PASSED AT THE JOINT CONVENTION AT GANDHI PEACE FOUNDATION
On 24 October 2008
Immediate release and immediate withdrawal of false criminal cases against Abhay Sahu and other activists of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti,
the increasing state repression in Orissa against peaceful resistance of people against anti-people steel project
In exercise of their Constitutional right to dissent, and the right to a life with dignity, which includes the right to a livelihood of their choice, people of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, and Gadakujang panchayats of Jagatsingpur district in Orissa have put up a non-violent resistance for the past three years against forcible take-over of their lands and resources by the Korean steel giant POSCO. The state government’s dubious plans to build a mega steel plant on their lands will not only devastate the sustainable livelihood systems of thousands of local people, it will also pauperize many more lakhs of people, when the port and mining associated with the project are considered.
Using force to repress people’s democratic voices is not new to the state, though this method of repression has reached another high point with the arrest of PPSS president Abhay Sahu, who was arrested on 12 October 2008. The police claim to have registered as many as 25 (completely false) ‘direct’ cases against him. In all Abhay Sahu is implicated in over 70 cases. The police have also simultaneously launched a malicious campaign against him through the already corporatised media. The sole object of employing such tactics is to prolong the process of Abhay Sahu’s release, and further intimidate people opposed to the project and such projects elsewhere in the state including Kashipur, Lanjigarh, and Kalinganagar.
The state’s latest action is also an attempt to hide from the public gaze its utter inability, and barefaced unwillingness to contain the communal violence in Kandhamal and other parts of Orissa. In other words, while the state is working overtime to squeeze all democratic spaces and deny people their rights, it is opening up new areas for communal hatred and corporate land-grab.
Despite the state’s increasingly repressive regime, the ongoing struggle by the PPSS has been intensified to a new height since Abhay Sahu’s malafide arrest, with more local residents, especially women, joining in and more democratic voices from all over the world condemning the state for acting in denigration of Constitutional values and human rights, and in favour of corporate interests.
- · Withdrawal of all cases against Abhay Sahu and other PPSS activists
- · Immediate and unconditional release of Abhaya Sahu and other PPSS activists
- · Immediate withdrawal of police forces which have surrounded the area affecting the day-to-day life of the people
- · Scrapping of the POSCO project, which has been strongly resisted by the local people since it displaces people, violates their land rights, deprives them of their livelihood and destroys natural resources and the ecology of the region
- Stop repression on people fighting to protect their lands and resources throughout the state.