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Archive for March, 2009

Dear friends,

A prayer meeting will be held in memory of Smitu Kothari on Thursday, 26 March 2009 from 56pm at Chinmaya  Mission, 89 Lodhi Estate, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003.

Please pass the message on to friends of Smitu who would like to be there.

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More than 83 persons courted arrest today, 23rd of March, 2009, demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen. The arrests were led by Rashida Bi, Hazra Bi and Sati nath Sarangi of Bhopal Gas survivor organisations. More than 65 people came. They came from three orgnaisations of the Gas affected people. The others who courted arrest included Narottam Sharma CPI(ML) Liberation, noted film maker Amar Kanwar from Delhi, people’s musician Vinay Mahajan from Ahmedabad, Kavita Srivastava from the PUCL and. Lakhan Sahu and others from CMM, Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti, They were more than 59 women and 25 men who were arrested. The march began with a two minute silence remembering Dr. Smitu Kothari a friend of People’s movements in the country, who passed away today morning in Delhi.

The March from Budha Talab in Raipur was led by 82 year old Anasuya Sen mother of Dr. Binayak Sen from Kolkata, others who participated in solidarity include Sh. Saura Yadav, Bharat Bhushan Pandey and nine others from the CPI ML. Speaking to the rallyists Ms. Anasuya Sen said that the world knew that Dr. Sen was innocent and he was not in good health, however, it was also clear that since he had exposed the excesses of the State that he was behind bars and was being denied freedom. She also sang Tagore’s “aami bhoy korbo na” meaning “I will not be afraid” which added to the power of the satyagrah.

The Bhopal Gas Survivors through a powerful rendering of slogans demanded the release of Dr. Sen. They also demanded the repealing of the Chhattisgarh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam and the end of Salwa Judum from the Chhattisgarh Government. They also pledged that would bring down corrupt administration of Chhattisgarh if the incarceration of Dr. Sen would continue. Speaking on the occasions Rashida Bi expressed shock that while Varun Gandhi publicly made hate speeches was granted anticipatory bail in no time by a Delhi Court but Dr. Sen who had committed no crime was even being denied bail even after twenty months. They said that since Dr. Sen was the hope of the poor adivasis and workers he was being incarcerated. She ended her speech that till Warren Anderson of Union Carbide the killer of more than 25, 000 Bhopal Gas victims wouldnot be arrested they would not stop their quest for justice.

Vinay Mahajan from Loknaad Ahmedabad sang songs demanding the release of Dr. Sen. The most popular lines which were rendered by all were Mere Desh ko ye janane hak re, kyun jailon me rahe desh premi, deshi drohi ki pechaan nahi. He also sang Shravan Kumar’s song dhola baje, Ghunghroo Baje, Madal Baje celebrating the struggles and the lives the great heroes, BirsaMunda, Tilka Manji and Sidhu. The lines were ….Tilika nachey, Sidhu Nachey, Birsa Nachey He also demanded of the authorities that our Dr. Sen, the people’s doctor be handed back to us, his was not the place in Jail.

Noted Film Maker Amar Kanwar also marched with the satyagrahis and courted arrest. He had earlier inaugurated the Bhilai Film Archive and the Chhattisgarh Jan Film Utsav which was to dedicated towards Dr. Sen’s release and against the injustice being meted out to the people of Chhattisgarh.

The Satyagrahis will be back next Monday 30th of March in Raipur to continue the protest against Dr. Sen’s arrest and demand his release.

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Friends,

Noted scholar, author and activist Smitu Kothari passed away today early morning (India time 23rd March 6 a.m.). He died of a cardiac attack after having undergone a heart surgery yesterday at AIIMS in Delhi. The cremation will be held at Lodi Road electric Crematorium in South Delhi at 4pm on the 23rd March.

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Smithu was attending a Delhi Solidarity Group meeting with Himalaya Niti Abhiyan friends and others to discuss strategies and support for the people’s struggles in Himachal Pradesh against displacement, mining and environmental destruction on the 20th afternoon, when he had a cardiac attack. From Indian Social Institute, he was rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He was discharged the same day as his ECG was found to be normal. However, on 21st, doctors did detail investigations, where it was found out that he had already developed a serious rupture on his main artery and an immediate surgery was undertaken on the 22nd. However, that also could not help him as he collapsed during post-operative care to a cardiac arrest today early morning.

Smitu Kothari is one of the founders of Lokayan (“Dialogue of the People”), and Intercultural Resources, two centres in Delhi, India promoting exchange between non-party political formations and concerned scholars and other citizens from India and the rest of the world. Trained in physics, communications and sociology, he is involved in ecological, cultural and human rights issues striving to collectively forge a national and global alternative that is socially just and ecologically sane. He has been a visiting Professor at Cornell and Princeton Universities. He is President of the International Group for Grassroots Initiatives and a Contributing Editor of The Ecologist and of Development. He has published extensively on critiques of contemporary economic and cultural development, the relationship of nature, culture and democracy, developmental displacement, people’s governance and social movements. Smitu was always a source of inspiration and support to not just people’s movements and struggles in India, but also to voices of dissent and alternatives across the globe.

Among the books he has edited are: Voices of Struggle. Social Movements in Asia (2006); Voices of Sanity, In Search of Democratic Space (2002); A Watershed in Global Governance? An Independent Assessment of the World Commission on Dams; The Value of Nature: Ecological Politics in India (2003); Out of the Nuclear Shadow (with Zia Mian, 2001); Rethinking Human Rights: Challenges for Theory and Action (1991); and, The Non-Party Political Process: Uncertain Alternatives (with H. Sethi, 1988); He was currently working on a new book, Ecological Justice: Nature, Culture and Democracy.

In grief,

Delhi Solidarity Group

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The first batch of 59 protestors took part in the satyagraha for the release of jailed human rights and health activist Dr Binayak Sen, in Raipur on 16 march 2009. 44 people from 7 states have courted arrest, while 15 other have extended solidarity in support of the protestors.  Dr Binayak Sen, who has been in imprisoned for the past 22 months by the Chhattisgarh government on false charges of ‘abetting activities of an outlawed Maoist organisation and also denied bail.

The courting of arrest occurred after the satyagrahis were detained at Subhash Stadium by the Chhattisgarh authorities, following peaceful non-violent protest. They were all later released.

The satyagrahis who courted arrest were: Sandeep Pandey and other activists from Asha Parivar, Anand Patwardhan (film maker), D. Thankappan, Ashim Roy, Mohan Kothekar (New Trade Union Initiative), Rajendra Sail (PUCL), Gautam Bandhopadhyay (Nadi Ghati Morcha), Sunil, Rakesh, Suresh, Bhagirathi, and Haldar (from Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha).

Calcutta: About two hundred people including many eminent citizens took part in a protest rally demanding release of Dr. Binayak Sen in Calcutta on 16 March 2009. The rally started from the Vidyasagar Statue in front of Calcutta University and paraded down parts of Mahatma GandhiRoad, College street and Bankim Chatterjee street.

Later a citizens’ meeting was held in the Students’ Hall, which was almost packed to capacity. The speakers including Dr. Manas Joardar, (former member of CU Senate), Dr. Punyabrata Guin, Pradip Banerjee Sujato Bhadra, Amitadyuti Kumar, Dipankar Chakrabarty explained the backdrop of Dr. Sen’s arrest and called for building up a strong movement to compel the CG government to release Dr. Sen unconditionally by withdrawing all fictitious charges against him.

The meeting also demanded scrapping of Salwa Judum, and all black laws including CSPSA, NIA, AFSPA.

Delhi: There was a dharna at Jantar Mantar in solidarity with the friends who were courting arrest to press our demand for release of Dr. Binayak Sen. Eminent writer and social activist Arundhati Roy and many senior activists joined the dharna, students from JNU & DU came in large numbers along with the friends of PUDR and Delhi Solidarity Group

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Press Statement

Indian Organisations Condemn Arrests at World Water Forum:

Reiterates their Opposition to Water Privatisation

New Delhi: March 18, 2009


Nearly 100 representatives of people’s movements, civil society organizations and concerned individuals from India condemned the arrest, deportation and repression of protestors at the World Water Forum (WWF), on March 16 at Istanbul, Turkey.


In a joint statement released today they said: “We condemn the undemocratic nature of the World Water Forum and urge the World Water Council to respect and support the rights of all people to speak freely and protest peacefully.”


Two activists were arrested, detained and later deported for unfurling a banner reading “No Risky Dams” at the opening ceremony in protest at the World Water Forum‘s promotion of destructive dams. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas against 150 peaceful protestors, for protesting outside the conference hall before the inaugural.


