporations. NAPM demands that the new GoM must not be headed by anti-farmer, pro-corporate minister, it has to be either tribal affairs, rural development or social justice empowerment minister.

Ignoring the Committee recommendations, the Bill has widened the definitions of 'Public Purpose', beyond acceptable limits which even British never did, by creating a category of ‘public interest’ projects, fraudulently. Forcibly acquiring land and everything attached to land (crores of rupees worth minerals or invaluable ground water) from farmers for the profit – making millionaires is the grand design of the Indian rulers in collusion with the corporations.

The Bill has gone through certain improvements based on suggestions received from various social movements and recommendations of the Standing Committee, yet it falls short of what is required to protect natural and human resource-based communities and uphold truly democratic development planning. This is the view of the masses, not the corporates. On which side are the government and political parties? They can’t sit on the fence when farms are burning !

Medha Patkar, Vimal Bhai, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar, Details : 9818905316

In Wake of CAG Report PM must Resign, UPA has Lost its Mandate to Rule

Special Report
By Dr. Sunilam

Indian PM Manmohan Singh

PPP is nothing but Corporate Plunder in Garb of Public Purpose and Infrastructure Development

New Delhi, Aug 18 : Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in Parliament has brought massive irregularities and cases of favoritism to some corporate houses like in 2G scam case. The report points out how the coal ministry under the Prime minister has allocated massive coal blocks en masse to the favoured few corporates. The estimated loss to the exchequer is a whopping Rs. 1.86 lac crores, which combined with 2G scam comes around mind-bogging Rs. 3.26 lac crores. The other report on PPP model development of Delhi Airport and UMPP by Sashan. The reports confirm what social movements have been saying about the PPP models which is nothing but profiteering at the cost of public resources, this is the case in PPP water distribution in Nagpur, khandwa and many other municipalities or development of highways or just completed and much celebrated Yamuna Expressway.

NAPM appreciates the impartial and terrific work done by CAG, which itself has come under fire from some government agencies, corporations backed media houses and others. There is a need to further strengthen the institution and make appropriate policy changes and punish those responsible for causing loss to exchequer. It's extremely unfortunate that the UPA government and its Ministers, rather than debating or responding to the nation are blaming the CAG. Shooting the messenger is not the answer ! Government is adopting the same excuse as it did in the case of 2G spectrum when the Shri Kapil Sibal termed the loss as fictitious. Later when they found it difficult to cover up the fraud the same ministers started claiming that the government had sold the 2G spectrum dirt cheap so that the common man can have affordable tariffs. The subsequent auction of the 3G spectrum certainly has not increased the tariffs. And the recent rates fixed by the Group of Ministers for the resale of 2G spectrum has only substantiated the estimated loss of the CAG.

In the Coal scam too the government is trying to convince the nation, that the coal sale should not be treated as a commercial proposition. The governments version is that cheap coal to corporates will boost power generation which is necessary for growth. As the 2G scam has proved it is impossible to fool people this time. It's time UPA government and its leadership faced to the reality and put its house in order. Prime Minister must explain and own responsibility for the same. We are concerned that if he continues to be the PM,then any inquiry will not be impartial, hence owning moral responsibility he must resign.

The CAG estimation loss of 3,700 cores in the Delhi Airport issue, though enormous by itself looks like a pittance before these mega scams. But what the report exposes is the massive favouritism and bending of rules to benefit the corporations through models like PPP. It is a matter of extreme concern for the nation since there is a massive attempt at pushing PPP as the favoured model of work in every sector now. It is no wonder that government is openly pushing for land acquisition for PPP projects under the new Land Acquisition Bill. We completely oppose any such move and demand that there is a need for now to audit all the major projects implemented under the PPP scheme.

The report on the Ultra Mega Power Plants and undue favour shown to Reliance is also a cause of extreme worry and only confirms again many of people's struggles against the private power producers in various places. In the light of highly inflated demand projection in coming years government has already sanctioned nearly 5,00,000 MW capacity, which are at various stages of development. Together they have acquired not only the precious land, water, forest and minerals but also appropriated the authority of Gram/Basti Sabhas, Municipalities and other elected bodies. There is a need for urgent review of the Integrated Energy Policy and canceling of many of the clearances for alleged violations.

