The Global Digest


Oustees meet Jairam Ramesh: Demand halt to SSP at 122 mts

Oct 18, 2013

Jairam Ramesh

“No Sardar Sarovar until last person is rehabilitated, as per law”- MoWR...Water Resources Minister admits rehabilitation, environmental compliance, cost-benefit appraisal necessary before raise in dam height...Submergence without rehabilitation illegal: Social Justice Ministry...

Hundreds of oustees affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat stayed put on the streets of the national capital at Jantar Mantar on the second day, after an eventful day struggle and interaction with the central authorities in Delhi, who hold the key to the fate of the lives and livelihoods of lakhs of farmers, adivasis, fish workers, landless etc. in the Narmada valley.

After almost 2 hours of an intense public action at the gates of the Union Ministry of Water Resources, the Minister, Shri Harish Rawat, agreed to meet a 10-member delegation of the oustees, led by Medha Patkar for a detailed consultation on all the issues. As the Minister and his officials heard the presentation on the massive scale of pending rehabilitation of 48,000 families, ongoing judicial inquiry into the 1,000 crore corruption scandal in M.P. and severe non-compliance on environmental measures and dismal performance of the SSP, after an investment of 70,000 crore rupees, he assured the oustees that the Sardar Sarovar cannot move ahead, until the last person is rehabilitated and that his Ministry, which leads the Narmada Control Authority will have to ensure rehabilitation, environmental compliance and a comprehensive cost-benefit appraisal before permitting any raise in dam height. Shri Rawat expressed that although the primary role of his Ministry is water management and dam building, it cannot be without lawful rehabilitation. Responding to the oustees who informed him that more than 1,500 houses and thousands of hecatres of land with standing crop has been submerged illegally in the monsoon of 2012 and 2013, due to water releases from upstream dams, he admitted that there can be no submergence without rehabilitation and the people have a right to reside and cultivate their agricultural land and carry on livelihoods. Some of the main issues, which he took cognizance of and directed his officers to take action, report back to him include:

· The Minister directed his officials to seek a report from the state governments, particularly Madhya Pradesh on the status of compliance with the Orders of the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRA), binding as per the Judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. · He took cognizance of the orders and reports with regards to the ongoing processes of inquiry into corruption by Jha Commission and the GRA and admitted that official process itself is clear to prove that rehabilitation is far from complete. · Shri Rawat also assured that his Ministry will explore ways to ensure land-based rehabilitation to all categories of oustees (more than 6,500) including 3,000 families who have been entangled in the fake registries scam, 1,500 families who have not been able to purchase land out of the meagre cash compensation and 2,000 adivasis and other farmers in M.P. and Maharashtra, who have not accepted cash at all, but have been given offers of uncultivable or encroached land or no offer till date !

· Assuring Saavabehan, a displaced fish worker, he agreed and assured that traditional displaced fisher families have the first and inviolable right to fisheries in the reservoir and the state governments are legally duty bound to register the co-operatives of the fish workers. · The Minister also promised to look into the serious issue of exclusion of 55 villages and a huge township from submergence by changing the Back Water Levels, which have even been disapproved by an Expert Committee of the MoEF. · He agreed that the role and right of Gram Sabhas in the scheduled adivasis areas is inviolable and that his Ministry / NCA will work to ensure that the PESA Act is fully complied with, in the context of the Narmada Project oustees.

· He directed officers that NCA must ensure proper medical and health services in the submergence areas, especially in the hilly adivasi areas. · He also asked the officers to present data on the funds allocated to SSP under AIBP, water availability and allocation to various industries and municipalties and for drinking water purpose as on date. · He also assured to look into all the issues raised by the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canal-affected families, in particular review of the canal network in the irrigated strip, overlapping with the Sardar Sarovar catchment. He also directed authorities to look into the land-based rehabilitation of the adivasis affected by the Jobat Dam, since a decade. · The Minister also asked the NBA to give a separate representation on the issue of illegal sand mining in the project – affected areas and he assured that concrete action would be taken in this regard.

Submergence without rehabilitation illegal: Secretary, Social Justice Ministry: Later in the evening a large delegation of more than 15 oustees from various villages met Shri Sudhir Bhargav, Chairperson, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group, NCA and Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. In response to the stern warning that neither the R&R Sub Group, nor the NCA, can permit raise in dam height without full and faithful compliance on the lawful rehabilitation of all the families, he admitted that no final clearance has been granted to the SSP, as on date.

Oustees representing thousands of families in the 3 states informed the authorities that neither the GRA of Maharashtra, not that of M.P. has given consent to raise in the dam height and there is absolutely no case for permitting further construction. Madhya Pradesh has fraudulently presented consultation of the ‘Former’ GRA in the last meeting of the R&R Sub Group, while even as on date, there are hundreds of orders of the Former and Present GRA yet to be complied with and hundreds of pending complaints. PAFs from Gujarat also complained about the pending issues of land allotment in the original villages and R&R sites. Towards the end of the discussion, the Secretary and the joint Secretary, Ms. Gazala Meenai had to admit that the process of assessing truth and asking states to give a factual report on the status of R&R is still underway and therefore, no final decision on raising the dam height bas been taken, as yet. The Secretary also expressed willingness to initiate a process of field verification in sample villages, to begin with, to assess the status of rehabilitation.

Narmada Oustees meet Jairam Ramesh: A delegation of oustees are to meet the Union Minister for Rural Development, Shri Jairam Ramesh, who had recently visited the submergence area in Madhya Pradesh and witnessed the scale of pending rehabilitation, irrigated areas proposed for canal excavation and illegal sand mining. Welcoming his statement there shall be ‘no more Sardar Sarovar’s in India’, we urge him and the UPA Govt. to take a position that the SSP should be halted at 122 mts a comprehensive review ensured. As a Minister who has looked into the Project in detail and has himself written to Mr. Narendra Modi on the environmental non-compliance, he must initiate this process, we insist. We would also like to convey our anger with the M.P. Government which pressurized the MoRD to exclude progressive provisions of social impact assessment and at least 1 acre land in the command area only for oustees of irrigation projects, much against M.P’s own law, which promises the same, since 1985. Certain issues related to the new enactment on the role of Gram Sabhas was also raised with the Minister.

Struggle receives support from various quarters: Acclaimed writers, academicians, advocates and supporters including Arundhati Roy, Dr. Annie Raja, National president, NFIW, Prof, Manoranjan Mohanty, Delhi University, Dr. Prakash Jha, environmental expert, Ms. Sagari Chhabra and Sanjay Kak, prominent documentary film makers, Kumar Prashant of Gandhi Peace Foundation, Shri Ravindra Gupta of the All India Railway Caterers Association and others visited the dharna site and expressed their solidarity with the struggle of the people in the valley, who are determined to continue their struggle on every front, until all the issues are addressed. The Narmada oustees challenging the illegal sand mining in the valley also expressed support to the struggles of Jazeera from Kerala, who has also been fighting the mining mafia in her home districts Kannur, and Kailash Meena from Rajasthan who is also struggling against the stone quarries. Both of them were felicitated at the dharna for their brave campaigns.

Devising Kamla Yadav Meera Kuwarsing Contact Ph: 09212587159

Thousands of farmers, workers ‘Cry Halt!’ for sale of sugar co-operatives

All-India Sugar Factories Workers’ Federation

Anna Hazare, MedhaPatkar and others pledge to save co-operatives...After 9th October Mass Rally, ‘Jail Bharo’ if no response in 1 month

One of the biggest scams discovered in Maharashtra by the farmers and workers is that of the sale of the co-operative sugar factories purchased by the political leaders across parties. It has involved not only present ministers and former chief ministers but also opposition leaders. It has been a story of the open transfer of public property to private pockets, at a minimal, unjustifiable price, amounting to daylight robbery and loot. The minimum value involved is not less than Rs 10,000 crores. At the m

ass rally organized on 9th October at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, by All-India Sugar Factories Workers’ Federation and National Alliance of People’s Movements, and supported by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Kisan Sabha, various local sugar co-operative organizations were addressed by Anna Hazare, MedhaPatkar, Raju Shetty (Member of Parliament), Manikrao Jadhav, Manohar Patwari (both former MLAs), and Babanrao Pawar (leader of Workers’ Federation), along with others. A delegation met the Chief Minister and demanded complete halt to sale of sugar co-operatives, no leasing out of co-operative factories, reversal of fraudulent auction and sale, and full-fledged comprehensive judicial enquiry into the sale till date, leading to punishing the culprits.