The statement said, “We call on the participants of the World Water Forum to embrace democratic, smarter and cleaner solutions and recognise Right to Water as a fundamental right and not to advance the agenda of privatization and commercialisation, with huge social and environmental costs.” They also demanded that the World Water Forum should not be organised by the World Water Council, but by United Nations.

irn-banner-at-wwf5-inaugural-0309

The banner that was unfurled in the WWF inaugural session, which lead to the arrest and deportation.


Contacts:

Himanshu Thakkar: ht.sandrp@gmail.com

Jibin Robin: jibin@delhiforum.net

Joe Athialy: joeathialy@gmail.com

//end//


Original Statement and List of Signatories

March 18, 2009

We, the representatives of people’s movements, civil society organizations and concerned individuals from India, condemn the arrest, deportation and repression of protestors at the World Water Forum (WWF), in progress at Istanbul, Turkey on March 16. Outside the conference center just before the inaugural function of the World Water Forum riot police used water cannons and tear gas against 150 peaceful protestors who shouted “water for life, not for profit” in opposition to the WWF’s agenda of water privatization and river destruction. Seventeen protestors were arrested.

As the opening ceremony of the WWF began, International Rivers’ South Asia Director Ann-Kathrin Schneider and Climate Campaigner Payal Parekh unfurled a banner reading “No Risky Dams” in protest at the World Water Forum‘s promotion of destructive dams. They were arrested and are in jail since then.

The World Water Forum takes place every three years. It is organized by the World Water Council, a private organization whose most influential members are private water companies and some of the world‘s biggest dam construction companies, funders and government agencies.

We condemn the undemocratic nature of the World Water Forum and urge the World Water Council to respect and support the rights of all people to speak freely and protest peacefully.

The water and energy policies promoted by the WWF around the globe destroy communities and the environment. The past experience of mega dams in India and elsewhere points towards that. We call on the participants of the World Water Forum to embrace democratic, smarter and cleaner solutions and recognise Right to Water as a fundamental right and not to advance the agenda of privatization and commercialisation, with huge social and environmental costs. The World Water Forum should not be organised by the World Water Council, but by United Nations.

Signed by:

Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, JNU, New Delhi

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Madhya Pradesh

Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, New Delhi

Shripad Dharamadhikari, MANTHAN, Madhya Pradesh

Madhuresh Kumar, CACIM, New Delhi

Anil Varghese, New Delhi

Nimmi, Greenpeace, Bangalore

Satabdi Das, Association for India’s Development, Bangalore Chapter

Pritpal Randhawa, Insitiute of Development Studies, University of Sussex , United Kingdom

Souparna Lahiri, NFFPFW, India

Anthony Tago, Arunachal Citizens Rights, India

Tone Mickrow, All Idu Mishmi Students Union, India

Testen Lepcha, Affected Citizens of Teesta, Sikkim

Ankur ‘Toby’ Ganguly, Greenpeace, India

Ashish Fernandes, Greenpeace, India

Leo Saldanah, Environment Support Group, India

Bhargavi S Rao, Environment Support Group, India

Mallesh KR, Environment Support Group, India

Joe Athialy, Delhi Solidarity Group, New Delhi

Seejal Dand, ANANDI, Ahmedabad

Neeta Hardikar, ANANDI, Dahod

Hiren Gandhi, DARSHAN, Ahmedabad

Darshan, INSAF, Ahmedabad

Saroop Dhruv, DARSHAN, Ahmedabad

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan Sangathan, New Delhi

Ghanshyam Shah,  Ahmedabad

Mukta Srivastava, NAPM, Mumbai

Simpreet Singh, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai

Rajendera Ravi, IDS, New Delhi

Bhupendera Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, New Delhi

Ashok Chaudhari, NFFPFW, Saharanpur

Roma, Uttar Pradesh

Munnilal, NFFPFW, Dehradun

Harekrishna Debnath, National Fishworker’s Forum, Kolkata

Puneet Minj, JMACC, Ranchi

Prem Piram, JAGAR UTTRAKHAND, Uttrakhand

Manju Gardia, Programme for Social Action, Raipur

Mamta Kujur, Adivasi Mahila Mahasabha, Chattisgarh

Tapan Kumar Padhi, National Institute for Development, Bhubneshwar, Orissa

Darshini Mahadevia, India

Jai Sen, CACIM, New Delhi

Maju Varghese, Shehr Vikas Manch, Mumbai

K.T. Suresh, YUVA, Mumbai

TSS Mani, PUCL, Tamil Nadu

Aryakrishnan, Bookport, Ernakulam, Kerala

Amarjeet Kaur, AITUC, New Delhi

Rakesh Sharma, Filmmaker,

Dunnu Roy, Hazards Centre, New Delhi

Dr. David. L. Gosling, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Shalini Sharma, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, New Delhi

Shaktiman Ghosh, National Hawkers Federation, Kolkata

Sudipto Moitra, Hawkers Sangram Committee, Kolkata

Sanjoy Ganguly, Jana Sanskrit Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed, Kolkata

Dr. Virendra Vidhrohi, Matsya Mewat shiksha Evam Vikas Sansthan, Alwar, Rajasthan

Noor Mohammad, Matsya Mewat shiksha Evam Vikas Sansthan, Alwar, Rajasthan

Bhoga Nanjuda, CIEDS Collective & Karnataka Social Forum, Karnataka

Prasad Chacko, Initiative on Human Rights and Policy Analysis, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Naveen Chander, Progressive Students Union, New Delhi

Kalpana Mehta, Saheli Womens Resource Centre, New Delhi

Maitree Das Gupta, Greenpeace, Bangalore

Subhash Gatade, New Social Initiative, New Delhi

Jaya Mehta, Sandarbha Kendra, Indore

Vineet Tiwari, Progressive Writer’s Association, Indore

Gautam Navlakha, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, New Delhi

Shivani Chaudhary, Housing and Land Rights Network, New Delhi

Bipin Kumar, The Other Media, New Delhi

Benny Kuruvilla, Focus on Global South, New Delhi

Vasundhara Jairath, Inter Cultural Resources, New Delhi

Rohit Prajapati, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat

Trupti Shah, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat

Jose MJ, INSAF, Kerala Unit, Kerala

Ram Puniani, Ekta , Mumbai

Mangai,  Chennai

Utkarsh Sinha, Centre For studies of contemporary studies and research, Lucknow

Kriti Team,  New Delhi

Selva Ganpathy, Indian Institute of Delhi, New Delhi

Molana Hanif, Matsya Mewat shiksha Evam Vikas Sansthan, Alwar, Rajasthan

Arun Raj, Association for India’s Development, New Delhi

Darshan Mehra, Association for India’s Development, New Delhi

Meena Menon, Focus on Global South, Mumbai

Datta Ishwalker, Girni Kamgar Sangatha, Mumbai

Jatin Desai, Peace Mumbai , Mumbai

Shakeel Ahmed, Nirbhaya Bano Andolan, Mumbai

Neetu Routela,  New Delhi

Vijayan MJ, Delhi Forum, New Delhi

Jibin Robin, Delhi Solidarity Group, New Delhi

Satinath Sarangi, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Nityanand Jayaraman, Vettiver Collective, Chennai

Sandeep Ekka, Delhi Solidarity Group, New Delhi

Sanat Acharya, Freedom Forum, Kathmandu, Nepal

Himanshu Upadhyay, Researcher, New Delhi

Munshi Khan, Matsya Mewat shiksha Evam Vikas Sansthan, Alwar, Rajasthan

Gabriela Dietrich, Pennurumai Iyyakum, Tamil Nadu

Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, Kerala

Bargi Dam Visthapit Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

SEWA, Kerala

Sarsathali Project Affected People’s Association, SPAPA, West Bengal

Janak, Mumbai Pani, Mumbai

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Dear Friends,

Do join the dharna organised by PUDR at Jantar Mantar on March 16, 2009 from 5-7pm in solidarity with the friends who are courting arrest to press our demand for release of Dr. Binayak Sen. Twenty two months have passed since he was arrested and charged in a false case. His health has deteriorated but the court has remained indifferent. Let us utilise this opportuity to reiterate our demand for repeal of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act which proscibes political ideologies and criminalises normal, routine and legitimate activities.

While PUDR has taken this initiative we request all groups to come join this dharna. If anyone wishes to bring the banner, placards or sing a song/ to say something they should do so.

FYI – The Raipur Satyagraha for the release of Dr. Binayak Sen begins on 16 March. For more information about the satyagraha visit http://raipursatyagraha.wordpress.com/

If anyone wishes to be the part of the raipur satyagraha please contact the volunteers in Delhi at releasebinayak@gmail.com to indicate you or your organisations intent to participate in the satyagraha.

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Campaign for Release Binayak Sen, On 4 February 2009 there was a dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi demanding release of Binayak Sen and all political prisoners. The Dharna was attended by people across the country and it was addressed by PUCL leader Kavita Srivastava, Anwar Ali MP Rajya Sabha and by Delhi Friends.

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