ACTION ALERT TO DEMAND RELEASE OF XAVIER AMMAL, SELVI AND SUNDARI OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY
On 18 October, 2012, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court heard the bail appeals of 50 villagers from villages around Koodankulam. The court released 47 villagers, but denied bail to three women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari. The women have already spent nearly two months in jail, and given the High Court’s rejection, they are unlikely to return to their families anytime soon. . .unless, we can prevail on the Government to release them.
All 50 villagers had been arrested on the days following the September 10, 2012, police crackdown. Many of those arrested were not even part of the protests. Those who were part of the protests were unarmed and engaged in legitimate, non-violent demonstrations. Charges against them vary from illegal assembly to shouting obscene slogans, sedition and waging war against the state.
To: Kum Jayalalitha,
To: Ms Mamta Sharma
National Commission on Women
No. 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg
New Delhi-110 002.
Date: Nov 8 2012
We are writing to urge you to facilitate the speedy release of three courageous women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari — of Idinthakarai who are currently in the Trichy Women’s Prison. Their alleged crime was an act that most women would commit intuitively, namely acting to protect their families, their communities and their future generations. Xavier Amma, Selvi and Sundari are strong, though gentle, women who have worked hard to keep their families together by rolling beedis, and selling fish. When the occasion demanded, as it did with the impending commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors in the face of unanswered questions about its safety post-Fukushima, the women from villages around Koodankulam were galvanised into action. Among those thousands of women, these three have clearly stood out as leaders.
Following the September 10 police crackdown on the dharna by villagers opposed to nuclear energy, the police have arrested many villagers, including those who were in no way part of the protests. Across the board, the FIRs record that the villagers were armed with deadly weapons like “aruval (machetes), knives, sticks and crowbars.” Television footage of the September protests and police action bear testimony to the fact that the protestors were unarmed. Xavier Amma injured her hand after she ran and fell into the sea to escape the baton-wielding police. Both Selvi and Sundari have children that need taking care of. Selvi’s son is epileptic. It is indeed absurd that such women have been arbitrarily accused of sedition and waging war against the state. While releasing tens of others on bail at the same hearing of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, it is unclear as to why only these three have been denied bail.
We, the under-signed, are women from different walks of life who are very concerned at the increasing hostility of the various agencies of the State to democratic dissent, and the particular viciousness with which non-violent protests are being addressed. We are writing to urge you to kindly act to restore justice by releasing these three women so that they can join their families, and by facilitating the return of a sense of normalcy in the villages around Koodankulam.
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