Why were Tuteja Committee recommendations, made in 2005 and accepted then, not implemented, they asked the Chief Minister, and demanded that the Government of Maharashtra immediately send a proposal to the Centre and request use of Sugar Development Fund, amounting to over Rs 5000 crores, lying with the Food and Civil Supplies Department (UoI) for repayment of debts and recovery by the co-operatives. Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar and others have warned the Chief Minister and declared that if no concrete step is taken by the State within a month, Jail Bharo Andolan will start across Maharashtra. ‘Sahakar Bachao, Desh Bachao’ was the slogan, as the movement is not only to focus on sugar co-operatives, but also to demand enquiry into sold out, indebted and sick co-operatives in dairy and textiles; fraud and manipulation to kill housing co-operatives and effect change in policy and law to protect and facilitate ‘co-operation’, not politician-builders or politician-corporates.

A story that began to be unveiled from one factory to another led to a struggle in the case of some. The Girna Sugar Co-operative in Malegaon (district Nasik)got auctioned and sold to Armstrong Infrastructure Private Limited in 2010 without consulting members and shareholders, and paying the dues amounting to a few hundred crores, to the farmers and workers. The overall property of the factory, having included about 300 acres of land, an old, strong godown building, a one-storey office building, workers’ quarters, expensive machinery, etc., having a market value of Rs 300 to 400 crores, was ‘auctioned’ out fraudulently, and sold for a mere Rs 27 crores to a company with the son and nephew of Mr ChhaganlalBhujbal, PWD Minister in the present cabinet, as Directors of ‘Armstrong’ (literal translation of ‘Bhujbal’). It has now been exposed that the same has happened in at least 35 or more factories across the state. While 60 others were on their way, a hue and cry was raised by workers in Sholapur, Latur (in Kannad and Paithan), Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Nasik and various other districts by ManikraoJadhav, ManoharPatwari and others. The workers and farmers who had given their lands with consent at minimal price took to a struggle with padayatras, rallies, and court cases from 2010 till date, and have now reached the apex court.

Today it is known that the co-operatives, which were once the centres of political activity and sources of support for the upward mobility of many a politician, were used and thrown by them. After having amassed unjustifiable amounts of loans from various co-operative and other banks, such as Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank, IDBI, IFCI, ICICI, etc., and the comforts to luxuries they could enjoy, indebtedness was inevitable. The same was again used by the same leaders to their benefit, resorting to the Bank’s confiscation of property followed by auction, to purchase the invaluable property themselves for a throwaway price, thereby making a huge profit. The auction process too was fraudulent as the leaders ensured there was no transparency, nor accountability, and others were either stopped from entering the same or bullied down. The nexus of politicians in co-operatives, banks and ministries or parties operated to draw all benefits and manoeuvre all decisions, now stands fully exposed. ‘Co-operation’ as an economic route, with the potential to counter Statist and Corporate paradigmsand take democratic alternatives ahead, is under attack. The reflection of global capitalism in our policies and processes in the country is demonstrated here by the vulgar moves by fearless politicians who are themselves eating into the flesh and blood of people’s democracy and public property, both. The movement is committed to stop and reverse this.

The decision by the Maharasthra cabinet on September 3rd, 2013 was to stop further sale but not leasing or renting out of sugar co-operatives, even on a long term basis. The movement opposes this… It is obvious that the leaders of the parties in power, NCP and Congress, Ajit Pawar, Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh and his son, Amit Deshmukh, Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayantrao Patil, Ranjit Deshmukh, Fauzia Khan, are among those directly or indirectly (through their relatives to cadre-workers) involved, the investigation reveals. NitinGadkari and Eknath Khadse are also involved in purchase and Gopinath Munde in leasing out of co-operatives, resulting in tacit support by the opposition. It is an open secret and the talk of the district as to how these leaders have managed to amass wealth, especially huge chunks of land, and political power, both by killing the well-known co-operative sector in the ‘progressive’ state. It is also not shocking that many of the same factories declared sick and in debt, are run in profit, even with increasing capacity as in the case of the Kannad co-operative that is making huge profit after having closed and sold the co-operative, kicking out about 800 workers and avoiding Rs 53 crores of payment.

All this is a scandal of huge proportion and serious implications, and hence, the movement. NAPM is committed to take up the challenge not only to get the matter investigated, but also to get a Tribunal set up for enquiry as well as criminal action against the heinous crime committed at the cost of life and livelihood of thousands of farmers, workers and rights of common citizens. We appeal to all conscious citizens and those fighting corruption and supporting co-operation to join us in our upcoming programs, to carry out and support research and investigation, offer financial support and raise the issue to all means and media.

Contact: Seela Manaswinee , Suniti S.R , Dr Sugan Baranth, 09212587159 / 09423965153 , 09423571784 , 0942225279,

NAPM Welcomes Separate Statehood for Telangana: With a caution to preserve the Democratic rights and Equity of People


Hyderabad / New Delhi, October 4, 2013:- We welcome the decision of the Union Cabinet to declare Telangana as the 29th state in the country. It should be the time for the jubilation for the underprivileged people of the Telangana region in the hope that the separate statehood will rectify the injustices and bring a new era of hope. NAPM believes that smaller states are a key to decentralisation of power and to address the issues of equity and justice to the deprived sections of the state. It also resolves the administrative problems in governance and implementation of policies. In the same vein we would also like to point out the experiences of smaller states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, carved out from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are yet to take off due to lack of political and bureaucratic inadequacy.

Hence, we must warn the leaders and the people that the experience of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh etc. clearly indicates that mere scale does not bring in decentralization. The development of the population and natural resources of Telangana to be just and sustainable would require that the development paradigm followed by those is power today should be revisited and reviewed and the planning process should be truly democratic. How would the Krishna waters or land of Telengana be harnessed and in whose favour? Will the toiling masses receive primacy in all economic and political decisions? These questions will have to be answered. The decision of recognizing Telangana as a State, symbolizes a political and moral victory for the region. The central and state governments as well as the major political parties in the state have played opportunistic and partisan political games with people’s sentiments. Exploiting people’s emotions for vote bank politics, parties have supported formation of unholy alliances and politics of divide and rule.

Transparency is the Key for a Smooth Division Process of the State:- Ever Since Congress Working Committee announced its decision to create Telangana State, there has been an outburst of protest across the SeemAndhra regions. Several People have raised serious questions over division process and have expressed their insecurities on various issues. These issues must be resolved across the table with “Maturity and Statesmanship”. NAPM believes that an open and transparent division process would address the various insecurities of people on both sides. All the transitional decisions need to be brought into the public domain on either side of the state. In the Prevailing situation and with No trust on politicians, people should have an access to all information pertaining to state which will address their questions, grievances and apprehensions. Union Government must initiate a proactive information disclosure with regard to major issues like Water Sharing, State Debts, Revenue sharing, Jobs etc.

Formation of Telangana State – NAPM calls for People's Participation:- But mere formation of state, will not resolve all issues. The present dynamics of Power Politics have to be changed. A Complete Political Transformation would be possible only by participation of citizens; who have struggled for separate state; in decision making process and owing up their responsibility towards building a Telangana State, with a shift in the balance of power from the hands of few to those struggling groups, who are fighting for power at grassroots levels for good governance and accountability of their political representatives. Inequities, land reforms to political rights and self-reliance within Telangana will also have to be addressed boldly. It is, therefore, with caution, we welcome this decision and wish a future bringing true sovereignty and justice to the people of Telangana.

Medha Patkar, Ramakrishnam Raju, Prafulla Samantara, Dr. Sunilam, Gabriele Dietrich, C R Neelkandan, Arundhati Dhuru, Saraswati Kavula, P S Ajay, Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant, Bhupender Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Vimal Bhai, Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M, Sashank Rajwadi

Campaign on 6th Anniversary of "September uprising” - Burmese anti-dictator government movement

Sep 22, 2013

Members of All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network

We are a group of ethnics people from Myanmar based in South Korea. Our organization’s name is the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network. Today we are holding a pro-democracy and ethnic-rights demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy, in the event of “6th anniversary of September uprising” against military government in 2007.

Today marks the 6 anniversary of the “September uprising” which started in 2007. Where many of innocent people were were killed by Myanmar military junta, including monks and activists. We, the All Ethnics Democracy and Human Rights Network strongly condemn the Myanmar military junta for crime against humanity and human rights violation.

Although current new government promised to promote democracy, but the ethnic minorities of Myanmar are threatened more than other sectors of the population. There are continued 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: Completely cease conflict with ethnic minority region and its human rights violations and repression upon the ethnic people. Make amendment of the constitution, for example, Buddhism position above other religions. 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.


