Stop Intimidation and Targeting Voices of Dissent in Kerala!

Hold the Kerala Government Accountable for Encounter Killings, use of Black Laws Like the UAPA, Wanton Arrests and Crackdown on Democratic Space!

 

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The way the Kerala police has been involved since last month in encounter killings, arrests and framing of charges on political activists clearly transcends the boundary of merely maintainglaw and order in the state and indicates of a ceratin tactics of intimidation of political opponents to the ruling LDF government in the state.

On Nov 24th two maoist leaders were gunned down in the Karulayi forests in Nilambur, Kerala. The police as usual has come out with the version of self defence and cross fire as an explanation to the encounter killings. In spite of wide range demand of a judicial enquiry into the killings, the Kerala Government is trying to evade impartial judicial probe into the case by ordering a magisterial enquiry which will remain vulnerable to administrative manupulations.

In the aftermath of the killings, Rajeesh Kollakandi, who helped in releasing the body of the assasinated maoist leader, has been suspended from his government job in the technical education department of the state. In addition to it, UAPA cases have been framed on him.

Kamal C. Chavara, a novelist,  was arrested under sedition law after the BJP’s youth wing Yuva Morcha had complained to the police against him charging him of insulting the National Anthem based on one of his Facebook posts. The Kerala police acted promptly and had arrested K.C. Chavara.

The first instance of arrest by the police for not standing up during national anthem in film screening came from Kerala when the more than prompt Kerala Police arrested six people who participated in the International Film Festival in Kerala.

A human rights activist Nadir was arrested under UAPA  after he went to meet Kamal C Chavara the previous day, although his name does not appear in any FIR.  Nadeer has been released after a day’s interrogation. The Kerala Police is trying to create the bogey of maoist link in Nadir’s case. Nadir was picked up by the police as unnamed accused in an FIR where six people have been mentioned under charges of UAPA.

The CPI-M in a statement in the context of K.C. Chavara’s arrest has said that it is against the use of sedition law.  But this statement does not suffice to address the issue of intimidation of political voices and crackdown on freedom of expression. The arrests that has been done on the pretext of ‘insulting the national anthem’, even if sedition is not used, indicate towards succumbing to sentiments fanned by the right-wing forces in Kerala. The random use of UAPA and arrests of political activists under UAPA also raises concern over curbing of democratic space and the process of natural justice in Kerala. Black laws like the UAPA were introduced by the Congress Government to legalise unjust state actions on muslims and political activists. These laws are used to subvert the basic principles of  natural justice where the burden to prove inncocence lies on the accused in stead of it being otherwise.

Statements by the CPI-M or the SFI that they are against the use of sedition law carry very little weight as long as the state police, working under the command of LDF govt, continue to surrender before rightwing jingoism or is used to intimidate and silence political opinions in Kerala.

Fearless Freedom vs. Patriarchal ‘Protection’ -That’s What The December 16 Movement Stood For : Kavita Krishnan

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The movement that followed the 16 December 2012 gangrape and murder was remarkable because it demanded protection for women’s fearless freedom – the freedom to roam and loiter ‘just like that’ – yun hi; the freedom from Khap Panchayats and moral policers; freedom from parents and brothers who seek to control who they can love and marry. That movement was remarkable because it summarily rejected and expressed defiant contempt for restrictions on their freedoms imposed by hostels, by homes, by anyone in the name of ‘safety’.

So I feel sad when journalists frame today’s question as ‘what has changed thanks to the new rape law?’ That question can be asked and we’ve answered it often. But while some changes in the law were progressive, the question cannot be reduced to changes in the law alone. The question should be, what has changed since then in our commitment to protect women’s freedoms, to promote respect for women’s rights to autonomy in their own lives, to recognize sexual violence as an assault primarily on women’s autonomy rather than their honour and respectability?
The answer is that small changes have indeed taken place. We have had courts convict in rape cases, recognizing that the hurt was done to the survivor’s autonomy. We have had a change in the recommended protocol for medical examination of rape survivors, that makes it clear that doctors cannot and must not pass judgement on whether or not rape occurred because that is a matter for legal, not medical judgement.


The chapter on sexual violence in the textbook that’s the Bible of Forensic Medicine in India  has undergone a complete and welcome transformation, getting rid of sexist and homophobic teachings and instead foregrounding medical care for the survivor of sexual assault. 