Numerous cases of corruption and scams one after another means UPA has lost the legitimacy and its mandate to rule. These scams can no more just be dubbed as compulsions of coalition politics and PM Shri Manmohan Singh can't continue to bask in his image of being an honest conscientious gentleman. If he is one then let him take the responsibility on himself as the head of the UPA government and relinquish his post and pave way for a better administrator. The nation is awaiting with a bated breath for the Prime Minister's and UPA leadership's response.

Dr. Sunilam, Maj. Gen (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Ramakrishna Raju, Gabriele Dietrich, Vimal Bhai, Suhas Kolhekar, Siste Celia, Madhuresh Kumar

A Paradigm Shift in Development Planning and Land Reforms is Need of the Hour Not Further Acquisition and Cash Compensation

Special Contribution
By Medha Patkar

Gram Sabhas

New Delhi August 07: Amidst all the controversies and conflicts related to Lokpal and Jan Lokpal politics, a very major enactment (in Bill form) is to be tabled before the Cabinet this week for approval and there after tabled in the Monsoon session of the parliament. While this has been in the offing for last many years, people’s movements across the country from farmers to fishworkers, landless workers to Dalits, adivasis as well as urban poor, are closely watching and reacting or responding to every move on the issue: Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation. The much awaited new “Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill” has now been renamed “Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, 2012 with a claim to better reflect Government’s Commitment towards securing a legal guarantee for the rights of project affected, and ensuring greater transparency in the land acquisition process. It is also claimed that the Bill will ensure, in concert with local institutions of self -government and Gram Sabhas established under the Constitution, a humane, participative, informed, consultative and transparent process for land acquisition.

The Bill has no doubt sought comments and suggestions through the website but limited only till 30 days and no regional or state consultations were held by Ministry for Rural Development as was strongly suggested by NAPM, NFFPFW and many other organisations across the country. This is a kind of disrespect shown to a large number of organisations and millions of people engaged not only in conflict over the issues of land, water, forest minerals or aquatic wealth but also proposing a new, truly democratic, just and sustainable ‘Development Planning Act’ as an alternative since years.

Now that the all party Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report (on Rural Development) on the Bill is out and the Ministry of Rural Development has also made its views / reactions clear and open, we, the people's movements, have taken serious cognizance of the fact that the strong position taken by the Standing Committee on certain critical issues are either diluted or rejected by the Ministry of Rural Development, which is shocking. The Ministry that is supposed to protect the rights and powers of the rural communities has not accepted some of the standing committee recommendations, towards that end, which are presented with our comments, herewith:

Food Security and Agricultural Land Acquisition

1. No forcible acquisition of agricultural land, for non-agricultural purpose including single crop and multi crop land. · Ministry says only multiple crop land can be excluded.

How can the in-between farms that may be unirrigated, rain fed, single crop be left out, we ask. India has 75% of the agricultural land as rain fed and most of it single cropped. Such land is mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farms. Protecting them and all farm land for food security, which comes not from PDS but self sufficient agriculture, is a must!

Acquisition for Private and PPP Projects

2. No forcible acquisition for private projects, or for PPP, which can not to be categorized as public purpose projects. · Ministry has rejected this and justified this with a provision that consent of 80% of project affected People will be sought before acquisition for any private projects

In this era of neo-liberal economic reforms, private projects with corporate investment and interests are taking a much larger toll of land and other rich natural resources as also uprooting by killing communities which are generations old. This must come to an end and the same can happen only with stopping the State playing a role of facilitator and land dealer. At the cost of the livelihood of the nature based sections and working class section of society, the state can't transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of 'public interest' and 'public purpose'.

Bringing 16 Central Acts Under Purview of this Bill

3. The standing committee has recommended that all 16 central acts should be brought under the purview of the new act, to make all equal before law (Article 14 of the Constitution).