Special Report
By Rizwana
Sep 10, 2013

The big tree standing at the Trivandrum Secretariat gate

I am Rizwana. I am 13 years old. Me, my sister Shifana and baby brother Mohammed have been here in front of the Trivandrum Secretariat along with our mother Jaseera for nearly a month now. I am sure you are wondering why. It is because our home and the sea shore of the village Madayi in Kannur District is in real danger. My mother who grew up in the village knows the sea and the shores like the back of her hand. When we stayed away from Madayi we had forgotten about the sound of waves, the smell of the sea and the cool breeze. But when we came back a few years ago, we saw that the sea which was very calm, the beach with white sand that glistened on many moon lit nights had changed. The waves seemed near and huge, the beach very narrow and noisy with many people walking up and down with big loads of the white sand. This was when my mother started her arguments and talk.

We were surprised to see the transformation in her. She spoke with clarity and commitment to prove the fact that if more sand is removed it would mean loss of land and danger to houses. My mother does not speak for herself or for us. She speaks for the seashore and the sea which she says has given so much support to so many that we should not kill that. It is this clear vision of hers and the love she showers on us in spite of all the hardships and uncertainties that make us want to be with her. We have been with her always.. she has taken us to the Police Station in Puthiayangadi, to the Collector’s office in Kannur and now here to the capital.

We arrived here in this city on a rainy morning. Since then, we have seen rain and shine, moonlight and sunshine, dark and lighted up streets. We have been the foursome for many nights, we have had few companions and a huge mass of people for some days. We have had groups coming to us as a procession with supporting slogans, we have had individuals joining for a few hours or a day. We have seen people pass by and then come back to talk and enquire why we are here. Some have got us sweets, others books, some have told us stories and wondered about our studies and life. We have seen friendly police men and women, as also angry and irritated ones.

A few days back, some Child Rights people came to take us away. But we did not want to go. Since then me and my sister go to a school to study during the day. My sister is very intelligent and can grasp quickly.I am a bit lazy. But I love to read stories and poems. My little brother also likes books. He will pretend like he is an elder and keep staring at the pages. We laugh a lot when we see that. He is a very loving and happy child. He does not cry or become restless. As long as my mother or one of us is there, Muthu ( as we call him ) is peaceful. He is yet to talk clearly. But I think he talks through his eyes and smiles. I wonder how long we will have to be here. On our festival day, my mother went with some friends to make Biriyani. Many people came to see us that day. Some big channels came to interview and then mother had to rush back..The rice for biriyani got overcooked and so we had Biriyani payasam that day. How we all laughed, though it was tasty.My mother usually makes excellent food. She says the masalas and rice were very good but it was because she left the kitchen of the friend’s house to come for interview that it got a bit overcooked.Any way, everyone liked it.

Since the day we came, the big tree standing at the Secretariat gate has been giving us shade and coolness. When it was raining, the leaves would rain down on us even after the rain had stopped. A friend came and told us that this is a Mahogany tree with small leaves. I look up and wonder how many struggles this tree might have seen, how many slogans and speeches it must have heard.It must have seen peaceful and violent strikes. I wonder if it has ever seen the likes of us – 3 kids and a mother for so many days. I wish I could talk to the tree and hear its story.

The other day, a friend came and told us the story of a Giving Tree which shows how human selfishness and greed destroyed a tree. Sitting under the huge tree, I thought of how the sea is also so giving but humans take everything away. Is that not why my frail mother is here to speak up for the sea and seashore? When I see the squirrels that stay on the tree and watch the many birds that rest in the shade, I understand how the tree is home to so many living forms. My mother explains that seashore is also not just for humans. There are the huge sea turtles that come to lay eggs. There are so many crabs and seashells which hide in burrows in the sand. There are varieties of birds that feed on the seashore- some we know are here all the time, others fly in from far away and stay for a few days. Many nest in the sand. We humans also need the seashore and the sea. After all do we not live on the shore? What about all the activities we do on the shore? What about keeping the nets and boats? The ways in which we cast nets, the hauling in of vessels and nets, the cleaning and drying of fishes, the repairing of nets.. so much happens on the shore. If the shore goes, will the sea not come into the land and take away homes?

Are these not reason enough for anyone concerned about the safety of land and life to be with my mother in her struggle? So goes my thoughts as I watch the sun lighting up the small green leaves of the big tree who has become my friend. I like to see the tree best from the other side of the looks really grand like a grandfather. When we go away home after we get an answer from the Government assuring us that no more sea shore sand will be taken, I think I will miss the tree and all the friends who have come to be with us the most…

UN High Commissioner For Human Rights Navi Pillay At The Press Conference On Her Mission To Sri Lanka Colombo

Aug 31, 2013

Navi Pillay

Good morning, and thank you for coming. As is customary at the end of official missions such as this, I would like to make some observations concerning the human rights situation in the country. During my seven-day visit, I have held discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and senior members of the Government. These included the Ministers of External Affairs, Justice, Economic Development, National Languages and Social Integration, Youth Affairs and the Minister of Plantations Industries who is also Special Envoy to the President on Human Rights, as well as the Secretary of Defence. I also met the Chief Justice, Attorney-General, Leader of the House of Parliament and the Permanent Secretary to the President, who is head of the taskforce appointed to monitor the implementation of the report of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). I had discussions with politicians who are not part of the current Government, namely the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Tamil National Alliance; in addition I met with the National Human Rights Commission, and a total of eight different gatherings of human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Colombo, Jaffna and Trincomalee. I also received briefings from the Governors and other senior officials in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

I thank the Government for its invitation and its excellent cooperation during the planning and conduct of this very complex mission. It stated that I could go anywhere, and see anything I wished to see. And, despite some disturbing incidents which I will go into later, that commitment was honoured throughout. Even though this is the longest official visit I have ever made to a single country, I am acutely conscious that I was unable to see everyone who requested a meeting. Nor will I be able to do justice to all the human rights issues facing the Sri Lankan people and government. Since I will be providing an oral update to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in late September, and a full written report in March next year, I will today confine myself to a few key issues that crystallized during the course of the mission. I will divide these human rights issues into two parts: those related to the vicious and debilitating 27-year conflict between the Government and the LTTE, and its aftermath; and those that relate to the whole country.

Some media, ministers, bloggers and various propagandists in Sri Lanka have, for several years now, on the basis of my Indian Tamil heritage, described me as a tool of the LTTE. They have claimed I was in their pay, the “Tamil Tigress in the UN.” This is not only wildly incorrect, it is deeply offensive. This type of abuse has reached an extraordinary crescendo during this past week, with at least three Government Ministers joining in. Firstly, let me say, I am a South African and proud of it. Secondly, the LTTE was a murderous organization that committed numerous crimes and destroyed many lives. In fact, my only previous visit to Sri Lanka was to attend a commemoration of the celebrated legislator, peacemaker and scholar, Neelan Tiruchelvam, who was killed by an LTTE suicide bomb in July 1999. Those in the diaspora who continue to revere the memory of the LTTE must recognize that there should be no place for the glorification of such a ruthless organization.

I would like to pay my respects to all Sri Lankans, across the country, who were killed during those three decades of conflict, and offer my heartfelt sympathy to their families, all of whom – no matter who they are – share one thing: they have lost someone they can never replace. I have met many people during this visit whose relatives or spouses – both civilians and soldiers – are known to have been killed, or who are missing and may well be dead. It is important everyone realizes that, although the fighting is over, the suffering is not. I have been extremely moved by the profound trauma I have seen among the relatives of the missing and the dead, and the war survivors, in all the places I have visited, as well as by their resilience. This was particularly evident among those scratching out a living among the ghosts of burned and shelled trees, ruined houses and other debris of the final battle of the the war along the lagoon in Mullaitivu.

Wounds will not heal and reconciliation will not happen, without respect for those who grieve, and remembrance for the tens of thousands of Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and others who died before their time on the battlefield, in buses, on the street, or in detention. As one wife of a missing man put it poignantly: “Even when we eat, we keep a portion for him.” Throughout my visit, the authorities, at all levels, have been keen to demonstrate to me how much has been achieved in terms of resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the relatively short period since the conflict with the LTTE ended in 2009. And the reconstruction achievements, made with the help of donor countries, UN agencies and NGOs, are indeed impressive: in both the Eastern and Northern Provinces, large numbers of new roads, bridges, houses, medical facilities and schools have been built or rebuilt; electricity and water supplies have been greatly improved; and most of the landmines have been removed. As a result, the great majority of the more than 450,000 people who were internally displaced at the end of the conflict have now gone home.

