Posts Tagged ‘Repeal AFSPA’

The Invisible 9/11: 56 Years of AFSPA in the North East

September 11, 2014

September 11, 2014, Guwahati, Assam

 We the civil society groups from the all the seven sister States of North East India, having assembled in Gawahati on this day the 11th of September 2014 under the auspices of Centre for Research and Advocacy, Human Rights Alert, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, WinG-India, North East Dialogue Forum, Borok People Human Rights Organisation, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, People’s Right to Information and Development Implementing Society of Mizoram and deliberated upon by eminent personalities of the region like Prof. Apurba Kr. Baruah, Advocate Bijon Mahajan, writer and social activist Kaka Iralu, Dr. Prasenjit Biswas,Professor of Philosophy, NEHU, Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director, Human Rights Alert, Anjuman Ara Begum, member, WinG-India and Prof. Akhil Ranjan Dutta among others on the various aspects of the imposition and continuance of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958;

RESOLUTION

 Noting that it was on the 11 September 1958 that the President of India signed the Act, and the same day 19/11 is observed as the anti-terrorism day, the struggle against state terrorism started on the same day for the inalienable civil, political and cultural rights of the peoples of Northeast India with the imposition of AFSPA 56 years ago;

Outraged by the horrendous stories of atrocities committed by the armed forces of the Union, including aerial bombing, forced grouping and re grouping of villages, burning down of villages, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and inhumane degrading treatment etc., under the impunity provided by the AFSPA.

Also outraged by the fact that rape and other forms of sexual violence has been used as an weapon of masculinise militarization under impunity provided by AFSPA.

Concerned that the AFSPA is increasingly used to gag and subvert the democratic voices against the unsustainable, predatory and anti-people mega dams and other development projects;

Deeply felt the need to liberate the upcoming generations from the inter-generational trauma inflicted by a militarized state of exception;

Encouraged by the fact that the various official Commissions and Committees set up by the Government of India has also unanimously recommend the repeal of AFSPA.

Having established that AFSPA violates the not only the international human rights standards but even the international humanitarian law India should uphold its international obligations to emerge as a major power on the world stage

  1. To take up intensive mobilization of the masses of NE to oppose this draconian law and the struggle against the draconian AFSPA by linking up with other peoples’ movements in the region.

 

  1. To constitute a NE platform for a broader coordination and coalition of various human rights groups, civil society groups, peoples’ movements at both regional as well as at all-India level by going beyond ethnic, tribal and community affiliations;

 

  1. Lobby with the MPs from NE region as well as other sympathetic parliamentarians to facilitate procedural and substantive actions to repeal AFPSA at the earliest.
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UN recommends repeal of AFSPA

June 4, 2012

The Working Group of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) on 30 May 2012 adopted the draft report on India’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Among their various recommendations, the 80 UN member states also recommended the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 (AFSPA).

UPR, a peer review process of human rights records of all UN member states, took place on May 24, 2012 in Geneva where India’s entire human rights record was examined thoroughly by other UN member states.

The government of India’s oral response during the UPR session was marked by a general lack of acceptance of human rights challenges in the country and a mere reiteration of domestic laws, policies and constitutional provisions. Eighty countries participated in India’s UPR and made a total of 169 recommendations on a whole range of critical human rights issues. Recommendations made to India include: prompt ratification of the UN convention against torture and the UN convention on enforced disappearances, repeal or review of the AFSPA, the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, comprehensive reforms to address sexual violence and all acts of violence against women, improve human rights training to police officers, abolishing death penalty, banning all forms of child labour, etc. India declined to comment on any of these 169 recommendations at the HRC review meet.

The government of India decided to examine all the recommendations back in the capital and respond to them prior to the plenary session of the HRC in Geneva in September 2012, when it will take a stand on recommendations. Miloon Kothari, convener of Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR), said: “We look forward to a constructive response from India as it formulates responses to the many useful suggestions that are contained in the document adopted by the UN on May 30, 2012. These responses from India should be formulated after thorough consultations with the Parliament, human rights institutions, civil society and independent institutions”.

The WGHR is a platform of human rights groups and individual experts working with the UN human rights mechanism form India. The group took active part in the UPR process with a separate stakeholders’ report on human rights situation India that was prepared through consultations with several human rights organisation and independent experts. The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee also participated in the process.

Constructive engagement elusive at India’s Second UPR at the UN

May 31, 2012

India dodged recommendation for repeal of AFSPA

New Delhi, May 29, 2012 – India’s human rights record was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) under the mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 24 May 2012 in Geneva. The review was marked by a general lack of acceptance of human rights challenges in the country and a mere reiteration of domestic laws, policies and Constitutional provisions by the Government of India (GoI). Regrettably, the answers of the government did not address critical issues related to gaps in implementation of laws and enjoyment of rights, with India’s Attorney General (who led the government delegation) stating in his opening address that, “India has the ability to self-correct”. According to Miloon Kothari, Convenor of the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR): “By employing a defensive and largely selfrighteous position at the HRC, GoI has, at least in its initial response at the HRC, once again lost the opportunity to constructively engage with the UN human rights system and in accepting the enormous human rights challenges it is faced with.”

Of the eighty countries which participated in India’s UPR – a peer-review process of the human rights record of all UN member states – many reiterated the recommendations made during India’s first UPR in 2008 to ratify the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention against Enforced Disappearances (CED). GoI accepted both recommendations four years ago but they have remained unfulfilled. On the question of torture, GoI referred to the Prevention of Torture Bill (PTB), which is pending before Parliament, without commenting on the non-compliance of the PTB with CAT’s definition of torture. WGHR regrets that GoI left many questions unanswered, including desisting from commenting on the ratification of CED.

WGHR is also disturbed thatIndiadodged the recommendations for repeal and review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by referring to the Supreme Court’s upholding of its constitutionality and by citing Army’s human rights cell as a redressal mechanism. Ms. Vrinda Grover, human rights lawyer and member of WGHR, expressed serious concerns at GoI’s misleading response to the HRC, which camouflaged the systematic impunity enjoyed by armed forces for human rights abuse in the Northeast of the country and Kashmir: “The refusal and reluctance of GoI to squarely address the issue of impunity under AFSPA, in spite of numerous recommendations by international bodies, government appointed committees and UN Special Rapporteurs is unacceptable in a country that proclaims to be the largest democracy in the world.”

Strong recommendations were made toIndiaon the need to impose a de jure moratorium on the death penalty. The government’s response, that simply cited its de facto policy of awarding death penalty in the ‘rarest of rare cases’, is also deeply unsatisfactory in light of statistics that show an increase in the number of death sentences awarded by the courts.

There were recurring concerns by many states on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion and belief, anti-conversion laws and targeting of religious minorities. Surprisingly, while GoI has initiated a Communal Violence Bill to address the issue of violence against religious minorities, it expressed uncertainty before the HRC for the need for such a law. The Indian government’s insistence at the international level that existing laws and judicial decisions are sufficient to deal with egregious violations such as torture and attacks on religious minorities is very disappointing, when new laws on these issues are being debated at the national level.

On the multiple recommendations it received on the need to ratify the Optional Protocol (complaint mechanism) to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), India once again stated that its domestic legal remedies were adequate to address gender-based discrimination. Many states also recommended withdrawal of GoI’s reservation to Article 16 of CEDAW – which guarantees non-discrimination in all matters relating to marriage and family life – and emphasized the need to enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. WGHR deeply regrets the fact that GoI did not engage substantially with recommendations made on issues relating to women, including maternal mortality, prenatal sex selection, infanticide, sexual and gender-based violence, political participation of women, sexual harassment at the workplace, early/child marriage, harmful traditional practices, honour crimes, and trafficking.

Sadly, GoI failed to use the UPR as an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to bridge the gap between the law and the grim statistics on various forms of gender-based violence. Its tendency to rely upon domestic law repeatedly to explain the multiple challenges to the attainment of gender equality is disquieting, especially when access to justice remains a barrier for many, and several domestic laws are inconsistent with the universal standards on sex equality.

WGHR, however, welcomes GoI’s positive shift on the issue of homosexuality, which was raised by many countries. The government affirmed its support of the High Court of Delhi judgment decriminalizing homosexuality and stated that it would take a sensitive view of the matter that has been appealed in the Supreme Court.