But do sexual assault or rape or harassment complainants have it easier? Justice and dignity for the complainant is still the exception. Victim shaming and blaming is still the norm, injustice is still the norm. Defending those accused of such crimes by painting the rape law or sexual harassment law as draconian still has plenty of acceptability, painting those accused or convicted of such offences as the real victims still happens, while feminist support for the victim is painted as support for a draconian rape law. Such attitudes have as much traction amongst the defenders of an Asaram as they do amongst the defenders of a Tejpal. Within progressive organizations and among activists on the Left, we have faced the fact that those who raise slogans against sexual assault or victim blaming are not, by that token, incapable of committing assault or indulging in victim blaming. We can’t leave the struggle for accountability and against sexist attitudes and practices, outside the door of progressive groups, like footwear outside our homes. The anti rape movement of 2012 stressed the need to bring the struggle home into our own lives and workplaces and homes, not take the easy route of telling ourselves the problem lies elsewhere with ‘others.’
Meanwhile, the political assault on women’s autonomy has intensified. Organisations enjoying patronage and protection of those in power at the Centre are busy abducting 100s of women who have loved or married outside caste and faith, and claiming to have rescued’ them from ‘love jehad.
In the Beti Bachao campaigns – the same slogan is used in the BJP Government’s campaign against sex selection and the RSS campaign against love jehad, the emphasis is on the ‘rescue’ of girls and women. Rescue from whom? Rescue from their own autonomy, back to a regime of sarkari and familial surveillance. Feminist talk of women’s autonomy is mocked as Western, as against RSS talk of ‘familyism’. The cry for freedom even from familial control and surveillance that girls raised in 2012 is denigrated.
Even the AAP Government in Delhi has remained within the patriarchal ‘protection politics’ of CCTV surveillance rather than a clear commitment to protect women’s autonomy. It hasn’t expanded safe public transport in Delhi which was well within its power to do.
In 2012 and since, we saw strong assertions of the rights and dignity of LGBTQI people. But the Supreme Court itself has dealt a blow to this agenda by upholding Section 377.
I’m asked sometimes if freedom and  autonomy and the right to loiter are slogans only for the ‘elite’ women. I retort that it’s elitist to assume that the poor, working class and oppressed caste women do not deserve or need autonomy! Women’s freedom and autonomy must be at the heart of the struggle to annihilate caste. It must be at the heart of the struggles of the working class for liberation. Ideologies of ‘culture’ and ‘family’ and ‘safety’ are invoked to discipline and control women workers in India – those workers can fight back and resist and organise only if they assert their autonomy and freedom in every sphere from home to streets to work. The right of workers to rest and leisure was at the heart of the historic working class campaign for an 8-hour day – it would be elitist to declare that working class or Dalit women do not or should not demand the right to loiter for pleasure and leisure as urban middle class women do. The right to loiter in this context is a demand for azaadi from the burden of domestic labour that women, not men are asked to bear, and also azaadi from the gendered discipline to which women are subjected at factories and other workplaces.
The heartening and encouraging thing is that all around us, we can see brilliant, glorious new movements by women asserting their autonomy and demanding rights. The Pinjra Tod movement in Delhi, women tea garden workers in Munnar and garment and sanitation workers in Bengaluru, and so many other movements have lifted our spirits and kept the flame of hope burning for a new politics that asserts women’s autonomy and deals a body blow to the moral policers, the victim blamers. Salaam to all the fighters for women’s freedom! If you’re in Delhi tonight, you might like to join students and women in a march from JNU’s Ganga Dhaba to Munirka bus stop at 9 pm tonight

First published on India Resist

SYRIA: STOP THE ATROCITIES IN ALEPPO

SYRIA: STOP THE ATROCITIES  IN ALEPPO

Ensure protection and safety of civilian population

 

The battle in Aleppo has reached in its final stage with government forces able to limit and circle the anti-government militias to a small area in the eastern part of the city. The war in Syria, which began in 2012 and considered to be the deadliest in the 21st century has already claimed millions of lives and another 7 million displaced from their homes. Most the housing infrastructure in Aleppo and other frontline cities have been totally destroyed due to heavy bombing in the civilian areas by all the parties to the conflict. Civilians were the major victim of this war, with thousands being killed in brutal premeditated massacres by extremist groups like Islamic State (IS) on one hand, and on the other, many becoming targets of deliberate killings and bombings by government forces (supported by Russia) and ‘moderate’ anti-government militias (supported by US and its allies).  Amidst the rubble of destroyed houses in Aleppo, thousands of civilians still are trapped between the two warring sides. As the government forces advance towards the east of Aleppo capturing the rebel held areas, there are disturbing reports of brutal summary executions and reprisal killings of men, women and children committed by both government and anti government militias.