These are important achievements, and I understand the Government’s concern that they have perhaps not been sufficiently recognized. However, physical reconstruction alone will not bring reconciliation, dignity, or lasting peace. Clearly, a more holistic approach is needed to provide truth, justice and reparations for people’s suffering during the war, and I have repeated my previous offer of OHCHR’s assistance in these areas. There are a number of specific factors impeding normalization, which – if not quickly rectified – may sow the seeds of future discord. These are by and large to do with the curtailment or denial of personal freedoms and human rights, or linked to persistent impunity and the failure of rule of law. From the very beginning, I have placed great hopes in Sri Lanka achieving true peace and reconciliation after the war. I welcomed the LLRC report as an important step in that direction, even though it side-stepped the much-needed full, transparent, impartial investigation into the conduct of a conflict that saw numerous war crimes and other violations committed by both sides. The Human Rights Council has expressed a strong interest in seeing progress in the implementation of the most important LLRC recommendations, and proper investigation of the many outstanding allegations and concerns.

The LLRC report contains a broad range of excellent recommendations regarding concrete improvements on human rights, and I was interested to receive a briefing on the extent of the implementation of some of those recommendations from the Permanent Secretary to the President. My Office will closely examine that update and future developments in the implementation of the LLRC, and I will of course make reference to any genuine progress in my reports to the Human Rights Council. I will now briefly outline some of the other issues that were raised during my visits to the Northern and Eastern Provinces, and which I have in turn raised with various ministers. I welcome the forthcoming elections to the Northern Provincial Council and hope they will proceed in a peaceful, free and fair environment, and usher in an important new stage in the devolution of power.

I was concerned to hear about the degree to which the military appears to be putting down roots and becoming involved in what should be civilian activities, for instance education, agriculture and even tourism. I also heard complaints about the acquisition of private land to build military camps and installations, including a holiday resort. This is only going to make the complex land issues with which the Government has been grappling even more complicated and difficult to resolve. Clearly, the army needs some camps, but the prevalence and level of involvement of soldiers in the community seem much greater than is needed for strictly military or reconstruction purposes four years after the end of the war. I understand the Secretary of Defence’s point that the demobilization of a significant proportion of such a large army cannot be done overnight, but urge the government to speed up its efforts to demilitarize these two war-affected provinces, as the continued large-scale presence of the military and other security forces is seen by many as oppressive and intrusive, with the continuing high level of surveillance of former combatants and returnees at times verging on harassment. I was very concerned to hear about the vulnerability of women and girls, especially in female-headed households, to sexual harassment and abuse. I have raised this issue with several ministers, the provincial governors and senior military commanders who attended my meeting with the Secretary of Defence. I challenged them to rigorously enforce a zero tolerance policy for sexual abuse.

I have also been following up on the status of the remaining detainees and have urged the Government to expedite their cases, either by bringing charges or releasing them for rehabilitation. I also suggested it may now be time to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act which has long been cause for concern. Because of the legacy of massive trauma, there is a desperate need for counseling and psychosocial support in the North, and I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the authorities have restricted NGO activity in this sector. I hope the Government can relax controls on this type of assistance. I met many relatives of missing or disappeared civilians and soldiers who are still hoping to discover the whereabouts of their loved ones, and they emphasized the urgent need to resolve this issue – something that was made abundantly evident at the two very moving meetings with relatives of the disappeared that I attended yesterday, to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearances.

I asked the Government for more information about the new Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances, and stressed the need for it to be more effective than the five previous commissions of this kind. I was disappointed to learn that it will only cover disappearances in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, which means that the many “white van” disappearances reported in Colombo and other parts of the country in recent years will not fall within its scope. I urge the Government to broaden the Commission’s mandate, and seize this opportunity to make a comprehensive effort to resolve the disappearances issue once and for all. I therefore welcome the new proposal to criminalize disappearances in the penal code, and hope this will be done without delay. The Government could also send a clear signal of its commitment by ratifying the International Convention on Disappearances, and by inviting the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to visit Sri Lanka, ideally before I report back to the Human Rights Council in March. The Human Rights Council will also be looking to see something credible in terms of investigation of what happened at the end of the war and many other past cases.

I was pleased to learn that the case of the five students murdered on the beach in Trincomalee in 2006 has been reinvigorated by the arrest of 12 Police Special Task Force members known to have been in the vicinity at the time of the killings. I will be watching the progress of that case with interest, as well as the other infamous unsolved case of 17 ACF aid workers murdered in the same year, just a few kilometres to the south. I also requested more information about the Courts of Inquiry appointed by the army to further investigate the allegations of civilian casualties and summary executions, and suggested that appointing the army to investigate itself does not inspire confidence in a country where so many past investigations and commissions of inquiry have foundered one way or another. Unless there is a credible national process, calls for an international inquiry are likely to continue. The recent deployment of the military in support of police to control a demonstration in Weliweriya, which resulted in at least three deaths, has sent a shockwave through the community. I stressed to the Defence Secretary the need to urgently complete and publish a proper investigation into this incident.

Too many other investigation files remain pending, for instance the custodial deaths of prisoners in Vavuniya and Welikada Prisons in 2012. The Government has since announced police powers will now be transferred from the Ministry of Defence to a new Ministry of Law and Order, but this is at best a partial separation as both Ministries will remain under the President, rather than under a separate civilian ministry. I have also reminded the Government that Sri Lanka desperately needs strong witness and victim protection legislation, which has been languishing in draft form since 2007.

I expressed concern at the recent surge in incitement of hatred and violence against religious minorities, including attacks on churches and mosques, and the lack of swift action against the perpetrators. I was surprised that the Government seemed to downplay this issue, and I hope it will send the strongest possible signal of zero tolerance for such acts and ensure that those responsible (who are easily identifiable on video footage) are punished. The Minister of National Languages and Social Integration told me that he has proposed new legislation on hate speech. We have recently concluded a study of such laws and would be happy to assist in this area. The same Minister, along with the Minister of Justice, expressed to me his support for a visit by the Independent Expert on Minorities, and I hope this can happen as soon as possible. I also applaud the Government’s policy of introducing tri-lingualism all across the country. I would now like to turn to a disturbing aspect of the visit, namely the harassment and intimidation of a number of human rights defenders, at least two priests, journalists, and many ordinary citizens who met with me, or planned to meet with me. I have received reports that people in villages and settlements in the Mullaitivu area were visited by police or military officers both before and after I arrived there. In Trincomalee, several people I met were subsequently questioned about the content of our conversation.

This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced. Utterly unacceptable at any time, it is particularly extraordinary for such treatment to be meted out during a visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I wish to stress that the United Nations takes the issue of reprisals against people because they have talked to UN officials as an extremely serious matter, and I will be reporting those that take place in connection with this visit to the Human Rights Council. I urge the Government of Sri Lanka to issue immediate orders to halt this treatment of human rights defenders and journalists who face this kind of harassment and intimidation on a regular basis. More than 30 journalists are believed to have been killed since 2005, and several more – including the cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda ­– have disappeared. Many others have fled the country. Newspaper and TV offices have been vandalized or subjected to arson attacks – some, such as the Jaffna-based paper Uthayan, on multiple occasions. With self-censorship fuelled by fear, journalists report that there are articles that they dare not write, and others their editors dare not print. Freedom of expression is under a sustained assault in Sri Lanka. I have called for the right to Information Act to be adopted like many of its neighbours in SAARC.

The war may have ended, but in the meantime democracy has been undermined and the rule of law eroded. The 18th amendment, which abolished the Constitutional Council which once recommended appointments to the independent bodies, such as the Elections Commission and Human Rights Commission, has weakened these important checks and balances on the power of the Executive. The controversial impeachment of the Chief Justice earlier this year, and apparent politicization of senior judicial appointments, have shaken confidence in the independence of the judiciary. I am deeply concerned that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new vibrant, all-embracing state, is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction.

Ending on a more optimistic note, yesterday, at the Government’s suggestion, I visited the Youth Parliament. This unusual institution, founded in 2010, is filled with bright, enthusiastic students from all across the country, and dedicated to a tolerant and all-inclusive approach. The parliament draws on elected members of youth groups who meet once a month to discuss key issues such as the importance of Amendment 13 to the Constitution and the LLRC (indeed they claim they actually debated the latter before the National Parliament). I hope that the current and future members of the Youth Parliament, three of whom delivered excellent speeches in my presence, will, when they graduate to the main political stage, usher in a new era of tolerant coexistence in this beautiful island, where – despite the problems I have listed above – I have been greeted with great warmth and hospitality. Thank you.

Lok Sabha to pass amendments to the RTI Act next week

Indian parliament, also known as Loksabha

Readers may remember that the people's beloved law- The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) is under threat of dilution from two sources next week: 1) The RTI (Amendment) Bill 2013 introduced by the Central Government on 12 August, 2013 seeks to keep all political parties outside the RTI Act. The amendment Bill also seeks to nullify the June 2013 order of the Central Information Commission which brought all political parties directly under the RTI Act.

2) The Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011 (NSRA Bill) introduced by the Central Government in the Lok Sabha in September 2011 seeks to add a new exemption clause under Section 8 of the RTI Act to keep away from public scrutiny commercially sensitive information relating to nuclear plants held by technology holders. Second the NSRA Bill brings any regulatory authority that the Government may set up in future to regulate matters relating to nuclear materials, premises and activities connected with national defence and security interests under Section 24 of the RTI Act. They will be like the CBI, R&AW, NTRO which do not have to give any information (even the postal address of their offices) to the public except in matters relating to allegations of human rights violation and corruption.

What is the urgency now? Both amendments to the RTI Act are scheduled for discussion and passing in the Lok Sabha next week (19-24 August, 2013). A grand total of 5 hours has been set aside for discussing these amendments. But the exact dates on which these Bills will be discussed will be disclosed next week. The Lok Sabha will not sit on the 20, instead it will sit on the 24th on Saturday and Question Hour has also been cancelled for this day. I have attached the Lok Sabha Bulletin listing business for next week for your reference (see pages 10-12). This document is also accessible at:

Why are these amendments bad? These amendments dilute the RTI Act and restrict the people's right to know the truth.

RTI (Amendment Bill): Despite the publicly proven fact that political parties are benefiting from public funds or public assets like land and rented buildings in a big way, they do not want to be treated as substantially financed non-government organisations. Political parties are creating this exception for themselves while they want other organisations in the private and social sector to be covered by the RTI Act, if they receive substantial funding from the Government. This amendment clearly violates the principle of equality before law which forms the bedrock of India's Constitution. Neither the Government nor the political parties have held any public consultation on this amendment Bill to ask the people if they support such a dilution of their RTI Act.

NSRA Bill: India increasingly is looking at the nuclear option for generating electricity. Multi-national companies like Areva and Westinghouse, amongst others, are looking for business opportunities in India. Westinghouse even sponsored a visit of a team of a prominent TV channel recently to show how safe one of their reactors was in the USA. The TV Channel faithfully beamed this story several times this week. If these companies build nuclear plants in India, they can conceal under the new exemption, a lot of information about their plants which should ideally be open to public scrutiny. Moreover regulatory authorities established for national defence and security purposes will be born almost completely exempted from the RTI Act. Even worse is the possibility that the jurisdiction of the CIC may be ousted because any person disclosing information about these matters is liable for imprisonment up to five years.

The Dept. of Personnel and Training which is the nodal ministry for implementing the RTI Act sent a written objection to these exemptions proposed by the NSRA Bill arguing that the current exemptions under Section 8 were enough to take care of legitimate interests of technology holders and the State. The members of the Communist Parties sitting on the Parliamentary Standing Committee which vetted the NSRA Bill put in a dissent note in the final report objecting to, amongst other things, the curbs on transparency. Nevertheless the Government is going ahead with these clauses which will dilute the RTI Act further. Please visit our website for accessing more information about this issue:

If you support our demand that the RTI Act must not be diluted without public consultation please sign on to this petition and persuade your friends and colleagues to sign up as well. To access the petition please click on or copy and paste this URL in the address box of your browser: LET US DEFEND OUR RIGHT TO KNOW!

Venkatesh Nayak Programme CoordinatorAccess to Information ProgrammeCommonwealth Human Rights InitiativeB-117, First Floor, Sarvodaya EnclaveNew Delhi- 110 017Tel: +91-11-43180215/ 43180201Fax: +91-26864688

BANGLADESH: Stop stifling the whistleblower, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan arrested

Aug 11, 2013

Adilur Rahman Khan(C)

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is informed that, at 10:20 p.m., on 10 August, officers from the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police have taken into custody, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, one of the most respected human rights defenders in Bangladesh, from his residence in Dhaka. Adilur is the Secretary of Odhikar, a prominent human rights organisation in the country, known for its critical assessments of human rights in performance and practice, by the Government of Bangladesh. Adilur has also served as the Deputy Attorney General of Bangladesh and is a Senior Lawyer practicing at the Supreme Court. Adilur's arrest will have a chilling effect upon the entire civil society in the country. That such arrest in Bangladesh often is accompanied by brutal forms of torture, leading to even deaths in custody, places Adilur's life and security at great peril in the hands of the state agency.

The AHRC and all of its partners condemn Adilur's arrest and detention, and calls upon the Government of Bangladesh to immediately release Adilur from custody. We further request the government, to ensure that Adilur is neither tortured nor inhumanly treated by the police. The AHRC is informed that the arrest is allegedly on the accusation, that Adilur has committed offences under the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006, a legislation misused at will in Bangladesh, to silence freedom of opinion and expression, and often used by the government in violation of personal privacy and professional indemnity of the citizens. The AHRC urges all diplomatic missions in Dhaka to intervene in this case so that Adilur will not be ill treated by the police or tortured in custody.

The AHRC is in contact with Adilur's family and is provided with the following information: At about 10:20 p.m., Adilur was returning home in his vehicle along with his wife and children. When the vehicle entered the compound of the house where the family resides, at No: 35, Road 117, Gulshan, Dhaka; an SUV and a white minibus approached the house. About 8 to 10 men in civilian dress, who came in the two vehicles, entered the compound. The security guard at the house tried to prevent the strangers from entering the compound and demanded to know who they were. The men did not bother to respond and they surrounded Adilur's car.

When Adilur came out of his car and demanded to know from the men who they are and what business they had without permission at his residence, they reportedly informed Adilur that they are from the Detective Branch of Bangladesh Police. The men then ordered Adilur to accompany them immediately. It is reported that without waiting for Adilur to respond, the men forced Adilur into their vehicle and left. Neither Adilur, nor the family was informed why they were taking Adilur into custody and where they were taking him. It is reported that Adilur is detained at the Office of the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, at 36 Minto Road, Dhaka. It is suspected that the reason for the government to arrest Adilur is a report Odhikar has published, after its fact-finding mission concerning the 5 May 2013 violence in Bangladesh.

In the report, Odhikar has alleged, that 61 persons were killed in the violence. The Government of Bangladesh demanded Odhikar to produce proof regarding the murder of these people, with the details of the family members, who spoke to Odhikar in confidence. Fearing that the government, after receiving such information would hunt down the families who spoke about the deaths of their relatives to Odhikar, Odhikar requested the government to constitute an independent enquiry commission to probe the deaths, and assured the government that it will produce its findings before such a body and not to the government. The Government of Bangladesh has been denying any deaths in the 5 May incident and has been trying its best to silence everyone who has spoken against the killing spree that hit the country in May this year.

Adilur's son, while speaking to the AHRC has expressed serious concern about his father's safety in police custody. Adilur's wife, Mrs. Saira Rahman Khan, a barrister and Professor of Law at the BRAC University in Dhaka, has informed the AHRC that the family has convened a press conference at Odhikar's office. Adilur's arrest and detention is a chilling proof of the witch-hunt the Government of Bangladesh is systematically carrying out in the country, silencing all forms of voices against the incumbent government's human rights abuses. Adilur's arrest, and the manner in which it has been carried out, is further proof to the fact that the space for human rights, free expression and opinion has drastically reduced in the country.

Adilur being a senior member of the Supreme Court Bar, his arrest and detention can also be viewed as unjustifiable encroachment into professional freedom and indemnity of lawyers in Bangladesh. The AHRC hopes that the Supreme Court Bar Association and the country's judiciary will not let such arrest and detention continue without being legally challenged. The AHRC, therefore requests all of you to intervene in this case, and call upon the Government of Bangladesh to release Adilur from custody immediately.


Arundhati speaks to crowd

• Loud carnival protests held outside Vedanta's London AGM, and in South Africa. • Arundhati Roy speaks at defiant protests in Delhi yesterday. • Vedanta's Niyamgiri mine in Odisha appears stopped, as Dongria Kond tribe register a thundering NO in legally binding meetings.