· Ministry of Rural Development wants to exclude 13 out of 16 Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act and others from the purview of the new act. This means that 90% of the land acquired as on today will continue with injustice and force used, with no change at all. The standing committee recommendations must be upheld to end brutal unjust acquisition for all projects.

Role and Consent of Gram and Basti Sabha

4. The Committee asks that all studies - SIA, EIA, expert committee appraisal be done in consultation with the gram sabhas and the corresponding reports be made available to the gram sabhas. · Ministry emphasises that 80% consent of PAFs provision is there in case of linear projects where “consultation”.

Consent and direct involvement of majority of the Gram Sabhas must be there in each and every project, including public projects for public purpose. 80% consent of the project affected population for the private projects alone is not sufficient. Why should the linear projects be left out? If it’s consent of 80% affected, there are to be a number of manipulations that people will have to face. Experiences of 70% consent in Slum Rehabilitation Scheme in Mumbai are quite telling.

Return of Unutilised Land to farmers and Land Bank

5. The Committee recommended that the land, if not used till 5 years, should be returned after 5 years from the date of possession to the land owners. · Ministry accepts the reduced five years time period but opposes its return to the landowner and suggests it to go to State Land Bank.

The ownership over the land is of those who till it and if not used and unutilized then it must be returned to the owners or distributed amongst the project affected people. We oppose any such feature which will promote land bank, since it has promoted large scale acquisition in the past and later illegally transferred the same land to corporations for real estate and other purposes.

Retrospective Application of the Law

6. On the question of retrospective application of the R&R provisions Committee has suggested to Ministry to re-examine the issue and incorporate necessary provisions

· Ministry has not accepted it and refused to do so.

It needs to be noted that nearly 100 million people have been displaced since independence and with a dismal 17-20 percent rate of resettlement and rehabilitation we had suggested that not only the retrospective application of the provisions of the new act but a National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission be established to deal with the claims of the projected affected people from various projects.

Resettlement and Rehabilitation Benefits

In terms of the resettlement and rehabilitation benefits Committee apart from suggesting some cosmetic changes have accepted the provisions of the Bill, we think this is unfortunate since provisions don't stand up to livelihood based R&R, it merely promotes the principle of cash compensation. It will be a retrogressive step since it negates the land and employment based R&R as mandated in the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award, and various other projects. The proposed provisions of compensating employment with money and high rates for land acquired will only lead to speculative land market and will destroy the fragile economy of the rural hinterland which will lead to further urban migration.

Urban Eviction

The Bill and the comments by both, Standing Committee as well as MoRD almost totally excludes and have unaddressed the situation in the urban areas, where there is no land acquisition, but eviction, brutal and unjust, for any and every elitist real estate development to infrastructure without guaranteeing right to shelter, right to life and livelihood. The only provision is to compensate with 20% of developed land for land owning families in urbanisation projects, which is not with regard to the cases where land belongs to the government or private entities but people are evicted. We demand a separate section or a separate act for the millions of the urban persons and urban land from getting misappropriated. The Bill with the presently proposed content need to be called only “Rural Bill”.

The rapacious use of Land Acquisition Act 1894 by the government to secure land for ‘development’ projects has caused over 100 million people to be displaced from their land, livelihoods and shelters. The country is dotted with communities resisting State sponsored land grab which resonate the demand for a just law to ensure that there is no forced acquisition of land and resources, including minerals and ground water. The government must respond to the voices from movements across places such as Narmada, Koel Karo, Singur, Nandigram, Sonbhadra, Chindwara, Bhavnagarm, Kalinga Nagar, Kashipur, Raigarh, Srikakulam and mining areas in central India with genuine efforts to address the longstanding crisis concerning land Acquisition and resettlement & rehabilitation.

If the UPA government serious about addressing the conflicts over the land and other natural resources then it must listen to the voices of those struggling or else it will only aggravate these conflicts all across the country. The need of growth, infrastructure and urbanisation can’t be fulfilled on the graveyard of millions. A pro-people Development Planning Bill with complete participation of the Gram Sabha will go a long way in stopping the massive corporate corruption and lead to decentralization of power having an overall impact on the politics of the country.

We the people’s movements and various alliances such as National Alliance of People’s Movements, National Forum of Forest people and Forest Workers, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and others will hold a public discussion (13 August 2012, Constitution Club, New Delhi) on the forthcoming Bill with activists, people from movements which are fighting for land rights and representatives from national political parties. Thousands of people displaced by ’developmental’ projects in Narmada, Bhakra, Polavaram, Mundra, Pune (Lavasa), Nandigram, slum displaced people from Mumbai and fish-workers displaced by coastal and tourist projects will camp in Delhi to warn the government and protest against passing any such act in this session of the parliament on 21-23 August 2012.

No land should be forcibly acquired for Private and PPP Projects

A proposed Special Economic Zone

Mumbai, Aug 1: The decision of the Maharashtra Government to cancel 4 SEZ projects which were proved to be illegal & unjust, on one ground or other, brings a hope to the people’s struggles for justice & against land grabbing. These projects were stalled by the common people, farmers to fishworkers, and women as well as youngsters who were at the forefront of the struggle.

The issues were clear & justifiable. Land to be acquired for private corporates is an illegitimate and unconstitutional act. When the profit-motives are clear in these projects, earning crores of rupees, out of land & other sources of livelihood, these resources are received with the State facilitating them. It’s this role of the State which is bullying & ousting our rural folk that was objected by the natural resource based communities, asserting their right to approve or disapprove the project which the State government has ultimately admitted.

The non-violent struggles are raising basic questions of inequity which is a clear outcome of SEZ Act & similar moves promoting corporatisation. We question and oppose industries which are land & water-intensive, capital intensive but not labour intensive and their impacts on ecologies, neither mitigated nor compensated. It is unfortunate the more sustainable & employment generating, local resource-based industries proposed by the movements as alternative options are negated by the governments. People are certainly not for the industrialisation at the cost of agricultural, since food security and livelihood is certainly our first priority. The whole model of SEZ with subsidised land, water, electricity, outside the jurisdiction of the gram sabhas and panchayats, tax holidays and exemptions is a blot on democracy and sovereignty of both, people & the State.

It’s obvious that all tactics & manoeuvring efforts by the Corporates failed in this regard & the State level ministers couldn’t carry out their initial agenda of joining hands with Corporates earning out of these projects. It’s, however, an ultimate victory of the firm view, clear perspective & perseverent strategy, along with an all pervasive analysis of the fraud that SEZ Act & projects are. Maharashtra cabinet too deserves a pat for this pro-people decision. Even though this is later, but better late than never. They should, without any delay must remove restrictions & reservations put up, on the titles of the landholders. If this cancellation is to bring in another project like Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor at the cost of farms & farmers, that will also face the same fate, we warn. We continue to fight the battle for cancellation of the undemocratic & unconstitutional SEZ Act, 2005.

We would also like to mention that the proposed amendments being brought out by the UPA government to the SEZ Act is not going to alter our opposition to the Act since, they are only aimed at facilitating land grab. Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act is also going to facilitate the land grab for private corporations and we oppose this. People's Movements will thwart every attempt at subverting the laws of the country and handing over the precious natural resources to the predatory corporations. It's time the governments across the country listened to the voices of dissent and worked in favour of the majority of the population.

Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Suniti S. R., Medha Patkar, For details contact : 9423571784 / 9818905316

THAILAND: Urged Royal Thai Police to mete out more stringent measures to monitor and control firearm possession to prevent mayhems in the Southern Border Provinces

Jul 27, 2012

A bomb exploded on the road in Southern part of Thailand

On Wednesday 25 July 2012 at 15.00, a bomb exploded on the road between Ban Upao and Ban Pakasamae, Moo 7, Tambon Wangphya, Raman District, Yala. The bloody trap was installed in a car parked by the road, and it was triggered when a blue-grey Mazda pickup truck with license plate no. BJ3454 Yala carrying police officers drove by. As a result, the vehicle was blasted and shoved to the roadside waterway causing five deaths among the police officers including (1) First Lt. Sutham Onthong, (2) Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Wae U Seng Waedeng, (3) Sgt. Nutthapong Boonkomol, (4) Sgt. Prasert Rodkul and (5) Sgt. Wichanon Namphakdi, and one injury. All of them are police officers of Tha Thong Police Station, Raman District, Yala.

