IND 001 / 0112 / OBS 004.1
Release on bail / Ongoing arbitrary detention /
March 16, 2012
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the release on bail of Mr. Abhay Sahoo, President of the “POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti” (PPSS), a movement that has been leading a six-year campaign against forcible acquisition of common lands by South Korean steel giant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha State (formerly Orissa State).
According to the information received, on March 14, 2012, Mr. Abhay Sahoo was granted bail by the High Court of Odisha, and was released from Choudwar prison, Odisha State, at 5 pm.
The Observatory welcomes the release on bail of Mr. Abhay Sahoo and thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened in his favour.
However, the Observatory is concerned that as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, it is not clear whether the charges against Mr. Abhay Sahoo remain pending, while Mr. Narayan Reddy, who has been leading the anti-POSCO campaign following the arrest of Mr. Sahoo on November 25, 2011, remains detained since December 23, 2011 in Samagol prison, Odisha State (See background information).
On December 23, 2011, Mr. Narayan Reddy was arrested in the early morning near Japa Square in Erasama area of Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha, and taken to Kujang police station. He was then brought before a local court, which remanded him to judicial custody for two weeks after he was falsely charged with “murder”.
On January 9, 2012, a petition for release on bail of Mr. Narayan Reddy was rejected by the Additional District Session Judge of Jagatsinghpur, Mr. Sachidananda Sahu.
Mr. Reddy is reportedly being held in connection with violent incidents that took place on December 15, 2011 at the proposed site of the POSCO steel plant, when workers of a contracting firm engaged in construction of an access coastal road for the POSCO plant, the Paradip Paribahan Company, broke barricades that villagers and protestors had peacefully erected, and attacked the villagers who turned violent. As a result, one person died and 25 protesting villagers were seriously injured during the clashes. Police teams arrived well after the attacks commenced and did not immediately intervene to prevent the clashes.
It is to be mentioned that while Mr. Narayan Reddy, who has been leading the anti-POSCO campaign following the arrest of Mr. Abhay Sahoo on November 25, 2011, in the same context, participated in the peaceful protest on December 15, 2011, he was not directly involved in the clash.
Please write to the authorities of India, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahoo, of all PPSS members as well as of all human rights defender sin India;
ii. Release Mr. Narayan Reddy immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to acts of any acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahu as well as against all human rights defenders in India;
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:
- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
- Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by India.
Dr. P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979 / 2309 4221. E-mail: email@example.com
Justice Kapadia, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Fax: +91 11 2334 0016 / 2338 4863, Email: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Shri A. K. Parashar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Email: email@example.com
Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road, Bhubaneswar 751001, India. Fax 0674-2535100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary, Odisha Human Rights Commission, Toshali Bhawan (2nd Floor), Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar-751007, Odisha, India, Fax: +91 674 257 2010, Email: email@example.com
Sri Narayana Chandra Jena, Collector & District Magistrate Jagatsinghpur. PO: Jagatsinghpur District Police, Odisha, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: email@example.com
Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 6489638 or +32 (0)2 6451869
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of India in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, March 16, 2012
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80