Today protesters from Foil Vedanta(1) and other organizations will hold a loud carnival demonstration at the AGM of controversial FTSE 100 mining company Vedanta(2) at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square London. A parallel demo will be held in Johannesburg(3). Yesterday in Delhi almost a hundred people braved rains to raise their protest at Odisha Bhawan, and in Goa there were protests outside Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa's offices. Meanwhile, the majority of tribal village meetings given legal power by the Supreme Court of India have unanimously voted against Vedanta's flagship Niyamgiri mine. Outside Vedanta's London AGM a group of protesters will play Parai drums, while others hold placards painted with defiant anti-company quotes from the Dongria Kond tribe in Odisha, India, where the company has been trying to mine illegally for ten years, and has now been stopped. Others will hold a giant inflatable monster with Vedanta Resources painted on it, and snake like heads bearing the names of Vedanta's subsidiaries. They will chant, sing and hold a banner saying –Vedanta out of London. Company executives will be heckled, and a theatrical stunt is expected.

Protesters in Delhi yesterday sang, chanted and heard speeches from famed writer Arundhati Roy and Supreme Court lawyer for the Dongria Kond in the Vedanta case – Sanjay Parikh. The protest was timed to coincide with Vedanta's London AGM and was organised in association Foil Vedanta. It was covered by Indian TV and other media1.(4) This is an excerpt from the statement Arundhati Roy gave to Foil Vedanta: 'We must demand that the Vedanta refinery is dismantled, the land restored to the people, and reparations paid. And that the security forces are withdrawn and the people who are in jail released. There are reports that Vedanta is trying to transfer its 13.5 billion dollar debt to its proposed Indian subsidiary Sesa-Sterlite. This might be an effort to leave public financial institutes in India holding the can.'(5) Meanwhile in Panaji, Goa, a group of 'clowns' staged a satirical performance outside the offices of Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa asking them to please cause more mine waste floods, health problems and environmental damage – which they have been accused of.

The protesters in London and India are celebrating the victory of the Dongria Kond over Vedanta at Niyamgiri, via village meeting votes given legal power by a precedent Supreme Court verdict in April. Commentators are suggesting the mine will now be cancelled, losing Vedanta a $7 billion investment2(5). The fiery speeches given by the tribal community have been reported daily in India's national papers, in what has now become a major national issue(6). From Odisha, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti's Lingaraj Azad said today: “Vedanta has built its refinery at Lanjigarh without environmental and forest clearances, and expanded from 1 to 6 million tonnes, encroaching on reserves forest land and violating a multitude of laws. It has told so many lies to the Supreme Court. Now that the people's verdict has given a clear NO to the Niyamgiri mine the refinery should be dismantled and closed for good. From Lanjigarh to London the people's battle has been won!” Inside the AGM today dissident shareholders will disrupt the meeting by asking questions on Vedanta's environmental and human rights record. In Johannesburg a picket by Earthlife Africa will protest a coal fired power station planned by Vedanta Zinc3.

Protesters will aim to bring the defiant energy of the Dongria Kond to London and Delhi. They will also highlight controversies and violations caused by Vedanta since their last AGM, and the UK's involvement in giving the company credibility. This will include: • The major toxic gas leak which killed one, and hospitalised hundreds at their subsidiary Sterlite's copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, India in March4. • Fly ash dumping and pollution at Vedanta's Jharsuguda Aluminium complex in Odisha, India5. • The seven tax havens where Vedanta keeps it's profit, making it one of the mining companies with the highest percentage of profit in tax havens(7). • Vedanta's major planned restructuring, which will transfer it's loss making and high debt subsidiaries into Indian entities, making the Indian government potentially liable for Vedanta's $13.5 billion toxic debt6. • Protests at Vedanta's Zambian subsidiary - Konkola Copper Mines - over workforce conditions. Foil Vedanta will also continue to call for the company to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange, a move supported by a number of MPs and financiers(8)7

Miriam Rose from Foil Vedanta says: “This year we aim to bring the defiant voice of the Dongria Kond to London, as they unanimously reject Vedanta's illegal attempts to mine their sacred mountain. Vedanta thinks it can hide from it's atrocities here in London. We will bring the evidence to the AGM and show investors and the public Vedanta's consistent pattern of violating laws and human rights with relative impunity. We demand that Vedanta is formally investigated by the FCA and de-listed from the London Stock Exchange in recognition of it's proven abuses of law and Human Rights.”

ASIA: A video documentary on the AHRC's Folk School

Jul 18, 2013

14th Folk School, from May 26 to June 03, 2013, in Hong Kong

The AHRC's Folk School for human rights defenders in Asia was initiated 14 years ago. Since then regular sessions have been held that have provided opportunities for human rights defenders from various countries throughout Asia to come together and discuss the problems they face in their respective countries and to develop better methodologies for providing their services to their communities.

The AHRC's Folk School was developed around the ideas of the folk school movement in Denmark. The folk school is a unique Danish idea that was initiated by one of the foremost Danish thinkers and community organisers, N.F.S Grundvig. The basic principles are as follows:

The starting point of education is the situation of the learner: concrete current problems with which those undergoing education are faced, either directly, or as advocates working with others who are directly affected. In the shared analysis of the causes and consequences of these concrete problems, the transfer of information about or references to the relevant universal and regional Human Rights documents, mechanisms and bodies will be understood and seen to be relevant and practically applicable

The process of Human Rights education, as of all human rights work in general, must be a participatory and dialogical process. This is commensurate with the goal of "achieving human rights" : which is, ultimately, to achieve a human society where each person, child, woman, man will have all possible access to the channels of communication and participation in the society/ community in which he/she lives, and will enjoy the material and spiritual sustenance needed to participate in the matters which directly or indirectly affect his/her life in the society, without fear of discrimination or violence.

An essential component of Human Rights education is the perspective of action. The learning which is desired through human rights education must result in the perception of the relevance of human rights concepts and principles in the struggle for a humane and just society and in the inspiration to undertake some form of action to promote and enhance these rights. This involves the process of thinking through to find solutions to the problems which formed the starting point of the learning process, and the development of strategies and tactics to bring about change. It also entails acquiring information about other groups or individuals who may be already engaged in action regarding the issue under discussion, leading to exchange and collaboration on specific issues.

In addition, training to acquire specific skills for different kinds of action e.g. documentation of human rights abuses, advocacy campaigns on specific issues, lobby work, writing and spreading urgent appeals, direct intervention, peace and reconciliation work, etc., should be separately organised and/or facilitated. In this short video documentary the AHRC presents the development of its Folk School and its achievements.

American abuse survivor networks unite with ITCCS - Joint press conference with Kevin Annett to be held September 2 in New York City

Utah woman testimony

New York: Ritual abuse survivor organizations in the United States embracing over three thousand people have joined forces with Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Kevin Annett of the ITCCS to expose national and international child trafficking networks. Directors of these groups, including author and retired therapist Judy Byington and Neil Brick, founder of Stop Mind Control and Ritual Abuse Today (SMART), have affiliated with the ITCCS. They are working actively with Reverend Kevin Annett and ITCCS members in other countries to bring to light and prosecute human trafficking networks and their practice of child exploitation, torture and murder.

On Monday, September 2, the Directors will hold a joint press conference with Kevin Annett in New York City to disclose their plans for a joint campaign to unite cult abuse survivors and expose and prosecute the guilty persons and institutions. (Time and place to be announced at The Directors represent thousands of ritual abuse, Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) and government mind-control survivors, and therapists. The ITCCS represents over fifty survivor groups in twenty one nations including the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Italy, France, Spain and Holland.

"We recognize the need for survivors to unite across borders because they face internationally-financed and well-protected abusers. We're joining the ITCCS because it's the only international body with the will and legal power to put these criminals on trial, as they've done already" said Byington. On February 23, 2013, an ITCCS-affiliated Common Law Court of Justice based in Brussels found former Pope Benedict and other heads of church and state guilty of crimes against humanity and child trafficking, and issued international citizen arrest warrants against them. Pope Benedict and other indicted top Vatican officials like Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone subsequently resigned from their offices.

In 2007, the global nature of child rape, torture, murder and trafficking was verified by 1,471 abuse survivors from 20 countries who responded to an Extreme Abuse Survey: One of these unsolved crimes is portrayed in Judy Byington's book "Twenty-Two Faces," the biography of Jenny Hill.

On June 21, 1965 while a six year-old, Hill survived a human sacrifice rite in Garden Grove, California. Her perpetrators have not yet been charged even though police investigations remain open in California and Pennsylvania, and Hill identified those who tortured her for three months prior to the human sacrifice ceremony where they murdered another child Hill identified as Kathleen Shea.`?v=F626Lsrdwg4 Byington says, "Since all moral people bear an obligation to protect children, we try to work with legal entities and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to place these matters before the court, but that isn't always possible. When the regular system doesn't work, Mr. Annett and ITCCS have volunteered their expertise to help survivors present their cases in Common Law Courts." SRA survivors claim child sacrifice is regularly practiced by satanic groups who use trafficking rings to secure their prey.

