Physical Attack on Human Rights Activists

26/08/2004
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that activists of the Jangipara branch of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), a leading human rights organization in West Bengal working for the cause of democratic rights since 1972, were attacked by local leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) on August 21, 2004 in Hooghly, greater Kolkota.

IND 002/0804/OBS 066

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the situation:

According to information received, at about 4:30pm on August 21, 2004, the human rights defenders in question had assembled for a peaceful street-meeting against state-repression at the Jangipara Bus stand. The local APDR members were joined for the occasion by Sri Sujato Bhadra, the General Secretary of APDR, Sri Amitadyuti Kumar, the Vice-President, Prof. Sanjib Acharya, the Secretary of Hooghly District Committee, and Secretariat Members Sri Bapi Dasgupta, Sri Raghunath Chakraborty, Sri Shankar Nandy, Sri Sukumar Tiwari, Sri Tushar Chakraborty. The APDR meeting, which had been pre-arranged and peaceful, was suddenly interrupted by a group of 50 to 60 persons who attacked the gathering by kicking and beating them with their fists and poles, and verbally abusing them.

Although a contingent of police was posted nearby the place of the attack, and the victims rushed to the police station, no police officers came to stop the violence or arrest the perpetrators. After breaking up the APDR meeting, the attacking group then began their own meeting, labelling APDR?s members as part of an opposition party plot. The victims of the attack, among which Sri Amitadyuti Kumar, Vice-President of APDR, and Gautam Munshi, Treasurer of the Hooghly District Committee, were later treated in Walsh Hospital, Srirampur.

The Indian authorities? inaction toward fulfilling the State duty to protect human rights defenders disregards the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 12(2), which states that ?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.?

The Observatory urges the government of India and the relevant authorities to conduct a full inquiry of the incident and to ensure that human rights defenders are properly protected in the state of West Bengal.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Indian authorities and ask them to:

i.ensure the respect of the physical and psychological integrity of the activists of the Jangipara branch of the APDH and that of other human rights defenders.
ii.conduct the immediate investigation of the attack on the activists of the Jangipara branch of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), bringing the attackers to justice and holding to account the police officers concerned for their inaction;
iii.conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, specifically article 12(2), mentioned above, and more generally article 1 which states that ?everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels?;
iv.adopt immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence against human rights defenders;
v.ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by India.

Addresses:
Shri. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India
Rashtrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi -110001
Tel: +91 11 23015321 ; Fax: + 91 11 23017290 / 23017824; E-mail: presidentofindia@rb.nic.in
Mr. Shivraj Patil, Home Minister, Government of India
Fax: 91 11 23094221/ 23093750 ; Tel: 91 11 23092462

Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya, Chief Minister and Home Minister of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1, West Bengal, India; Fax: +91-33-2214 5480
 
Mr Ashok Gupta, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1, West Bengal, India; Fax: +91-33-2214 4328
 
Mr. Shyamal Kumar Dutta, Director General & Inspector General of Police, Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1, West Bengal, India; Fax: +91-33-2214 4498 / 2214 5486; Email: padgp@wbpolice.gov.in
 
Justice A S Anand, National Human Rights Commission of India
Sardar Patel Bhawan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi - 110 001, India; Tel: +91 11 2334 0891 / 2334 7065; Fax: +91 11 2334 0016; E-Mail: chairnhrc@nic.in
 
Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen, Chairman, West Bengal Human Rights Commission
Bhavani Bhavan, Alipur, Kolkata-27, West Bengal, India; Fax: +91-33-2479 9633; Email: wbhrc@cal3.vsnl.net.in

Ambassador, Puri, Hardeep Singh, Rue du Valais 9 (6ème), CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +4122 906 86 96; Email : mission.india@ties.itu.int

Paris ? Geneva, August 26, 2004

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email: observatoire@iprolink.ch
Tel and fax FIDH 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 01 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 4122 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

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