We, call upon all the parties to the conflict in Syria to immediately end all forms of atrocities and coercion against the civilian population, and ensure complete protection and safety to civilians trapped in conflict zone. We strongly condemn all and any form of brutalities unleashed by both government and anti government forces against civilian population in the on going battle. Also, we call upon parties to the conflict to ensure the sanctity of established humanitarian corridor, and availability of aid and assistance to unarmed men, women, children, elderly and the wounded.

Massive Protests against Amendments to CNT and SPT Acts in Jharkhand!

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Raghuvar Hatao, Jharkhand Bachao!!

 

 

On 23rd November, in a notorious anti people policy decision, Raghuvar Das-led Bharatiya Janta Party government in Jharkhand had amended the land tenancy laws governing predominantly Adivasi regions to allow use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. After this shameless pronouncement of amendments of CNT and SPT Acts, thousands came out on the streets in protest in different parts of Jharkhand braving massive police repression. 

The Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act was enacted in 1908 after the heroic revolt led by Birsa Munda. The law restricts the sale of tribal land to non-Adivasis in 16 of Jharkhand’s 24 districts in central and western region. On the other hand, Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act enacted in 1876 had been passed following the valiant Santhal rebellion in 1855 against feudal land tenure systems of the colonial government. The 1876 Act prohibits sale of Adivasi land to non-adivasis in Santhal Pargana region along Jharkhand’s border with Bengal.

Earlier in June, the BJP government had passed an ordinance to make the changes, but this ordinance is still pending with the President. The government now desperately amended the laws by introducing a Bill on last Friday. The government shamelessly introduced and passed the Bill in merely three minutes without permitting any discussion!

The very existence of adivasis and original inhabitants of Jharkhand is in jeopardy under this BJP government which has time and again made policies to ensure that corporate companies get full control over the forests, land, and minerals of Jharkhand. The amendment of CNT and SPT acts is another notorious step in this direction.  But the people of Jharkhand have given the resounding call of “Raghuvar Hatao, Jharkhand Bachao” (“Remove Raghuvar, Save Jharkhand”) to intensify the fight against the ruling Government.

AISA stands in rock solid solidarity with the struggling people of Jharkhand in their fight against state sponsored corporate land grab, dispossessing and displacing adivasis!

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Probe Malappuram Killings, Punish the Perpetrators!

STOP the Ominous Trend of State-Backed Fake Encounters and

Extrajudicial Killings in the Name of Fighting ‘Maoism’!!

AISA Statement regarding the Malappuram Killings 

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AISA expresses deep concern over the gruesome killings of two Maoist” leaders, Devraj and Ajitha, who were gunned down in the Karulayi forests of Nilambur, Malappuram, Kerala last Thursday. There are many disquieting questions about this alleged encounter.  No police personnel were injured in the encounter and the victim’s bodies were not shown to the media even after more than 24 hours.  Further in the postmortem report, it was revealed that there were around 19 bullet shot wounds in the bodies of the killed “Maoists”, while a Madhyamam report said that both Devaraj and Ajitha were physically unwell and even didn’t have the capacity to run when the police arrived.

A month back, on 24th October, in an uncannily similar way, 39 people (reportedly 28 Maoists and 11 adivasi villagers) were killed in Malkangiri.  A Greyhound commando who lost his life in this episode reportedly died of drowning, and another is injured, but there are no other major casualties on the side of the paramilitary forces. This also has raised serious questions and doubts.

The Supreme Court has issued detailed guidelines on encounter killings, mandating mandatory registration of FIRs and investigation by an independent agency in every case of encounter death. We must collectively raise our voice against the menace of extrajudicial killings by different governments, from Malkangiri to Malappuram, in the name of fighting Maoism.

AISA demands that there must be a time-bound Court-monitored judicial probe into Malappuram killings! Such fake encounters and extra-judicial killings are a travesty of the law of the land and are a threat to democracy. The state government and the state machinery should be held accountable, and the perpetrators of the fake encounter must be punished!