#India- continuous attack on Human Rights Defenders , MASUM activists targetted


 

18 April 2013

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New delhi-110001

Respected Sir,

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders reiterates that States have a prime responsibility to promote, protect, and implement human rights and fundamental freedoms. To this end, State has responsibility to take all necessary measures, including adopting legal guarantees, to ensure that everyone can enjoy these rights in practice, individually and in association with others. In addition to this general obligation to promote and protect human rights; State should take all necessary steps to ensure that the particular rights and freedoms of human rights defenders are effectively guaranteed further and their activities get encouraged. I am referring here an incident where police; an active arm of the state not only violated this well accepted premise of protection of human rights of a defender but infringed fundamental freedom of a human rights defender. This is not an isolated incident, rather the local police- administration- BSF- anti- socials of the area are continuously trying to create hurdles to the activities on protection and promotion of human rights. In this regard I have made complaints to you whenever such attacks were perpetrated on our activists, but till date no visible actions have been taken, which in other hand encouraged the errant. Recently, I had a discussion with the officials over the issue at your office.

 

I want to draw your kind attention regarding the false implication, illegal detention and physical torture committed upon Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh and Mr. Safikul Islam by the police personnel of Raninagar police station, Murshidabad. Both of them are working as a Human Rights Defenders and attached with our organization i.e. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) in Murshidabad district for a long time.

 

On the date of the incident they went to Raninagar police station along with Ms. Kanchan Bibi who happens to be a victim of physical torture at her in- laws house and they wanted to lodge a complaint in this regard. But the perpetrator police personnel did not agree to register the complaint. The victims were brutally assaulted by the police personnel of Raninagar Police Station while they requested them to register the complaint. After that the victim Mr. Safikul Islam was falsely implicated, illegally detained and brutally tortured in the police station by the perpetrator police personnel while they came to know that the victim is a Human Rights Defender and attached with our organization.

 

Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh lodged a written complaint before the District Magistrate, Murshidabad and the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad informing the whole incident of brutal torture and humiliation committed upon him in the hands of the perpetrator police personnel of Raninagar Police Station; he also stated on that application regarding the matter of illegal detention, false implication and brutal torture committed upon Mr. Safikul Islam by the police personnel of Raninagar Police Station. But till date no action has been taken by the higher authorities.

 

It is important here to mention that it is not the solitary incident that the human rights activists like Mr. Safikul Islam who is attached with our organization has been implicated in a false and concocted criminal case by the police in the district. Recently Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma who is a noted human right activist and attached with our organization was also implicated in false criminal cases initiated by police. It is to be noted that our organization with active participation and work of the human rights activists attached with our organization brought numerous incidents of human rights violations cases in the district-Murshidabad to the notice of the Commission and the Commission intervened into those cases.

 

It is clear that the human rights activists attached with our organization are under attack in the hands of the police as police and the administration want to throttle the voice of the victims of torture and on human rights violations which are raised through the human rights activists. The higher authorities of police and administration know such conspiracy of police against the human rights activists working in the district as several complaints have been lodged before them informing them on the incidents of attack upon the human rights activists by the police but they are sitting silent on the matter.

 

Hence we seek your urgent intervention regarding the following matters: –

·       The whole investigation should be investigated by the Commission’s own investigating agency.

·       The concerned authorities in the district-Murshidabad must be directed to immediately stop harassment and attack upon the human rights activists working in the district and give them proper protection.

·       Mr. Safikul Islam should be released from all false charges immediately and the perpetrator police personnel of Raninagar police station must be booked under the law immediately for their unlawful acts and must be prosecuted under the criminal law.

·       The victims must be given adequate compensation and protection,so that they do not come under threat or inducement.

Thanking You

Yours truly

 

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

&

National Convener, PACTI

 

 

Name of the victims: – 1) Mr. Safikul Islam, son of- Mr. Majibur Raheman, by faith- Muslim, residing at Village- Char- Shibnagar, Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad, West Bengal. 2) Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh, son of- Mr. Panjatan Seikh, by faith- Muslim residing at Village- Khedurpara, Post Office- Harudanga, Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad, West Bengal.