Prior to this, on 20 July 2012, bombs exploded in business neighborhood of Sungai Kolok Disitrct, Narathiwat causing eight injuries. It indicated ongoing escalation of unrest in the Southern Border Provinces. According to Issara News Agency, Hotline Center of the Forward Internal Security Operations Command Region (ISOC Region 4) reported 78 insurgencies in the month of June 2012, the highest of which since November 2011, or the highest in eight months in a row. Increased statistics of violence affirms and indicates the nature of security and efficiency in providing measures to ensure safety of lives and properties among people.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) would like to offer our deepest condolences for the loss of lives among all officers working in the Southern Border Provinces and people who have been affected by the unrest. We urge that no support be given to harbor violence or to appreciate any losses regardless if they are caused by any parties, and regardless if the news has been broadcast via internet media or others.

Disarmament is a key solution to bring down the level of violence in the area. We call on the government to move seriously toward disarming both legal and illegal firearms. It will ensure that fewer people shall be killed by armed violence. Also, increased armament and militarization will simply bring about mutual mistrust.

In addition, widespread availability of small arms still becomes a major cause giving rise to daily attempts on people’s lives. Among the targets of the armed attacks include those who have been acquitted from security related charges or those who have reported themselves to the authorities to prove their innocence. Relentless ambush and mass killing with no specific purposes has led to fear and a lack of trust in the state’s policy. For example, Mr. Abduloh Jaeteemae was shot dead on 26 July 2012. CrCF urges that the Royal Thai Police makes their effort in earnest immediately to monitor and control as well as to work toward disarmament of both legal and illegal firearms in order to minimize the loss of lives and properties as well as to bring to justice promptly and considerately the offenders.

For more information, please contact, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), phone 02-6934939

Viet Nam: UN caves in to Vietnamese pressure, rejects human rights group’s consultative status

Khmer-krom girl in street demonstration

BANGKOK-PARIS-GENEVA, July 24, 2012. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH and OMCT joint programme) and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) condemn the resolution passed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) overturning a previous decision to grant consultative status to the non-governmental human rights organisation Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF).

In May 2012, ECOSOC’s Committee on Non-governmental Organisations, in a consensus decision, approved KKF’s application for special consultative status with the Council. Vietnam protested strongly against the decision. On July 23, member States of ECOSOC, in a vote of 27 in favour to 14 against, with 10 abstentions, adopted a resolution to rescind that decision. The resolution was tabled by Vietnam along with El Salvador and fellow ASEAN member States Burma, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

In a joint letter (1) issued on July 18, 2012, the Observatory, along with 12 international and regional human rights groups across the globe, urged ECOSOC member states to oppose the draft resolution and to “support the ability of civil society organisations to freely participate in the work of the United Nations”. Special consultative status is granted to non-governmental organisations that “have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the Council and its subsidiary bodies, and that are known within the fields for which they have or seek consultative status”.

Before the vote, representatives of Cuba, Indonesia, Philippines, Lao PDR, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela took to the floor in support of the resolution. On the other hand,, the United States and Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed their opposition to the resolution. “It was not appropriate to oppose accreditation for an organization simply because it expressed views different from those of Governments represented on the Council”, said the representative of Ireland.

“It is shameful that many UN member states caved in to Vietnam’s pressure and became an accomplice in stifling the rightful voices of human rights defenders. It sends a chilling signal to the people in Vietnam that the international community is not on their side in their quest for greater freedom”, said Vo Van Ai, president of VCHR.