On May 8, 2013 in Holland, Kevin Annett interviewed Toos Nijenhuis, a psychotherapist who was the victim of ritualized torture similar to the kind Hill explained in "Twenty-Two Faces." Ms. Nijenhuis discussed her victimization in an international trafficking network involving prominent politicians and Catholic Cardinals during the 1960's, including her knowledge of a child sacrificial ceremony that took place in rural Holland in 2010: Byington says, "Those of us who know severe abuse survivors such as Ms. Nijenhuis and Jenny Hill are acutely aware that there are thousands of children who like them, undergo ritualized abuse throughout childhood by their close relatives. It is not only our right, but our obligation to intervene."

You can report possible ritual crimes against children to: or go to the website. Personal information of informants is held strictly confidential, but with your permission, some information may be published in an attempt to find other victims.

The ITCCS will integrate this cult ritual torture campaign into its broader work, including this September 20 at the First International Conference of Survivors of Church Torture, to be held in Genoa, Italy. To learn more visit the websites of SMART and Judy Byington:,,, and of the ITCCS:,,,

Adoption of the Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief: a Major Step Forward in EU External Policy

Penelope Faulkner(L)

EPRID (25 June 2013) The European Platform on Religious Intolerance and Discrimination (EPRID) welcomes the adoption of the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion and Belief by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday 24 June 2013.

The Guidelines were developed by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EU Member States in consultation with civil society, including EPRID. For EPRID, the Guidelines represent a significant step forward in institutionalising the EU’s recognition of the crucial importance of the right to freedom of religion of belief (FoRB), and its commitment to prioritize this right in the EU’s internal and external policies. “With these guidelines, the EU reaffirms its determination to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief as a right to be enjoyed by everyone everywhere,” the Guidelines state, recalling that freedom of religion or belief is interrelated and interdependent with civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and encompasses “theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.” The Guidelines on FoRB are the first-ever instruments of external policy on this issue. Guidelines on the promotion and protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, were also adopted on the same day.

“Freedom of religion or belief is a litmus test for other human rights and fundamental freedoms” said EPRID Board member Mr Christel Lamère Ngnambi. “EPRID believes that respect for FoRB contributes to people’s social wellbeing and has a positive impact on stability, democracy and religious tolerance. Promoting freedom of religion or belief is therefore not only a moral or legal obligation, but also a strategic political choice. The adoption of these Guidelines today gives a strong signal that FoRB is now a priority for the EU,” he said. EPRID, a Brussels-based platform consisting of faith-based and secular organisations founded in 2006, made initial proposals in 2010 for the EU to develop such an instrument.

The new Guidelines provide wide-ranging, practical tools around the world for EU officials, delegations and Member State embassies on understanding, monitoring, and promoting freedom of religion or belief, as well as raising awareness of this right in third countries. They strengthen the EU’s capacity to defend religious freedom both by reacting to violations of FoRB, and addressing the structural causes that lead to these violations This will involve various activities such as monitoring and assessment, demarches and public diplomacy, political dialogues, EU and member state visits, and financial instruments, including trade agreements, with the possibility of suspending cooperation and financial assistance where violations of freedom of religion or belief occur. The Guidelines also identify the need to increase the EU’s training capacity on FoRB, mandating the EEAS, in cooperation with civil society, to develop training materials for staff in the field and at EU headquarters. The EEAS and the Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM) will assess the implementation of the Guidelines after a period of three years, notably on the basis of reports submitted by EU Heads of Mission and consultations with civil society.

Whilst EPRID applauds this major move in the external policy of the European Union, the new EU Guidelines on the protection of freedom of religion or belief, however eloquent they may be, can never become a reality unless they are followed by practical implementation and monitoring processes. This is why EPRID particularly commends the call for training on FoRB for EEAS civil servants and EU delegations in third countries. Likewise, European institutions need to promote best practices in the defence of this human right and ensure that related EU funding supports the protection and promotion of FoRB. EPRID and its members, many of whom have expertise in FoRB education and training, intends to support the EEAS in developing training materials to this effect, keeping the momentum of the Guidelines drafting process.

Alongside these efforts, EPRID will continue to remind EU institutions that freedom of religion or belief cannot be derogated from, even in times of public emergency. “It is regrettable that the Council decided not to include this universally-recognised principle pertaining to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief in the final text of the Guidelines,” Mr Ngnambi said. “Freedom of religion or belief does not finally depend on the favours of the state and its officials, or the changing will of majorities. Likewise, it is far more than freedom for the religious: it is a core right for all human beings that cannot in any instance be taken from them altogether.” EPRID also aims to promote the role of the European Parliament (EP) in the promotion and protection of FoRB, especially through international visits of EP delegations to third countries.

EPRID is a network of civil society organisations, religious bodies and individuals operating at EU level and focusing on religious intolerance and discrimination. Members include: Association Internationale pour la Défense de la Liberté Religieuse / Bahá'í International Community / Christian Solidarity Worldwide / European Evangelical Alliance / Human Rights Without Frontiers / Open Doors International / Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam.

International Domestic Workers Day Celebrations

Jun 15, 2013

Women in India

16 June is celebrated as the International Domestic Workers Day all over the world. It celebrates the adoption of the International Convention on Domestic Workers by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2011. The AP Domestic Workers Movement (APDWM), Montfort Social Institute-Domestic Workers Forum India (MSI-DWFI), AP Migrant Forum Asia (AP MFA) and the AP State Domestic Workers Union (APDWU) will celebrate the day with a large gathering of domestic workers at Indira Park, Hyderabad on 15 June, 2013.

On this day, the domestic workers will demand: A comprehensive National Legislation for Domestic Workers Ratification of ILO Convention -189 on Domestic Workers by the Government of India Activation of Andhra Pradesh State Social Welfare Board to extend Social Security measures for domestic workers Inclusion of domestic workers under the ESI and Maternity Benefit Act of the Central Government

A national campaign has been launched in the country to achieve these demands under the banner of National Platform for Comprehensive Legislation for Domestic Workers. A signature Campaign has been launched to build support for these demands. The twenty five lakh signatures that will be gathered from all over the country will be presented to the Prime Minister in Delhi on 30 July. The signature campaign will be launched in all the districts of Andhra Pradesh on 16 June, the International Domestic Workers Day. The same is to be launched in Hyderabad during the celebrations on 15 June.

Even though India is home to the largest number of domestic workers in the world, making it the largest sector of employment of women workers in urban India, they are not brought under the labour laws of the Country. Given the large number of workers and their special conditions of work, they need to be protected under a special Act of the Parliament. Even though India is the largest sending country of domestic workers in the world, the country has not still ratified the ILO Convention – 189 to protect domestic workers. Nor are there sufficient measures by the government to protect impoverished women immigrants abroad, particularly the Gulf Countries, who go for domestic work. Andhra Pradesh is among the largest sending states of domestic workers in the country.

Andhra Pradesh constituted the State Social Welfare Board more than a year ago. But the Board is yet to meet to form rules and come to the rescue of workers, especially domestic workers. Similarly suitable amendments have to brought to the Maternity Benefit and ESI Acts of the Government of India to include domestic workers for availing these benefits. These issues will be highlighted by domestic workers and their organizations during the Celebrations.

Vedanta Niyamgiri issue comes to a head. Coverage offered

Jun 2, 2013

Protest against Vedanta Niyamgiri

Tribal community in Odisha, India set to make precedent decision to save their sacred mountain. Rallies, actions and legal events expected in coming weeks. Foil Vedanta offers case studies, footage and photos of this national and international issue.

In the coming weeks precedent legal proceedings will be held around the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, India, to seal the fate of British Indian mining company Vedanta's troubled bauxite mine(1). The indigenous tribe – the Dongria Kond – will decide whether their cultural and religious rights would be threatened by the 73 million tonne mine planned on their sacred mountain(2). Vedanta has already invested $7 billion in the project and associated refinery, which may have to close if permission to mine is denied(3). A number of rallies, actions and legal events are expected in the coming weeks and Foil Vedanta will be on the ground in alongside local activists and Dongria Kond leaders. We will provide updates, footage, photos and case studies as events unfold.