The human rights of children received significant attention at the HRC. States repeatedly raised issues related to child mortality, child labour, child sexual abuse and trafficking. Many governments stressed the need for a reduction of the excessively high rates of maternal and child mortality and urged the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals in that regard. It was also recommended thatIndiaratify the Third Optional Protocol (establishing a communications procedure) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A notable number of states also reiterated the need to ban all forms of child labour. The GoI stated that it was “fully conscious of issues pertaining to child labour” but that there was “no magic wand to address it”. This stand is oblivious to the fact that the legal scenario in the country has changed as being at school and not at work is now a fundamental right for all children from 6 to 14 backed by a powerful Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. The logical corollary of this change is for GoI to revisit its stand and amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

Given the scale of poverty and large-scale denial of socio-economic rights in India, the insufficient attention given to economic, social and cultural rights at the UPR – with the exception of health and education – was disturbing. WGHR hopes, however, that references by member states to the need for more attention to housing for low-income groups and reduction of slums; more focus on poverty alleviation; removal of rural and urban inequities; and improvement of access to water and sanitation, will be turned into recommendations by the HRC before the adoption of the outcome document on Wednesday 30 May, 2012

On the critical issue of the right to adequate and nutritious food, it is disturbing that GoI has dismissed the need to universalise the Public Distribution System, which operates on the basis of an unrealistic poverty line and excludes genuinely poor rural households due to targeting errors, corruption, inefficiency and discrimination in distribution. GoI has also failed to respond to concerns about the rights of peasants and farmers, the issue of unprecedented numbers of farmers’ suicides and the endemic malnourishment that still persists in the country, as recently acknowledged by the Prime Minister himself.

Overall, WGHR regrets that GoI desisted from responding to most of the substantial comments, questions and recommendations by states. According to Miloon Kothari: “It remains to be seen whether GoI will take a constructive view and accept the many recommendations it will receive from the Human Rights Council on 30 May and engage in a genuine dialogue, including cooperation, with the UN between the second and third UPR. The opportunity also still exists, prior to the final adoption ofIndia’s report in September 2012, for GoI to begin a process of serious consultations with civil society and independent actors – including human rights institutions – at home. It is only when such steps, consistent with a democratic mode of governance, are taken that the UN will be convinced that GoI is serious about fostering an atmosphere that will contribute to an improvement in the adverse human rights situation on the ground.” 

For more information, contact:

 Miloon Kothari, Convenor, Working Group on Human Rights inIndiaand the UN (WGHR) phone (Geneva): +41 792020679; email: miloon.kothari@gmail.com

 Vrinda Grover, Lawyer – phone: +91 9810806181; email: vrindagrover@gmail.com

 Madhu Mehra, Director, Partners for Law in Development (PLD) phone: +91 9810737686; email: programmes@pldindia.org

[The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN – a national coalition of fourteen human rights organizations and independent experts – works towards the realisation of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social human rights in India, and towards holding the Indian government accountable to its national and international human rights obligations. For information on WGHR, please visit: http://www.wghr.org]

See the original statement here.

People fast for repeal of AFSPA at Silchar, Assam

November 6, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement, November 02, 2011

People fast for repeal of AFSPA at Silchar, Assam

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Silchar, 6 November 2011: Hundreds of people gathered in front of the district headquarters at Silchar, Assam on 5 November, 2011 and demonstrated peacefully while observing symbolic fast for the day from 9am to 5pm in solidarity with the nationwide Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA campaign and to mark 11th year of epic fast by Irom Sharmila Chanu in demand of repeal of the draconian law called the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. The event was organized by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Human Rights Organisation, Cachar, (HRO). Apart from the members of some other social organizations such as Kishan Bikash Samiti, Banskandi, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam Majuri Shramik Union, COPE and others many lawyers, journalists, teachers, artists and cultural activists also participated.

Many community leaders, social workers, journalists, teachers and lawyers addressed the gathering and explained what is AFPSA, how it is affected our lives and why it needs to be immediately repealed. Every one who talked expressed his/her profound respect to Sharmila, her determination and sacrifice and urged the people to rally behind her until the bad law goes. Some of the speakers narrated some cases of indiscriminate killing, barbaric torture, inhuman treatment of the civilians by the members of the armed forces ofIndiain Barak valley, other parts of North East India andJammu and Kashmir.