KKF is headquartered in the United States and conducts human rights advocacy globally. KKF aims, “through the use of peaceful measures and international laws, to seek freedom, justice, and the right to self-determination for the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples”. It has an established track record in engaging with UN human rights mechanisms and providing valuable and quality information on abuses against the Khmer Krom minority group in Vietnam. Vietnam’s ambassador to the UN, Le Hoai Trung, labeled KKF’s activities as “politically motivated” and characterised KKF’s aim to seek freedom and justice for the Khmer people as a “grave offence” to the “sacred, national value” of national unity.

In the 2010 joint report Vietnam: From “Vision” to Facts: Human Rights in Vietnam under its Chairmanship of ASEAN, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) documented human rights violations against the Khmer Krom, including religious persecution, land confiscation, and excessive use of force. In the last five years, the Observatory and VCHR documented instances of arbitrary arrests and forced defrocking of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks in retaliation of their peaceful protests against religious persecution (2).

In another example of its diplomatic offensive against criticisms abroad, in September 2010, Vietnam lobbied the government of Thailand to obstruct a press conference in Bangkok where FIDH and VCHR were to launch their joint report on Vietnam (3). Vietnam’s hostilities against independent human rights defenders and groups at home and abroad are nothing new and reflect its consistently dismal human rights records, said FIDH and VCHR.

Vietnam intends to run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, which requires member States to uphold the highest human rights standards. “Before it is even elected to the Human Rights Council, Vietnam is already busy obstructing human rights groups from cooperating with the UN to promote human rights. This kind of intimidation must not be tolerated anywhere in the UN system”, said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

“The political intervention led by a coalition of Asean States overturning the decision of the competent committee excluding civil society access is an expression of fear to hear unpleasant truths and opinions. The basis of any commitment to human rights defenders is the recognition of their very existence and their right to speak and to be heard, and the states have failed in this test - Vietnam in the first place”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary-General of OMCT.

Press contact: VCHR: Vo Tran Nhat: +33 1 45 98 30 85, FIDH: Karine Appy +33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 25 18, OMCT: Isabelle Scherer: +41 22 809 49 39

Chattisgarh Governor Must Fulfill his Constitutional Obligation to Protect Rights of Adivasis

Mr. Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh

Supreme Court Should Take Suo Motto Action in Killing of 17 Adivasis in Chattisgarh

New Delhi, July 10 : Since the killing of 17 Adivasis on June 28th in Rajpenta, Kottaguda and Sarkeguda many revealing facts have come to public knowledge. The news contradicting the versions of CRPF, State government and Home Ministry, Union Government has come from journalists, social activists, villagers and even the team of State Congress Party and and Union Minister Mr. K C Deo. Home Minister, Mr. P Chidamabram on his part atleast had the gumption to say that, “If a young boy or girl or a woman, who was not involved with the CPI-Maoists, has been killed, I'm deeply sorry,". This doesn't absolve him since CRPF falls directly under the Home Ministry and indeed innocents have been killed. What does he propose to do now ?.

Mr. Raman Singh, the CM of Chattisgarh has constantly failed to protect the adivasis of the regions and has continued to protect the security forces, encounters, forced detention, imprisonments, attack on social activists and many other terror tactics of the security forces, Salwa Judum and the crimes of corporations like Jindals, Tata and Essar, who have helped the government in order to protect their investment and continued to displace adivasis and attack activists, latest being firing on Ramesh Agarwal in Raigarh. He must resign rather than continuing to preside over the genocide of adivasis.

A Magisterial enquiry headed by Mr. Kuruvanshi, the SDM instituted by the Chattisgarh Government is nothing but a sham as shown in his interaction with a three member J P Rao, Kopa Kunjam and Nandini Sundar fact finding team, which went and met the villagers and officials. The SDM has no plans to visit the village, and if the villagers wished, they could come and see him in his office on July 9. This shows the seriousness of the enquiry commission.