 

Name of the perpetrators: – 1) Mr. Swarup Biswas (Sub-Inspector of Raninagar Police Station), 2) Mr. Ajay Paul (Sub-Inspector of Raninagar Police Station), 3) Mr. Anil Biswas (Sub-Inspector of Raninagar Police Station) 4) Mr. Abdul Kalam (Home Guard of Raninagar Police Station) of Raninagar Police Station, Murshidabad, West Bengal.

 

Date and time of incident: – On 28.03.2013 at about 6 pm.

 

Place of occurrence: – Inside Raninagar Police Station under Domkal Sub-Division, District- Murshidabad, West Bengal.

 

Case details: –

 

It is revealed during fact finding that Ms. Kanchan Bibi, the sister of the victim named Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh, spent her married life for two years and from the very beginning of her marriage her husband and other members of her in law’s house started to demand money from her paternal house. This situation became more serious when they did not get money from her paternal house and they started to torture her for that reasons.

 

On 25.03.2013 at 2.30 pm Mrs. Kanchan Bibi, was brutally assaulted by her husband namely Mr. Sentu Seikh, Ms. Sabiya Bewa (mother-in-law of Ms. Kanchan Bibi), Mr. Akkassh Seikh (brother-in-law of Mrs. Kanchan Bibi), Mrs. Beauty Bibi (sister-in-law of Ms. Kanchan Bibi) and Mr. Jamrul Seikh (son of Mr. Akkash Seikh and Ms. Beauty Bibi). They forcibly hit Mrs. Kanchan Bibi with some heavy weapon on her head. They wanted to try to kill her when they realized that they would not get money from her paternal house. She shouted after receiving brutal torture by them and she had to lay down on the floor with severe pain. The neighbors of Ms. Kanchan Bibi rashly came to her in law’s house to rescue her from the hands of the members of her in laws house. After that she was taken to the house of Mr. Jahadi by her neighbors and she got primary medical treatment in his house. After that the neighbors of Ms. Kanchan Bibi informed her father named Mr. Panjatan Seikh about the whole incident committed upon her by the members of her in law’s house and later the victim named Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh took his sister to his house and she was also medically treated in Raninagar Hospital after that.

 

On 28.03.2013 at 4 pm, the victim Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh and Mr. Safikul Islam who known as social activists in the locality went to Raninagar police station along with his sister Ms. Kanchan Bibi to lodge a written complaint regarding the brutal torture committed upon his sister by her husband and other members of her in law’s house. But they waited in the police station for over 2 hours but the police personal showed no mood to lodge a complaint. After that the victims along with Ms. Kanchan Bibi requested Mr. Swarup Biswas, the Sub-Inspector of Police of the said police station, to lodge a complaint after spending 2 hours over there but he started to harass them by saying that they could not lodge a complaint on the basis of that written application as they did not mention proper details to make the application as complaint. After that the victims and Mrs. Kanchan Bibi tried to convince the perpetrator police personal and told that they could show all documents which he wanted to register a complaint. Then the perpetrator police personal ordered the victims to furnish the certificate in connection with the marriage of Ms. Kanchan Bibi. But even after furnishing documents, the perpetrator police personal refused to lodge a complaint. The perpetrator police personal told them to change the complaint as per their demand and if they could to do that then he could lodge complaint on basis of that. After that the victims told the perpetrator police personal that they have sufficient document to lodge a complaint but the perpetrator police personal did not agree with them. The victims after that request the police personal to return the application on which basis they tried to lodge a complaint against the members of Ms. Kanchan Bibi‘s in law’s house. But the perpetrator police personal did not agree to return the complaint to them. Later the victim Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh tried to protest against such illicit behavior of police upon them and told that he did not know the reasons about such harassment upon his sister by the perpetrator police personal after knowing that his sister was going on severe pain due to the brutal torture committed upon her by the members of her in law’s house. The perpetrator police personal started to use abusive words to them and ordered Mr. Abdul Kalam to drive out the victims from the police station. Mean while the victim Mr. Safikul Islam prevented Mr. Abdul Kalam and requested him not to do that to him while the perpetrator police personal caught hold the victim Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh’s neck and drove out from the police station. After that the perpetrator police personnel outburst with anger and started to brutally assault the victims i.e. Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh and Mr. Safikul Islam by saying that they would teach him a proper lesson to them so that they could not able to do work with MASUM (Banglar Manabadikar Suraksha Mancha- A Human Rights Activist Organization) again and also stated that they would teach all of them who have an involvement withMASUM (Banglar Manabadikar Suraksha Mancha- A Human Rights Activist Organization). After that the victims were forcibly driven out by the perpetrator police personnel from the said police station after they got brutal physical torture and humiliation by the perpetrator police personnel. Mean while Mrs. Mamta Begam (informer of police personnel) and Mr. Amzad Husen (informer of police personnel) suddenly came to the said police station while the victims were moving out from the said police station towards their house. They provoked the perpetrator police personnel mentioning Mr. Safikul Islam and told that the victim has connection with every commotions throughout whole Char Area as well as he wanted to spread terror throughout the whole Char Area by using the name ofMASUM (Banglar Manabadikar Suraksha Mancha- A Human Rights Activist Organization) and they also said that the victim has an involvement with those persons who always tried to make conspiracy against the police personnel. The victim always intimated the people at Char Area against the government. Mr. Anil Biswas and other perpetrator police personnel namely Mr. Abdul Kalam and Mr. Ajay Paul rashly run towards the victims after listening to all this from their informers. They caught the victim Mr. Safikul Islam’s shirt from behind. He was brutally assaulted by the perpetrator police personnel of Raninagar police station while the perpetrator police personnel started to forcibly drag him to the same police station and illegally detained him in the same police lock up without giving him any explanation regarding the illegal detention after that. He was illegally detained in the police lock up of Raninagar police station for several hours. After that the perpetrator police personal Mr. Abdul Kalam took the victim to Ghodhonpara Health Centre for medical treatment and the victim got preliminary medical treatment in the said Health Centre by Dr. Tanmay Sarkar. After that the perpetrator police personal Mr. Swarup Biswas willfully influenced Dr. Rama Prasad Majumder (Medical Health officer of Ghodhonpara Health Centre) and requested him not to furnish those type of prescription which proved that the victim was tortured by them and also requested him to admit Mr. Abdul Kalam to his health centre so that they could prove that Mr. Abdul Kalam was brutally tortured in the hands of the victim and they could falsely implicate the victim in a criminal charge.  After that Mr. Abul Kalam lodged a written complaint before the Officer-In-Charge of Raninagar Police Station informing that the victim came to Raninagar police station to lodge a complaint regarding the torture committed upon Ms. Kanchan Bibi and mean while suddenly a controversy was started between the victim and Mr. Abdul Kalam regarding that matter. After that suddenly the victim started to assault him without any reasons. He was seriously injured by the assault. After that a First Information Report was lodged on the basis of that complainy by the perpetrator police personnel and the victim was implicated vide Raninagar Police Station Case No- 212/2013 dated 28.03.2013 under sections 186/353/333/307 of Indian Penal Code. On 29.03.2013, the victim named Mr. Safikul Islam was produced before in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lalbagh but the court rejected his bail application.

 

On the same day, another victim named Mr. Mahiruddin Seikh was medically treated by Dr. Nishir Kumar Sarkar. On 01.04.2013, he lodged a written complaint before the District Magistrate, Murshidabad and the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad informing the whole incident of brutal torture and humiliation committed upon him in the hands of the perpetrator police personnel of Raninagar Police Station as well as he also stated on that application regarding the matter of illegal detention, false implication and brutal torture committed upon Mr. Safikul Islam by the perpetrator police personnel of Raninagar Police Station. But till date no action has been taken by the higher authorities.  On 06.04.2013, the victim Mr. Safikul Islam was produced in the court again and the court released the victim on the basis of allowing his bail application.

Inline images 1

Safikul, HRD attached to MASUM 

Inline images 2

Inline images 3

COMPLAINT SUBMITTED TO SP ON 8.4.2013

 

 

UN: a resounding call for Human Rights based governance post-2015


 

Just Governance: A critical cornerstone for an equitable and human rights-centered sustainable development agenda post-2015,  Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015 Development Framework, Feb 2013

 

[excerpts from the executive summary]

 

Just governance is defined by six key, mutually reinforcing dimensions, each with their associated implications for the post-2015 sustainable development framework. To be truly

just, governance at all levels must be: 1) human rights-centred, 2) participatory, 3) transparent, 4) equitable, 5) guaranteeing of access to justice, rule of law and the fight against corruption, and finally 6) accountable.

 

Just governance in this sense is not a matter of external imposition, but an indispensable precondition for ensuring that the equal rights of all people and the sustainability of the planet effectively guide all policy making.

 

Impelling decision-makers to be more responsive, providing information about their decisions and actions, and making them ultimately answerable is key.

 

Governance in practice is often coloured by unequal relations of power.

 

Human rights and environmental standards, can help balance inequities and provide a common language and standard by which to hold all actors accountable.

 

The new post-2015 framework must be universally applicable in rich and poor countries alike and must remain at the service of and owned by poor people themselves.

 

Fulfillment of all human rights is both the purpose and the ultimate litmus test of success for the post-2015 agenda.

Duties will have to be clearly attributed primarily to governments, but also to the private sector.

 

Well informed people will need to meaningfully participate in all stages of the legal reform, of budget making, of fiscal, tax and development policy cycles.

 

The ability to consistently monitor and review the conduct of development actors against established responsibilities is an essential prerequisite for just and accountable governance (i.e., monitoring of both of outcomes and of policy processes – and both of progress and of backsliding!)

 

Tax justice between and within countries will also need to be closely monitored.

 

A clear and unequivocal accord regarding who is responsible for what post-2015 commitments will be indispensable.

 

Without progress on just governance, there is a serious risk of predisposition to failure in all other areas, with a mirage of success belying the absence a truly transformative sustainable development agenda.

 

(see: http://cesr.org/downloads/Beyond%202015_Governance_position_paper.pdf )

 

 

International Women’s day- We are One Woman: A Song #Video #Womensday


From China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia, acclaimed singers and musicians, women and men, have come together to spread a message of unity and solidarity: We are “One Woman“.

Launching on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, the song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality. “One Woman” was written for UN Women, the global champion for women and girls worldwide, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women’s lives around the world.

This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women. As commemorations are underway in all corners of the globe, “One Woman” reminds us that together, we can overcome violence and discrimination: “We Shall Shine!” Join us to help spread the word and enjoy this musical celebration of women worldwide.

 

#India Tribal undertrials cry injustice, go on hunger strike #protest


DNA, Mumbai- Yogesh Pawar- Dec 16, 2012

Around 50 adivasis of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur central prison as political prisoners have commenced a hunger strike from December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.

For the past two years, these undertrials have been protesting the failure of the judicial process and the high-handedness of the local district police. These tribals have not even been presented in court for as many as 23 months. Many have expressed shock and surprise that this is happening to people from a district which has home minister RR Patil himself as guardian minister.

Several of these adivasis have been repeatedly re-arrested after courts threw out earlier cases against them. “We have not even been able to come out of prison and even go home before the police arrest us again. Some of us have been in prison for nearly six years now,” says a handwritten letter written by one of the inmates, circulated by their lawyer Surendra Gadling. He told DNA: “When they find that many of the cases are being thrown out by courts, they simply stop presenting them.”

As expected, RR Patil says that these are “exaggerated” and “isolated cases”. “Our government is committed to justice.” Incidentally Patil’s assurances must leave many with a feeling of deja vu. In April 2011, replying to a question raised by MLC Shoba Fadnavis, Patil had promised the Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under Naxalism charges in Gadchiroli. “Its been 21 months since,” Fadnavis says. “If the government was serious about this, there would be at least some movement. In stead, more and more injustices are being heaped on the hapless tribals. This is a recipe for disaster as the state governement is going on alienating its own people.”

Fadnavis’ words ring true when one looks at the case of one and half-year-old Azad Kalmati, who was born in Amravati prison after his mother was arrested when she has been pregnant for five months. He has lived in prison with his mother while his father Rajesh Kalmati, despite numerous pleas to the authorities, has been kept in Nagpur prison. Incidentally, the local court threw out the case made out against the couple on September 23, 2012.

“Just when we were hoping that we will be reunited as a family, the police have filed a new case under the Arms Act against us,” complains Rajesh in another letter written from prison. Gadling says he is shocked at the callousness with which the police are disregarding even Supreme Court guidelines on not handcuffing under-trials.
The new prison, constructed over 17.5 hectares at a cost of Rs14 crore two years ago, is in shambles, with most of the doors windows and fixtures including electrical and sanitary parts worth over Rs20 lakh stolen.

 

ARTICLE URLhttp://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_tribal-undertrials-cry-injustice-go-on-hunger-strike_1778012

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Eleven tribal women political prisoners observe hunger strike #protest


IN ORDER THAT THE DEAF GOVERNMENT HEAR, 11 TRIBAL WOMEN PRISONERS OBSERVE A DAY OF HUNGER STIKE!*

 

On 13th December 2012, eleven tribal women political prisoners will be observing a one day hunger strike for the implementation of various demands including the central demand that the Gadchiroli district prison be opened despite over two years since its completed construction.

The series of atrocities by the Maharashtra government goes unabated, without any rectification despite numerous democratic protests and hunger stikes. Hence, during the winter session of the State legislative at Nagpur we are observing a one day long hunger strike for the deaf government to hear.

In the press note issued by the tribal women political prisoners they have made their position clear. It has been over two years since the construction of the Gadchiroli district prison and news of its opening within a few months has been published in the newspapers. The post of Guardian Minister of our Gadchiroli district is with Hon’ble Shri. R. R. Patil and affairs related to the prison are also handled by his (home) departed. Nevertheless there has been a failure to start functioning of the Gadchiroli prison despite over two years having lapsed. The newspapers have also carried news that materials worth almost Rs. 40 lacs have been stolen from the premises. If not the government, this question is of great value for us because by imprisoning us at Nagpur and other prisons our relations with our families and lawyers have been totally cut off. Besides, our constitutional right to be produced before the court during trial has been violated since the last 23 months causing us severe mental disturbance. We urge our guardian minister R. R. Patil to consider this grave situation and declare the Gadchiroli prison be opened within a fixed time.

On 1st April 2012, while replying to a question raised by Shobhatai Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party, State Home minister R. R. Patil informed the Legislative Council that the government has decided to investigate the cases of tribal youth imprisoned at the Nagpur prison. However it has been over a year and a half without any action in this regard. It would mean that the home minister made this empty promise only to silence the opposition. The arrests of innocents, like us has begun under his patronage ever since he has become the gadchiroli district guardian minister. On one hand, he has declared that he will not tolerate injustice on innocents to gather the sympathy of tribals and on the other; a cruel repression is being unleashed against the tribals. We call upon him to end this mockery and declare in this legislative session whether a commission for investigation has been appointed as promised.

Likewise since January 2011, the production of the Gadchiroli undertrials before the session’s court has come to a complete halt. There had been an attempt to conduct trials through video conferencing. However due to regular technical problems it never functioned smoothly. And now since March 2012, this mechanism too has come to an end. It is the total violation of the constitutional right of an undertrial not to be produced before the trial court. Our demands are not excessive. We merely demand that the government fulfill its minimum obligations of producing us before the court and that our endless trials be conducted speedily. The Union minister Jairam Ramesh has declared the central government has decided to conduct trials of tribals by setting up fast track courts. R. R. Patil too caught to and upheld this declaration. However rather than making new declarations the Maharashtra government ought to try to ensure the regular and speedy functioning of existing courts, so as to clear obstacles of us approaching them.

The practice of re-arresting persons acquitted after a prolonged legal battle has become the rule. The police do not show the intelligence to arrest the person in a new case when in prison or when in police custody. However after the person is acquitted and released, the police have the ‘wisdom’ to re-arrest the person at the gate. The police by dutifully doing this to inflate the number of arrests without any consideration of the violations of the prisoners human rights. This practice of re-arrest is shameful for a ‘democratic’ government. Hence we call upon the home minister to immediately put and end to this practice of re-arrest.

The home minister very well knows that all the charges leveled on us are false. Hence the government has employed a policy to conduct trials at snails pace, totally end the production of undertrials in court and the practice of re-arrest- all steps undertaken to make us rot in prison for maximum possible time. To keep illiterate and poor tribal youth away from justice and to see to it that they only get delayed justice is a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed human rights. Hence we take this opportunity to humbly appeal to all democratic and justice loving people and the peoples’ representatives to raise their voices in our support.

Yours faithfully,

Undertrial prisoners,

Saguna Pungati (Raji Reddy)- sd/-

Sunanda Bhovate- sd/-

Date: 8.12.12

Place: Nagpur Central Prison, Nagpur.

 

* This is a rough translation of the press note sent by the prisoners in marathi.

 

Press Release- Serial Hunger strike by 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison. #Humanrightsday


( ABOVE IS THE POSTER MADE BY INMATES

Around 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison as political prisoners have commenced a serial hunger strike from 10thDecember, International Human Rights Day to 21st December 2012 

These tribal prisoners have consistently protested since the last 2 years against the failure of the judicial process and high handedness of the local district police. It is not a coincidence that Shri. R.R. Patil, the State home Minister is also the guardian minister of Gadchiroli district and all such violations of Human Rights are happening under his very own patronage. In April 2011, Shri. Patil while replying to a question raised by Ms. Shobatai Fadnavis had promised the State Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under charges of naxalism in Gadchiroli. However, there has been no intent to fulfill this promise in the past 21 months.

Along with this demand the protesting tribals have also raised the following grievances:

  1. The practice of the Gadchiroli police to re-arrest tribals immediately after their release from prison still continues (See attachment No.2). Despite numerous petitions from prisoners and civil rights organizations this violation of Human rights goes on unabated.
  2. Inability of the State administration to inaugurate the Gadchiroli prison (See attachment No.3). Although this prison has been completed since the past 2 years, the government has still not started it. Hence tribals of Gadchiroli are incarcerated in the prisons of Nagpur, Amravati and Chandrapur– prisons which are more than 150 to 300 kms from the trial courts. Resultantly, these tribals are not being produced before the trial courts for the past 23 months. This distance has also caused their family links to be severed.
  3. The practice of handcuffing undertrials on their way to court also still continues, despite the Supreme Court directives against its use (See attachment No.4). Recently, due to this illegal practice four undertrials were severely injured in a road accident. However the responsible police officials are yet to be punished.
  4. A two year old boy born in prison to a tribal couple has been compelled to be separated from his father. While father was transferred to Nagpur prison, his mother remains at Amravati prison despite numerous requests pending in the trial court and jail authorities (See attachment No.5).
  5. The atrocities of the district police and especially the notorious anti-naxal C-60 commandoes go on unimpeded. A undertrial, Ramesh Naitam seeks justice in the custodial death case of his mother (See attachment No.6).

The protesting tribals have requested the State legislative bodies in session at Nagpur to look into the above issues on the occasion of International Human rights day.

On behalf of the protesting tribals,

Adv. Surendra Gadling- gsurendra12@yahoo.co.in

( attchments are in marathi if you need pl email )

Nagpur

 

We are WOMEN and Our VOICES COUNT!- #HumanRights Day-2012


Dear Friends,

Greetings from IWRAW Asia Pacific!

It is the 10th of December once again and we would like to wish you all a Happy Human Rights Day!

The theme this year – My Voice Counts –reminds us about the guarantees in the UDHR on freedom of speech, thought, belief and the right to participate in public life and impact policy and decision making.  It acknowledges and respects each individual’s voice and helps us to remember that it is about the person no matter our differences and that there are those of us whose voices are silenced or ignored because we lack the political power to make ourselves heard.

Yet it implies so much more in terms of vision:  it speaks towards a world of inclusion, diversity, respect for difference of opinion, free and open social debates, right to collective action and the recognition of the legitimate role of CSOs and NGOs in public policy and social change towards equality, non-discrimination, justice and peace, the right to take part in politics and hold office.

In the past year, we have seen numerous attempts to silence women’s voices, including the heartbreaking but ultimately inspiring story of Malala, a young girl nearly killed for expressing her right and the rights of young girls to education. For women, marginalisation and exclusion from representation and decision-making, spells danger and risk to their individual freedoms and collective rights. Examples have shown that exclusion of gender perspectives and obstacles to women’s participation in public and civic roles negatively impact democratic principles, good governance and rule of law. Women’s demands for equality in the family and in the workplace, and struggles to end domestic violence and sexual harassment at the workplace, recognition of the separate reality of women, need to be heard and acted upon by governments, society and private actors.

To pursue gender equality, it is important to ground and socialise the culture of international human rights norms, including an appreciation for the principles of substantive equality and non-discrimination established by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The ability to articulate these will strengthen their demands for equality, justice and recognition as a cohesive, political constituency; grounded ideologically in principles of democracy, peace, respect for rights and being knowledgeable in the practice of citizen governance.

We can celebrate the fact that CEDAW nears universal ratification with 187 ratifications, and further ratifications of its optional protocol (OPCEDAW).  The CEDAW state dialogue process and the OPCEDAW mechanism is a way for women’s voices to be heard by their states and supported by the global standards practices of the member states of CEDAW articulated by the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee and challenges states to prioritise and act in compliance with international law to address violations to women’s human rights.

64 years ago, this day would have been celebrated very differently. But today, we are lucky to have successes that we can commemorate. It is a good time for all of us to reflect on the good and the bad and continuously challenge ourselves to think of creative and innovative rights-based approaches to achieve our human rights goals to have a better future together.

In the coming year IWRAW Asia Pacific will undertake efforts to strengthen women’s voices in public policy and decision making through  specific projects including one to strengthen the voices of young feminists in Asia Pacific, supported by the UN Women Gender Equality Fund.

There is still a lot of work to be done so let’s continue as a global women’s movement, seeking to make governments, families, business more accountable in ensuring promotion, protection and realisation of human rights
On this day, IWRAW Asia Pacific congratulates and thanks courageous men and women who have fought and are still fighting for the right to express our thoughts and feelings about the world and who fight for the rights and freedoms inherent in our shared humanity. We raise our voices in support of this struggle – We are WOMEN and Our VOICES COUNT!

Warm wishes,

The IWRAW Asia Pacific team

10 December 2012

 

NHRC notice to Railway for arresting deaf, mute man #disability #Rights


New Delhi, Dec 3, 2012, PTI:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued a notice to the chairman of Railway Board seeking a report on the arrest of a speech-impaired and dementia-affected man and his subsequent jail for allegedly travelling in ladies compartment of a local train in West Bengal.