Sadique Mohammed Laskar, joint secretary, BHRPC, opened the talk by welcoming the hunger strikers. He informed the gathering that this movemenr has become a worldwide phenomenon now and we are a part tat larger agitation against state repression and corporate loots. Womens rights activists and poet Snigdha Nath recited a Bengali version of the poem titled Imprisoned in Democracy by Musab Iqbal. Reputed lawyer and activist Mr. Imad Uddin Bulbul talked at length about the violence in North East, its reasons and particularly it impact on the day to day lives of common people. He also condemned violence by non-state actors. BHRPC secretary general Neharul Ahmed Mazumder discussed how the AFSPA takes away fundamental rights to life, liberty and human dignity enshrined in the constitution. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, a prominent human rights defender in North East India, talked about politics of the AFSPA and other draconian laws and said such laws and policies are based on racism and fascism. He also brought our the lack of legality in the law by showing procedural and substantial deficiencies in the AFSPA. M Shantikumar Shingh said that it is hopeful that the people of Barak valley joined the movement, it does not matter that they did it after 11 years. Thirthankar Chanda laws are actually used to repress the voices of activists who protest against corruption, exploitation and corporate loot of natural resources jeopardizing environment and livelihood of the masses. President of Cachar Human Rights Organisation Mr. Irabat Shingh showed how AFSPA is misused and abused by narrating many cases of human rights violations.

Others who addressed the gathering include reporter Dilip Shingh, convener of All Barak Students Association Baharul Islam Barbhuiya, publicity secretary of Assa Meira Paibi Organisation Meiragnloi Devi, secretary of the Silchar Press Club Mr. Shankar Dey, Monir Uddin Laskar, Herajit Shingh, Reba Nath, Bikash Das Purakayastha, Arup Baishya, Dipankar Chanda, Pijush Das, Dayanand Shingh, Lili Devi and others. Everybody urged they central government to repeal the AFSPA and other draconian laws and seek the political solutions for the political problems. They also unanimously wanted to make the movement stronger and more widespread. After the fast was broken BHRPC submitted a memorandum addressed to the prime minister of Indiaurging him repeal the AFSPA.

For more information contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Mobile: 09401942234

Email: wali.laskar@gmail.com

Rongpur Part IV, Silchar-9

Assam, India.

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

Fasting Against AFSPA at Silchar on 5 Nov. 2011

BHRPC to observe fasting and demonstration for repeal of AFSPA

November 2, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement, October 02, 2011

 

BHRPC to observe fasting and demonstration for repeal of AFSPA

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a voluntary organization for human rights working in Assam, in co-operation with Cachar Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) is organizing a one day symbolic fast and demonstration from 9am to 5pm on 5 November, 2011 in front of the district head quarters at Silchar (Assam, India) in demand of repeal of the draconian law called the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in solidarity with the nationwide campaign of Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA to mark the 11th year of epic fast of iconic human rights defender and poet-journalist Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur.

The AFSPA is a piece of colonial legislation which gives the armed forces of India unfettered power: (i) to use lethal force even to the causing of death on civilians on mere suspicion that they may cause breach of any law or order, (ii) to search any dwelling places by breaking them on mere suspicion without warrant and (ii) to arrest people without warrant and to keep them in custody for unspecified time and the Act also bars the judiciary to question any acts of the armed forces operating under the Act in areas declared disturbed under the Act. The Act is in force in parts of North East includingAssam for more than five decades and a version of the Act inJammu and Kashmir for more than two decades. The Act violates the spirit and values of the Constitution of India, universally accepted human rights standards and democratic norms. Government appointed committees including the one chaired by Justice Jeevan Reddy also found the Act undesirable and unambiguously recommended for its repeal.