The fact finding team reported that the three villages merge into each other and have been carved up in an arbitrary fashion between different panchayats (Korsaguda and Chipurbhatti panchayats). The field where the firing took place is an open area surrounded by houses, some of which are in Kottaguda and some of which fall in Rajpenta. The villagers had returned only in 2009 after Salwa Judum had burnt their village in 2005, and are still struggling to put their cattle together and rebuild all houses properly. The meeting on the 28th night was held to discuss how to help those without cattle and single women headed households, and also to plan the holding of the bija pondum (seed sowing festival). The three villages share a common earth shrine – which means they celebrate all their festivals together.

The villagers told the fact finding team that there were no Maoists present, and that the police were most likely injured in cross-firing. The absence of any Maoist leaders is supported by the fact that had there been a squad in the village, there would have been sentries posted in the direction of Basaguda thana. CRPF on its part even when they knew they were in the middle of a village, yet did not use night flares or observe even the most basic precautions when firing. In all 17 persons have been killed, of which 7 are minors; 9 have been injured, and at least 5 women have been beaten / assaulted. One cow has died and one bull has been injured, and there are bullet marks on the houses.

The words of condemnation are not enough for such cold blooded murder by state of its own citizens in the most brazen way. It is high time that Governor of Chattisgarh stepped in and fulfilled his constitutional obligations and protect the lives and rights of Adivasis and the State. We also feel that Supreme Court must take suo moto action based on the facts available in public domain and summon state and central governments.

It also needs to be noted that the no amount of pumping in money in 'Left Wing Extremism' affected districts will build the confidence of the adivasis and others in those regions. However, punishing the guilty security officials and agencies involved in fake encounters, illegal detention, arrests, rape, torture will surely build confidence and lead to peace. The recent killings has surely dented the faith of adivasis who were returning to their villages after attacks of Salwa Judum in 2005, which led to cleansing of nearly 600 villages.

We demand that the guilty officials be tried in the court of law, and the policy of awarding forces and pumping money in name of development be scrapped, because that is fuelling a series of fake encounters and illegal arrests of human rights activists (Seema Azad, Binayak Sen, Arun Ferreira, Kopa Kunjam, Soni Sori & ors.), adivasis and those from other marginal sections of the society. In a civilized society and the world's biggest democracy we can't let this continue !

Medha Patkar, Prashant Bhushan, Prafulla Samantara, Sandeep Pandey, Dr. Sunilam, P Chennaiah, Suniti S R, Gabriele Districh, Sister Celia, Ramakrishnan Raju, Anand Mazgaonkar, Suhas Kolhekar, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Mukta Srivastava, Madhuresh Kumar

Innocent Indigenous people were killed in India

Jul 7, 2012

The innocent Adivais

Please stop the bloodbath of Innocent Indigenous people of India at the hands of the Indian state. Indigenous Nations of the world and their sympathizers Unite!! Awaken the conscience of the universe and demand an end to this genocide. Let not the proud Indian Indigenous (Adivasis) (Tribals) peoples be reduced to the plight of Indigenous peoples of North and Latin Americas, Aborigines of Australia and so on.

Many times the Prime Minister of India said that Maoists among the Adivasis is a Development issue and a Political issue. They need their full share over forest, natural resources and natural capital. All these are plundered by the MNCs, and the Rich in the name of Development and Globalization. Instead of making Adivasis the Centre of Development and Politics you are killing them and murdering them. In the name of killing the Maoists you are killing the innocent adivais also. Stop It. Stop it. India should shine in this.India should become a great nation in this.

SFR on the killing of innocent tribals in Chattisgarh by the Fascist Indian State

Jul 1, 2012

Death bodies of innocent tribals in Chattisgarh

SFR condemns the cold blooded murder of 20 innocent tribals of Bijapur, Chattisgarh by the fascist Indian State. The Chhattisgarh police and the Central Reserve Police Force claim to have killed 20 guerillas of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). About six hundred troopers from the Central Reserve Police Force and the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) commando unit conducted an operation in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. The Chattisgarh police claimed it to be the biggest encounter in the recent period, the villagers are offering totally a different description of the incident. According to the villagers the security forces fired at the peaceful gathering of villagers killing 20 of them, including five children aged 12-15, and sexually assaulted at least four teenaged girls during the encounter.

