Seit einem Jahr in Haft: Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira:
One year later: process has become punishment, say activists’ family members (The Hindu, 29. 08. 2019)
In 2018, as part of a massive crackdown on human rights defenders in India, nine prominent activists– Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao– were arrested by the Pune Police.
The police claim the nine were involved in the violence that erupted between Dalits and Hindu nationalists in January 2018 in Maharashtra.
Following the arrests, a smear campaign was launched against the activists. The government claims they are ‘anti-nationals’ working against the country. But the opinion of communities, where the activists work, is entirely different. The ‘Bhima Koregaon 9’ are, to many, national heroes, bravely fighting for the rights of the most marginalised people in India.
The BK9 continue to be imprisoned, pending their trial. The arrests of such important activists is an attempt to derail the human rights movement in India.
Sign your name and demand the immediate release of the Bhima Koregaon 9. Let’s show Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the world is watching.
Sudha Bharadwaj is a lawyer, trade unionist and a civil rights activist. She worked in Chhattisgarh for about three decades until her arrest on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.
Sudha served as the General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Vice President of the Indian Association for People’s Lawyers. She founded Janhit, a collective of lawyers and was also associated with the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha. She also taught law students at the National Law University, Delhi.
In association with the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Sudha ensured that mine workers, mostly from Dalit and tribal communities in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh receive employment contracts which mandated minimum wages, health benefits and safer working conditions for them.
As a human rights lawyer, she has represented victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights defenders before the Chhattisgarh High Court and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In March 2019, Sudha was honoured by Harvard Law School for “astounding contributions of women around the world to the areas of law and policy”.
Arun Ferreira is an activist based in Mumbai. He had been organizing marginalised communities against the injustices faced by them since his student years in the 90s, until his arrest on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Once before, in 2007, the Maharashtra State Government had arrested Arun claiming that he was in charge of the Propaganda and Communications wing of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). However, seven years later, in 2014, the court acquitted Arun of all charges stating lack of substantial evidence against him in the charge sheet filed by the police. Throughout the trial, Arun was kept imprisoned.
In his book, “Colours of the Cage: A Prison Memoir”, Arun described his life in jail, his experience with a prejudiced criminal justice system and the loneliness of solitary confinement.
Surendra Gadling is a human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Before his arrest, Surendra took up cases of extrajudicial killings by police and other atrocities committed against Dalits and Adivasis in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. He served as a Special Public Prosecutor in dowry-related cases and was also one of the leading lawyers in the case related to the Khairlanji agitation – a protest movement launched after the gruesome caste-murders of a Dalit family in Maharashtra.
Surendra also represented Arun Ferreira in court from 2007 to 2012 and was key in securing his acquittal on all charges.
Mahesh Raut is an activist who has worked with Adivasi communities in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. He studied at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Mumbai and worked as a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow in 2012 in Gadchiroli. He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
As a Fellow, Mahesh was actively involved in strengthening Gram Sabhas (local self-governance system) in Adivasi areas.
Mahesh is also a co-convener of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vilas Andolan, which fights against the displacement of marginalised communities. He has campaigned against mining projects which threaten to displace the Adivasi communities and the local ecology.
Prior to her arrest on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges, Shoma Sen headed the English Department of Nagpur University in Maharashtra. Shoma is a member of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights and has been a long-time Dalit and women’s rights activist, advocating for the rights of the marginalised communities.
Shoma played a key role in organising legal aid for women political prisoners in the early 2000s. She was part of many fact-finding commissions that looked into the atrocities committed by the security forces in Manipur and allegations of sexual violence against Adivasis in Chhattisgarh.
Rona Wilson has worked with the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners and has consistently campaigned for the release of political prisoners in India who were arrested under repressive laws like the UAPA.
She was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Rona was also a key member of the Committee for the Defence and Release of GN Saibaba—a Delhi University professor who was convicted in March 2017 for having links to the Maoists. Despite being severely disabled, Professor Saibaba was held in solitary confinement by the authorities which has further deteriorated his health.
Sudhir Dhawale is an activist, actor and publisher of the bi-monthly Marathi magazine Vidrohi which focuses on issues relating to labour, land, education, health and caste.
He was arrested on June 6, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Earlier in 2011, Sudhir was arrested by the Maharashtra Police for “conspiring and waging war against the Government of India”. After more than three years, the courts ordered for the release of Sudhir stating lack of substantial evidence against him.
Sudhir was one of the organisers of the ‚Elgar Parishad‘, which was organised by Dalit organisations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.
Vernon Gonsalves is a Mumbai-based activist who worked for the rights of labourers until his arrest on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
In 2007, Gonsalves was arrested under the Arms Act and the UAPA. He had remained incarcerated until 2013, when he was finally convicted of the charges but ordered to be released by the court since he had already undergone the period of his sentence as an undertrial.
Varavara Rao is a poet and civil rights activist based in Telangana. He was arrested on August 28, 2018 for allegedly “waging a war against the Government of India” amongst other charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.
Varavara founded the Revolutionary Writers’ Association. He has been arrested several times in the past, including for conspiring to overthrow the Andhra Pradesh Government but has always been acquitted.
Parlamentswahlen in Indien – Trolle kontrollieren:
Join our army of digital volunteers and expose abuse silencing women on #IndiaTrollPatrol – TROLL PATROL INDIA
Hunderte von Menschen in Manipur im Nordosten Indiens haben Familienmitglieder verloren, die mutmaßlich von Sicherheitskräften getötet wurden. Salima Memcha ist eine von ihnen: Ihr Ehemann wurde im Januar 2010 vor ihrem Haus von Sicherheitskräften mitgenommen. Später fand man vor einer örtlichen Polizeiwache seinen Leichnam, auf den mehr als 20 Mal geschossen worden war. Seitdem muss Salima Memcha allein für ihre vier Kinder sorgen. Gleichzeitig versucht sie, den Tod ihres Mannes aufzuklären.
Remember Bhopal 1984