Taking cognizance of media reports forwarded to it by a human right activist, NHRC issued the notice to the chairman of Railway Board seeking a reply within four weeks.

The 38-year-old, Biswanath Dutta, who is suffering from mild dementia and impaired speech, was arrested by the Railway Police Force on the November 2 for traveling on RanaghatSealdah ladies’ special in violation of rules.

The RPF didn’t allow him to contact his family through them despite his request.

Custody for 11 days

He was produced before the magistrate who remanded him in judicial custody for 11 days after he failed to pay the fine of Rs 500.

“The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of persons with disability. A notice has been issued to the chairman of Railway Board, New Delhi, calling a report in the matter within four weeks,” a statement from the NHRC said.

It is further alleged that the victim didn’t own a mobile phone. His family tried to find him and even contacted RPF but they allegedly failed to inform them about his arrest.

 

PUCL writes to Human Rights Community


Letter to the Human Rights community

                                                                                       21st November, 2012

To:

All the Many persons – friends of PUCL, members of PUCL – present and former, and others from the human rights fraternity  who contacted the PUCL.

I thank all of you who wrote or spoke to us to express your sense of outrage, anger and opposition to the selection of Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of UIDAI to deliver the 6th Tarkunde Memorial Lecture with the demand that PUCL disassociate with the event. Many persons also wanted clarification on our stand on the UIDAI. We had issued a statement where we made explicit that our opposition to UDIAI has not changed nor our continuing to oppose the UID project. We had also spoken to and followed by writing to the organisers informing our stand on UIDAI, that selection of a person like Mr. Nilekani is  contradictory to the very ideals that Justice Tarkunde’s  work and persona reflected, and therefore the demand for calling off the lecture as also that we did not want to be associated with the event. The organisers had also accepted our request and agreed not to associate PUCL with the event .

We share with the human rights community both our statement as also the communication to the organisers of the Lecture.

This entire incident has made us realise the tremendous sense of respect and good will that PUCL has amongst the human rights community in India and the onerous responsibility that it casts on us to continue to contribute and strengthen the human rights movement in India.

I would like through this mail, to extend an invitation to all those who have contacted us as also the many others in the  human rights community who shared the sentiments of those who actually wrote or contacted us, to continue to dialogue, interact and involve themselves with the PUCL movement.

I would also like to extend an invitation to all friends from the rights movement to participate in the XI PUCL National Convention that is to take place in Jaipur on 1stand 2nd December, 2012 on the theme, `People’s Insecurity in the name of National Security: Citizens’ Rights, Democracy and State Terrorism. The invitation and details of the thematic sessions can be found in the PUCL website.

In solidarity,

Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary (Elect), PUCL

 

Enforced disappearances: UN expert body to study more than 400 cases from over 30 countries


GENEVA (1st November 2012) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* started reviewing more than 400 cases of enforced disappearances. These include a number of cases under its urgent action procedure and information on newly-submitted cases, previously accepted ones and other communications concerning over 30 countries.

The independent experts will meet with Government delegations and civil society representatives, including family members of those who have disappeared, to exchange information and views on individual cases under consideration and on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in general. The Working Group will also meet with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

The Working Group will, in addition, examine allegations received regarding obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The members will hold discussions on two draft general comments in relation to women and children respectively, its methods of work, and forthcoming and potential country visits. The human rights experts will also discuss and adopt its annual report.

The current Working Group’s 98th session is taking place from 31 October to 9 November in room IX of the Palais des Nations, in Geneva. All meetings are held in private. A press release will be issued at the end of the session, on 9 November 2012.

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. In view of the Working Group’s humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person are clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France) and the other members are Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina), Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon), and Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa).

For more information on the Working Group, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

How to submit cases to the Working Group?: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/docs/Communication_form_E.doc

Read the Working Group’s 2011 report to the UN Human Rights Councilhttp://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-58-Rev1_en.pdf

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Ugo Cedrangolo or Ms. Michelle Erazo (wgeid@ohchr.org)

 

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