In Odisha and the rest of India all eyes are now on the Niyamgiri issue. The Odisha State government has suggested twelve villages to hold the public meetings, while the tribal inhabitants claim more than 100 villages will be affected and should participate. On 17th May 3000 Dongria Kond led a six day padayatra (foot march) to all the affected villages culminating in a large rally in a nearby town, Muniguda. A few days ago the Tribal Affairs Minister wrote to the Odisha governor asking that he ensure the rights of tribals and hold the public meetings (gram sabhas) in all affected villages. On Saturday notification was given to five of the twelve villages to file their claims to religious and cultural rights over the mountain within six weeks, which itself is highly controversial1. The coming weeks will see wrangling between the court, the Odisha state, and the affected communities, and a precedent grassroots democratic process for religious and cultural rights of tribals being carved out. A number of demonstrations and precedent legal events are expected.

Foil Vedanta - the main UK campaign on Vedanta who hold the company to account in London where they are registered and nominally based(4) – are now in Odisha alongside the Dongria led people's movement Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (Niyamgiri Protection Committee). We will be reporting unfolding events on our website and sending press releases with the latest information and quotes from movement leaders, lawyers and affected people. The Dongria will be organising to ensure that their voice is properly heard and their mountain saved. A number of actions are expected.

On 7th June a delegation of Dongria Kond men and women will meet with the Odisha Governor SC Jamir, demanding that all affected villages are consulted in the upcoming gram sabhas which will decide whether the mine will be allowed, rather than the twelve least populated villages currently selected2. This will echo the call of the Minister of Tribal Affairs - V Kishore Chandra Deo - in his recent letter to the Governor3.

Hundreds of individual and community claims are expected to be filed by the Dongria and Kutia Kond, asserting that the mine would destroy the home of their God - Niyamraja, who resides in the mountain. We will be sending regular press releases and can provide case studies, photos and footage from key actions. Please do get in touch for any updates or press requests and we'll be pleased to assist wherever possible.

Politics of Violence and Counter Violence will only Maim Adivasis

Maoists troop

NAPM Condemns the Ambush by Maoists in Bastar, Increased Militarisation in the Region would be no Solution

New Delhi : Once again in the ongoing politics of offensive and counter offensive between State and Maoists, adivasis have lost their lives. In an ambush on the convoy carrying Congress leaders, Maoists have reportedly killed 27 people and injured several others including senior Congress leader, V C Shukla. On the intervening night of May 17-18 too eight villagers, including three children, and a personnel of elite CRPF Cobra battalion were killed in a gun-battle near Edasmeta village in southern Chhattisgarh too. Adivasis caught in the armed conflict have been the worst victim of this war of control over resources, territory and sovereignty. That this happened during the Parivartan Yatra, a programme of the Congress Party to reach out to the people, is indeed unfortunate.

National Alliance of People's Movements condemns this ambush leading to loss of precious lives. Life of those in power and leadership are important and so are the lives of common adivasis who are being tortured, jailed and killed by Security forces and Maoists alike. In the ongoing conflict both claim to represent the interests and work for Adivasis but their stance and means has only alienated them and perpetrated injustice on them. Their rights have often been violated resulting in large number of adivasis in jail on false trumped up charges. In the same Durma valley where the attack by Maoists have killed Congress leaders, state administration violated all the existing laws and procedures to facilitate land grab for Tata Steel.

Salwa Judum, an armed Sena of the young and adolescents worsened the scenario. It has been termed as illegal and directed to be disbanded by Supreme Court, but State government responded by making them part of the regular police. Even, as Salwa Judum burnt houses, raped women, maimed and killed adivasis, the State supported it and failed to provide justice to adivasis and continued to brand them as Maoists and their supporters. A democratically elected government in Chattisgarh or at the Centre can't use the dictum of ‘you are with us or against us’. Its allegiance is to the rule of law and its duty is to protect the rights of its citizens.

Even while, politicians across the political spectrum are terming this as an attack on democracy, let us not forget that every time an adivasi is jailed, killed, their houses burnt, women raped and their schools occupied to facilitate resource grab or termed as collateral damage in the 'Operation Green Hunt', democracy is attacked and the faith of citizens in the State's ability to uphold justice and rule of law, shaken. Violence on both sides is condemnable and should be avoided forever.

We fear that this latest ambush will now be used by the state to justify further militarisation in the region and make lives of Adivasis more difficult. There is an urgent need for political intervention and dialogue. The guns of State or Maoists, will not solve the problem. Politics of violence and counter violence will only make lives of adivasis and others in the region more difficult, which will ultimately have an impact on the democratic norms and freedom of citizens elsewhere in the country, as seen in shrinking spaces for non-violent, democratic movements and arrest of activists. Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and many others are braving brutality as a result of the war promoted by the state and Maoists, both. Mahendra Karma, openly supported Salwa Judum, a violent outfit and the same violence has killed him. This is tragic, yet a telling fact.

The swiftness with which the centre has promised all help in this regard and dispatched a large number of security forces, if the same urgency was shown for providing justice to the victims of Salwa Judum in all these years, Indian state would have won a bigger political battle by now. Awards, compensation and martyrdom will be bestowed on those killed by Maoists but Adivasis victims of this collateral damage and those languishing in jail need justice too. There is an urgent need to address that otherwise situation will only deteriorate. We demand that political dialogue in all sincerity be initiated to arrive at a political solution rather than increased militarisation.

Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Dr. Sunilam, Arundhati Dhuru, Gabriele Dietrich, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Ramakrishnan Raju, Sister Celia, Maj. Gen (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Vimal Bhai, Krishnakant, Rajendra Ravi, Meera, Seela M, Madhuresh Kumar.


Dalit women in India

On May 12, five women working as human rights defenders were physically and verbally assaulted by a powerful man. The women were part of Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK) were inaugurating an adult literacy centre for Dalit women in the village when they were assaulted.

SSK and Nirantar have been working in Lalitpur since 2002, for the empowerment of Dalit and Adivasi women and girls through literacy and educational interventions. SSK is the only women-headed organization in the district, staffed primarily of Dalit and BC women in Lalitpur, working with nearly 3000 Dalit and Adivasi women. In the last ten years, SSK and Nirantar have worked towards equality on the basis of gender and caste by addressing issues of gender-based violence. By empowering and skilling rural women, SSK has also worked on monitoring the implementation of government schemes and programmes for the rural poor, such as MNREGA and RTE. An important aspect of SSK and Nirantar's work is the running of Adult Literacy Centres in the villages of Lalitpur.

On May 12, 2013, one such literacy centre for Dalit women was being inaugurated by the SSK team in Digwara village of Madawara block. About 30 Dalit women had gathered for the inauguration ceremony. While the SSK team was singing songs and gathering the women, Sahib Singh Yadav, a powerful man, physically and verbally assaulted 5 staff members (Meena, Kusum, Gyasi, Nirmla and Urmila) of SSK. The man did not want SSK to work with Dalit women in this village and in order to stop them from inaugurating the centre; he attacked them with a lathi. Two of the SSK team members have sustained serious head and body injuries. One of them even has received 7 stitches on her forehead. Two of the survivors are from the Dalit community and two from the OBC community.

Sahib Singh used caste-based abuses like 'chamarni', 'basorni' and sexually explicit language to humiliate and frighten the women activists. He also threatened them, saying he would kill them if they ever came back to the area. The villagers were also threatened with dire consequences if they gave any statement against him.

The FIR and a Medical Report in this case has been filed. However, the sections under which the case has been registered (IPC 323/ 504/506, including the SC/ST Act) are very weak. 3 days later, Sahib Singh Yadav is still on the run.

This is not the first time such an incident has occurred with the SSK field staff. Last year, Sandhya Ahirwar, a Dalit SSK field activist, was physically and verbally assaulted in Madawara by two men from the dominant caste. A complaint was registered, but she was pressured into withdrawing the complaint.

This incident shows that human rights defenders, particularly Dalit and Adivasi women, are vulnerable to caste-based and gender-based violence. Also, this is a serious violation of the constitutional commitment to equality and freedom given that the women have been attacked for working with the Dalit community. The incident also raises the issue of safety of women activists who fight for the rights of marginalized communities such as Dalit and Adivasis as they are challenging oppressive structures of patriarchy and caste.

We demand the following from the police and administration: o The FIR must be amended on the basis of the real life incident; it should record the grievous nature of injuries suffered and accordingly the FIR must be changed. o Immediate arrest of the Sahib Singh Yadav. o The SSK staff must be provided security by the local police. o Security must be provided to the Dalit basti of Digwara village as they are under serious threat.

>> Jan-Apr, 2013

>> Jul-Dec, 2012

>> Jan-Jun, 2012

>> Jul- Dec, 2011

>> Jan-Jun, 2011