The ten among those killed were in the age group of 15-28 years. “We had gathered to discuss the upcoming seed festival, which is held every year before sowing begins” said Madkam Ganpat of Rajpetta. He said the meeting continued for several hours, when the participants were suddenly surrounded by a large contingent of the security forces. “The forces immediately opened fire, all of us tried to run away but many were shot in the legs, back and chest,” he said. The firing lasted several minutes, the villagers said, after which the forces radioed for a tractor that took away a number of bodies. “The force then camped in the village and dragged me into the fields,” said a 14-year-old girl in an interview. “They threw me on the ground, beat me, kicked me, tore my clothes and kept threatening to rape me.” She said three other girls were similarly molested. “The force remained on the fields till the next morning,” said Irpa Raju. “My son Ramesh stepped out of the house to go to the toilet when he was shot by a policeman. Ramesh ran to the house, shouting ‘Ayo, Ayo [Mother, Mother,]’ but the force followed him and killed him in our house, in front of my eyes.” Raju also accused the policemen of breaking open the family treasure chest and stealing Rs.5,000.

Yesterday, Home Minister P Chidambaram said three important Maoist leaders, Mahesh, Nagesh and Somulu, had been killed in the encounter. There is no Mahesh in the official list of those killed. There are two Nageshes. Kaka Nagesh, also called Rahul, was a 17-year-old student of Class 10. The other Nagesh, Madkam Nagesh, was a 32-year-old professional dholak player who was called in to play during festivals, villagers said. None of those killed in the encounter had any criminal record at Barsaguda police station, in whose jurisdiction the three villages fall namely Sarkeguda, Kotteguda and Rajapetta. Policemen at the station said they knew nothing about their being Naxalites.

All the alleged “hardcore Maoists” seemed to have been living with their families in the three villages. The thana is virtually next door, and a large CRPF camp stands only three kilometres away. The CoBRA team alleged faced “heavy firing” from them for three hours — but could recover only one bharmar (countrymade gun) along with the 19 bodies. The media (Sunday Express) reported the statement of the Commander of Basaguda Area Committee of the CPI (Maoist) statement, “if they (security forces) killed 21 Naxals in one encounter, do you think we would not be able to kill at least some of them? Have they ever killed so many of us in one go?”

It is very much clear that the way the whole massacre was conducted is nothing but Operation Green Hunt intensified through Operation Vijaya and Operation Hakka. It is quite evident that after the phase of "Salwa Judum" and the phase of "Operation Green Hunt", anti-Naxal operations have entered a new phase variously called "Operation Haka" and "Operation Vijay". This Operation took place in the Abujhmaad/Maad area fairly deep in the forests; a large number of joint paramilitary forces about 3000 in number participated. While the police reports speak of Naxalite camps destroyed, Maoists encountered and arrested, the reality is that houses were burnt down, adivaasi villagers were beaten, including beaten to death, and those arrested have not been produced before courts. During the phase of "Salwa Judum" about 500 deaths were documented on affidavit in a part of South Bastar alone.

Another list of 192 extra judicial killings, alleged to have occurred in Dantewada during Operation Green Hunt, between 2009 and 2011. This is the official number. The actual number is more. Chattisgarh is not the only place where the brutality of the security forces got exposed. All over the country the security forces and police is engaged in killing tribals and dalits. Under the garb of ‘terrorism’ the Indian State is heavily engaged in minority witch hunting. And for tribals it is the ‘maoism’. The names may be different, but the agenda of the Indian State is to silence the dissenting voices against the corporate loot, caste atrocities and communal violence. The security forces are facing a militant resistance from the people of Kashmir and North-East. The story everywhere is same. Therefore the narration propagated by the security forces regarding the killing of 20 tribals in Chattisgarh is nothing but a farce lie. Even if they were Maoists, it does not give any licence to the State to kill them. Maoism does not emerges out of the fantasy but from the State Repression in various forms. So it is the structural violence that is responsible for its emergence. Once again we condemn the massacre. Down with State Repression!

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