Actions taken under the Act caused hundreds of extra-judicial killings, rapes, torture, enforced disappearances putting the people living in the AFSPA affected area under terror, affecting normal governance and defeating democracy. Civil society groups across North East and from the other parts of the country advocating and agitating for repeal of the Act. The most emblematic protest has been carrying out by Irom Sharmila who has been on hunger strike since 5 November, 2000 in demand of the repeal of the Act. She is continuously arrested and re-arrested on charges attempt to commit suicide and forcibly fed through a nasal tube by the prison wardens.

BHRPC urges the people of the region to participate in the symbolic fast and demonstration of 5 November, 2011 in solidarity with Irom Sharmila and Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA campaign in demand of repeal of the Act and investigation of human rights violation allegations.

For more information contact:

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

M: 09401942234,

Email: wali.laskar@gmail.com

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Rongpur Part IV, Silchar-9,

Assam, India

BHRPC condemns attack on anti-AFSPA campaigners

October 20, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BHRPC Statement, October 20, 2011

 

BHRPC condemns attack on anti-AFSPA campaigners

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) is shocked at the reports of attack on the campaigners against the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and strongly condemns the incident and the anti-democratic fascist mindset displayed by the attackers on the peaceful protestors.

It is reported that when a large number of students mainly from the North East Indian states joined the Save Sharmila Solidarity Group at the north campus of Delhi University as a part of the Srinagar-to-Imphal Yatra demanding repeal of the AFSPA miscreants created nuisance at the rally pelting stones and tomatoes. Several students sustained injuries due to stone pelting.

It is also alleged that in spite of information provided, theDelhipolice arrived late in the scene and did not make any arrest of the alleged attackers but instead denied permission to hold the peaceful rally any further.

It is to be mentioned that the 4,500 km longSrinagar-to-ImphalYatra is being carried out to make common people aware of the draconian, anti-democratic and anti-human rights provisions of AFSPA applicable in the North Eastern states andJammu and Kashmir. The rally is being joined by several social activists of national fame such as Medha Patkar, Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance of People’s Movement leader Faisal Khan, Irom Sharmila’s brother Irom Singhajit and Parveena Ahangar of the Association of Disappeared Persons.

BHRPC believes that the attack is a blatant violation of, and an assault on, the basic fundamental rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly committed with tacit support of the police. The incident displays the discriminatory attitude, anti-democratic and fascist mindset of the authorities and a section of the people towards the North Eastern people. The AFSPA is the legislative embodiment of that attitude and mindset. Both the attitude and mindset, and the statute is dangerous for democracy, rule of law and human rights inIndia. They do not have a legitimate place in a democraticIndia.

BHRPC urges the authorities to take appropriate actions under the law against the alleged attackers and make arrangements for the protection of the human rights defenders campaigning against the AFSPA.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)

Guwahati,Assam

20 October 2011

BHRPC Hails PM’s Statement on Human Rights, Urges for Repeal of AFSPA

May 29, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BHRPC Press Release, May 24, 2010

BHRPC Hails PM’s Statement on Human Rights, Urges for Repeal of AFSPA

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) welcomes the statement of Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, at his national press conference today in New Delhi to the effect that his government has a policy of ‘zero tolerance towards human rights violation.’ The statement, according to the Committee, is quite significant since it conveys the commitment of the Indian State to its international obligations under various human rights instruments to which the State is a party or signatory.

Nevertheless, the Committee observes, the message needs to percolate down into the mind and deeds of officers and bureaucrats who are entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of the policies of the government and laws of the land. India is a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Organisation and demands rightly to be a permanent member of the Security Council.

BHRPC also appreciates the move of the United Progressive Alliance Government for introducing a bill on the prevention of tortures in the last session of the Parliament and measures taken for ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment. However, the Committee expresses its reservation on some clauses of the said bill and this has been conveyed to the Prime Minister and urged upon him to send the bill to a Joint Parliamentary Committee and have consultations with the civil society and the public. The Committee has also appealed to the Prime Minister to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, which is responsible for many human rights violations in Northeast and counter productive as is evident from the report of Justice Reddy Committee and numerous cases documented by many human rights organizations of international credentials.

Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General

Silchar

Published in the Sentinel, Assam and can be accessed on

URL: http://www.sentinelassam.com/cachar/story.php?sec=2&subsec=12&id=37136&dtP=2010-05-26&ppr=1#37136

Get the statement in pdf