Global, 17 January2020 - We are deeply alarmed by the grave violationsof human rights that are taking place in the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) inIndia, against the backdrop of widespread protests and demonstrations on therecent Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA) and the proposed NationalRegister of Citizens. In the name of curbing 'violent protests', the UP Policehas been using brutal and excessive force, which has reportedly included firing indiscriminately into crowds, beating Muslim bystanders,and detaining and torturing Muslim children.
It is deeply disturbing that Muslim communities and regions are beingspecifically targeted and ruthlessly hounded, with many even fearing to filecomplaints or choosing to leave their homes. The State of Uttar Pradesh hasseen the worst crackdown, with the Chief Minister of the State proclaiming'revenge' against the protestors.
To date, 25 people have reportedly been killed in police action, all inBharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled States, with most being Muslims. Evidenceshows that police used excessive force against demonstrators, most of whom werepeaceful. Among those killed was an eight-year old in Varanasi, Prime MinisterModi’s parliamentary constituency. The authorities fabricate cases againsthuman rights defenders and file complaints en masse against thousands ofpeople, mostly Muslims. Police is confiscating properties and a complete stateof terror and destruction prevails in the State right now.
According to interviews with children and their parents published by the HuffPost India, policein Bijnor detained and tortured around 22 Muslim children between the ages of13 to 17 for 48 hours, before releasing them. Five of the children intervieweddescribed torture ranging from repeated violent assault, forced stripping,sleep deprivation, and being forced to watch the police assault adult detaineesconfined in the same facility where the children were held.
These aresome of the intensely disturbing reports that have surfaced, and violationscontinue to occur. We urgently callon the Indian authorities to respect and protect human rights, enforce orderand uphold the rule of law. We are deeply concerned that the world’s largestdemocracy is failing to uphold the principles of democratic rights and theirexercise.
Specifically, we most humbly appeal on the Judiciary and the NationalHuman Rights Commission (NHRC) to urgently and immediately intervene to ensurethat, under no circumstance, fundamental freedoms are suspended in UttarPradesh and to hold officials accountable for doing so, while also ensuringthat the guidelines laid down by the NHRC and Supreme Court of India arestrictly adhered to, in all cases of deaths in police actions, arrests andtorture, and that human rights defenders do not face reprisals, especially inthe form of fabricated charges for criticising the CAA.
Further, we ask that an independent judicial inquiry be ordered by theHigh Court of UP, to include judges from outside the State, so as to ensurethat victims of police violence, human rights defenders who were detained andarrested, family members, relatives and colleagues of those killed in firingare provided protection as per the Supreme Court guidelines, to be able tofreely depose before the inquiry commission.
Finally, we ask that the Judiciary take suo moto cognisance ofthe blanket and illegal application of Section 144 of the Criminal ProcedureCode across the entire State of UP, which has led to a ban on public meetings amounting to acomplete suspension of the fundamental rights to freedom of speech andexpression and to peacefully assemble, which are guaranteed in Article 19 ofthe Constitution of India.
The SOS-Torture Asia Litigators Group strongly urges the Indiangovernment to immediately act on these violations, particularly, to end policebrutality in UP, provide redress and facilitate accountability, uphold therights of its peoples, and faithfully observe its international obligationsunder relevant conventions.
List of signatories
HumanRights Alert Manipur
HumanRights Organisation of Nepal (HURON)
PhilippinesAlliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
“Spravedlivost"(Justice) Jalal-Abad Human Rights Organization
Womenin Struggle for Empowerment (WISE).
WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT)